This one’s from the archives as we celebrate a very big day in the Troyer household: my daughter’s 1st birthday. She has helped me to imagine a different world. This was written soon after her birth.
In 1945 over the desert of the South West United States a code was devised to indicate whether the impending test was successful or not. President Truman would receive a short message saying either, “It’s a boy,” or “It’s a girl” – and he would know instantly the result. The test went forward, the bomb went off, blinding light exploded across the sky, the proverbial mushroom cloud ushered the world into the atomic age, and, with one short message the President heard, “It’s a boy.”
Boys, apparently, are inherently violent. A “girly” response would have meant failure.
Today my wife and I celebrate the profound joy of hearing one year ago the sweet words, “It’s a girl” ring out in our delivery room. Welcome to the world Clara Sue!
And with people of good faith around the globe we celebrate that the activity of God in our world is the making of peace, not war. As the father of a newborn baby girl, I celebrate an alternative message that says she is not a failure, not of lesser worth than her big brother. As the father of a 3 year old son I celebrate an alternative message of Christian peace that clarifies masculinity is not tied up with violence and militarism.
The words of the prophet Isaiah from 2:1-5 reveal peace to be the heart of God’s intention for the world. Jesus life and teachings connect peacemaking to an alternative perspective on both power and gender. God, and man, are NOT inherently violent. Women, girls and nonviolence are not weak.
I am gracious my children will hear this message from church and scripture, because our culture sends a vastly different message indeed.
I remember in 4th grade being picked on by the school bully. I was pushed down from the top of the slide, and taunted with “sissy” when I refused to fight back. This fall our country has been sideswiped by the suicide deaths of multiple gay teens taunted to death for not being properly masculine. In the recent election cycle over and again I heard conservative woman candidates challenging the patriotism and dove-like tendencies of male incumbents with phrases like “Man up!” or “Put your man pants on.” One Senator who opposes ratification of the New START nuclear weapons treaty with Russia has called the President “soft” and demands it be “beefed up” with multi-billion dollar spending on new nuclear weaponry.
We live in a world where might makes right. Where power is defined militaristically instead of morally. India and Pakistan have recently joined the ranks of nuclear powers, Iran and North Korea are soon to follow. Everyone defines security based on the might of weaponry: from fire and iron to horses and long bows, guns, artillery and the ultimate weapon of annihilation. With 4-8 nukes aimed at Houston every second of the day, our world is not becoming insane; insane is the new normal.
Another example of how insanity has become our new normal are recent reports of the depravity of the wars our country is fighting in our name, even while we worship. Bush’s just war retaliation against Afghanistan for the pain of 9/11 turned quickly into Obama’s “Good war” with nothing good to show for it. Iraq followed all too quickly though thin evidence of justification has completely disappeared. In both countries, however, more and more reports have come out since Wikileaks posted over 90,000 documents online regarding civilian deaths, torture, and military war crimes. We’re implicated in a complete systemic failure of moral and spiritual imagination.
66,000 civilian deaths in Iraq alone, over 20 times the civilian casualties of 9/11, cry out for us to lament and repent of our ways. Obama lauds his troop withdrawal yet masks the reality of tens of thousands of paid and non-accountable mercenaries who filled the void. Troop surges and counter-insurgency campaigns continue unabated in Afghanistan without any acknowledgement that it simply is NOT working. Drone attacks in Pakistan have amassed more flights in the last month than in the previous 5 years, killing thousands of innocent lives. The Tea Party demands fiscal responsibility while maintaining blind and unquestioned devotion to the military industrial complex and its record budget. President Bush, Vice President Cheney and the lawyers who justified the policies have paraded around our bookstores and televisions defending the practice of torture which is now known to have been widespread.
Boom-“It’s a boy!” “Man up!” Bullying. Torture. War. Rendition.
This is the world my kids are growing up in. What, my friends, do we have to be thankful for today?
I am thankful that God is re-creating our world in the image of shalom and not empire. I am thankful that God is transforming swords and bombs into plowshares. I am thankful that my children will hear the gospel of peace and not war. I am thankful for the power of women and nonviolence and that I have the blessed responsibility to raise both. I am thankful that Jesus, and not Truman, Bush or Obama, is king. I am thankful that “the Prince of peace is Jesus Christ. We who were formerly no people at all, and who knew of no peace, are now called to be a church of peace. True Christians do not know vengeance. They are the children of peace. Their hearts overflow with peace. Their mouths speak peace, and they walk in the way of peace (Menno Simons).” May it be so for you today my friends. May it be so for our world. AMEN.