in Poetic Prose


We cannot foresee the future, but we should never give in to the defeatist temptation of being the vanguard of a nation which yearns for freedom, but abhors the struggle it entails.
The whole time I was watching, watching and listening and thinking: we know what they did to him. They killed him. Him. They killed him.
The solidarity of all progressive forces in the world towards the people of Vietnam today is similar to the bitter irony of the plebeians coaxing on the gladiators in the Roman arena. It is not a matter of wishing success to the victim of aggression, but of sharing his fate; one must accompany him to his death or to victory.
And that is what he did. And this is the world we live in. A world that kills those who dare to look with compassion upon the oppressed. A world that kills those who speak honestly, those who swim the river at night so that they can be with the untouchables. A world that kills those who refuse to put on gloves to touch and hold the sick and segregated.
A world that takes a man who has loved not too little but too much and forces him to say,
Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyhond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.
After he was killed (and his body displayed before being dumped into a mass grave) they say he looked like Christ.

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  1. Dan,
    I’m new here, so please don’t jump all over me the first time… I got a little scared reading that witty, yet scathing, banter between brothers on prophecy epithets. I sat down in two sittings and got through almost all of your recent posts and responses, yes, even the one just for Abe… I hope you don’t mind. I just wanted to comment on a theme that I think I’ve seen winding its way through most of your comments, and I’m sorry but I don’t have any names to drop to back this up ;). You wrote, in a nutshell, that the job of the prophet is to remember for the people their collective narrative, thus initiating the call for God’s repentance and hopefully re-aligning the community with their common purpose. When you speak of finding for ourselves “who am I supposed to be” as the basis for ethics in the post on the abortion debate, you call on each side to remember their narrative, and thus re-align their position with some historical foundation. Historical narrative builds community, and community is the very thing that our society abhors. Within community there must be accountability, there must be responsibility. In our innate desire to silence conscience, we have proven that, in the absence of community, we are beholden to none and our actions and inactions exist in a historical and personal vacuum. In this post you quote “a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.” If there are formations of community in our culture and time, they most often owe their existence to an antagonistic outside force that requires interior solidity – indeed our most effective (efficient, powerful) communities on both large and small scales are based not on historical narrative, but on hatred.
    Sorry if this is all just recap… you’re just making me think – thanks!

  2. Kalev!!!
    Reading what you wrote made me remember some of our other conversations… ah, there is so much I could learn from you if I only had the opportunity. Needless to say I’m glad to find you commenting here.
    I very much appreciate your insight regarding the way in which hatred (as opposed to historical narratives) forms communities. Brilliant — and an apt warning for any of us who are desiring to move into deeper experiences of community.
    I included the final quote about hatred because it is so heart-breaking — here is a man (Ernesto “Che” Guevara) who is deeply sensitive and compassionate, but, due to the evil he has encountered, he has been broken down and now acts from hatred as much as he acts from love. As he says, it is this hatred that enables him to act with the violence that he deems necessary.
    Hopefully we as Christians can learn to love even our enemies and refuse to act violently — although when such a response seems foreign even to the Christian communities around us what hope do we have? And that is why I would argue (along with Brueggemann, Hauerwas & Wallis) that we need to recover our prophetic imagination. With that in place we will be able to place ourselves alongside of the oppressed but do so in a way that loves the oppressor (even if they have a hard time recognising our actions as love for them).