In a perfect world it would be nice if we could open a newspaper or magazine and it would be all good news, but alas, we know that as beautiful as it is, especially in the Black Hills, this is not a perfect world, and I think we would tire of reading about sweet things while we brush under the rug the evil in the world. Sometimes the evil is overwhelming.
We heard about the chemical weapons attack in northern Syrian where, men, women and yes, children, were killed and injured, the responsible party being their own president, Bashar Assad. He has carried out all kinds of atrocities, torture, executions and bombings against Syrian people rising up against his rule, and some who monitor the situation say about 400,000 have been killed during six years of civil war. The United Nations has recorded 5 million refugees from this conflict. In an effort to respond to his atrocities, Pres. Trump gave the green light to launch 60 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian air base last Friday, killing more people. Syrian opposition and its backers, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, welcomed this move, hoping this would renew efforts to end the civil war. Yet, the move means more killing, more death.
The same day we heard about a suspected terror attack in Stockholm where four people were killed when a man driving a beer truck plowed into a store. Monday morning we woke up to the news that the Islamic State claimed responsibility for 37 deaths and 100 wounded in two attacks against Christian churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday.
On Sunday I read a synopsis of a new PBS series “The Great War” about which George Will said, “Watch it and wince.” The three-night series, which began Monday night, covers what to some are familiar military and diplomatic events before and after the Meuse-Argonne offensive, America’s bloodiest battle, with fatalities averaging 550 a day for 47 days. Even at home, Americans who were not sufficiently supportive of the war effort were interrogated and punished. Three pacifist Hutterite brothers from South Dakota, were arrested and imprisoned at Leavenworth, Kansas, forced to stand naked for hours in 17-degree temperature, suspended from bars in their cells, feet barely touching the ground, and fed only bread and water.
When we think about war, what it causes us to do to other human beings made in the image of God, it seems a mystery. For the United States, thankfully, we have engaged in war, not to take control of another group of people, but to free them, and to fight against bullies like Assad. Yes, the United States has made mistakes, but throughout history, we have been on the side of liberation, not totalitarian control.
We ponder death and war and ask, “Why?” It’s so senseless, yet none of us can say we are totally innocent. Pacifist thoughts we may claim to have, but there is something inside us, that capacity to rise up in anger, to hate others. In a sense, hatred brings death to relationships, as we get involved in our own little wars.
There was a perfect world at one time when love reigned, but with the fall of man came more and more of the evil we see in the world and in ourselves. God saw into the hearts of men and women and provided a solution ordained from before the world began.
This Friday we ponder His solution, the sacrifice of His only Son, sent to live perfectly, so he could be the perfect sacrifice for the evil, hatred and death in the hearts of mankind. Three days later He rose again, leading the way to forgiveness for us, and life forever with Him. We can’t cure the atrocities in this imperfect world, nor can we cure the anger and hatred in our own hearts, but He can, one heart at a time.