Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dick Cheney's Heavenly Peace

Few people know what it's like to be responsible for the suffering, maiming, and deaths of thousands and tens of thousands. I remember reading something once about how WWI flying aces were traumatized by the screams of those they shot down. Think how heavily the deaths of thousands would weigh on our minds, especially when we're asleep and our excuses, justifications, rationalizations, and other defenses are much more relaxed than they are while waking. While we sleep, the horrors we visit on others haunt us whether we killed by accident, negligence, or according to plan and it would take a super-human evil on the order of Stalin, Hitler, or Mao not to be paralyzed by the dream spectacle of other people's suffering.

Fortunately for our country, Dick Cheney is not such a man. A sensitive man, Dick Cheney feels the death of each of the 3,185 American soldiers who have died or been maimed in Iraq--their being shot, blown apart by IED's as they ride in their Hummers, drowned in the Tigris or Euphrates, or mangled to such an extent that they had to have large parts of their arms and legs amputated. Knowing that he was largely responsible for sending those troops, Dick Chaney sees American soldiers wounded and dead every night in his sleep. Shakespeare portrayed everyone killed by Richard III as visiting Richard in his sleep before the Battle of Bosworth Field, reciting Richard's crimes, and telling him to "fall thy edgeless sword: despair, and die!" In the same way, the American men and women killed or maimed in Iraq visit Dick Cheney to remind him of the half-truths and lies by which he promoted the invasion, his refusal to think through the problems of occupation, and the recklessness and arrogance with which he wasted their lives and continues to waste the lives of their friends and comrades.

The same is the case with the more than 50,000 Iraqis who have died as a result of the U. S. invasion. Poor Dick Cheney! There must be spectral riots as the shades of the Iraq War dead fight each other for the opportunity to haunt a little bit of his sleep.

It must be an awful thing.

That's why Dick Cheney needs our help. Unlike those on the right, we on the left also feel the burden that the death and suffering in Iraq imposes on Dick Cheney and all of us. Because our minds are not tied up in rationalizing the war or justifying the Bush administration, the shocking brutality of the situation in Iraq strikes us harder than it strikes the warmongers.

Therefore, it's up to us to help Dick Cheney as much as we can.

Some on the left might argue that Dick Cheney's own suffering would be a small price for him to pay for all the suffering he's caused and there's a way I can agree with that. It would be an "eye for an eye" vengeful kind of justice for Dick Cheney to experience some of the pain that he has dished out one way or another in Iraq.

But, in fact, Dick Cheney could never "pay in full" for what's happened in Iraq. Once person can never suffer enough for the tens of thousands of deaths that Cheney has helped cause.

More importantly for our own piece of mind, there is a justice of love and mercy that has a higher claim on us than the law of revenge. It's this higher sense of justice that is the most distinctive contribution of Christianity to modern life. The ability to love those who are not "our own" or even the opposite of our own, is what allows us to empathize with our soldiers even if we disagree with the war and feel the suffering of the Iraqi people even though we live a very different kind of life. The higher law of justice should also allow us to exercise a care even over the Dick Cheney's of the world, especially because he emerged out of our society and our way of life.

It's the Christian vision of love and mercy as the highest and truest form of justice that leads me to suggest "Silent Night" as our comforting song for Dick Cheney tonight. Dick Cheney certainly is haunted by those who have died for his war, but we on the left can visit a little "heavenly peace" to his soul by singing him this song.

Altogether now.

Silent Night

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Amen to that!

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