Meditation: The Soldier


Reflection of a Soldier on Good Friday

Have you ever felt your heart torn by some simple words?
I’ve never been affected by much,
well that was until this happened.

You see, I’m a soldier,
charged with the duty of defending the country,
doing whatever it is the leaders,
supposedly representing the people,
decide is important.

Most people wonder how you can go out and face all that death,
but you get quite numb to it all after a while,
it becomes the normal thing.
I expect it’s that which makes us so emotionless,
you seem to lose all common feeling towards other human beings,
well those that are the perceived enemy, anyway.

I imagine you’ve seen all the soldier stuff on the TV,
I mean it’s a constant thing now,
soldiers fighting,
wars battled.

We mostly spend our time acting like police
in countries we’re allegedly helping out,
keeping the troublemakers out the way.

There’s a lot of hatred that builds up towards these agitators.
When you’ve lost friends to them,
you’re bound to react to it.
We have a policy of arresting and imprisoning most of those that cause a nuisance.
Some of us have taken to providing rehabilitation of our own,
inflicting our own kinds of punishment.

Some said it was abuse,
I suppose it was now I think about it,
but at the time you get caught up in the energy of it all,
we’re taught to hate these dissenters,
we need to keep peace and harmony in the country.
Teach them a lesson, we think,
they won’t do it again.
We’ve done some horrendous things to people.

There was this one that came in,
he’d been arrested for stirring things up,
something to do with religious stuff,
fundamentalism, I think,
trying to get people to believe in things a certain way,
you know the usual – we see it all the time now!

Well we took him down to the cells,
we’re used to people putting up a fight as we drag them down,
but he just calmly came,
didn’t even resist.
We all became a bit keyed up:
we can have some fun with this one,
someone muttered.

So we stripped him,
still he didn’t flinch,
we got out our own makeshift whips,
we’d attached nails and all sorts to them,
and took it in turns to thrash and flog him.

He hardly moved,
he was in pain all right,
we could see that,
but he was trying to keep his dignity.

Someone whispered that he had a charge for pretending to be a king,
so we grabbed some barbed wire and made a crown,
they passed it to me.
All hyped up,
I took it,
and forced it upon him,
spikes piercing all round his head.
It was then he moved
and he screamed,
but he didn’t just scream,
he cried out some words,
‘Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing!’

My head just dropped,
I felt ashamed,
what had I become?

He looked me in the eye;
something powerful was happening,
there was something about this man,
I could tell he didn’t hold it against me.
All I could see and feel in those words and look,
was love,
pure love,
I’ve never felt anything like it before.
Something has changed me,
and I’m never going to be the same again.

Who’d have thought it,
one man,
some simple words,
and my life changed!

© Gary Hopkins 2007