11 July 2005

Pushing Jello

So a friend asked the question, "Can we win the war on terror? and if we do what will the end state look like?" Okay, really that's two questions. He asked those questions on an e-mail list I'm on where we talk about theology and life and things. I've been mulling it/them over in my head ceaselessly for the last couple of days. Several people jumped in with very good answers that I more or less agreed with. I have my own answers to those questions. But then I've been thinking ... the war on terror is like the so-called war on drugs. It's a manufactured war. It is not a war that can be won ... or lost. A war is properly fought over things like boundaries, territory, crowns, princes, honor. One cannot go to war against intangibles like drugs or terror ... it's like pushing jello uphill with a toothpick.

After that I got to thinking that in a democracy such as ours, is it the proper function of our government to be fighting a war against terror. Because after all, a war against ghosts, shades, and specters is likely to be costly and without end (oh ... oops ... did I say that in my out loud voice?). Is it, in fact, the function of a democratic government to push jello uphill with a toothpick? Just because the goverment says it needs to fight this war to "protect" us. I think we've got plenty of evidence from history about how well that kind of "protection" works and we don't need any ... thank you very much!

History actually bears this out ... the best protection against terrorism is ... love. Actually, it's lovingkindness, mercy, and justice. It's a concept known to the Jews as hesed, there's no one word in English that exactly matches it. But some combination of all of those together will do. On the other hand, loving your enemy is risky ... it's also not profitable for Halliburton. I don't know how loving al Qaeda would bear out on a national level ... I'm not sure we could do that. But I do know that turning on the electricity, and the water, and the sewers, and the hospitals, and the general infrastructure and making it reliable and making sure that people had food on their tables and heat in their homes for the most part would go along way towards shutting down al Qaeda in Iraq. What we've done, on the other hand, has made a lot of people hate us.

Pushing jello uphill with a toothpick. The Greeks had another analogy for it ... and a name too, Sysiphus. He was condemned to forever push a boulder uphill only to have it roll back down as soon as he got it to the top. I think we've tried the ways of war for long enough ... let's try something new now. It's just a thought.


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