Friday, May 03, 2013

Viva la revolution?

One of my naive progressive facebook friends writes "viva la revolution", apparently thinking the leftists who destroy the stores and coffee shops of Indian American entrepeneurs is okay. Sigh.

Presumably she never lived through any revolutions, where everthing gets listed as "black and white", where some on both sides descend into atrocities "for the greater good", and the really bad guys use the resulting anrachy to rape pillage and murder innocents.


HieropraxisBlog, has an ongoing discussion of the problem of evil. Much of it is too complicated for my analysis (I still am suffering from jet lag/time change) but today they include a movie review of Andy Garcia's film "for greater Glory", about the Los Christeros, those who picked up arms after the Mexican government decided to prosecute Catholics for their beliefs. Yes, it was political: The church stood in the way of their secular ideas of power.

And like the persecution of Christians that resulted in the massacres of the Vendee,
it got left out of the history books.

Yet in pre vatican II days, ,we heard about Father Pro's martyrdom, and we had some Mexican Visitation sisters in our diocese who had fled the persecution.

One suspects that years from now, the countercultural story will be remembered: the Popes have been busy canonizing those of the twentieth century who were killed for being on "the wrong side of history"...

 Hieropraxis brings out that the movie asks one the question: how would you respond?
The movie brought up the constant debate within Christianity between just war theorists and pacifists. It was surprising how lucidly it presented the issues. There were those in the film who refuse to use violence to fight against the government, citing Christ’s example of turning the other cheek. Yet even they become involved in getting supplies such as bullets to the Cristeros. On the other hand, there are those who argue for a just war tradition: when injustice is running rampant, should not Christians be among those who stand up against it, even if that calls for using force? The film never answers one way or another; instead, it leaves it to those watching to weigh the merits of just war and pacifism.

And of course, there is a comment saying
If you are being persecuted as a Christian, and you defend yourself from those who hurt you and others, you are not a follower of Jesus.
Really? Like "easy grace", where sociopaths demand forgiveness by quoting bible verses, excuse my sarcasm. Been there, done that...well, not really: We faced the possibility of being attacked when I was a doc in Africa, and I high-tailed it out of there, but the nuns stayed (and went on birth control pills just in case)...and some of my friends didn't get out in time, and ended up killed.


It's one thing to proclaim you are a pacifist, but it's another thing to put a sign on your backside saying "kill me"...and a third thing to sit back and self righteously die a glorious martyr's death without fighting back while the attackers kill, torture, pillage and rape your family, the young nurses, and the patients in your hospital.

The Milblogs often cite the essay saying that there are sheep and there are wolves that prey on the sheep, and that the military is often the sheepdog whose duty is to defend the sheep.

In other words, there is sometimes a need for a Bruce Willis type character to help. And although I have a blog named "evil Mugabe", about that tyrant's destruction of Zimbabwe in the name of his cronies, I do defend him by noting that starvation and cholera and destroying the homes of one's political opponents is not as bad as the anarchy in Central Africa that has killed millions while the world looks elsewhere.

That crazy Jewish carpenter had a story about  shepherds doing this: that the hired man ran away, but the good shepherd stayed with the flock and defended them against the wolf, risking his life. Nowadays, in the US, this only means being criticized and ridiculed in the MSM, but in other times and places it is a starker choice.

Yet the dirty little secret is that in all these "revolutions" that there are some who are corrupted and end up doing atrocities, and others who like the idea of having a gun and pushing people around. Few American films recognize the real problem is the anarchy that results that is the real harm. The film "cold Mountain" wasn't a very good film but has the post war anarchy as it's theme...

No, I couldn't watch "for Greater glory", any more than I could watch the film "Romero": For me, it brought up real memories...

but don't get too discouraged: While googling, I ran across a couple new articles on Father Albert Braun, of the Mescalero Apaches, who was also at Bataan and with the POW's along with the New Mexico National Guard. He is mentioned in some histories of Bataan,  since he helped arrange burial of the dead after surrender, and helped to smuggle food and medicine into the POW camps...

Why was I googling Father Braun? Because, years before his WWII service, he went "in cognito" to smuggle fake documents into Mexico so the clergy and others could flee.

I have written before about the church he built in Mescalero, where I worked as a doc in the IHS...
Link...and there is a Bataan memorial in the back of the church...

After leaving Mescaleo, he worked in Arizona with the Mexican Americans and that church now has a webs
site. (and they also need money for restoration)...
at the end of his life he continued to work despite being in a wheelchair...
.  a short bio can be found here

When I worked in Mescalero, some local Apache traveled there when the locals dedicated a statue to him in a local park...

So anyway, the answer to the question of how should a Christian confront evil is not something that can be easily answered.

It's easy to say "viva la revolution" without thinking what that means, or to piously spout "Turn the other cheek" when one lives in a comfortable US suburb where one doesn't have to confront the possibility that one might be killed by a bad guy every time you leave your home.

So what is the answer?

It depends. When in such a situation, you have to decide, but each decision must be weighed in the balance. And when there are atrocities on both sides, sometimes the best answer is messy (so those naive leftists criticizing Pope Francis for not joining in Argentina's revolution need to get a lesson in reality).

As a physician, I didn't take sides but treated the sick. I recognized that there were atrocities by both sides, yet that the "Vakomana" were the lesser of two evils.  Yet some local families had children fighting on both sides: After all the "evil white" government supported development like schools and hospitals and wasn't that oppressive, while the "vakomana" said they supported land reform (which was really what the revolution was about) but might also come to your village and demand young girls to service their needs, and beat you to death if you objected.

It is that last part that is why the Taliban and Alqaeda is becoming unpopular in the Muslim world, and why Magsaysay managed to overcome the Huks.

That is why one must be happy when a compromise is reached and the revolution can end. The majority of folks do not celebrate revolutions, but only want peace to live their lives, which is why a bad peace is always better than a good war.

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