Thursday, December 29, 2005

Pray For Peace, Prepare For War

I was reminded this morning of the schizophrenic nature of war. Its strange dual face that most do not recognize as existing and many feel that, to profess to one means that you cannot believe in or hope for the other just as fervently. It may be that this season brings it on more than any other time of the year. It may simply be the realization that we are heading into the fifth year and we must recognize that this low level war may indeed continue for years to come at a higher or lower pace, but war it will be whether we see it nightly on our news or simply hear a weekly update on activities beyond our borders or if it reverts to an occasional "special report" on the evening news.

We will eventually slip into that twilight where we hear and see little until the next flare up turns hot enough for full force intervention.

In the meantime, it is still hot enough to warrant the attention and the dual ideology that one can understand the necessity for war and the preparation, yet pray regularly and hope even more diligently for peace. While it is not millions of men and women serving in harms way nor tens of thousands wounded and dying in major battles, nor the whole sale destruction of civilian centers daily that was seen during my grandparents' days of WWII, the ability to see and read daily the reports of both progress and set backs, the daily casualty reminders and, even on Christmas Day, to note the deaths of the young, aspiring and inspiring soldiers or the casual note of "four civilians killed or wounded", has reminded me in a small way, what it must have been like to sit at home during those much darker days and wait.

While I have routinely prayed to God to give our men and women strength to carry on, to protect them in their endeavors, have mercy on those that are wounded and dying and to comfort those that have lost, strangely (or not), what I find myself praying for even more passionately is that God will move men to see reason, to stay the sword and desire peace above all other things.

I suppose, at heart, I am truly a pacifist. I can imagine, with all honesty, that around this country and around the world, there are more people who dream of peace whatever their nationality, race or religion, than who beat the drums of war. Yet, man is man, hardly perfect or pure in his wants and needs, thus war seems to be an equal and unending act of man. Man's duality, his natural state.

Having studied these last two years the conflicts around the globe, one can see that war, in one shape or another, has gone on unending for centuries. Sometimes I wonder if, in some strange way, the proclivity to war is natures way of culling an ever expanding population of men where the only predator capable enough of "herd control" is man himself? That is neither logical science nor comforting since we are raised up to believe that man, with his superior reasoning capabilities, is supposed to be able to overcome natural inclinations seen in the animal kingdoms.

I think that we are fooling ourselves in that regard because we do reflect the wild beasts in the jungles, on the mountains and on the plains. We struggle for territory and resources, to protect our own from outsiders, particularly from a different species. And, as our own grows, we continually come into contact with those that "do not belong" who feel equally threatened by our existence or expansion.

I suppose that one could blame modern globalization for this continual friction when in modern man we should have developed a more sensible approach to addressing differences and resolving problems with "dialogue". Maybe that is why many despise and loath modern globalization because they see in it the destruction of their individual cultures and ideas? Yet, for any true scholar of human expansion and achievement the modern globalization trend and its unceasing abuttment to many small wars, is nothing new nor is it a process which can be stopped since the first true "globalization" began the first time that a caveman went to the next cave over and traded his flint blades and the knowledge on how to capture and skin an animal for clothing for the berries, fruit and wheat the other tribe had collected. From that moment on, each caveman and his clan were changed irrevocably in diet, clothing, language and even culture.

At the same time, each cave clan had to know that now they had rivals for their resources and that they were in danger of extinction or forced to leave or join forces with the new clan should those resources be over used or the next clan over decide that they should have what the others have either through trade or violence. From that moment on, every interaction of man, every advancement, every movement, was leading to this moment and is unavoidable.

In which case, our society will be changed in many small ways while other cultures will be changed in extremely large and sometimes threatening ways. However one protects against it, it cannot be avoided which often makes such ideological wars as those proposed by the current rash of irrationalists (ie, the Islamists) seem futile and pointless.

I suppose I am also often surprised by people who say that we should "disengage" from one area or the other as if this would reduce the friction created by global expansion when one cannot stop a speeding train by placing a penny on the track anymore than one can stop the intermingling of cultures and people by pretending that an invisible wall exists through which no outside culture could penetrate through cable or air waves, much less global trade.

So, here we are. On the one hand desiring peace and prosperity and on the other understanding that man's continual expansion will always create friction and that, even as one culture may rise above another, soon will come another and another to change it yet again and create friction which lends to war.

A question that every generation must ask itself even as it sees the end of one great conflict which seems to signal a new and lasting peace, only to see arise a new conflict:

Are we forever to be praying for peace, but preparing for war?

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