Saturday, July 22, 2006

Armageddon Blues

“God knows it’s a struggle,
God knows it’s a crime,
God knows there’s gonna’ be no more water
But fire next time.”

- Bob Dylan – “God Knows” (1990)

It’s Saturday. The weather is absolutely beautiful. We’ve had some really good news. Nancy’s mother seems very amenable to the idea of moving down here to Emporia so we’re pressing ahead on the purchase of the house next door for her. With that said, though, we’ve both got the blues today.

Nancy’s blues are borne, strangely, on the wings of joy. She’s been worried about her mother for some time and believes that the current circumstance is an open door, but she also knows that the move will mean that there will be some loss of freedom and a lot of change for us. A while ago she asked me if I was alright with the direction things are going and I told her I was. “It’ll be a challenge, but your mom makes a mean apple pie, so I’ll be fine.” The thing that’s clear to both of us is that this is the right thing to do.

My blues, which I’ve named the Armageddon Blues, are borne on the news of the day. For the past week or so the situation in the Middle-East has been weighing heavily on me, as it has millions and millions of other souls on this planet.

The great advantage of the internet, open and instant communication, is also its great disadvantage. This has never seemed so clear to me than it has this past week. The same medium that allows the voices of reason to attempt to clarify is the same medium that allows the insane voices to ratchet up the rhetoric notch by deadly notch. Now it’s not that the messages have me conflicted as to where I stand. I’ve made my position clear and will stand on what I believe and have said about the matter. Last night I ordered an Israeli flag and as soon as it comes I’ll fly it as proudly as I do Old Glory on the Fourth of July.

What the messages have done for me is give me more insight into how the world got to this pivot point in history. Permit me to explain.

Last night I read some more from the MidEastWeb. I weaved my way through the comments and came across one from someone who identified himself as “John.” Ami Isseroff, the author of the post, had tried to clarify his positions in his short essay and in doing so he elicited a lot of response, which was good. While people’s positions were deeply held, it was clear that there was room for give and take, for listening as well as making one’s feelings and positions known. “John” changed all of that. He lashed out at Ami:

“The problem with the middle east is an underlying reason. The problem is IGNORANCE AND DISHONESTY. Let me start with the Jews, God does not give land to anyone period. God does not favor anyone period. The Jews are still waiting for there Messiah for 6000 years. Keep waiting. The moslims claim the middle east is their land because a military commander named Mohammed said that he had communication with God through angel Gabriel in a cave. Lie, Lie, Lie. If you as a human do not have common sense and logic then you are not even close to communicating with God, if he does exist. God created the human brain to THINK,and not to just accept things blindly. For both moslims and jews in the world, make sure God is REALLY SPEAKING TO YOU BEFORE YOU ACT because once you die and meet God, you will realize that you never talked to Him or recieved messages from him. God does not play favors, I don't need God to tell me that. It is common sense. If God favors anyone over someone else, then he is not a good God. The Jews must understand that God loves the leader of Hizbullah as much as their president.”

Looking back at it I see now that I would have been better not to have responded. There’s an old adage that says it’s not productive to take up another man’s offense. I thought about it later, after I’d posted my comment to “John,” but once I pressed the “send” key it was too late.

This is what I said to John:

“I must have misread Ami's peace. I didn't realize it was a theological treatise.
From what I read in your comment I am making a leap of faith and assume that either a theist or Christian. Myself, I'm a Christian, with a graduate degree in Christian theology, and I find your commentary offensive.”

“The issue on the table is Israel's right to exist as a state among the nations. As a Christian, I support that right. If the time comes for a theological discussion with Ami Isseroff or others on Midle East Web, I believe it can, and should, be conducted with the dignity and respect the subject deserves.”

“I find it unfortunate that you chose to act in the manner you did. I doubt that you'd show any willingness to apologize for your offense, so I will apologize for you.”

“John” then fired a volley back:

“The reason you got “offended” is because the TRUTH DISTURBS people. If you are an honest man Phil, than you wouldn't get offended, you would just feel sorry for me. Just look back at your history, and ask yourself how you became Christian, then you will see that you have just accepted it blindly. If Jesus's message was just to accept things blindly, then I understand how you recieved your PHD.”

By this time I should have seen it would be best to let go, but I tried to reason with “John”:

“Nowhere in Ami's piece or my response did anyone make theological claims on the part of the Jewish people. The land in question that Israel inhabits is theirs in the same way my property is mine. The registrar of deeds, the mortgage company, and my neighbors all recognize that 919 Neosho, Emporia, Kansas belongs to me. Since 1948 the international community has recognized Israel's right to the land they inhabit in the same manner.”

Next, “John” turned his ship broadside and let go with three volleys, one for me, one for Ami, and one for someone named Daniel who wasn’t even involved in the discussion. You can read the threads for yourself and see that his fury had built to a fever pitch.

Upon seeing the verbal assaults I decided it was get some wind in my sails and get the hell out of “John’s” way, announcing my strategic retreat as I did:

“Upon reading John's comments I'm getting more insight into what Israel is dealing with right now.”

“There's nothing else that I can say that would move our discussion in the right direction.”

That should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t. “John” had decided to apply the Coup de Grace:

“Thank you for your short response, I didn't feel like going to the toilet again, so thank you Ami.”

I guess “John” just couldn’t resist.

The whole episode made me wonder whether “John” might be sitting next to a battery of kaytusha rockets a few miles north of the border between Israel and Lebanon right now, alternately pushing keys on a keyboard and firing missiles south across the border into Israel.

This is how it happens in life and how it works in international geopolitics. One word leads to another and the next thing you know you’re on the Eve of Destruction.

I take great comfort in the knowledge that I can pull back from the brink when someone like “John” descends into madness. I can turn him off, make a grilled cheese sandwich, and tune in to Animal Planet to get away from it all. Israel, unfortunately, can’t. The rockets are raining down on them. The leadership and rank and file of Hezbollah aren’t reasonable people. They’re intent on a new Holocaust and nothing, not a negotiated settlement, not reason, not concessions, not good will, not brotherly love, will satisfy them.

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1 comment:

Ron said...

Mr. Dillon, great exchanges with left "loony" John. He appears to be oblivious to truth.

Found you on RealClearPolitics.