Wednesday, 21 March 2012

There Is Still Madness In This World

“To know war is to know there is still madness in this world.”

Photo Credit: db king
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I don’t know why I did it. The Internet is a funny thing that way. I was flipping through old music videos on YouTube and ended up with some of the old classic songs of yesteryear that I grew up with in my high school years. Video after video scrolled by for who knows how long. Minutes? Hours? Somewhere in between? It all became somewhat of a blur as I reminisced with one old classic after another.

Before I knew it, I was listening to music with video footage from the Vietnam war. Music such as the Doors, Hendrix, CCR, and the Rolling Stones to mention but a few, all with actual video footage from Vietnam.

As a preteen/young teenager at the time, I was too young to serve in the Vietnam war. As a Canadian, I likely wouldn’t have been there anyways (though some Canadians did fight alongside the US in the Vietnam War). But though I was young, I was not too young to have that sense that something wasn’t quite right in the world. I could read the newspapers by then. I could watch the television news. I could overhear adults speaking about the war. Something was clearly amiss.

A lot of the video footage I watched, though musical, was also political in nature. One video, by “Credence Clearwater Revival (Fortunate Son),” began with the image of a former GI (we are led to assume) carrying a protest sign, which read, “President Bush, you hid from the Vietnam war we served. How dare you ask our children to fight? Coward!” Wow! Strong words. Obviously the person carrying that sign was someone who strongly objected to renewed American military presence abroad. Canada too, has had its share of protesters to these foreign military campaigns, as have many other allied countries.

Photo Credit: Pak Gwei
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As I thought about these things, I was also reminded of some of the present day sentiments I’ve read on social media concerning politics on the eve of another federal election in the US. I mention the US only by default, as it is currently their election time. It could just as easily be Canada, Australia, Britain, or any European country for that matter. I’ve read of their political woes as well. Nationality isn’t even the primary issue here; but the spirit of the problem, which transcends all international boundaries, is.

Now, I am not unpatriotic; I love my country. However, the problem the way I see it is that too many Christians have become too engrossed with political agendas. Though they claim to be believers, the teachings of Jesus, especially as concerns our fellow man, seem to have become either down played or forgotten all together. Has the pledge of allegiance to a national flag trumped the pledge of allegiance to the cross of Christ? One has to wonder sometimes, and especially so when one sees them standing side by side as they do in some places.
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Jesus; Mt.24:6; NIV)
What were we fighting about again? Does anyone even remember? Does anyone even care? Sometimes it’s pretty clear; other times not as much so. However, as someone has said, "if we don’t remember, then we’re doomed to repeat it." Will we ever see the utopic absence of war? This side of glory, I doubt it. War has become too ingrained in our human nature. Still, in the words of John Lennon's wartime protest, "War is over, if you want it." Do we want it?

Photo Credit: Ann Althouse
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Now please understand, though I tend to be somewhat of a pacifist, my heart aches for those who have lost loved ones in any conflict. My heart grieves for you if that includes someone dear to you just as much as my heart grieves for the mother on the other side of the conflict who also lost a son. Nationality or political persuasion has nothing to do with it. Families and loved ones are important to all of us. The communist, the capitalist, the socialist – and whatever other “ist” there is - we all grieve the same, and we all bleed the same, and we all love our children the same. And lest we have forgotten, we are all loved equally by the same God. Yeah, that’s right. God loves them too. As Christians, one would think that we should know this by now.

If we acknowledge that as truth, if we believe that, “For God so loved the world (John 3:16; note the word, “world”),” then why do we sometimes act as if the Scripture says, “For God so loved [insert nation here]” as opposed to the whole world? Is God only concerned with us and not them? Is God concerned only with our political persuasions? Of course not! I guess that’s just another example of our carnal nature.


NOTE: Parts of this video are disturbing.

But they’re communists, some might still object. OK, and I am an anti-capitalist. Your point is? Next question? What I’m trying to say is, so what? Where does it say that we have to be right all the time? Isn’t all conflict simply worldly? Regardless of what/who leads us into war, regardless of how many reasons there may be to justify a military campaign, isn’t all conflict ultimately the direct result of our hard hearts? It is one thing when the secular world concerns itself with the things of the world; that is to be expected. However, when the Christian, who professes faith in Christ, acts like the world, and with worldly values, then I begin to wonder.
“But they’re wrong,” some will still insist. Hmm, and I suppose that means that you must then be right?
OK, let’s assume for the sake of argument that they are wrong. If “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8), or wrongs, does it cover their political faults too? The interesting thing is, you and I were also wrong, but thankfully God’s love through the cross of Christ covered a multitude (all) of our sins too. All I am suggesting is that we who know Christ, at least strive to focus a little more on that “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” part that Jesus spoke about (Mt.5:44). I’m reasonably sure that when Jesus said that, He wasn’t thinking of it as being only an optional suggestion, unlike what too many of us do today seem to think.

Photo Credit: Patricil Complex "Heart of Stone"
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At the risk of seriously over simplifying things, was that the problem in Vietnam and other global hot spots? More recently, was that the problem in Afghanistan and Iraq? Is that the problem domestically in political arenas today where we even slander our own countrymen? Is the root of the problem a hardness in our hearts? Oh, I know there are many, many complex issues to those conflicts. I am simply wondering what the outcomes might have been if we all first looked a little deeper within at the state of our own hearts before we focused too much on the specks in the eyes of our enemies.

Do you remember that old Wendy’s TV commercial where the elderly lady opens a competitor’s oversized hamburger bun only to find a small meat patty inside and cries out, “Where's the Beef?” Today many are beginning to open the bun of Christianity and are crying out, “Where’s the love?”

Photo Credit: Kate Skegg
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All these years later, have we still not learned anything from Vietnam? Have we learned anything from some of the other more recent conflicts? Does our often pathetic attempts at loving our neighbor mean that our children and grandchildren are destined to have to experience those same horrors of war first hand for themselves too? While I hope not, sometimes that possibility really scares me.

Yes, that generation of music that I first mentioned had its own problems too. They weren’t perfect either. Their mantra seems to have been, "Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll." Though the church of the day had plenty of issues with that culture, to their credit they at least outwardly seemed to promote peace and love, even if they had those concepts a bit twisted. (But they did have cool looking vans - grin, grin). Yes, they had their faults, but hasn't modern Christianity's concept of peace and love also become equally twisted in the church today? Hmm, I wonder.

Come on, church. We of all people should know better! Where’s the love? We may never be able to stop wars, and the secular world will continue to fight them. But just maybe we can show the world that, just as God is a God of love, so also His children are children of love too. I wonder what would happen if the world really began to see that in us?
“Blessed are the peacemakers,  for they will be called sons of God” (Jesus; Mt.5:9). 
Maybe peace really does start with you and me. Are you up for the challenge? I wonder. That's the way I see it anyway. Blessings.

2 comments:

  1. Will,

    I think this post is right on target. Jesus was not unpatriotic, but he also didn't blindly support any war or program that the government set out upon. We Christians need to be more loyal to the values of Jesus than to the system of government.

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    1. Thank you, Jeremy, for your observation. It is appreciated. Blessings.

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