“The Good Communist”

From James W. Douglass’s book, The Nonviolent Coming of God:

“To understand Jesus parable we have to begin, then, by realizing that the man in the ditch had a deep hatred and suspicion, nourished by his history and culture, for the man who out of compassion resurrected him. Samaritans were hated enemies. Jesus is saying in his parable that the kingdom of God is like being saved from death by a hated enemy. The kingdom of God breaks into our lives in a form that we may not expect, in a form that we may in fact loath and want to destroy.

We can recall that in the chapter of Luke’s gospel just before the Parable of the Good Samaritan, James and John wanted Jesus’ approval to call down on a hostile Samaritan village “fire from heaven to burn them up” (Luke 9:54). But Jesus had rebuked them. Thus, in Jesus’ parable, the disciples’ object of hatred and destruction becomes a source of salvation.

When we understand it in Jesus’ context, the Parable of the Good Samaritan initially moves us to thank God that we, at least, are not lying in a ditch where we have to be saved from death by our enemy. But that is exactly what our situation is: We can only b saved from death by our enemy, and only if we believe in that enemy and are willing to be saved by him. Our enemy has been not a Samaritan, but a Communist. We are in the ditch of nuclear death, and during a now forgotten period of our recent history, Mikhail Gorbachev was the Good Communist attempting to rescue us from that death.

In July 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev made a public commitment to halt all nuclear tests from August 6, 1985 – January 1, 1986, even if the United States continued an active nuclear test program — as in fact we did. After the time expired Gorbachev extended the Soviet Union’s nuclear test moratorium three times, to a total of eighteen months. In each case the United States continued its underground tests. Gorbachev repeatedly made the further commitment never to test a nuclear weapon again, if the United States would cease testing. In other words, the Soviet Union unilaterally stopped its testing of new weapons and allowed the United States an eighteen month advantage and twenty-five unanswered tests, with the explicit goal of signing a comprehensive test ban treaty. In affect, Gorbachev was initiating an end to the nuclear arms race. The United States government was not, however, willing to reciprocate. As a result, the U.S.S.R. announced its resumption of testing in February 1987. Our steady drift toward annihilation continues.

The Unites States treaty with the Soviets to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear forces from Europe was, as a response to Gorbachev’s diplomacy, a disappointing step. Only about four percent of the world’s nuclear weapons were affected by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. President Bush’s September 27, 1991 proposal to Gorbachev for the elimination of all multiple-warhead land-based missiles would retain a huge United States advantage over the Soviets at sea as a result of the more numerous, more accurate Trident warheads. The “modernization” of other nuclear weapons critical to a United States first-strike policy would be allowed to continue under the Bush proposal. In spite of the Good Communist’s efforts to help, we have refused the leave the ditch.

As the president of a disintegrating empire, beset on all sides by growing freedom movements, Mikhail Gorbachev has on at least six occasions used tanks and lethal force against civilian dissenters, resulting in some 200 deaths…Jesus’ parable assumes that the Samaritan — or in our case, the Communist — has a history and capability of violence which rightly (and righteously) preconditions our attitude towards him. Neither the Samaritan nor the Communist is a saint. On the contrary, the point of the parable is in fact the shocking reality, in our eyes, of a well-proven enemy with a violent history acting in a redemptive way toward us — and if we refuse that redemptive action, the impossibility of our being saved from our own situation. Because the rejected Good Samaritan/Communist will then revert to our worst expectations of him as our enemy and will in turn use our violence to cover his own, as in Gorbachev’s repression of Lithuania in January 1991, simultaneous with President Bush’s triggering of the Persian Gulf War.”

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