Thursday, 06 September 2012
By JN Hong
I had to bite my tongue in class when the topic of war came up.
I find that my views on war and violence are often quite controversial. I suspect that it is because they are controversial, that people are not always willing to hear them. Furthermore, people seem to not like opinions which span more than one sentence. They like black and white views on life–I am a Democrat, I am a Calvinist, I am a Cessationalist, I am a capitalist etc. More often than not, people don’t have the patience or time to hear a full exposition of how my view of war has been formed and evolved through time to arrive at what I believe in this. With this in mind, I think with any opinion there is a time to voice them, and there is a time to be silent. I also think there are clear opinions on war, that are reflected in our society.
It is unfortunate, because I would argue that the evolution in the history of someone’s thought is immeasurably more interesting than the final opinion that one finally arrives at. John Piper in Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian talks about how his initial views on race were shaped and influenced by growing up in a conservative culture in the South. As he grew up, he began to realize and change how he saw the world in a profound manner.
The Status Quo
On this line of thought, I feel that a lot of our lives have been marked with the war experience.
Though we live in a post-World War 2 Earth, I feel the idea of conflict on a global scale is something that has been constantly in our media and minds for the past century, millenia, existence of mankind. A life without war, is something that we are not familiar with. It is something that is unavoidable, that countries are fighting with each other, sanctioning each other–basically never living in harmony.
In addition, with the globalisation of news, our lives are no longer disconnected from the war in Sudan, or Joseph Kony abducting children for his army, soldiers dying in Afghanistan e.t.c. It’s something that has a personal connection to us on a daily basis. Perhaps, then, it is something that is difficult to imagine our lives without, without constantly watching the blood splattered over the 6 o’clock news, and the bold letterhead on the news-stands on the street corner. It’s a central part of our life: conflict.
I feel the constancy of war and conflict in our lives, conditions us to think a certain way–that violence is a viable way of resolving conflict. Not only that, but that other paths don’t lead to the same resolution, that is, the only way to really solve a conflict is the way that we’ve been conditioned through the news and media: violence. This is unfortunate. I would argue that it is shallow to imagine that everytime we approach a conflict, the ultimate resolution is violence as most countries seem to do and support. I think a lot of why violence is so popular and equally terrifying is the finality. I feel more often than not, war is the process of rising to the top of the scrap-heap, because when you get to the top it is very profitable.
War makes assumptions. the largest of which is that good and evil in this world is black and white. More often than not, the victors/aggresors are the ones that write the history. I wonder what a different world of difference it would make if Soviet Russia had triumphed in the Cold War, or what if the Cuban Missile Crisis was not resolved. As someone not living in the USA, I would argue that, though the lesser of two evils, America is not the darling we want to think it is. That having won the Second World War, and creating a better, albeit imperfect, world, but this is the same America that used South Vietnam as a puppet, and used torturing techniques like water-boarding on many war criminals.
Therefore, it’s a world of conflicted, imperfect people–some good, but none perfect. We are capable of doing a great amount of good, but we are all deserving of violence and a conflict that wipes us off the earth. I feel that in Christ we are provided with a solution greater that makes all else on this earth pale in comparison. In many ways it is an inversion of the human system of good and evil, in that, it proclaims we are all evil, and makes us good.
God is both the aggressor and the forgiver–forgiving the evil, and punishing the wicked. He forgives all the evil inside of us, and sanctifies us to goodness. He separates the wheat and the chaff carefully leaving only the good to prosper. I feel as when we try to become the aggressor, or we try to be the forgiver, we try to play God. Whether on a individual level, or a country level–no one can read people’s hearts, and no one can cast the first stone.
The One who can cast the first stone, gave the greatest solution–He sent His perfect Son for the imperfect world. He who takes all our evil, all our violence, all our conflict, all our suffering away from us, so we can love our neighbour and pray for our enemies with a pure and clean heart. Therefore, on this earth we should be transparent in our dealings as Christ died for all our hidden sins. We should seek reconciliation and peace before we start to wield pitchforks and hate as Christ died for all our hate and anger.
In application, truly, the Gospel supercedes ourselves with an everlasting peace.