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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ring of Identification

When I returned from prison in the Vietnam War era, my father remarked (perhaps hopefully, perhaps encouragingly) that I had not changed.  I was the same old Wayne.  I was in my twenties then.  Today I’m 66 and I wonder what my father would say to me today.  Am I still the same old Wayne?  What would he be looking for?  What constituted the same old Wayne?  I think what daddy saw in me was what he would say was a goodness defined by respect for others—perhaps even viewing others as better than myself.  This has always certainly been a part of my character.  I view everyone as authority figures.  Everyone (including children) by the power they exercise over themselves can confound my best efforts at extending friendship.  Perhaps, in the end, the reason I refused to fight in Vietnam was that I refused to be inducted into the “us—them” mindset.  I have never believed in exclusion, in drawing a circle that leaves someone out of the human family.  I see too much of myself in others, even the disgraced.  I can worship Jesus and try to follow him and simultaneously identify with the darker side of Judas. The saying always recurs in such cases, "but for the grace of God go I."

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