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Conflict about Conflict September 29, 2014

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.
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Amid “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6) I hear conflicting opinions about conflict.  Some say, as they always have and always will, to give peace a chance.  Some say, and they always do, that the conflict is a necessary lesser evil.  And then there’s always at least one psychopath in the bunch who says things about how we should “nuke ‘them’ (a civilization, but not ‘us’) back to the stone age.”

I respect the wisdom of Ghandi and others who advocated for peace, even “peaceful resistance.”  However, if you respond to a bully with the most peaceful response all the time, you’ll always go around missing your lunch money.  Depending on the severity of the bullies tactics, you could also go around with scars from torture, or shot dead, or missing your head.

There are times “in the course of human events,” when “it becomes necessary” to do something about a bully.  In documents such as the Declaration of Independence the recommended strategy for civilized humans is to declare their intention.  America declared its’ independence from England in the late 1700s, precipitating the Revolutionary War.  Scotland fought a series of battles from the 1290s until the 1350s, for their independence from Britain.  Scotland and England then danced a bit and reunited in 1707.  The dance goes on.  The partners are now closer, now farther apart on the dance floor, and Scotland voted recently against independence from England.  Social progress has been made:  at least they didn’t declare war.

Organized, murderous bullies in Syria, Iraq and Nigeria are separating themselves from the rest of their countrymen, and in the end it may be worse than the genocide in Rwanda.  Bullies, especially murderous bullies, need to be confronted and stopped.   As with Rwanda, the only difference between victim and bully are those of social status or choice- it’s like a civil war, and these people might as well be brothers and sisters.  And the motivation is just to gain more power.  As we would condemn individual murder or torture by family in the name of religion, we would also condemn murder or torture on a large scale.  The crusades were originally organized to stop the spread by force of Islam.  The crusades, sadly, fell victim to individual and corporate corruption and in the end some of the crusaders were just as bad, or worse, than the followers of Muhammad. History repeats itself until we learn the lessons we need to learn.  For those who would say it’s not the same, we have Boko Haram declaring themselves as followers of ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has proclaimed himself as the currently reigning caliph.  You remember Boko Haram, the ones who kidnapped all the schoolgirls back in April.  Over 200 haven’t yet escaped, and haven’t been returned to their families.

I’m far less concerned with one favorite spin over another, who is to blame and what the world community at large could have and should have done before the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) than I am with what should be done now, to stop the murder and torture.

The first question is, who should get their feet muddy and bodies bloody, who should intervene, and possibly die, trying to assist in the conflict against the modern-day bullies?  And the next is, when is the intervention enough so the modern crusaders can go home?  In school, you can usually find a teacher or administrator who’ll step in and make it stop.  In the world, it’s not that clear-cut as to who should be responsible to do that.  No matter what the political spin is on the conflict in Iraq, these bullies are, or claim to be, Islamic, which makes this something they are doing in the name of their religion.  But on the terrain they share it also means Muslim is fighting Muslim, like a Baptist church splitting over doctrines, but with guns and machetes.  This means Muslim clerics, peaceful Islamic leaders, should be stepping in and making the case for these bullies to stop what they are doing.   If it’s just about Islam and not about power, the clerics should be able to condemn the actions of ISIL/ISIS, that is, if the bullies consider these verses valid: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.  Truth stands out clear from error (2:256)” and “O, my son!  Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong…(31:17)”  These, and the following warning should be sufficient:  “The Hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire: no helper wilt thou find for them (4:145).”  If it is about power and not in the name of religion, then it’s all the worse, all the more hypocritical, for them claiming it is about religion.

Let us have a strong leader, and let the world have equally strong leaders, strong enough not to kowtow to the new overlords in submission and welcome, nor passively allowing what should not be, to be.  Let our country and our world have leaders who stand up for what is right.  Let us not have another Rwanda, where people who should be brothers and sisters, citizens in the same country, murdering one another.  Let us not have another religious Crusade to stop the rampage.  Let not another peaceful human die at the hands of a ruthless, hypocritical bully.  Murder is wrong; compulsion is wrong.  I hope it is enough to condemn them for murder and power-mongering, and to peacefully request they cease and desist.  But if not, then let them earn their proper reward as hypocrites, “by any means necessary,” and that swiftly.

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