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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Bumper of My SUV

This morning, I heard a song on the radio. It's a new one, by a country artist named Chely Wright. The album's not even out yet, and won't be until February, so it's not available in stores. But it's apparently taken on a life of it's own, and it's certainly sticking in my head; so I want to share it with you. If I could attach the music, I'd do it.

It's a reminder that how we treat one another day to day, even in the small moments, matters.
I've got a bright red sticker on the back of my car,
Says: "United States Marines."
And yesterday a lady in a mini-van,
Held up her middle finger at me.
Does she think she knows what I stand for,
Or the things that I believe,
Just by looking at a sticker for the US Marines,
On the bumper of my S.U.V.?

See, my brother Chris, he's been in,
For more than 14 years now.
Our Dad was in the Navy during Vietnam,
Did his duty, then he got out.
And my Grandpa earned his Purple Heart,
On the beach of Normandy.
That's why I've got a sticker for the US Marines,
On the bumper of my S.U.V.

But that doesn't mean that I want war:
I'm not Republican or Democrat.
But I've gone all around this crazy world,
Just to try to better understand.
And yes, I do have questions:
I get to ask them because I'm free.
That's why I've got a sticker for the US Marines,
On the bumper of my S.U.V.

'Cause I've been to Hiroshima,
And I've been to the DMZ.
I've walked on the sand in Baghdad,
Still don't have all of the answers I need.
But I guess I wanna know where she's been,
Before she judges and gestures to me,
'Cause she don't like my sticker for the US Marines,
On the bumper of my S.U.V.

So I hope that lady in her mini-van,
Turns on her radio and hears this from me.
As she picks up her kids,
From their private school,
And drives home safely on our city streets.
Or to the building where her church group meets:
Yeah, that's why I've got a sticker for the US Marines,
On the bumper of my S.U.V.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may enjoy reading more about this song in this story from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/Music/12/14/music.wright.reut/index.html


December 14, 2004 1:43 PM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

Micah: yes, thanks. In addition to the song this morning, I heard an interview with Chely Wright on the radio, where she related much of the same information as in the article.

December 14, 2004 1:58 PM  

Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...


Interesting. Though I do not appreciate much in the way of the gut reaction from our minivan driver, I gotta say that I am not much for the sentiment of the song.

Sorry to be contrary.

December 14, 2004 2:30 PM  

Blogger Mark said...

Tripp could you elaborate please? While I can see what you dislike about minivan lady, you didn't say anything to indicate why you don't like the song or what the song conveys.

December 14, 2004 4:04 PM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

I'm sorry, too, bro. Because it eems to me that's part of the point. I can say that I don't like this war, out loud and in public; or we can have an argument on this blog, if we choose, without worrying about a midnight knock on the door, largely because we live in a country where people have died to protect that.

Whether that sort of sacrifice is (or ought to be) necessary-- whether, for example, the men and women in harm's way at the moment are being asked to protect fundamental rights, or instead are being sent to fight and die for some lesser reason-- is another, separate discussion.

There's a line between supporting what soldiers do, and who they are. I find that the more I know about what's going on over there, the more questions I have; and the more people I know and love who are in fact in the middle of it all, the more I feel the need to walk that line. Seems to me that's what Chely's trying to do, too.

December 14, 2004 4:20 PM  

Blogger Mark said...

I suppose I could ask: Do you see a difference, Tripp, between an "Air Force" bumper sticker on my car (there isn't one, but use your imagination) and my uniform on me?

December 14, 2004 7:05 PM  

Blogger Dave said...

Jane- you wisely say that "Whether that sort of sacrifice is (or ought to be) necessary-- whether, for example, the men and women in harm's way at the moment are being asked to protect fundamental rights, or instead are being sent to fight and die for some lesser reason-- is another, separate discussion."

The fatal flaw of the song as I see it (maybe this is what Tripp is getting at) is that the song won't let that be a separate discussion- Wright implies pretty strongly that the war in Iraq can be safely assumed to be about the protection of American freedom.

The irony (unapprehended by Wright) is that it is sold as being about American freedom, but it probably has more to do with fueling her SUV.

That said, soldiers are brave, ready to make the ulimate sacrifice, and that is honorable, and I agree that the flipper-offer-lady is rude rude rude. I'm not sure whether it's as rude as the attitude the current administration has toward its soldiers.

December 14, 2004 9:44 PM  

Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

Okay, here's when I lose all my friends.

I think that a military force in inherently (sp) sinful. It does not serve to protect humanity, or serve a greater good. There is no greater good than the Kingdom. And none are asked to kill for the sake of the Kingdom...only die for it. And though we may enjoy a certain freedom, having a military to maintain a "greater good" does not increase the Kingdom. It increases the government, economic power and certain "rights" to hold ourselves apart from the world in a way that is fictional. Our liberties are fiction. They are constructs, nothing else. I enjoy them, yes, but they are constructs. They may, at times, come close to what God wills for us, but they are not the same.

9-11 is a great reminder of the fiction that is our freedom...our safety.

I am rambling. Sorry.

The military protects whom? You? Me? Possibly. But at what cost? The men and women of the military die to protect us. I see that they believe that. How I wish they would not. How I wish they would not sin on my behalf. They kill for me. As often as we may say "They die to protect." They kill to protect. They do not die. They are doing everything NOT to die. They are trying to kill. Death is the accident...usually. Killing is the intention.

That is the problem. I say all this knowing that my grandfather and his brothers all served in WWII. They went overseas. Uncle Billy landed at Normandy. I respect that they thought that they were doing the right thing. I say that at best they sinned when they believed that there was no other option. They may not agree with me at all. They probably felt that they were doing the world a service by killing Japs and Krauts. This is how my grandfather stated it at least.

I ask no one to die for me. Jesus died for me. That is all our souls need. No? Are we asking for more?

Is the military protecting the church? Isn't that Augustine's line? Since we have no such thing in this country (at least not de facto), then what are they protecting? I just do not get it.

Military strength/action is a response to despair, not hope.
Military strength/action is an oppressive strength. The only time a military force does not act as an oppressive force is when it ceases to kill and assists in "humanitarian" efforts. When swords are turned into plowshares...that is when they protect me. That is when they serve. That is the least militaristic thing they do. Otherwise they kill on my behalf. I have not asked them to do so. I would rather they stop. As there is no place in this world that lives with any other governmental/military stance, I will be selfish and base and stay in America.

I know this makes no sense. I am sorry. It is a little late for me to post these muddled thoughts.

Suffice it to say that I fear for the souls of those who serve. I fear for their lives as well. I fear for the lives of those they hunt. I fear for those souls. I fear for my soul as it is represented to the world and to God by teen-agers with guns.

I think it is a shame.

Good night. I need to sleep. I don't know if this makes much sense. I really cannot be much clearer. I am sorry if I offend. It is not my desire to do so.

Peace and all good things.

December 14, 2004 9:53 PM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

Dave: I don't agree, bro. I hear her supporting the simple existance of the military, and the service of men and women, whose primary purpose is "being about American freedom." Whether they are serving that purpose this time around, seems to be about what she continues to have questions-- as do I.

December 15, 2004 8:41 AM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

Tripp: I can't speak for anyone else, but lose my friendship? You know better than that, love.

That said, I can understand your point. Yes, the very existance of the military, anywhere, is predicated on sin. A violent response to violence, or even the percepttion of such as a needed possibility, is testimony to the inherently fallen nature of humanity.

However, I'm not willing to concede that the commission of violence in defense of another, is automatically and universally less sinful than the act of refusing to do so.

Now, I will freely admit to a bias, here. I have been in at least one situation in my life where the threat of violence has been a defense, and one that worked-- and though I would certainly prefer that it wasn't necessary, I was very, very grateful for the outcome.

Do I want someone to have to defend me, or do I want to have to defend another, by violence? Of course not. I will scramble like crazy to find other alternatives, and I believe that most of the time they are available. But the bottom line is, yes, I would. God help me, I can do no other.

December 15, 2004 9:43 AM  

Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

I too have been in situations where violence seemed to be the only option. I spent years studying martial arts for that very reason. The outcome of my experience differs because I now realize the horrible wrong it is to commit violence upon another even to defend myself.

What I wonder is if we all fear death, if we are so afraid of it in spite of our faith claims that we cannot allow violence to be committed upon us.

At least at this writing, I do not fear death. It comes to all of us in one form or another and we get very, very little say in how it does come. So, if I can say something by my dying, that I do not fear death, then I would rather say that...even if I am trembling for fear at the time.

I would not deny death so strongly that I would willingly kill another.

I would, so you know, nuance this if there was a way to not kill another person but restrain them. Bruce's attitudes are somewhat more acceptable. I still have trouble with them which is why I no longer practice the martial arts, but I understand it better.

December 15, 2004 9:58 AM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

"I would not deny death so strongly that I would willingly kill another." On that, I can agree with you. I do not relish the thought of dying, but I do not fear it, either.

However, what I would to to protect my own life, and what I would do in the defense of another, are two different questions. And it is there, I think, that we differ.

December 15, 2004 10:17 AM  

Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

I think I need to understand something you are saying. You seem to think that it is a sin not to defend, no? Inaction is a sin of some kind. Am I hearing you rightly?

I certainly would agree with you, but I wonder why the action of the military is a viable option. Are there not other options?

December 15, 2004 12:40 PM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

"A sin not to defend?" Yes, sometimes I think it can be so-- for individuals as individuals, as well as for people as a larger body. This latter is where I think "the action of the military is a viable option."

Of course there are other options, and perhaps-- no, almost certainly--we do not exploit them as thoroughly as we ought. But I am not willing to say that a military response is never, ever appropriate, even as I acknowledge it at best as the lesser of evils.

December 15, 2004 10:20 PM  

Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

What is this greater or lesser evil idea you are playing with? You could post on that and I would find it helpful.


December 16, 2004 4:50 AM  

Blogger books said...

That's not all there is too this song.

January 09, 2005 1:55 AM  

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