AND JESUS WEPT......


Statue of Christ
Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
Oklahoma City
August 3, 2011
Photo by Lynn Franklin

 

His back turned to the scene of the monstrous crime, Jesus weeps across the street from the Oklahoma City National Memorial. He stands just to the north of the Catholic Cathedral that was heavily damaged on April 19, 1995 when an American terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, set off a truck bomb in front of the nearby Alfred Murrah Federal Building.

We probably will never really understand what would make an Army vet with a high school education believe those experiences would qualify him to murder 168 fellow citizens, including nineteen children. What makes a "homicide bomber" set off an explosive vest on a bus or in a church, mosque or synagogue? Why would a 32 year old Norwegian of apparently normal upbringing set off a bomb in downtown Oslo, then kill 69 teenagers at a local camp? We can wonder at the msytery and horror of psychopathology, but it seems clear to me that these acts of wretched destruction can occur anywhere at any time in any society. Our modern interconnected world gives the narcissist a stage on which to act out his imagined solutions, his simplifed black-and-white picture of the world, his mad calculus of "us and them".

If you get to Oklahoma City, and I encourage you to do so, weep with Jesus and thank God that your children are safe, your homes and work places are secure, and that the wicked hand of hatred has not descended on you or yours, as it did on that April day in 1995. For Americans, and for Norwegians, I imagine, these actions are a rarety. In other parts of the world, where entire schools, religious leaders and even national governments whip up hatred for the "other", the mass murderer can aspire to becoming an idol or hero. Where the public is encouraged to cultivate its worst fears and hatreds, the psychopath's work is half done before the crime is committed.

Our nation was founded on the unique principle that neither creed, nor color nor belief should serve as a basis for separating us, one from another. But time and the complexity of our lives can lead us to forget what our founders knew from direct experience. We must be constantly alert to the demagogue among us, the patron of fear and hatred of the other. Look upon the stark empty chairs, 168 of them, set on the grass beside the pool where the building and its nursery once stood. Listen and you can almost hear the dead children, white, black and brown among them, crying along with Jesus, for their lives cut short by a home grown terrorist.


Rows of Empty "Chairs"
Symbolizing Each Victim
Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
Oklahoma City
August 3, 2011
Photo by Lynn Franklin


Entrance Portal
Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
Oklahoma City
August 3, 2011
Photo by Lynn Franklin

Contributed by Robert E "Bob" Sweeney
bobs@chall.com

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