I used to be a pacifist, but then I had a kid. I do still believe that non-violence is always the better option, but I just think that there are times when complete non-violence becomes impossible in certain circumstances. If someone breaks into my house, yes, I'm going to do whatever I need to do to protect my wife and my daughter.
But what I find incredibly ironic and perverse is how religion and violence often get tangled up together. It boggles my mind that, in the US at least, it is often the "God fearing Christians" that are the most trigger happy, pro-war people on the planet. That would be like if a group of Richard Dawkins followers started a new theistic religion with Dawkins books. It would be precisely the opposite effect that Dawkins intended with his writing.
While the American Jesus of the political right in the US tends to be a homophobic grouch with a shotgun in his hand, the Jesus of the Gospels was nonviolent. That's just painfully obvious in the writings, and so curiously missing from the religious views of people who like to claim that they take the whole Bible literally. Jesus taught his followers to turn their cheek and pray for their enemies and warned that those who live by the sword die by the sword. I mean, remember that whole thing with the cross...? Jesus was not a person who KILLED people, who was someone who was KILLED by people for his message that Rome's sword would not have the final word. That's kind of the main Christian thing… Love triumphs over evil. Right?
God and Country is a lament of the violence that so much of our lives and our world is built on. It is, in fact, perhaps the most "Christian" song on this album to me.
The song imagines a war between two lands and is told through the eyes of a daughter and a father who both lost somebody they love on opposite sides of the conflict. A daughter loses her father and a father loses his son. Both the girl and the father seem to have a disdain for the war. They don't know what in hell they are even fighting for, but it seems the girl's people from "the East" have justified the war by thinking that they are tasked by the gods to set the native people from the West free, and in the process, they just happen to find land, oil and prosperity. The father from the West hates this war just like the daughter from the East does. He doesn't care about things like land or money, but now that these foreign monsters have taken his son, he's pissed and ready to gather up his God and his guns as well.
The distinction between gods and God here is to demonstrate how our different languages and beliefs get tangled up in our politics. Yet, everyone tends to place themselves at the center of the good and true. Both sides pray for victory. Both sides see themselves as justified. And our differences in language make us think that we are fighting fundamentally different than ourselves. But we are not. We are all fathers and sons and mothers and daughters. We're all human. We all want the same things.
How many millions of people need to be needlessly slaughtered in war before we see that the whole idea of war is outrageous and ridiculous?
How many school shootings do we have to endure before we realize that our guns are inherently a bad thing?
This is not to say that war and guns are always avoidable with the current set of circumstances on planet earth. The sad fact is that there are millions of guns in America, and they aren't going anywhere anytime soon. There's no amount of lamenting or legislating that is going to change that. But what gets me is when religious people seem to think that this is a GOOD thing! It is not a good thing! War may be unavoidable now and then at this point in history because of our hard hearts and feeble minds, but war is never a good thing. It is an evil. It is a plague on creation, and it should NEVER be associated with religion on any level.
When I look at things like gun legislation in America, I get pretty bummed out. All the "answers" of the different parties seem entirely futile and hopeless. This country was birthed in blood and it's sustained in blood. We are intrinsically a violent people. I don't think external laws will be able to fix that. But most people in America also call themselves CHRISTians. So, perhaps a little change could start to come if those who claim the name of Christ would pay a little attention to what he actually said. Maybe if those who called themselves Christians started seeing violence as a bad thing rather than a good thing, a little progress could be made somewhere down the road.