Last week I attended an event that featured a solider from the Iraq War. His name was Eric Alva and he was speaking on behalf of his experiences in life. Sergeant Eric Alva is most famously known as the first soldier to be wounded in the Iraq War. He lost his right leg after stepping on a landmine. Despite this adversity he faced, he also faced another challenge. The Sergeant is also a gay American. The United States Army from its very beginning has always had a policy called the “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” rule. This policy related to homosexuals in the army. It was taboo to think about and even worse to ask about. The Army has always frowned upon sexual misconduct within its ranks but none of the incidents that have occurred have ever been shown media light.
Sergeant Alva considered this to be prejudice toward homosexuals, especially in the army. He was very strong in his argument that homosexuals no matter where they are in the world deserve the same rights as everybody else. We are all Americans and there is nothing that should hold us back from having our god given human rights. To see the passion and intensity with which the Sergeant spoke was very moving and I could see this is something that he was ready to dedicate his entire life to.
In this weeks readings I found the central theme to be God’s love for us. The three readings, which were Happiness by Jane Hirshfield, God’s Grandeur by Gerard Hopkins and A good man is hard to find by Flannery O’Connor. All of the readings dealt with the controversial issue of God’s existence and purpose in our lives. All of authors challenge the reader to comprehend and analyze the meaning of their works in terms of what God is trying to communicate to us.
In the poem Happiness Jane Hirshfield talks about the animals of the earth. She refers in the second line to St. Francis, who is the patron saint of animals. She writes of how every animal in the world in happy in some way shape or form just for being on this earth. One of the lines that I considered the most interesting was “Even the baleened plankton full immersed in their fate-for what else might happiness be than to be porous, opened, rinsed through by the beings and things.” Hirshfield says that even the plankton who know that one day they will die or be eaten by something higher in the food chain are still happy to be living and to have lived a life thanks to God. Her main point I believe is that if an animal is happy to be living why shouldn’t we be?
In the second poem God’s Grandeur by Gerard Hopkins was easy to interpret. Hopkins starts with the first line saying, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” I analyzed this as meaning that the world is powered by God’s greatness and love. As the poem goes on Hopkins then diverts to a more serious issue. He is disgusted that generations upon generations of man have trod all over God’s earth without showing a sign of respect to him. The second stanza of the poem then shows the authors hope because no matter how disrespectful man is to God, the beauty and delight of nature always exists.
A good man is hard to find by Flannery O’Connor was my favorite out of this weeks readings. In the story a family, which includes an obsessive and worrisome grandmother, are going on a vacation to Florida. As they are driving the grandmother states that she remembers an old abandoned house somewhere near where they are. The children scream and beg their father to take them. After yelling for a while he finally decides to go. The road is dirt and rocky and soon enough they crash and flip their car over. Nobody is injured by then a black car approaches the family slowly. Three men get out and all are brandishing guns. The grandmother recognizes the leader as the Misfit, a man who is on the run from escaping from a Federal Prison. The grandmother begins to have a talk with the man about his relationship with God and Jesus. The misfit says that he never had a relationship with God and there isn’t any use of religion. Although the grandmother tries to convince him otherwise, he reverts to his evil nature and kills the entire family just to take their clothes and tires for himself. This piece of literature showed that in today’s society a good man is actually hard to find. People think of themselves before other human beings.
My event this week and the readings strongly related to each other. Although Sergeant Alva faced adversity when he lost his leg and publicly announced his homosexuality, we are all God’s people. God loves everybody and everything in this world no matter who they are. Even though the Misfit was a horrible person, something inside him knows that what he did was wrong. Understanding how God works and realizing our faith can truly make us happy in this life and the next.