Wanted: Dread or Alive

When I saw Pineapple Express, one of the things that I noted and appreciated were the reggae songs that they interspersed with the ubiquitous gangsta’ rap I could do without. One song particularly stuck with me. It’s by Peter Tosh and it’s called “Wanted, Dread or Alive” Peter Tosh - Wanted Dread & Alive - Wanted Dread and Alive I listened to it a few times today while I drove around on my errands, getting inoculations for school that they didn’t even have when I was first in college. (Hep B and Meningitis!) The Hep B vaccine is required at Hollins and the Meningitis vaccine is required at most seminaries so I figured I might as well get it out of the way. I also got to work a 50th wedding anniversary party which was very romantic and sweet. They re-enacted the cutting of the cake. They were in their 80’s and it was the dearest thing. I felt my eyes get a little hot, damp and tingly. The 2 adult children of the couple threw the party with their spouses and two middle school girls flying in from Texas. The son of the couple made a point of giving us each $30 cash in hand as a tip, which was much appreciated. Even though it is a lot of standing, I am enjoying the people I am serving so much. I also had a couple of moments when I was reminded vividly of the holy offices which just echoes the nature of call/vocation/service. I had to pour water from these silver pitchers into chafing dishes and as I emptied each pitcher, I flashed to Barkley and other priests I have seen pouring holy water into the Baptismal font prior to Baptism. Gave me a little shiver. Then I went around the room and on the veranda lighting candles along the way and it reminded me of lighting candles at the altar just before a service, the same quiet concentration. It was very satisfying. I like the idea of trying to live moment to moment as a sacrament and dedication to God. As I was standing, waiting for someone to need something, I had plenty of time to think about some things that have been in the back of my mind. I know I’ve mentioned that I always keep my 3 wishes handy in case a Genie just happens to pop up some day. I’ve been keeping those wishes updated since I was a child and I love to look back at them and see their evolution. It tells me a lot about who I am and who I have been in the past. The earliest series of wishes I can recall were:

  1. I wish I could fly like Peter Pan
  2. I wish my mom and dad had all the money they could ever want or need
  3. I wish I had my own pony

Typical kid worries and dreams right? As I got older I got more creative, though number 1 stayed on the list for most of my life

  1. I wish I could fly like Peter Pan
  2. I wish I could become invisible
  3. I wish I was like Firestar (had the power of fire)

Hey, I wanted to be a superhero and save the world…who knew? By the time I was a teenager my wishes were a strange mix of child and adult.

  1. I wish I could fly like Peter Pan
  2. I wish I had $64 million  (I just pulled that number out of thin air, it seemed like a lot back then)
  3. I wish I had a holodeck

(You know, from Star Trek…Next Generation. I could think of Nice ways and naughty ways of using this.) I started getting migraines after this time so my wishes started to include health.

  1. I wish I could fly like Peter Pan
  2. I wish I could invent something that would guarantee that I and my family would be financially secure forever (I was getting more and more sophisticated in how to acquire my millions)
  3. I wish that I would be in perfect health for my entire life

People always ask me about why I didn’t wish for things that could make a macro difference (i.e. World Peace) but I was still ruminating on the ethics and purpose of suffering in the world and wasn’t ready to say it was or wasn’t God’s will that suffering occured But eventually I began to change my mind about that. Still…I was thinking of how to work the wishes in order to maximize both the benefit to others and to myself.

  1. I wish I could fly like Peter Pan
  2. I wish that all those I love or who love me would have financial security
  3. I wish that all those I love or who love me would have perfect health retroactively and from this day forward (Meaning, anything that has been lost, diseased, aged, broken, sagged, etc, will be suddenly perfect and will remain so until you die)

So ultimately I am incenting the world to love me and be loved by me which is wait, kind of what God wants to do. Though in my case it’s to ensure 2 things happen, that all those I care about now, in the past and in the future are taken care of, and that even people who give of themselves are rewarded for the risk. I also get LOVE, which is ultimately what every human being wants more of, right? But this series of wishes bothered me the most. It seemed ingenious but it was almost trickster-ish in its self servingness. Also, I was still clinging to my Peter Pan wish, which had come to represent my idealism, my image of childhood and an innocence I did not want to lose. The part of me that still believed in magic.

So that brings me to now. I’ve thought a lot about what 3 measly little wishes could do to alleviate the many issues we as a human family now face. When you get to the very highest level, things like Poverty, Abuse, Violence, Racism and Hatred are symptoms, they aren’t the disease. If I had my three wishes though, I think they could go a long way toward eradicating the disease at the source. One of the fundamental causes of suffering in this world is the inability of many people to see the plight of another as their own. To truly feel empathy. Example: “There are women and children being gang raped and slain? Now where is that? Somewhere in Africa? Tut, tut, such a shame…speaking of Africa, can we stop at Starbucks on the way home? I heard they have a great Sumatran blend.”

  1. I wish that it was impossible for people to hurt one another, physically or emotionally, accidentally or on purpose, by themselves or with a tool or other agent unless it is to heal them.
  2. I wish that there would instantly no longer be extreme wealth or poverty, but enough of everything, food, water, shelter, clean fuel, work, clothing, medical care, elder care, childcare for all.
  3. I wish that everyone on Earth would instantly have the equivalent of an Oxford education by their 22nd birthday in their own language and culture and be tolerant of the cultures and religious customs of the other countries in the world.

So that’s where I am at right now. I am sure it will change down the road but I like to put my wishes into action in the world in my imagination and watch what happens. I am sure there are flaws, but it is fun to figure them out and then find the right solution.

What are your three wishes or three wishes from your childhood? Please post a comment and share.

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