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Jesus built my battleship

May 28, 2001

 

I had a very unsettling dream that the United States was at war. I awoke in horror.

 

In my dream, we were at war with Iraq and China. Iraq had, in its wisdom, solicited China to join them in invading the United States, to stop our meddling in the affairs of the East. We're meddlers; it's what we *do.* If I were them I'd be pissed off too.

 

The initial strategy was very clear: Iraq wanted to do the actual invasion, but they needed China's size and weaponry to cast the initial blow. China began by invading Japan and setting up bases there. Of course when that happened the rest of the world became extremely concerned at China's actions, and of course China was reprimanded by the United Nations and the U.S. in particular (who surely saw the strategy being placed). Once China had Japan, they also had the closest proximity available to the West Coast of the United States, which as we know the Japanese have taken advantage of before. Iraq took care of the East Coast by working out an agreement with Cuba to place missiles there. (Well? It worked for Russia, didn't it? I'm not very creative with my dream-wars, I know).

 

Much of the early part of the dream was just waves and waves of horror, of realizing we were in serious shit; and that in our growing prosperity, we were no longer a country of patriots wishing for an opportunity to die for our country. We're a country of lazy, indulgent and self-righteous meddlers who rely on our big government to protect us. In my dream, we had no idea what to do when we realized what was happening... and the people hid behind the proverbial skirts of big mamma Washington, whimpering.

 

I don't know how the war-story played out, except that the last part of the dream consisted of the same scene repeated over and over again with variations. Ashley and I were hiding among the ruins, in a giant old abandoned wood-frame house, at night. People were looking for us, sometimes to shoot us and sometimes just to take us into custody. Sometimes we could hide; sometimes that didn't work because they knew exactly where we were.

 

Sometimes one of us was caught and the other wasn't, and we despaired in losing each other. Usually that's when the scene would start over, because that, to me, is clearly not an option. I'd rather die.

 

Funnily enough, even though much of the basis for the dream is obvious to me out of the content of my own life, England never arose as an ally like it surely would in event of war. You'd think it would have, playing so prominently in my life as England does.

 

Is war *always* about money and religion? Being an utterly unreligious person, I'm baffled by the hypocrisy of the concept of the "holy war". Yet in many cultures, there's no better or more heroic sort of war. Seems like lots of people think the best reason to kill people is for worshipping the wrong deity.

 

A few months ago two little old ladies came to my door in San Francisco to spread the word of Christianity to me. As if the only reason I might not be Christian is that I just don't have enough information. I was feeling philosophical, so I played along for a little while. I have to say I was really very earnest in my discussion with them, I had no agenda except to see what happened if I was honest about my beliefs, and openly listened to theirs.

 

They asked me if I'd read the bible. I said that I had in fact read a lot of it, which is true. They were pleased that I'd read it, but clearly concerned that I could have read it and still not turned into a Christian, like it's the magical aftereffect of reading the bible. So they proceeded to tell me (their version of) what Christianity is All About.

 

Next they asked me a very interesting question: Do you believe that if everyone were Christian, wouldn't the world be a better place?

 

That's a spectacularly naïve question, but really a very, very interesting one! Yes, by golly, if everyone in the world were *any one* religion, custom, belief, philosophy, whatever... there would, as a result, surely be significantly less strife. But, I added, it needn't necessarily be Christianity; it could be Buddhism, Jainism, Paganism, Judaism, pick any ism and I guarantee general world peace would ensue if everyone shared a single belief. But it ain't gonna happen anyway!

 

I should never have tried this philosophical approach, because now the two ladies fixated on the fact that I had said "yes." They kept interrupting me to blurt out, "You said the world would be a better place if everyone were Christian!"

 

"I said there would probably be less strife if everyone were all the same religion," I corrected her.

 

The other one piped in, "You said, you said!" like a kindergartener.

 

"Okay," I conceded, "The world would ALSO be a better place if people didn't go around forcing their beliefs on other people and castigating other people for being the 'wrong' religion. It's probably people like you, evangelizing and fixating on the 'differences' between, say, Catholicism and Protestantism in Ireland for example, who are responsible for all the victims of the clashes between two people of pretty much the same damn religion."

 

Pause. "You said, you said!" they sang again.

 

"Okay, thanks, it's time for you to leave now." I moved them out of my face by shutting the door in theirs. Sheesh, so much for my good-natured debate. I've done this before and it always ends the same way; maybe I'm the naïve one.

 

Recalling that conversation with perfectly sensible little old ladies with whom I share the same culture and probably general background, I think: the world is doomed. Someone is always going to kill someone else on a grand scale for being the wrong religion, or race, or gender. I just hope the United States can keep herself out of trouble for all her intervention, because I am horrified by the prospect of invasion.

 

Incidentally I'm also horrified by the ads for the movie "Pearl Harbor" which are blatant sentimental propaganda, with the giant swarm of bombers flying in over America's green fields full of America's finest li'l offspring playing their favorite all-American sport. Uck. Ash's Mum was growing up in Coventry, England during the German bombing of England in World War II. She actually saw houses on her own street blown up, her own city torn to shreds and flattened.

 

That's what war really does.

 

When they come, they'll find me and Ash clinging together in the darkness.

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