taken from Inquirer News www.inquirer.com
This Week was the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on American soil. I am not sure what there is to say about that that has not already been said. The day passed without my watching any coverage
of September 11, 2001, much less any commentary. Last year on the tenth anniversary, I made my grandson watch several documentaries about the events of that day so he would know and remember. He was three years old at the time. It would be nice if we could simply set the day aside as one among many in the history of our nation, but that day was not. He needs to know and understand, and he needs to know and understand more than just the sequence of events. There was more to the attacks than a handful of angry men.
I did read about the attacks on American embassies in Egypt and Libya. Especially Libya. The ambassador was murdered by suffocation, and three others were shot. Apparently, some Egyptian Christians living in the US made a film that was perceived to be an offense against Mohammad. Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, spoke out strongly against the film, identifying the film as “inhuman and abusive” as opposed to the killing of Americans. This would be the same Afghanistan where our troops are stationed to maintain and protect Karzai’s own presidency and power as that nation is supposedly stabilized and eradicated of the greatest threats to America. I get the logic of why our military is there. I just fear the starting point of the thought process was faulty. If we do not start with reality, we cannot possibly prepare a functional, much less successful, plan of action. In other words, we cannot get from A to B if we start at C, especially if C doesn’t really exist. Therein lies our problem.
We truly believe that all people desire freedom. I do. I believe that. But our very idea of freedom is rooted in Christian faith – that all people were endowed with certain unalienable rights by their Creator. That is a statement with which I wholeheartedly concur. The problem is that not everyone believes in the same Creator. Oh, we like to believe that all religions are the same, but if they were, there would not be more than one religion. If all religions were the same, I am pretty sure we would have picked up on that little piece of information somewhere in the last fourteen hundred years, or last two thousand years, or five thousand years. Au contraire…
The basis of American freedom has moved from a Christian foundation to a philosophical basis, that somehow, inherent in every human being, is this burning desire for freedom, narrowly defined as the individual right to do whatever one wants, so long as no one else gets hurt. The Christian idea of freedom does not dare such a broad definition. Some of the things we want are very self-destructive, particularly in light of the Christian understanding of a human being. But that is not everyone’s idea of the meaning of being human, not even every Christian’s idea. Moreover, that understanding of the being of humanity does not exist outside of Christianity, although Judaism is very similar.
Afghan President Karzai went on to say that the film “caused enmity and confrontation between the religions and cultures of the world.” That is the salient point we cannot seem to grasp. Karzai has a clearer picture of reality than we do. All religions do not believe in the same Creator, and thus, all religions have a different understanding of the human being, meaning, the function and purpose of human life are different. The idea that all human beings want the freedom of the American human being is wrongheaded, as in, false. This is the “C” starting point that doesn’t really exist. People want the freedom defined by their creator, however they perceive that creator. Nothing more decisively reveals this truth than the fact that the two nations most recently liberated to democracy – Egypt and Libya – are currently attacking all things American, starting with our embassies on their soil.
It would be wonderful if we could simply all be friends and get along, but friendship is dependent upon common denominators. Everyone understands that a loving husband and wife devoted to caring for and tending to their children is plenty of common ground for friendship, be the family in the US or in Egypt. Yet, this ideal is just that – the ideal. Loving parents devoted to children is the ideal; it’s not even the reality in the US in too many cases. Finally, friendship can only be as strong as mutual respect, and mutual respect demands common understanding. None of us understands that a loving father can offer his own child as a suicide bomber, for example, while that father is convinced his son is being offered to the highest and best good.
Likewise, it would be wonderful if everyone were simply educated enough to see things the “right” way – our way. As George Orwell succinctly pointed out, “Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them.” Having been to seminary, which I naively assumed was a holy or blessed place, I have known intellectuals who believe some really stupid ideas, and nothing breeds a hotbed of distrust and conflict like disagreement over ultimate things, that is, the meaning of life, of God, of creation. In the hallowed halls of religious academia, I witnessed professors lying, manipulating, and plotting for positions of influence and power, seeking to dominate and impose their various schools of thought on the school as a whole. Perhaps that is where my own view was formed. Without a common starting place, without an “A” from which to begin, we will never get to “B” together. And that is precisely my point: we cannot “get along” with people who view the world entirely differently than we do. We can be respectful enough to leave them to their own lives, but we cannot create a “C” alternative because it does not exist. However, even the idea of mutual respect is tenuous at best, dangerous at worst, i.e.: Egypt and Libya.
Of course, there is our confidence in American trade and products to keep peace. That works to some extent, but consider this: missionaries have gone into countries and built water wells to provide villages with easy access, only to have those same wells destroyed as they leave because the people want nothing to do with America or Christianity. Beyond that, the international influence of the mighty dollar is waning rapidly as the dollar flows ever faster on the current leading to a crashing waterfall.
So, what am I trying to say? Just this… It would be wonderful if reality were something different than it is, but reality simply is. No amount of education, communication, or fiscal policy will ever change human nature. Only Jesus Christ can change human nature. Only Jesus Christ has the power to transform what is sinful and/or evil and turn it into something good. Our high ideals of civilized humanity have led us to a place of unreality, a “C” that doesn’t exist. Eventually, sooner or later, there will be war. That is the way of human beings. Jesus knew that. Not only did He say there would be war, He said war must happen. When war comes, we either will conquer or be conquered. That is the way of war. No one sacrifices one’s own life for the idea that ‘it’s all about me and my happiness,’ the prevailing American idea of freedom. That mindset does not bode well for our future.
The utopia we so desperately and high-mindedly yearn to create in our world is not attainable. If only it were so… If only reality were something different than what it is. But reality is what it is, and no amount of wishful thinking or sophisticated philosophy will ever change it. It would be helpful if we could come to terms with reality. Only then will we be able to do what we can within the limitations of humanity, and if our humanity is imbued with the Spirit of God, there is much we can do. We cannot create a utopia, but we can bring the Kingdom of God to where we are, and we can bring Jesus Christ to others that they too might have a new life, transformed by the Holy Spirit. That is as close to utopia as we are going to get, at least until the end comes.
Am I a pessimist? I prefer to think not. My prayer is that I see the world as our Creator sees the world, full of vast and noble potential, but plagued by sin and evil – in short, in need of a Savior to become a place of goodness, justice, and peace. That is, as a Christian, as realistic as I can be. One day, there will be no more sorrow, or crying, or pain, or death. Until then, I think we would do well to live with reality as it is rather than as something we wish it were.
In Christ – Elizabeth Moreau © 2012 Servants’ Feast Ministry. All Rights Reserved. follow on Twitter | friend on Facebook | forward to a friend Copyright © 2012 Servants Feast Christian Ministry, All rights reserved.
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