It has been over twenty years since I first began hearing about the Culture War. We were warned over and over again about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket and it is all their fault. They, those people who are not us, have cast off all moral restraint which is resulting in the end of the tidy world as we know it.
I heard it. I heard it some more. I still hear it. Them vs. Us. Everywhere. And we must get out there and fight that war. Kill those enemies. Or, if necessary, circle the wagons and wait out the whole shootin' match.
I may have overstated. I am not trying to be terribly offensive, but I am weary. And concerned.
I have mentioned a time or two that my father was a Navy pilot in World War II. He flew nifty planes in the Pacific Theater and, best I can guess from the bits and pieces I have heard, did some rather heroic things. During childhood the memories of his old Navy days graced the wall, complete with photos of uniforms and airplanes and medals and flags. He may have been the most patriotic man I know.
I was well into adulthood before I found out that his father, my grandfather, was in World War I. I never knew this man, but I hear that he was a quiet and gentle man. Instead of flying the planes or shooting from the trenches at the well defined enemy, he served in a different, much needed way. He drove an ambulance. According to my father, "he could make an ambulance GO places."
Where there is war, there are wounded.
When the economy goes in the tank, we tend to rail against whatever political or economic ideology we feel is responsible. Do we out as much energy into caring for the casualties of a failing economy? Do we give of our resources to those suddenly without a paycheck? Or a home?
When we hear that the percentage of children born to women out of wedlock is reaching 41% (or even 50%, as I saw recently), we shake our heads at the moral laxity, tighten our grip on our own daughters, and jump on the modesty bandwagon. But do we come alongside those women who find themselves lonely and overwhelmed? Do our hearts melt for those children who might not know what a father is?
It is easier to fight an enemy out there than to love a neighbor in here. Up close and personal. Where things might get messy. Hands dirty.
We can debate and campaign until the cows come home. We might very well be right in our position. But the wounded are not healed by arguments or upright moral standing. The wounded are healed by kindness and compassion, mercy and grace, and love.
My grandfather may not have been a war hero. He will never go down in the history books. His actions didn't change the outcome of any battle. But I can guarantee you that to those wounded soldiers, his presence, his care, and his willingness to go to scary, messy places meant the difference between life and death.
The Culture War has plenty of soldiers. It's time we trained to be medics.
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