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Step Six

Parent Message

We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Back to the story of Hannah.

Somewhere midway through her season in hell, Hannah befriended a neighbor, Carla, a single mother of a five-year-old girl. Carla belonged to a group of single mothers who met every week at a local church and invited Hannah to join them. Stripped by months of looking into the roots of her violence in her family, she was greatly moved by the openness with which the women spoke of their own anger and their children’s. It was the first time it occurred to her that her demons were not a private matter. In the company of these women, their honesty and kindness, she began to see possibilities for her life if she could forgive herself, if she could be forgiven.

At first Billy was skeptical and irritated by his mother’s interest in religion but softened a bit because she started treating him better, she was no longer violent and she didn’t preach to him. He even accompanied her, Carla, the local minister and a few women from the church to the Klamath River for baptism.

"I was so filled with different feelings, excited and happy and full of uncertainty, but I was ready, too."

At the edge of the waters of redemption, one’s friends praying, singing – a life being left behind, a new and mysterious life ahead. This moment offers the perfect image of Step Six: entirely ready to trust God’s grace, the possibility of a fresh start freed from the patterns of violence and shame.

Step Six stands at the edge between the known and the unknown, between a soul that has learned the habits of self-examination and a soul that will be born to a life of freedom.

What can this possibly have to do with the larger picture of redeeming us as military-industrial addicts from our untenable self-destructive patterns? Here a generous hope is called for. We betray our children if we don’t believe this planet has a future.

That is what is at stake.

Where are the waters of redemption? Do we imagine this country, having examined its soul en masse at the riverside, ready to trust the mercy of God? Naïve.

Let’s remember the Winter Soldiers tribunal in the early seventies, Vietnam Veterans Against the War speaking openly about atrocities they had committed in a far-away country.

Or reservists in the Israeli Defense Force likewise speaking out about the horror they have visited upon Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

Or honor the 7,000 perpetrators of torture and assassination, pro-apartheid and anti-apartheid, and 20,000 of their victims speaking openly before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa that the country might heal from an excruciating history.

Or Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect, pleading guilty at Nuremberg and the decades he spent in Spandau prison trying to understand how he’d been seduced by National Socialism.

These ones were delivered to the edge of redemption, maybe willing to step in. One becomes a peacemaker by examining one’s soul and by receiving those who have traveled so far in the examination of their lives.
The conscience of the nation and the world likely rests in a few courageous souls. They are precious beyond measure.

What would it look like if each of us in this country in our own way appealed to God to remove our addiction to violence?.

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