The things I learned from Sgt Rock and Easy Company
When I was a child I loved comic books. I was not a big fan of those Marvel or DC superheroes. Rather I preferred the old westerns, The Lone Ranger, Billy the Kid and The Apache Kid. I also liked the war comics and particularly enjoyed Sergeant Rock and Easy Company.
Lots of my friends enjoyed Spider Man and Superman but in a strange kind of way I found them a little too superficial. Sometimes as I have grown into an adult and I remember myself as I child I have to concede that I was a strange little kid. For me the superhero comics presented life in a very nuanced way. There were heroes and there were villains. And if you were not on the side of the heroes then you were a villain.
In a weird kind of way there was a more complex world being presented in the western and war comics of my age. Sgt Rock’s Easy Company had a black soldier, Jackie Johnson, in a time when the US Army was racially segregated. Little Sure Shot was an Apache Soldier. Four Eyes was an exceptional glasses-wearing sniper. The perfect hero for those of us who were often referred to by that name. The storyline was also grayer. For sure the Nazi history was demonized as it ought to have been but I also remember an episode where Rock cries when he realizes that the Nazis he was killing were in fact young boys.
In the same way western comics presented Indigenous Americans far less one-dimensionally and far more favourable than even the news media was at that time. Informed readers like myself knew that The Billy the Kid comic was loosely based on the life of teen mass murderer, William H. Bonney, but the comic was an attempt to present a character with a likable personality and a strong moral code. It was in many ways a story of redemption and forgiveness.
Some days in the past few weeks I am left believing that I am living in a very bad comic book. We have leaders of countries threatening one another with nuclear war. Even dependable superpowers all of a sudden have leaders whose contributions to the conversation look like they might more properly belong in a dialogue bubble in a comic book: “Cesspools of evil” (Kim Jung Un) “ Fire and Fury” (Donald Trump). Once again in our world we have pear-shaped politicians ready to slaughter their young and destroy hard-earned peace in our world.
The United States of America is a democracy and their President is legitimately chosen. Clearly, though, he needs a little tutoring from Sgt Rock and the Apache Kid. You do not fall into the trap of becoming what you claim to be fighting against.
We Christians believe that peace is important. There are many reason for this but chief among them is that it was the gift that the resurrected Jesus first offered to the disciples. Clearly though he envisioned times like these. That is why Jesus said:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33