While we have this lull during the Syrian crisis – waiting for Congress to either give the president the go-ahead and take military action against the Syrian regime lead by the son of one of the Middle East’s most vicious leaders over the past half-century, Bashar al-Assad, or reject his request – I thought I might have a word or so concerning war and conflict in general.
I’m no Middle East expert. However, that does not eliminate me from having my say. Even the experts, the ones with all the information supposedly, can be just as wrong as two left shoes, as we have seen over the course of history and as recently as the past two conflicts we’ve been bogged down in during the past decade. So in a way, we all are experts when predicting the future. We know nothing about it until it happens, like Monday-morning quarterbacking, you might say.
Perhaps, we don’t know the future because we tend to look at it from just the human standpoint. There is another component to fully understanding what is happening in the world today. Since man also is spirit, he must see things through his spirit senses as well as his body senses.
CONFLICT IS inevitable. War is inevitable. They are as much a part of life as peace. Peace would have no reason to exist without war, love without hate, rich without poor. While it is noble to seek peace whenever possible, don’t be surprised when we hear “peace, peace” when there seems to be no peace in sight. Yet peace does exist – or I should say co-exist.
Conflict and peace exist at the same time, at least in the age we find ourselves today, although the Bible speaks of a time when there will be total peace. Maybe that will be the time when there will be no contradictions, and no need for them.
For instance, we, as a nation and before becoming one, have been at war, and so have other nations. I think the simple answer to the question “why?” lies in the fact that nations are made up of individuals who themselves have conflicting natures. On the one hand we want peace, yet on the other we want war. The world has been this way ever since Adam.
The sooner we accept this fact of life, the easier it will be for us to understand why we enter conflict and war. Sometimes that conflict can be from within, as it was during our own Civil War. Nature controls us rather than the other way around. Therein lies the problem. Looking at any conflict – whether between nations, families, businesses or what – you will find nature at work. It’s a nature that ultimately controls our actions more that we wish to admit.
The Apostle Paul had this duality in his nature, and he talked about it, saying, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is the sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:15-19).
Paul concludes: “Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. …What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)
COULD THAT BE one of the reasons we are surprised by some of the acts that are committed by people we thought we knew? Could it be why people could own slaves and write a Constitution saying that all men are created equal? Could it be why some people can cry out “black pride” and turn around and kill their own brothers? Could it be why we can love one another on Sunday and hate one another come Monday?
I’m not trying to offer excuses for man’s behavior. I’m just trying to put it in the context of a force beyond his control. I suggest we look further than party politics to understand wars and why we enter them. The day has yet to come, as the prophet Isaiah said it will be: “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nations will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
So, let us in the meantime pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the whole Middle East, our country, our president and all the nation’s leaders – looking forward to that day when real peace will come, and we study war no more.
(The writer is a former Augusta City Council member and a retired labor relations manager from Bechtel Savannah River Inc.)