In these past few weeks I watched with growing fascination (and bewilderment) the phenomenon of "The Harlem Shake." I even tried my church to do one - my attempts were foiled when I got the bronchitis. In case you missed it, first someone does a weird dance in the middle of people who pretend not to notice. After a while there is a second shot, where everyone does a crazy dance and joins in. There are quite a few on the web right now - just google them.
Wednesday night I saw a little bit of a political Harlem Shake in the U.S. Senate. Rand Paul backed by 14 republican Senators and 1 democrat senator filibustered in the old fashioned way the Senate floor. What they were trying to accomplish, is twofold: one, to get the administration to clarify that drones could not be used for extrajudicial killings of US citizens on US soil. Two, to raise public awareness of the issue - and the serious legal and constitutional issues the drones raise. From a spectator it looked like the first part of the Harlem Shake - a couple of senators doing something odd. Most of their colleagues had "other business to attend to."
I am not a fan of Paul Rand most of the time. I find libertarian love of "big business" and "free market" as naive as the liberal love of "big government." I consider myself the man of the middle in politics. But what drew my attention last night was not politics but the ethical question, that hovered in the background. I wished that churches joined in - and fought for the principle of condeming any kind of execution: be it by drones, or by lethal injection or by the gas chamber. Killing someone either through war or through the death penalty is a vile rejection of God's command to choose life. And God's desire that all have life and life in abundance.
I hope and pray that churches in the US, the liberal ones like the United Church of Christ which I serve, and the conservative ones, join in and perform a great Harlem Shake for life, and the dignity of all. We might look a bit weird or naive or just uncommonly silly - but my wish is that others will join us too.
And drones, and the death penalty will go away to where they belong: the chamber of shame of human history.