Tuesday, April 17, 2007

callused

untitled
paper collage on cardboard panel
gregory a. milinovich

its hard for me to know what to say today. sometimes, in the midst of a world where terrible things happen, where people do terrible things to one another, where life and death hang in the balance more than we usually recognize, my trivial concerns seem small and inconsequential.

i have been in a bit of a trance since yesterday afternoon when i learned of what happened at virginia tech. i've been thinking about this thing quite a bit. i mourn the loss of these lives. but it has also made me think about war. about the lives that are lost everyday that we don't mourn. i mean, i think about how i am greeted by headlines almost everyday on my yahoo news page about an american soldier dead or an iraqi dead or a palestinian dead and so on and so on. and these words almost never penetrate the shell of my psyche. i have blocked them out. they bounce off of me. death has no sting because i ignore it. but when i am faced with it in a less avoidable way, it hurts.

but this makes me wonder why i am so callused about death. why don't i mourn the losses that war brings? why do we think americans are more precious than others?

i am sad for the students and families of those who were murdered yesterday. i am covered in a kind of funk about it. but i am also sad for the hundreds and thousands who are dying every day outside the scope of our recognition, and, worse, outside of the scope of our concern.

i am an easter person - i believe that life has ultimate victory over death. i follow Christ, who defeated death by love, and so i choose love also. i choose life. but in the midst of a world where death seems to rule the day, it is difficult sometimes. i tend to shut down and put up walls that help me not to deal with it. but i don't want to be the kind of Christian that says, "i choose life and i believe in the resurrection, so i don't need to feel the sting of death." that's just not real, as far as i am concerned. right now death freaking stings. it burns. it hurts like hell. but even in the midst of the pain, i believe.

i believe in life.

i believe in hope.

i believe in a Kingdom where there is no more weaping.

i believe.

lord, help my unbelief (again).

greg.


5 comments:

cathyq said...

Today is a sad day. I have been praying for the families of those who were killed by this troubled man. I have also been praying for the family of Cho Sueng Hui. How must they be feeling right now? yes, we are calloused by death, and why not? We see it on our tvs and movie screens and game boys all the time. it's not real. it's "other." Only when it touches us personally do we think about it and truly mourn. Where is our compassion for all those touched by death everywhere? I don't know except to say that we can only take so much grief, so much pain. Perhaps it is a coping mechanism or just a cop out. I don't know. Frederick buechner defines compassion as the knowledge that there can never be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy for you too. Where is our compassion for the world? God forgive us and give us direction and strength to "care".

greg. said...

mom, this is exactly how i feel. one of the students who was interviewed and who was in one of the classrooms where students were killed, was asked about how he was going to be able to move on after this. he was from some country in the middle east. he replied, "in my country, we live with this every day."

i guess that is what i mean. today, some 183 people died in baghdad by some bombs. and we barely care at all. i know we can't feel the full weight of the world's grief, but maybe we ought to feel a little more than we do. i don't know...its just how i feel sometimes.

greg.

cathyq said...

How ironic that I have been re-reading Madeleine L'Engle's Crosswick Journal and last night I read this, "We can't absorb it all. We know too much, too quickly, and one the worst effects of this avalance of technology is the loss of compassion...I am apt to pay less attention when the daily figures for deaths on battlefields are given; it is too far away; I cannot cope emotionally. Occasionally it hits me hard when I hear the announcer say that there were ONLY fifty-four deaths this week: only? what about the mothers, wives, sweethearts, children, of the fifty-fourmen who were killed? But it has to happen close to home before I can truly feel compassion. we are lost unless we can recover compassion, without which we will never understand charity. We must find, once more, community, a sense of family, of belonging to each other...compassion is nothing one feels with the intellect alone. Compassion is particular; it is never general." Wow. How right on the point we were discussing in the blog. She is so right. Unless it hits close to home, it just doesn't move us. To read more that she has to say on the subject, read pages 189 and following. Great stuff.

Erin said...

Interesting points. Can humans really withstand the barage of tragedy's that occur routinely in our current world? I don't think we can, but i think what we have to do, what we're probably called to do, is find a group or a niche of people that we are passionate about and love and care about them intensely and make a difference. Each one of us may not be able to show compassion and love to the whole world, but if each of us could love our neighbor, maybe we could get somewhere. Like you said, Greg, "Your Kingdom come ON EARTH, as it is in heaven." Very good point.
Thanks,
Erin

greg. said...

yeah, erin, i totally agree about being called to love and feel compassion in our location. we are so global in today's technological world, we can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people who are now our literal neighbors. but i really feel that we are called to share the good news, to love the neighbors (the good samaritan) wjith whom we have contact and connection.

we love outwards. but we start from the center. i think that makes a great deal of sense.

mom, the l'engle quote is awesome. it is exactly what i have been feeling. i don't want to be numb!

greg.