Flame War

By Astreja

I work in a large metropolitan hospital. Every day, thousands of people come and go -- Doctors, nurses, secretaries, housekeeping staff, maintenance... Police, paramedics, pharmacy technicians... Hundreds of delivery vehicles, dropping off everything from paper towels to transplant organs... And, of course, the patients and their families and friends.

This is a good place to work, but at the same time there's a bittersweet mood in the hallways. People come here because they need help for illness or injury. My daughter and I have both been patients here, as have many people that we know.

On the way to the bus one day, I took a moment to really look at the people in the hallway. I don't know who they are, or what they believe; but I'm going to assume that they're essentially decent, caring individuals.

Just like the people outside the hospital: My bus driver; the clerk at the convenience store; a man and woman waiting for the "Walk" sign at a major intersection on the route.

I'm also going to assume that none of these people are "perfect" in the sense that our Christian visitors usually interpret the word. According to them, we are all so deeply flawed and so irretrievably evil that their "loving" god has no choice but to sentence us all to eternal torment.

The nurse who was up all night tending to a premature infant in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The taxi driver in the patient drop-off loop, helping an elderly woman into his cab and then carefully folding up her walker to put it in the trunk. The teenage boy who broke his arm in a rough-and-tumble in the schoolyard, here to finally get the cast removed. The cashier at the snack bar, calling out numbers and handing out freshly-made sandwiches to people taking an all-too-brief break from their work.

We are the ones whom the believers condemn to the flames, in the name of their unproven overlord, in the hopes of frightening us into sharing their sick blood-sport delusion.

And they wonder why we get angry...

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