Dead Young Men & July 4th


Resident Exile, Bill Borror, Church, Sermons

There is no difference between blood and blood. A murderer is a murderer, no matter his nationality and age. There is no justification, no forgiveness and no atonement for any murder. If an Arab youth was indeed murdered for nationalistic reasons, this is a heinous and shocking act. Yishai Frenkel , uncle of slain Israeli sixteen year old Naftali Frenkel , responding to the abduction and murder of sixteen year old Muhammad Abu Khdeir. It has been hard to watch the recent events that have taken place in the Middle East. The disastrous events in Syria; the rise and rampage of Isis in Iraq; the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank; the revenge murder of a defenseless teen boy in East Jerusalem. There is so much I want to say-there is such a temptation to moralize-there are so many people I would like to blame.... Instead I pray for peace in the land where I believe God once walked. Ironically, this past week was the hundred year anniversary of the beginning of WWI, that disastrous orgy of death that not only killed millions of young men (as well as civilians) and overturned empires, but also created the artificial maps of the Middle East that are being rewritten today in bloodshed on the ground.

My mind also turns to our national ideals this July 4th: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It seems to me we need to do a better job about this "endowed right to life ." The 16th murder of the year took place in Chester this week; the 115th in Philadelphia. About one child or teen dies from gun violence in this country every three hours. In recent years, gun homicide was the leading cause of death among black teens. I really thought the deaths of 20 innocent six year olds a few weeks before Christmas in 2012 might at least begin a constructive national discussion about the cancer of violence in our society. But I was wrong and there have been 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook. I fear the current absolute libertarianism that is so rampant in the country will ironically lead to the ultimate death of our liberty and happiness. Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.

Yehuda Bauer, Holocaust scholar. I will celebrate tomorrow, enjoy the fireworks, and be thankful for the many good things about this country and the world God has given us. But I will also remember that families are grieving in Israel and East Jerusalem; in Chester and Connecticut; in Iraq and at Arlington Cemetery. I will remember dead young men and try not to be a silent "bystander."

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