Thursday, July 14, 2005

If I Had a Rocket Launcher

No, this isn't a post where I explore my deepest male fantasies. It's the title of a song by Bruce Cockburn (pronounced "co-burn"). I first heard it on a CKUA profile of the Christian musician. He apparently wrote it after witnessing a military helicopter strafing a Guatemalan refugee camp in Southern Mexico.

"If I Had a Rocket Launcher" by Bruce Cockburn:

Here comes the helicopter -- second time today
Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away
How many kids they've murdered only God can say
If I had a rocket launcher...I'd make somebody pay

I don't believe in guarded borders and I don't believe in hate
I don't believe in generals or their stinking torture states
And when I talk with the survivors of things too sickening to relate
If I had a rocket launcher...I would retaliate

On the Rio Lacantun, one hundred thousand wait
To fall down from starvation -- or some less humane fate
Cry for Guatemala, with a corpse in every gate
If I had a rocket launcher...I would not hesitate

I want to raise every voice -- at least I've got to try
Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.
Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry
If I had a rocket launcher...Some s** of a b**** would die

Here's some comment by Cockburn on the Christian reaction to the song:
"Some of them got a little nervous when I started talking about politics," he adds, "because you're not supposed to do that if you're a certain type of Christian -- especially if you're a songwriter. I got a lot of letters from people, especially after the album 'Stealing Fire,' and there were a lot of people in the Christian scene who found 'If I had a Rocket Launcher' very difficult. Because they weren't used to thinking about those things. "There were a lot of Christians who did understand it, the more liberal, for want of a better word, turn of mind," he points out. Nonetheless, "A lot of people wrote letters urging me, exhorting me, not to lose the way. At no point was I threatened with excommunication, but there was definitely a kind of standing back and going, 'What is this?' on the part of a lot of people." (from
While I don't subscribe to "liberation theology" intellectually, this song drives straight to that place in your heart that wants rise up with the proletariat. While the Gospel does proclaim freedom, I think Gandhi proved that there is a more moral way to induce change. And my Adventist heritage is very much in line with that approach. Still, if I had a rocket launcher and the refugees were under attack, I have to say I'd probably use it.

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