An Awful Thing Happened On the Way to Kumbayah

Written by Donald Joy on April 17, 2013

TissotBeatitudesKABOOM.  I had just started in on writing my weekly column yesterday afternoon when the news broke onto the TV screen: Explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  

The weird part about it has to do with what I had intended as the subject of my column — that is, until the news of the terrorist attack came on.  

Not kidding; I was going to title my piece for this week “Learning to Love the Left,” and I was all set to expound on Jesus’ sometimes seemingly impossible teaching about loving our enemies, not resisting evil, turning the other cheek, and so on.  

I figured I’d discuss personal struggles with, and usually stubborn ambivalence about, paradoxically actually helping an enemy (and thereby “heaping burning coals of shame upon his head”–Proverbs 25:21-22), as opposed to forcefully doing various kinds of battle against him.  I honestly wanted to address what sometimes troubles me as a rather glaring and irreconcilable conflict between the idea of righteously and aggressively confronting and smashing evil, versus the mysterious, divinely abstruse (to me, anyway) Christian doctrine that commands the very opposite, as the Godly way of nonetheless defeating evil, by doing good to evildoers.  No less than loving and helping our enemies.  

Speaking of paradoxes — just to get into the mood and spirit of having to crank out what I anticipated to be a somewhat tricky piece of writing, I had started playing a YouTube version of Elvis Costello’s (written by Nick Lowe) gloriously thunderous classic anthem, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding.”  It’s one of my all-time favorites, hands down.  

For those unfamiliar with that particular piece of rousing rock music, it’s a message of  desperate yearning for hope and renewal, of disillusionment and bitter cynicism crying out for reconciliation and harmony amidst agonizing angst and anomie:

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searching for light in the darkness of insanity

I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside
There’s one thing I wanna know
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?

And as I walk on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is that harmony?
Sweet harmony!

‘Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away
Just makes me wanna cry
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding…

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Following his service in the United State Air Force, Donald Joy earned a bachelor of science in business administration from SUNY while serving in the army national guard. As a special deputy U.S. marshal, Don was on the protection detail for Attorney General John Ashcroft following the attacks of 9/11. He lives in the D.C. suburbs of Northern Virginia with his wife and son.