I was at church recently. Which isn't that weird. I go every Sunday. Someone was reading from Psalms about the struggle against violent enemies.
O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying to me, "There is no help for you in God." But you, O LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the LORD sustains me. I am not afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Rise up, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Deliverance belongs to the LORD; may your blessing be on your people!
Someone at church commented that they have difficulty relating to passages of the Bible that talk like this; foes, enemies, anguish. We don't live in a war zone, we're not soldiers. It's hard to relate. We just don't have foes like this.
I almost shit my pants.
REALLY?! YOU CAN'T RELATE?? WHAT'S THAT LIKE? I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE VOICES IN MY HEAD. I've never had difficulty relating to the Psalms. Maybe that's the upside of living with mental illness; I can relate better to ancient literature written by unknown authors in a Hebrew transcribed without vowels. So handy. Or perhaps, I can relate to anyone who struggles, feeling the weight of what they fight against to be unsought for and overwhelmingly vicious.
But put me aside for a minute. Put aside those of us who have never had difficulty relating to someone who cried out in Hebrew thousands of years ago, "How many are my foes! Many are rising against me..." How about we leap just a tiny bit out of our priviledged, first world perspective and rail against some really fucking big foes? How about children who are soldiers? Eight year olds with assault weapons and heroin addictions? Poverty that makes people burn their furniture for heat during the long Canadian winters? The trafficking of sixteen year old girls up and down this Island, around the province, from exploitation to violence to addiction? Parentless, unadoptable kids who age out of systems everywhere and wind up exploited, in jail, or dead within months? War. Cancer. Racism. Stillbirth.
Our greatest foe is apathy. Our greatest foe is the moment when we can't think of a foe. Isn't it? It is our job to fight for justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. I'm not actually hiding behind a big rock, ten hours into a frantic flight from an armed enemy, breath ragged and chest burning. But there's still a war.
International journalists who travel to unstable areas of the world buy special insurance that will pay the ransom on their lives if they are kidnapped. Because this is a real possibility, them being kidnapped, and the reason it works is because kidnapping is lucrative. Steal a person, make some cash. What is this world?
I can't do much against all the foes. But I can do something, and it starts by acknowledging the pain they inflict. Acknowledging the survivors, and doing something to double their population.