American values are crossing swords in the 2008 Election for President of the United States. Conflicting values are not unusual. Actually, conflicting values come our way every day. Such is the nature of ethics. One such conflict is apparent in the redemption of former Weatherman Bill Ayers. The social turmoil of the 1960’s continues to haunt America.
We live in a country that is predominantly Christian. That means something to real Christians. Real Christians accept the consequences of their belief system. They understand the difficulty of passing through the eye of the needle.
This writer is amused at the critical judgment of new found Christians. We are a child of the 1960’s – and so are a bunch of the Christian fundamentalists. They don’t want to talk about what they were doing back in the day. If they do, they frame their past in the context of Christian Redemption. “I was a bad boy but Jesus saved me.” – That sort of thing.
Bill Ayers committed acts of violence against the United States of America. But the more appropriate context is historical. Bill Ayers committed acts of violence against a government that was not itself being honorable. But Bill Ayers crossed the line. The civil disobedience of the 1960’s was based on non-violence. This writer believed then, and continues to believe today, that Americans have the duty of civil disobedience. This right, this duty, is written into the Constitution – the Bill of Rights calls us to speak against wrong, to assemble, to challenge government that is unethical.
Rosa Parks is the best example of a common person raising up against a dishonorable government. Ms. Parks sat on a bus and refused to give up her seat to a white person. She was disobedient to the law, but she was civil. Martin Luther King and Ghandi were each successful in their disobedience to the law – because they remained civil.
Bill Ayers continues to believe today, as does this writer, that his cause was honorable. But again, Bill Ayers crossed the line from civil to violent. One of the fundamental concepts of the United States is the non-violent transition of power. Simply put, we revolt in the ballot box. We organize, we petition, we campaign for right – we use the rights granted by our Founding Fathers to effect change.
Most of us get the point of civil disobedience. The question for this post is one of Redemption. Redemption comes in many theological forms – especially in Abrahamic faiths such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In most cases redemption requires the admission of guilt. Bill Ayers continues to believe in his cause, if not his tactics. Wikipedia has a direct quote from Ayers:
Ayers was asked in a January 2004 interview, “How do you feel about what you did? Would you do it again under similar circumstances?” He replied: “I’ve thought about this a lot. Being almost 60, it’s impossible to not have lots and lots of regrets about lots and lots of things, but the question of did we do something that was horrendous, awful? … I don’t think so. I think what we did was to respond to a situation that was unconscionable.” On September 9, 2008, journalist Jake Tapper reported on the comic strip in Bill Ayers’s blog explaining the soundbite: “The one thing I don’t regret is opposing the war in Vietnam with every ounce of my being…. When I say, ‘We didn’t do enough,’ a lot of people rush to think, ‘That must mean, “We didn’t bomb enough shit.”‘ But that’s not the point at all. It’s not a tactical statement, it’s an obvious political and ethical statement. In this context, ‘we’ means ‘everyone.'”
Was Bill Ayers sinful? Has Bill Ayers confessed his sins? We cannot say. “From the fruit you will know the vine.” The fruit of Bill Ayers life is violent protest followed by stunning commitment to better education for children. Ayers life will be judged by someone with a ‘higher pay grade’ than this writer.
The sad state of political life today is reflected in the mentality and rhetoric of sound bites. We believe people should be informed voters. If we are fired up about someone like Bill Ayers then we should educate ourselves. We have a duty to ourselves to learn the facts. We have a duty to our country to vote – and to be an informed voter.
The people who use Bill Ayers as a fear tactic to discourage voting for Obama are not Christians – they are engaged in the Dark Arts.
Ayers on teaching: