Recollecting When Revolution Goes Wrong…

As entertainment magnets, American (and let’s be honest, most of the Western world) spectators love a good action flick, especially when it master’s the elements of suspense, mystery, and...

As entertainment magnets, American (and let’s be honest, most of the Western world) spectators love a good action flick, especially when it master’s the elements of suspense, mystery, and the under-dog fight for justice. Just this last year, movie theaters supplied a new installment to the Bourne Legacy series, expanding Robert Ludlum’s off-the-radar super-agent series with the creation of new characters, and new plots. We’ve had 10 years of Bourne films, and they seem to keep turning heads.

This February, 2013, the nation discovered a new “Bourne” story that captured headlines.

But, these breaking news updates weren’t about box-office numbers. They are about real guerrilla warfare, real deaths, and real revenge. It is the saga of Christopher Dorner.

The story of the ex-Navy and self-proclaimed “wrongly terminated” ex-LAPD Officer has captured the attention of many- especially those in the county of Los Angeles where I live. Throughout the day, clients ask me if I’ve heard the latest about the LAPD’s terrible shootings on innocent citizens whom they believed to be Christopher Dorner, and employees have told me about police outposts they have seen set up on their way to work where the LAPD has made efforts to protect those whom Dorner has seemed to identify as targets in his manifesto. Minds have been captivated by the almost Hollywood-like reality that has displayed how lethal, elusive, and powerful a world-class military and police trained threat can be.

And, it has certainly been a story of mixed emotions. Disbelief has been raised, not just regarding what Dorner has himself accomplished, but perhaps more so at the responses LAPD have taken that have jeopardized the lives of ordinary and innocent citizens. Could Dorner’s accusations be true? Can we really trust the integrity of our local police force? And this is in addition to the responses of remorse and heart-ache that arise at seeing the death and the loss that blood-bent revenge has brought to the lives of innocent officers and families targeted in Dorner’s killings. And how can a man, articulate and who once sacrificed his well-being for the protection of others, be driven to such a point of madness? From Dorner’s manifesto, it seems clearly that he has come to rationalize that non-lethal (although damaging) wrongs done to him are only best reconciled by the loss of innocent lives, the destruction of families, and the use of terror, to vindicate his name, and to try to oust his enemy.

And, although in full disapproval of his evil, I have spoken with people who still sympathize with Dorner. I have heard people say “I can understand where he is coming from.” It seems that (especially in lieu of the LAPD’s wrongs done to citizens in the midst of the manhunt) the deep-seeded longing for justice is being aroused in the souls of some. The revolutionary hear-cord that has lead many in past centuries to sacrifice their individual lives in order to avenge great wrongs and to help create a new tomorrow, has been plucked by this man’s decisions.

What is the role of revolution? This question could easily take us into discussion of the role of the state, of natural rights, and of utilitarian arguments for deciding what sort of “means” justify a better “end?”

But I think that the yearning for revolution is not necessarily all an evil one. Rebellion is a poison that brought and had no place in man’s heart until the fall. But revolution, although easily corruptible, I believe is the curious child of both Rebellion and Justice. It sprouts from the soul’s agitation for peace and righteousness that is part of man’s likeness in God’s image, but is choked and changed by the soils of a sinful world. It’s when man’s truest desire for the perfect is tainted by his imperfect ability to function as true judge.

As for Dorner, we can only grieve with the many who have been wronged by his campaign for revenge, which is an entirely different and unjustifiable approach. Yet, as we await the corner’s conclusion on the Dorner story, we should be reminded that there is a great revolution that is coming. In fact, it has already began. This is the revolution when in perfect time, the perfect king will come, and will realize his ownership of the entire cosmos. And, this world, this kingdom, is already his… the last step remaining is that revolution where the enemy that opposes him will eternally be removed. We can shamelessly nurture that heart-beat of revolution inside of us, because there will be a day when we will be involved in the justice and right-making of all things. We will be both objects and spectators of (1 Thess 4:16-17) and participants in (1 Cor 6:2) this event. And the great part about it is that in the parousia, we will not be the judge, and thus the margin for error in exacting revolution and justice will be removed from the equation.

And certainly, we are not just lame-ducks today. Because the Kingdom of Christ is here (Mark 1:15), we can respond to our impulses to be agents of revolution today. However, we must always remember (as Dorner has clearly forgotten) that we are not the onmi-potent, omniscient, and omni-righteous judge. And, if our methods are anything but robbed in the character and the one who is… we can be assured that we are satisfying this lust through wrong ways.

The Two Cities would also like to communicate our sorrow at the loss lives that have been lost as victims of Christopher Dorner, or who have been lost or wounded in efforts to defend themselves and the well-being of others. Our prayers are also with the family members that have been left behind.

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Tanner Gish

Tanner is a graduate of Biola University (B.A.; B.S.) and Talbot School of Theology (M.A.) and he currently resides in Whittier, CA, serving his community as an assistant branch manager at a commercial bank.
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  • karen
    23 February 2013 at 11:25 pm

    well said – thank you!

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