A Plague on the Earth

Posted: 2013/02/16 in Stories

A couple of weeks ago, I read that David Attenborough called humanity, “A plague on the earth.”

At first I bristled, and then I said, “He’s right.” In most matters, I am less of a plague than many people, but as a moderately prosperous member of a still-affluent society, I’ve emitted much more than my share of CO2 and have profited, if even indirectly, from the unsustainable production and consumption of food and material goods. And the earth is groaning.

When I said, “Yes, I am a plague on the earth,” it wasn’t a cheerful thought, but it was a freeing one, in the way that confession is freeing. Heretofore I’d been chipping away at being less of a plague, held back by priorities, convenience, and the already negotiated thermostat setting. I will continue to chip away at it. But I will probably always be a plague.

Maybe it also felt freeing because I finally got something. What do I do when I find out I’m wrong? I either try to say that there is no such thing, or come up with a justification, or rationalize that I’m not as wrong as a lot of other people, or now that I know, I’ve no excuse not to be perfect (a personal favorite). But this is a case where I’m stuck. I really am contributing to something that grieves me very much, yet I know that I probably won’t ever really stop and will certainly never be able to make restitution.

Now, being a Christian person, I always think about the atonement, but it always seems to be accompanied by these other things. But this morning, I felt love afresh.

I have been charged with multiple counts of being a plague on the earth and committing crimes against humanity, some of these charges being for acts yet uncommitted. I have confessed, and am unable to make restitution. Then I find out that Someone has impersonated me, legally. He paid my fines and did my time. He as also declared His intention, at some point in the future, to make restitution on my behalf. He has also entered into the court records a document listing all of my charges, past, present, and future, the sentences, and fine paid or time served. This document further states that anyone, including me, who brings charges against me for any of these counts of being a plague on the earth or committing crimes against humanity, is themselves engaging in double jeopardy—trying a man a second time for the same offense—and will not be heard in court.

I imagine that I then met up with Him on the court house steps. He said, “I want you to stop being a plague on the earth, and stop committing crimes against humanity. However, seeing as how you are a habitual criminal, I don’t think you will get very far with that by yourself. So here is my offer to you. I want you to go to work for me. Understand that I run a pretty tight ship, but rest assured that the jobs I give you will be within your abilities, provided you avail yourself of the training and other assistance I will provide you. These aren’t make-work tasks—they are genuinely useful. Plus, they will sometimes be things about which you are genuinely passionate. Yes, I know. I have a complete file on you.”

“Oh, and one other thing. You don’t have to do this, but I think it will help. You can stay with us, in My house, any time you like. You’ll have to bunk with other people like yourself, and eat common meals. The accommodations are simple, but I think you’ll find it restorative, especially if you’re upset and confused by the rest of your life. Which, by the way, I would like you to keep living. Just don’t forget all about Me when you’re in the middle of it. Here’s my cell number. Call anytime you like, seriously. I’m not all that busy, and I get by on a lot less sleep than you think, so never let the fear of interrupting something or disturbing me stop you from calling, even if you just want to talk. Especially that. Some of the jobs I give you to do won’t be as clear-cut as they seem at first.”

“Finally, here are some business cards, and a security card. The security card will get you through both gates. Don’t lose it.”

I looked at the business cards. The title didn’t fully make sense. My name was different, too.

“Excuse me, Sir. I cannot thank You enough for all You have done for me, and the opportunity to work for You and live with You. But I think you might have gotten my name wrong.”

“No, it’s right. While I was at the court house, I filed papers to adopt you. ‘What’s one more? One can never have too many children!’ I thought. Don’t be afraid to use My name. It opens many doors. And I appreciate your courtesy, but I prefer ’Papa’ to ‘Sir.’”

He shook my hand, and said, “Now go.”


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