When I was a child, I always thought bullies who heckled others to get a rise out of them would have devils pulling them down into the pits of hell when they died. Today, I don't believe there is a hell for bullies. I believe you get all the hell you are going to get right here in this world.
When I was a young child, I saw a black man on a corner and as my family pulled up next to him, I yelled out at the top of my lungs, "Look at the dirty nigger!" My father rolled up my open window and sped away, embarrassed at my parroting what I must have heard from someone. Today, my children will play with children of other races and never say those words. They will never even think it. This is a very different world today then it was when I was a child. But there are still those that hate others for something as insignificant as the shade of their skin, for their religion or lack of one, for their socioeconomic status, or for just about anything that is not just like they are. Today, I don't believe God hates anyone. On the contrary. Today, I believe that God loves each and every soul. All of us are God's children. God is a loving parent who just wants her children to cooperatively play together with their siblings(All of her children).
When I was a child, I laughed as I tortured locusts by tearing off their wings and putting a firecracker in their craw to watch them blow up. I would not get any joy from something like that today.
When I was a teen, I fantasized about flying a glider with a nuclear bomb attached into the Kremlin. Does that sound familiar? Today, I don't believe or support militarism nor do I support oppressing anyone or anything. When I was a child, I believed that God loved me and hated people who were not just like me. Today, I don't believe that at all. I came to understand that God is love... and God who is love didn't just love people like me but God who is love loves the love in everyone. If we want to show up on the radar for God, we don't have to pray in some fashion or ask for mercy...all we do is act loving and kind to the least
When I joined the military, I thought I was doing a service for God and country. My pastor hailed returning Vietnam veterans from the war for opposing the evil Communists. I thought everything America did was God ordained. The American dream for me came at the cost of other men's expense but I was blinded by my belief system. Today, I believe there is another way of doing thing that does not require that I or my government oppress others.
Day after day, year after year, I hope my early brainwashing is wearing off but it is like the layers of an onion. When all the layers are gone, I will finally have returned...back to the garden... I hope one day men will judge other men by their kindness to strangers and their gentleness toward widows and orphans. I know in heaven it this way but I hope some day soon men will bring heaven to earth. I am not at all like the child I was long ago but in those moments when I fall, and I fail to live up to loving kindness every day, I pray for a loving God to protect me... In this way, perhaps I will never change...or at least I hope not....