Sinners, Syria, and 9-11

On Labor Day Weekend I was convinced that the US had to do “something” in response to the use of sarin gas that killed more than 1,000 people [at least 400 of whom were children] on August 21st.  How could we allow such a inhumane act go unanswered?  If we didn’t do something, Assad would believe he could do anything!  There had to be a way that a limited missile attack could be designed to hurt Assad, the government, and the military without endangering innocents.  Right??

Well, over the days and weeks to follow, I realized that the majority of people did not agree with this line of thinking.  Then the British Parliament voted NO on participating in any form of retaliatory action.  Then, Pope Francis urged the world to pray and fast for peace — saying clearly, violence leads to more violence.  Acts of war would not end war.

Whoa — maybe I needed to re-think my view and consider changing my opinion.

Then “Time Magazine” arrived at my home with an article entitled, “The Cult of Assad” and history became clearer — In June, 1982, Hafez Assad, the father of the current President, Bashar Assad, obliterated the town of  Hama, killing between 10,000 and 30,000 people –liquidating the entire Muslim Brotherhood of Syria.  Why?  Because in 1980, members of the Muslim Brotherhood tried to kill Hafez.    Mixed with sectarian views are religious beliefs.  [Prior to the killing of 1,400 on August 21st — more than 100,000 have died in the 2 1/2 year old civil war.]

Then the Gospel of this weekend [Luke 15:1-32], the Pharisees and scribes complain that Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them — and Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son with the loving father and the resentful older brother —- the son who asks forgiveness —- the father who extends mercy, i.e. undeserved love — and the son who was always so good!

Then turning to the reading from the Hebrew Scripture [Exodus 32:7-14], we are reminded of a God who wanted to wipe out sinners with a blaze of wrath for creating a false God.   But then, God relented in the punishment he had promised to inflict on the people.

Wow — but, how could we ignore the death of these 1,400 people?  100,000 died before — but gas was not used …. but then, they did die.  Why did we and the rest of the world not do anything in 1982 when the Muslim brotherhood was wiped out?  Could it be that we did not, do not, like the Muslim brotherhood?

12 years ago, our nation was attacked like never before.  More than 3,000 people died in a moment of horror that we will never forget.  Then —- we went to war in Afghanistan.  Then, we went to war in Iraq. 

Could it be — is it possible — that the plan that is being pushed forward — Syria putting its chemical weapons under international control, might avert war.  Maybe the threatened wrath might not happen.  And, so we pray, and so we hope.  When has war really ended war.  Wasn’t World War I the war to end all wars — or was that World War II?

Isn’t there enough sin to go around?  We are defenders of freedom and democracy, but then, at times our methods may have been questionable.

At some point — something has to change.  At some point in time, mercy must reign.  Mercy must heal.  I am sure that the families of the 1,400 recently killed want revenge; that is normal, that is understandable.  But, I wonder if the 1,400 who were killed could speak — what would they say?  what would they say?  Enough — no more….no more.

At some point, what we are seeing “out there” must come home to us.  How quick am I to forgive?  How often do I allow the sin of the other to overshadow my own sin?  Do I draw lines between us and them?  Can I change my mind — and not inflict the wrath I had planned?

Do my words and actions escalate a bad situation — or lead to growth?

At times just maybe we have to agree to disagree –and let some people go off on their own — and be themselves — and us ourselves.  Is there a way to allow others to live “in their peace” while we “live in our peace”.  Must our goal be to make others think, and look, and act like us?  For the sake of peace, some people, some topics,  and some situations must  be avoided.

How can we make peace?  How can we live in peace?

hjm

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