Saturday, May 28, 2011

I'm so much older than I can take

I turned 25 the other day.

In the week surrounding this life anniversary, I did the following:

- through a mix of bikeride-stripping and careless clothing placement, allow my beloved sweatshirt to be so tangled in the bike gears that it had to be surgically removed

- experience a minor bike collision that left with me with bloody knuckles for the rest of the day

- engage in a culinary miscalculation and thus delay the dinner of 30 hungry national assembly attendees (and trigger slight emotional breakdown)

- somehow manage to drop my cell phone precisely into my mug of tea, thus depriving me of both communication and time-keeping ability

- break my office's coffee press just as said assembly attendees were arriving, desperate for a caffeine jolt

Obviously, in my case, grace does not come with age.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In a Land Without Cracker Jack

Today I was heading through the maze of overstimulation that is an electronics store in search of a paper shredder (so that we can destroy all evidence of our peace-keeping secrets) when I happened past the TV section.

And what should greet my eyes but baseball! A for-real MLB game (Reds vs. Phillies) in the middle of soccer-obsessed Europe.

It was a glorious yet bittersweet sight. I'm entering my third summer apart from America's pastime, and nothing rubs that in more than seeing it blaring on 30 television screens.

In light of this, I hereby offer free food and lodging to anyone who will come play catch with me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

No hip-hurray for the stars and stripes.....we only cried

Since moving to Germany, there have been numerous times when I've wished I was in the US.

Today was not one of those times.

Upon opening the internet this morning, my CNN homepage greeted me with the headline "Osama bin Laden dead," and the accompanying picture, jubilant Americans holding the nation's flag, filled me with unease and stuck in my head as I trekked to work.

This unease continued and turned into sadness and frustration as I read about people's reactions and watched videos of young adults jumping up and down, chanting "USA!" and "Ole ole ole!," and singing "na na na na, hey hey, goodbye..." as if they were celebrating a World Cup victory instead of a man's death.

Because after all he's done (and this is in no way an attempt to lessen or excuse it), bin Laden was still a man, a member of the human race, and as such, was granted the inherent worth and dignity that are granted, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights tells us, to all members of the human family.

Even more disheartening are the responses the media publicizes from Christians. An excerpt from a CNN story:
"There is a sense that justice has been done," said Joel Hunter, senior pastor of the 12,000-member Northland Church in Orlando, Florida, and a spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama.

"There is a scripture, Genesis 9:6, that says, 'He who sheds man's blood, by man his blood be shed.' There is a certain kind of sense of relief that that has been accomplished," Hunter said.

"This man was symbolic of much that threatened our country and our way of life," the pastor said.
Hunter also cited the verse promising that "those who mourn will be comforted," saying they might "find some sort of solace in this event."

Those verses are much more relevant than Jesus' admonition to "turn the other cheek," he said.

"That particular scripture has to do with insult and not with self-defense," he said.

The terror attacks that bin Laden authorized are "not even in the category of forgiveness," so killing him "really is in a category that, for 99.9% of Americans, would be beyond question ... the right thing."

The idea that there is a 'category of forgiveness' terrifies me, and even more so if my fellow Americans think they can decide what merits forgiveness and what doesn't. As far as I've understood the Bible, aren't matters of justice and forgiveness best left up to someone a bit wiser than us?

I don't know anyone that was killed in the attacks on September 11, so I can not assume to have any idea what friends and relatives suffered on that day, what they have gone through in the past decade, and what they feel like today. And I realize the powerful role that the longing for justice and the need for vengeance plays in our psyche. But I personally can not believe that pain and sorrow can be cured with death and destruction, and a healing process that is only complete with loss of life is really no healing process at all.

Many Americans felt the need to commemorate this day. And by all means, let us. But instead of shouting out our victorious chants, let us fall silent, maybe light some candles, and pause to remember and honor those whose deaths we're so keen on avenging.

There are many things to celebrate and be proud of in the USA. Let's not make death one of them.