No Better Friend, No Better Enemy
On April 15th, 2004, Marine Lieutenant Ilario Pantano emptied two magazines into two terrorists, riddling their bodies with bullets, and (in his own words) sending “a message to these Iraqis that when we say, ‘no better friend, no worse enemy’, we mean it.” The admitted facts: Two Iraqis were detained and cuffed as terrorists. Lt. Pantano had them un-cuffed, and ordered them to search a car. Lt. Pantano thought they presented a danger to him and his men. He shot them at short range with one magazine, reloaded, and shot them with another full magazine. He placed a sign that said ’no better friend, no worse enemy’ – a Marine motto – upon the top of the terrorists' car. Later, he took the sign down. Today, he begins the legal process of defending himself against the military’s charges of premeditated murder.
I have never killed a man. I have never had a man try to kill me. Yet when I look at Lt. Pantano, I see myself. I see a human being – full of promise and poison. I see a person I love, and a person I hate. Though I have never killed with bullets, I have killed with words. I have maimed with a look. I have mutilated with silence. “Do you love me?” she asked. I looked down, frowning. She asked again, crying. I looked up, face blank, heart empty. “No,” I said. “I don’t love you anymore.”
Who needs more forgiveness? A lieutenant who destroys his enemies, or a man who destroys his loves? Who needs more forgiveness? A lieutenant who is ‘no better friend, no worse enemy’, or a man who is ‘no worse friend, no worse enemy’?
“But I say to you, love your enemies.”
- Jesus Christ
We are all enemies of Christ. We have all sinned grievously against the God who has given us nothing but forgiveness, compassion, and mercy. Over and over, we reject his love. Again and again, we kill ourselves with bullets and words. And yet, Christ died for us. Men drove nails through his limbs, men spat and mocked his dying and bleeding body, and what did God do? He forgave. He saved.
‘No better friend, No better enemy.’
- Christ’s Wartime Motto
Let us all forgive. Let us all save. Let us drop the bullets and words, and pick up the Cross. Let us be ‘no better friend, no better enemy’ - for the sake of mercy, for the sake of love, for the sake of Christ – for all, forever.