A few years back, probably in 2002 or 2003, the priest at our church made a couple of statements about how real Christians wouldn’t wage war against terrorists and that if people wanted to kill us, real Christians would let it happen. He had two strikes and a third strike would have meant we’d never be back to that church. Thankfully, he not only did not make a third strike, he actually said a number of things (about a year later) that I felt sort of “made up” for his earlier statements.
That priest moved on and we got a new one. A lot of folks have disliked various things the new guy’s done, but I’ve had no problems. And, regarding the war, I’ve thought he’s done a good job of choosing ways to phrase things that aren’t inflammatory one way or the other, but contain what I perceive to be a foundation of support for our efforts to fight off the bad guys.
Today he was talking about the new year and the new decade and how we needed to be careful that we don’t let all the talk of fear and hate and cynicism get us down. That we make sure to follow “The Way.” That we don’t give in to the alarmist talking points of today’s society, in essence, and stick to the guns of our belief, so to speak. This, of course, is great advice.
Then he said (and I believe this is verbatim):
Maybe so many people wouldn’t be trying to kill us if we were doing a better job of following The Way.
This, in my mind is WORSE than telling us we should “let them do it.” This is telling us it’s our fault they’re doing it. It’s the victim’s fault that they are victimized.
This thinking is very liberating for bad guys:
- In the World Trade Center on 9/11? Well, maybe if you were a better person those guys wouldn’t have crashed airplanes into your building.
- On Northwest 253 on Christmas Day? Well, maybe if you were following The Way more religiously some guy wouldn’t have put explosives in his underwear and tired to blow up your aircraft.
- Work the late shift in a convenience store to make ends meet? Well, maybe if you were nicer some hoods wouldn’t hold your store up for drug money.
- Are you black? Hispanic? Female? Maybe if you did a better job living your life you wouldn’t be victimized by bias and prejudice.
All those who have been killed, raped, robbed, beaten, and spit on have only themselves to blame?
The priest acknowledged that people are “trying to kill us,” so he’s not even in the camp of those idiots who wag their finger and remind us that more Americans are killed by peanuts every year than by terrorists. He seems to think that it is indeed a concerted campaign conducted with intent, not a statistical anomaly.
At the end of the service, he nearly corrected himself. He said that “it isn’t really that simple,” but then he ended with “well, maybe.” So what does that even mean? Being more complex than “the victim is at fault” is not the same as “the victim is not at fault” and implies that the victim carries the blame, but there’s more to it than that.