The Good News

Welcome to The Good News Blogspot! The Good News is real and alive in my own life. Jesus has fulfilled in my life His promise of fuller and more abundant life (John 15), a quality of life I could not have created for myself. I invite you to share experiences with me so we can all grow into the life He offers us all.

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Catholic by call, Jesuit by nature, a preacher/spiritual conversation partner by choice. Learning about getting older, learning to live in the present moment, one day at a time. Learning to let go and laugh.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Moral Life and the Trenches


A friend, an American military officer, wrote me recently:

“I've been giving classes to the men these week (all the officers and staff NCOs) in preparation for Iraq, and I keep wanting to say 'Look, this is all stuff that will save your life. But at the end of the day, it's luck that will keep you alive. Make yourself as hard a target as you can but if that IED or sniper is going to get you, it/he is going to get you.' But I can't say that. I can't have that semi-fatalistic attitude. It's not fatalistic as in ‘I want it to happen,’ but fatalistic or perhaps resigned to the inherent risks this occupation takes...

“I'm looking at Iraq, specifically what it did to (a good friend), what it could do to (another good friend), what it did to (yet another friend) and his now orphaned kids, and thinking hard. I mean, I couldn't imagine doing anything other than what I am doing now. But at the same time, it's frightening what it has done to a snippet of my generation. I look at this war somewhat as Kurt Vonnegut looked at Dresden: 'a tower of smoke and flame to commemorate the rage and heartbreak of so many who had had their lives warped or ruined by the indescribable greed and vanity and cruelty....'

“My job is to motivate, control, and command (my men) in combat. That's another bizarre thing. As Robert E. Lee's character says in The Killer Angels,‘To be a good soldier you must love the army. But to be a good officer you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love. This is…a very hard thing to do. No other profession requires it. That is one reason why there are so few good officers, although there are many good men.’ Alas and alack, I suppose, as the saying goes: you signed up for this."

I share this with you all, with his permission, because my friend’s cry is clearsighted, close up, courageous, and principled - without cynicism, despair, or romance. He fixes his gaze on elevated things beyond personal convenience or gain, even as his sight engages all that is physical, concrete and real. This is what the struggle for the moral life looks like, and only good can come of it.

Best of all, my friend’s gut experience of what he doesn’t want to call “fatalism” in his first paragraph opens the door to the mystical self-revelation of God to the one needing relief and respite. “There are no atheists in the trenches.” God in the person of Jesus Christ came looking for me in my exile. And so God will for all of us.

3 Comments:

Blogger Thomas Louzon said...

It's not "fatalism" but there is peace and contentment in totally surrendering your will over to God. There is a power at that moment in time when you know your cross has been laid on your shoulders and you know the path before you, and you acknowledge to yourself I can't do this, alone! I had such a moment. I was a company commander of Bravo Company 1st of the 8th Cavalry. I had just turned 30 years old it was October 1990 and I, a cradle Catholic found myself in the desert of Saudi Arabia waiting for Desert Storm to begin. I left my wife at Ft. Hood,Texas pregnant and with two kids 3 & 4 years old while I did what all good soldiers do and follow the lead of my commanders. I sat behind my tank one night and felt like I was going to break from the weight, the raw fear, the unknown and the known. As a commander I had to maintain the face of calm, cool confidence while at the same time my insides were screaming "Holy, rat shit Batman, we really stepped in it now." We knew our enemy had used chemical weapons in his war with Iran in the 1980's. I knew in my heart he was not going to leave Kuwait. I knew the storm was coming. I had been an armor officer just 7 years, a product of ROTC from Central Michigan. I knew that if things go wrong in a tank you die. Skill and teamwork are great but truly, ultimately we are in the hands of our Lord. Modern warfare is brutal, fast and unforgiving. And the Lord will call us all home in his time. It is not ours to know when that will be. Because of where I was and the fact that I was a soldier, I found myself reading King David's Psalms. The Holy Spirit guided me to Psalm 91 and it became my prayer for the duration of the war, for it is written; "I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Never before in my life have I ever felt totally powerless to the forces around me. I had to surrender my will and admit to my Lord in my heart "Ok, Lord, I'm hanging on for the ride. Your will be done!" No my friends not "fatalism" but freedom to act with the peace of mind that;"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation." The Lord delivered me on February 28, 1991 the ground war stopped. (My father's birthday) Once the war was over we could go home, but we had to wait our turn. My unit arrived back home on April 17, 1991 (My mother's birthday) and my wife and I welcomed our third child into this world on May 1,1991. In October behind my tank if you would have told me it was going to turn out that way I would have never believed. But now I see Divine Synchronicity and stand in awe! Thomas Louzon

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is off-topic, I would have emailed this note, had I found an email address. I just read a post that you made on http://mycaseagainstgod.blogspot.com/2006/09/burden-of-proof-aka-should-we-presume.html . I just wanted to thank you for making a thoughtful, considerate post, without feeling the need to make any insults, or denigrate the other posters. I just wanted to thank you for being a credit to your personal Theology.

spot@carbinworld.com

8:54 PM  
Blogger Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Nice meditation!

God bless

8:30 AM  

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