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Rev. Dr. G. Penny Nixon of MCC-SF Addresses Iraq War

By Rev. Dr. G. Penny Nixon
Metropolitan Community Church / San Francisco

If This is Armageddon, I'm not Ready!

The Rev. Penny Nixon of MCC San Francisco This world is far too beautiful to go up in fire and smoke. I am not given to doomsday thinking or apocalyptic fantasizing, but I cannot help myself -- and I'm sure you can't either -- from thinking of and visualizing the horror about to be unleashed. It is simply beyond my human capacity to imagine. If this is Armageddon, I'm not ready.

And while I do not blame God for the suffering of the world, I cannot help but feel that there are forces in the universe that have gone out of control. Have we stepped into a sci fi movie? But in this movie, people do not get up from their seats when it's over and walk away.

When the sci fi series Dune and Children of Dune aired this week, the apocalyptic menagerie was eerily surreal. But conversely, the protagonist's mantra was very real, too real: I must not give in to the fear. Fear is the mind killer. I will face my fear. I will let it pass through me. Only I will remain.

I don't want to imagine it. I simply do not want that kind of violence in my psyche. I don't want that evil to touch any recess of my soul. But yet -- and here ís the paradox -- I want to be fully engaged! I want to stand in solidarity with those who suffer and with those who move each moment one step closer to mortality. I want to touch my anger, touch my fear, touch my hope and touch my peace.

I think of my niece, Abby, somewhere in Kuwait, a thin blanket of sand layering her skin, and wonder what is going through her mind. Then my thoughts swing to the images of Iraqi families fleeing for their lives, by any and every means possible. I know my niece's name. I don't know their names.

I think of children who in all their years have not known what peace is, but only know that all they long for is a night without fear. I think of all the GLBT military personnel who cannot speak of their partners, lovers or families of choice. They experience a particular kind of isolation in their fear.

The words of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi come to mind: "I don't believe that one should talk about hope unless one is working towards something. We only have the right to hope if we are struggling." Do these words apply to peace as well? We only have a right to talk of peace if we too are struggling for it? The day after George Bush's final ultimatum, when peace seems so out of reach and anticipated violence and horror are on the edges of everyone's hearts, what is there left to do in terms of peace, or even hope for that matter?

As a queer, I am well acquainted with the notion of categorization. I am all too familiar with government lies and the potential cruelty of otherness. As a religious leader, I am sorrowfully aware of institutional secrecy and self-preservation at any cost. I suppose that is why I am so certain that no human is dispensable.

I know that my life is not worth more than any other life - not more, not less. So with this one life I have, I want to somehow make a difference. When I want to give up believing that I can make any difference at all, that is the precise moment when I must choose again to work for peace for ALL.

So, I weep for all who are touched by this world we have created. I hold vigil. I stand for peace. I work with resolve not to become the evil I protest. I pray. I pray constantly. I commit to stay open. I keep my eyes wide open to it all. All of it, and my part in it especially.

I gather with community in attempt to reclaim each and every day the role the queer community can play in bringing peace and healing to the world. I will not give up. That is why I am not ready for Armageddon, I suppose. We are not done. I haven't done enough. We haven't done enough.

It has begun. So has our most difficult work begun -- whenever and wherever we can, to live humanly, compassionately and deeply present to one another, to ourselves, and to our world. Do not shut down. Care. Struggle. Pray. Pray to every divine name you have ever heard. Stay with your heart.

Don't shut down. That is how we got to this point in the first place.
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