I met Josh Stieber and Conor Curran (in red) last night. They stopped by Lockerbie Central Unitted Methodist/Earth House.
They are two Iraq War vets who are on a journey, mostly by foot and bike, across the country. The two are sharing their experience as Iraq War vets and talking about how love conquers fear and hate. Even in the Obama era, there message is important and urgent. They are calling this quest “The Contagious Love Experiment.”
Originally, Josh just felt like walking to Indianapolis’ Fort Benjamin Harrison, home of the army’s acounting headquarters, and dropping off his military paychecks, saying that he didn’t want their blood-stained money.
Both Josh and Conor joined the military after high school, anxious for action. Josh said that 9/11 and his church were one of the main reasons he signed up. He writes:
I had grown up hearing ideas like “love your enemies”, “return evil with good”, and “judge not lest you be judged”. But I treated these sayings that the central figure of my religion taught as if they were just nice sounding lines, but not practical. But slowly, my excuses started to fade away.
I learned that the military trains people to hate and dehumanize entire people groups, not showing sadness for the difficult task of “removing evil”. I learned that the Iraqis weren’t waiting for us with open arms, men, women, and children from the town we were in protested our presence. I learned innocent people die. I learned that it doesn’t matter what uniform you have on, it’s about what’s inside. And sadly, the military tries to rob you of what’s inside and the result is people treating killing like a joke and showing little care for human life.
Josh grew up in a conservative, evangelical megachurch, and doesn’t ever remember the words “love your enemies” and “return evil with good” being preached. He was told by some church friends after he made it home that the sermon on the mount wasn’t really that important in Jesus’ ministry.
As we head to our seventh year of war in Iraq, lets not forget the stories of Josh and Conor. And let’s make love contagious.