In the so called Christian west there are modern efforts to bring boundaries to war by enlightenment internationalists and the inheritors of just war thinking. Various covenants and protocols are in place that prescribe treatment of detainees and guidelines on the treatment of civilians for armies of occupation. In the wake of this growing body of international law and the recovery of enemy loving teachings among Christians, governments have resorted to two track war making."These expressions of terror rarely achieve the desired ends of national security...." And there is a reason for that. It is because these expressions are not prompted by fears of insecurity, or even by identity and boundary issues, such as "What nation/culture do I live in, if it isn't a simply Judeo-Christian one?" That's the cry of the "war on Christmas."
The public face of war making are the uniformed soldiers with their attendant weapons of modern warfare including all kinds of high tech equipment often justified as being inherently less destructive. The other track, the shadow side, contains war making at much more vicious level that can be regarded as the application of terror on enemy populations including civilians. Many of us choose to see the visible expressions of the security state, the uniformed soldier, but are mystified by or choose not to believe that "civilized" nations Christian, Muslim or Jewish, practice assassination, torture, destruction of whole cities with dimly lit underworld programs.
Despite the fact that thoughtful military historians report that these expressions of terror rarely achieve the desired ends of national security, planners and politicians continue to use these means.
But the issue of terror, and its use by rogue groups and nation-states, is simply the cry of power, seeking its own end, the unstoppable force destroying every obstacle in its path, until it meets the unmoveable object.
And that object is the Christchild.
Unmoveable not because it is more permanent than power, or more able to resist. That would be nonsense. Power cannot resist power, anymore than power is the answer to power. Resisting power with more power creates a feedback loop, and the only thing fed is power. Power does not cancel itself; it increases itself. So the answer to power is not ultimate power, because there is no such thing.
The answer to power is powerlessness. Which is the hardest answer of all. Consider the members of the CPT:
It is hard for the missing CPTers' families. It is hard for us not knowing where our four colleagues are, how they are holding up during this time, or when they will be released. We pray; we cry; we wake up in the night feeling tense with worry. We ask God for more faith and trust as we call for their release and work to share the stories of who these men are, of the work of CPT in Iraq and other places of conflict and injustice. We care about these four men, yet we also feel the same urgency for all Iraqis and their families who are suffering fear and pain because their family members have disappeared or been killed or imprisoned."There is no way out. But there is a way through. Powerlessness does not offer an exit; it offers the one chance to prevail. Power opposed requires the wielding of power, and power is subject to no one's control. Power always seeks its own ends.
Lately I feel so tired. There's always a part of me that wants just to sleep; sleep and make all of THIS - the war, my government's policies and actions, the counter-violence of the insurgency, all the greed and sin in the world - just go away for awhile. I can identify with the apathy of citizens who give in to violence: yes, just make the evil go away, press the button, fire the missile, send the young ones off to war. Take any way out.
There is no way out. But there is a way through. I tasted it the other day, when I was tired and wanted to hide, but instead went down the street to visit an Iraqi family who are going through a troubled time. On the way, I met little Huda in the street. I gave her a kiss; she gave me a piece of candy. Simple relationships, simple human connections - that's the way through.
Powerlessness is the only answer. The powerlessness of the Christchild. The refusal to be moved from one's convictions. The refusal to give up on God.
The recognition that there is no way out; but, glory be to God, there is a way through.
What, after all, could be less powerful, than a kiss for a small child?