What Can I Do?


 My friend Ralph directed me to Jeremiah 5:21 and 5:26 – 28:

Jeremiah 5:21 “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: . . . 26-29  “Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people. Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful and have grown fat and sleek. Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not seek justice. They do not promote the case of the fatherless; they do not defend the just cause of the poor.”

Note the line about people getting traps and apparently stuffed into cages like birds. Ralph likened the caged birds to much of the evangelical right. I agreed and thought in response, What can we do? 

Then I remembered an evening with my dear friend Cliff some years after the Vietnam war. He had declined to talk about his experiences in that mess until this evening when he told me about his platoon entering a village to look for Viet Cong. As a new sergeant, he was in charge of half of the platoon, and he led them into one side of the village. While his men were doing their job, he heard a lot of gun fire and soon a young soldier came running from the other side of the village and yelled, “Sarge, down there the guys are killing everything in sight, women, kids, babies, pigs, chickens, everything.”

Cliff rose from his chair,  hovered over me and yelled,  “I asked him, What can I do?”

Then he demanded of me,  “What could I do? What could I do?”

Now, as someone who knows many of those evangelicals, I think of them as caged birds and want to yell, “What can I do?  What on earth can I do?”

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