Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Monday, February 27, 2012

Doing jobs

Just doing my job.
I have a friend who is ex-military and a bit of a red neck. He often sends me emails with a military/ God-bless-America flavour to them. Recently I have seen three videos of real time war action. The first was talking about exploding bullets for snipers and gave footage of a sniper taking out another sniper in Afghanistan. It was to show the power and effectiveness the weapons. A Taliban sniper was behind some rocks some distance off. With powerful scopes the US military sniper lined up this shadow and fired. The poor enemy “target” was blown to smithereens, with body parts clearly seen falling down the bank. There was loud, impressed rejoicing by the soldiers. The second video was again of some soldiers coming under attack by an enemy sniper. You could hear bullets ricocheting around the soldiers and expletives about how close they were. (I would be swearing too!) The soldiers were trying to pin point where the sniper was. “Behind that f…ing date palm over there.” They had a mean looking machine gun/piece of artillery and let fly with several long bursts of fire at and around the “f…ing date palm”.  There was no chance of survival for the sniper, and much rejoicing among the troops. Somebody praised the shooter for his success and he replied, “Just doin' m' job.”  The third video was much safer. The scene was a cubicle in America where a normal looking pony-tailed woman (looking like a secretary in an office) looked like she was playing video games with a big screen and joystick in hand.  A man in another cubicle supported her and they could communicate together via headsets. They were not playing video games; they were controlling a “Drone” thousands of miles away that was on a mission to destroy a Taliban “target”.  An enemy leader was expected to drive out of a house and down a road and the armed drone was to fire at and destroy the vehicle. In the video you watched and heard the whole thing. You saw the woman push the button to fire the rockets at the vehicle. The man counted down, then you saw the vehicle (filmed from the drone) travelling down the road suddenly explode.  “Wow. Well done! Good job!” the man yelled through his headset to the smiling ponytailed woman.  The heading above the video was “Kill a Taliban leader, and go home for lunch.”  I found watching these videos disturbing. I guess each person was “just doing his or her job” but somehow I felt guilty being entertained by watching this. The sniper blown apart, the guy behind the “f…ing date palm” and whoever was in the vehicle was somebody’s son, father, husband or brother. They were not just “a target” but real human beings obliterated by other human beings.  I sensed as I heard the dialogue in each that the people doing the killing had somehow “objectified” their targets, so they perceived them as less than human. I guess if that’s your job that is what you would have to do. I would find it hard to be a soldier.  In the words of the old song “when will we ever learn?” War really does cheapen all of our lives.  There has to be a better way? 

My job today
Today we bought a new ladder, one of those fold up “34 ladders in one” type. When we were doing our wills last week I had said to myself that I would not buy any more tools, that at this stage in my life it was time to be cutting back on possessions, not adding to them. My wife, however, was keen to buy this ladder. Our old ladder has seen thirty years of service, is a bit loose in the joints, and does not reach far up the tallest part of our house. So we purchased this ladder with a “life time guarantee”. I joked that it did not have to last long! I set my new ladder up (I even read the instructions!) and cleaned out the spouting around the house. It certainly made the job safer and easier. On the old ladder I used to stretch out in scary ways. This ladder meant I could reach places more easily. It is one of the jobs I loathe, but I was pleased to get it completed. Autumn will refill the spouting with leaves.

Dreaming of a Samaritan service doing jobs.
This dream started while I was playing table tennis at the drop-in centre last Friday night. As I was playing and having the “sacred moment” mentioned in my previous post, I got to thinking about my life and my retirement. I have decided that I do not want to be one of those ministers who keep on preaching forever. I look forward to not having to be up front. I expect that by January 2014 I will be retired. I got to thinking that since I no longer fit into the Habitat for Humanity scene, maybe I could start a new ministry doing odd jobs for needy people. I have been stewing on this in spare moments since. When I was a young man in North East Valley, Dunedin, the local churches had a “Good Samaritan group”. We would go do a garden for elderly folk. I recall cleaning out a house for an elderly lady and painting a fence. I moved overseas and I understand the group never lasted but it was a great idea. I think I would love to start such a group in my retirement. Solo mums or elderly folk who could do with somebody to clean their spouting, cut down a tree, paint a fence, move some furniture or whatever small job necessary could contact the group and we could have volunteers willing to assist. I think such a group could increase a sense of community, express love in action and give me something to get my teeth into. I have been thinking that I have all this handy-man type experience, a whole stack of tools and power tools and I should use them for service. They are wasted just sitting on shelves in my workshop. Anyway it is a dream that may evolve in time to come. It could be fun doing jobs for others.

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