Saturday, March 24, 2007

The God of Small People

It's Saturday morning. I'm slowly unwinding, recovering from another harsh week. Too much job work, too much volunteer work. Both keeping me tied for too long to a computer screen. My body seems to tell me "too much" by stubbornly gaining weight, as though to say, "unload your life a little and I'll get lighter too." Maybe I'll finally get to exercise a little this afternoon.

One good thing about Saturdays is that I usually don't have to get dressed quickly and rush out of the house. Fortunately, I rarely have an event or appointment on Saturday morning. I get to sleep later and, once awake, move more slowly. I even look forward to blogging a bit ... in front of a computer screen, but much more relaxed.

This week we showed the film
The Road to Guantánamo at our Amnesty International chapter meeting. It was the second time I saw the movie, but the inhumanity of it really hit me more forcefully this time. I saw lots and lots of brown-skinned men, some turbaned, some bearded, mostly in their 20's or younger, herded like animals onto the back of pick-up trucks. In one scene, they are packed like merchandise into the back of a huge delivery truck and the doors locked shut. Many die from suffocation or heat exhaustion. Those that survive are taken to a prisoner camp where they are kept in a kneeling position on the ground and repeatedly slapped and punched by guards in army camouflage outfits.

I couldn't help noticing that the American and British soldiers were bigger, taller, stockier ...I think of the title of
Arundhati Roy's novel, The God of Small Things...

We are right, we are righteous, we are more moral...our size attests to it, our abundance proclaims it, our God declares it.

Perhaps there is another God for creatures of lesser stature and with less of this world's goods...

"How come you have so much cargo?" I remember the question the men of Papua New Guinea asked Jared Diamond in the documentary film version of his book
Guns, Germs and Steel. Goods of any type, they call them "cargo." How come you have so much stuff, so many possessions? Bigger is better, more is better...it's a sign of our divine calling to subjugate the world...and appropriate to ourselves as much cargo as possible. Could we be misinterpreting the voice we hear?

Because they're bigger, stronger, and --totally incidentally-- wielding weapons, the soldiers bully the little men. Scenes of the little brown men --now clothed in orange prisoner jumpsuits, their hands bound behind their back, their head covered by a sack, sound-proof mufflers over their ears-- being herded, imprisoned, and abused are juxtaposed with clips of the President, former Attorney General Ashcroft, and then Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld declaring that these are all "bad men." Once in their Guantánamo Bay chicken coop, the guards yell at them repeatedly, "Shut the f-- up!" if they dare speak to one another or pray out loud.

They must be bad men. I mean, look how small and flimsy they are...look at how easily they were captured...they crumbled like the wall of Jericho when Joshua blew his trumpet...yet no evidence is brought against any of them. None has a lawyer present as he is interrogated, beaten, and shoved back into his chicken pen...

Has none of these Christian interrogators read the Gospel of John? "Where are your accusers?" Jesus asks the woman cowering on her knees...

Maybe it's because I'm barely 5 ft. tall that I identify with small people...and wonder if perhaps they even have a different God.

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