Monday, February 9, 2009

Vague thoughts on vengeance

Last week in one of my NY Times obituary updates that I receive in my daily email, I noted the following brief item:

Names of the Dead
The Department of Defense has identified 4,231 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war. It confirmed the death of the following American this week:

FERNANDEZ, Darrell L., 25, Specialist, Army; Truth or Consequences, N.M.; Fourth Infantry Division.

It made me wonder how many people had been killed in the original 9/11 attacks. Answers vary slightly, but the total number, including firefighters and foreign nationals working at the WTC, but minus the highjackers, is around 2,976 or 2,977. Something like that. So that whole avenging American lives lost? That worked well, then. And that doesn't include the 647 US casualties in Afghanistan or any other coalition forces (317 in Iraq, 422 in Afghanistan--all figures from, nor the servicemen and women who committed suicide after they returned home. "Truth or Consequences" indeed.

I'm sure the argument is that the sacrifice these troops are making is to keep more Americans safe in the long run. I just don't buy it. If you look at the numbers, they don't add up.

In other news this weekend, the Diocese of Fort Worth held a special convention to elect a provisional bishop since their former bishop, Jack Iker, has decamped for South America (in spirit if not in reality). It's been extremely traumatic for them, as you can imagine. I was very touched by a report from a blogger who attended and described the effect of the arrival of the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schorri.
As the procession entered the church, a woman turned and saw Katharine and burst into tears. Katharine stopped, put her hands on her shoulders and said, ‘Everything’s going to be all right.”

The Presiding Bishop's sermon was on dealing with rage. Among other things, she said that "Anger and rage and violence and retribution will not heal the hurt. The only thing that will is love." Which is rather standard, I know, but I also think it's true. And it makes me wonder how much we are still wounded from 9/11 because we reacted in violence and retribution. And how we can work on moving forward with love.

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