Friday, August 22, 2014

I Picked Up a Thrashing Porcupine... See what happened next!

(Sorry, couldn't help the clickbait title)

A couple years ago, I was driving down a narrow driveway through the woods, and came upon a porcupine in the middle of the driveway. It was clearly sick or wounded, thrashing around. So I did what any sensible person would do. I walked over to the porcupine, told it I was not going to hurt it, picked it up and set it to the side of the road...

Right. No, I stayed in my car and let the porcupine get to the side of the road and then drove off. You don't pick up a porcupine. You don't get close to a wounded porcupine. To the wounded porcupine, the world is dangerous, including helpful folk. The same thing is true of human beings.

Being wounded means that we are ready to defend ourselves. We hide our vulnerability behind respectability or anger or mockery, but we are wounded just the same. The events of Ferguson, Missouri, highlight what it means to be wounded. I choose not to comment on the shooting except to say that it is horrific, no matter what happened, that someone is dead today.

The hyper-escalation which followed revealed the deep wounds of society; not just Ferguson, but the entire nation. A cursory search on the Internet would reveal that wounded people do what wounded people do when their wounds are exposed. Mike Brown has been thoroughly demonized in the search for a way for the shooting to have meaning. Looting has occurred, as anger has turned to senseless rage. The Ferguson police have turned to military weapons and riot control tactics which ought to shake every one of us to the core. We are a wounded people, seeing our fellow human as dangerous and evil.

Justice must be done. Peaceful protest must ensure that due process is followed. What happens in Ferguson is up to those in Ferguson. But what about the rest of us, trying to have a dialogue about what these wounds mean for a cultural psyche? Two days ago, I witnessed a two-person conversation turn into a twelve person argument about these events. We are wounded, and I cannot fully trust my wound to guide me down the right path.

I follow a wounded God. In the resurrection, God chose not to erase the scars of crucifixion. Jesus in Revelation is described as the Lamb having been slain, even slain from the foundation of the world. It is only at the cross where my wounds can make sense, and perhaps even be used for healing. It is time to let the truest Human who ever walked the earth to re-humanize us, and even to re-humanize our opponents, maybe even our enemies. I am not sure how to walk this path but to start in deep lament, letting healing lead the way forward.

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