Friday, September 02, 2005


He was one of the kindest, gentlest, most compassionate, most Christ-like and Christ-filled people I ever met. He taught at the college I attended, and I always thought of him as someone who could do no wrong. Then, one day, in class, he talked about his experiences during World War II.

He was one of the rare conscientious objectors for that war, and as such 'served' in the military but not in combat. No, he took part in studies the military did on how troops might react in certain situations.

For instance, part of his group would be given incredible amounts of food, while the rest got nothing. Part of the group could have all the water they needed, while others had mere spoonfuls. In the winter, certain folks would have the warm clothing they needed to survive, other soldiers had only their summer gear.

And what happened? Just what you would expect. The CO's - all compassionate, caring, gentle people of faith - stole water, stole clothes, hoarded food. Pushed to the extreme, our professor related, he realized that even he might take a life in order to survive. In the right (or maybe it is really the wrong) circumstances, the most faithful person can become the most desperate person. Placed in situations we do not choose, any one of us can do what we know to be wrong.

So, when I see those folks in New Orleans who are looting stores for food, I hear Professor Smith's voice, and shut my mouth before I put both feet in.

When I see mothers who are filled with anger and violence because they have no diapers, no milk, no water, no food to give their infants, I remember his stories and try not to rush to judgment.

When I see people who are driven to desperation by circumstances they did not choose, I ask God to forgive me for judging their choices, and pray that I will be faithful enough, and that my country will be just as faithful, to make sure this never, ever happens again,

to anyone.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

No comments: