I know that it is always dangerous to take thoughts that are drifting around in my head and put them on paper or speak them but I feel called to be a little reckless today…
I have tried and been mostly successful in staying out of politics since last November’s election. The day after the election I posted something on Twitter and Facebook that spoke to me the morning after the election. It was what I felt but it got mixed reviews from my followers. At that point, I decided politics was not my world at least in terms of my reflections and musings and I have stuck to that self-imposed policy.
However, with all the saber and sword rattling in the last few days I feel compelled to muse a little out loud...
Over the last few weeks I have encountered several people who have begun to re-watch the television program The West Wing. They have made such comments about how well it was written and wouldn’t it be great if we found ourselves with a president and a government like that these days. With these comments and others my curiosity was stirred. I can remember watching The West Wing, when it first aired, (it was on from 1999 until 2006), but I would not have called myself a fan. It was interesting and I have always liked Martin Sheen but it was not part of my regular television viewing. However, looking for something that might keep me hopeful and positive I thought it might be worth revisiting myself.
The other night as I struggled with one of my sleepless nights, I decided to watch a few episodes of The West Wing. One of the early episodes that I watched focused on the Syrians shooting down a US military plane with many civilians on broad who were on a medical aid mission. One of the people who died was a friend of President Bartlet. The President wanted to blow Syria off the face of the earth. He wanted to punish them with all the might of the United States.
There were several scenes where he vents his anger at his staff and the Joint Chiefs as they tried to plot a response. He wanted vengeance disguised as justice and he was sure that God in on his side! In a very intense scene President Bartlet’s chief-of-staff Leo McGarry challenges the President to rethink his position. He said that the greatest nation in the world cannot just blow people up for the sake of vengeance or justice. We cannot become like those who use violence indiscriminately.
Cooler heads prevail and President Bartlet learns a valuable lessen in the early years of his presidency. Yes, this is Hollywood, but with all the saber rattling and God empowering rhetoric that we have been exposed to these last few months. All the grandstanding on both sides wouldn’t it be nice if there was a Leo McGarry some where in the White House, somewhere in our country, our world, who would settle things down and remind us that the greatest nation does not let go of its greatness and lower itself to name calling, treats, violence and war.
And to all the so called Christian Religious Leaders who somehow think God has empowered our President, our Country to be God’s Powerful Right Arm – remember vengeance if it takes place at all is God’s purview not ours. Perhaps what God is saying to our President and to us is what he said to Isaiah many years ago… “He [God] shall judge between the nations, and set terms for many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”
Ah… that feels better! Peace in Christ’s Passion everyone…Fr. Pau
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...