Conflict happens like that. It lunges, leaps, accelerates from a spark into a flame faster than expected; leaving your heart pumping and your mind racing, effectively ineffective endorphins flood your blood stream.
They were rough, homeless perhaps. In a big city, you start to not notice them; like moving, breathing tiles, they blend into the landscape. But suddenly and quickly, the skirmish was escalating. One tile threw a punch. Hair pulling. Screaming. Punch. Punch-punch.
There is a guard at the corner grocery, ‘Police,’ I asserted and in my haste, Bulgarian came out because years taught me how to express panic, cry for help, get attention in that beautiful language. He understood and he followed me out of the door.
There we stood, the two of us, watching two women beat each other up. Punch. Punch-punch. Punch-punch. Kick. Ineffective bystanders. He refused to help. Refused to speak.
My mind began working, “Call. Police.”
I pulled the words from a locked room and made them speak in Hungarian, sticking my phone in his face. “Call. Police.” more strident now because the blonde woman was on top of the dark haired woman, strangling her.
In my panic, I could not remember how to dial the Hungarian police. At the moment I most needed help, I was helpless. It is a sinking thing to watch a woman’s face grow a blood shade of red as she fights for oxygen.
And, I am not sure that this post needs closure because the story certainly does not have it. We expect bloggers to wrap up posts with home-spun wisdom and story-tellers to create endings and journalists to craft a conclusion, and preachers to pray a prayer, but our world does not operate that way. Real life throws a punch and bleeds. And sometimes fellow humans stick around and watch, helpless, or apathetic, or paralyzed with fear. The woman on the ground struggled for breath while the other woman wrapped her fingers around a throat and squeezed.
Some kids are going to die today somewhere on this planet while I eat a panini in GoaMama on Kiraly Utca in Budapest.
And that is why I hate Auschwitz. It makes me face my greatest fears. Without God, this place is hell.
We do enough good things that we come to believe that we are essentially good. But, history and a street corner on Kiraly Utca bleed a different kind of truth. Remove the perimeters that define our morality, destroy the safety nets and make us desperate, feed our hunger with fear, and the punches crush jaws and the heads topple, and the body gushes blood.
Casting Crowns asks ‘If we are the body, why aren’t his…?’ I love that song.
GoaMama’s Panini was good but it left my body hungry. Ironic, is it not?