More than 100 Americans have died in Iraq this month. And suicide bombings in Basra Wednesday along with continued battles in Fallujah leave the conflict with no end in sight. Our “war on terror” is not going well, and Congress is holding simultaneous hearings on how much more we’ll have to spend as well as what went wrong. The pre-emptive strike — hailed as an operation of surgical precision — has ended in a quagmire.
In the beginning, it seemed this was the only sane method for removal of a madman. Using force to capture Saddam made sense. Now, we’re committed. Spain, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic announced they’ll withdraw their troops within the next few weeks, and Poland may join suit. Meanwhile, we have close to 135,000 fighting men and women in the region with thousands gearing up for transfer to Iraq.
I don’t know what will happen next, and I don’t have any good advice or words of wisdom. But Jesus — in His introduction of God’s Kingdom — offered us another way.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38-42
Here is a different kind of preemptive strike. We respond to those who would make us victims by offering more than they require. It seems like foolishness, this loving of enemies and prayer for those who persecute, and it runs counter to my personal concept of equity. But Jesus understood the weight of His words. He called us then and now to a holy revolution. And He made it personal when he instructed us to begin by loving our neighbors.
“Christ didn’t say, ‘Love humanity as thyself,’ but ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ and do you know why? Because your neighbor, by definition, is the person nearby, the man sitting next to you in the underground who smells, perhaps, the man next to you in the queue who maybe tries to barge ahead of you, in short, your neighbor is the person who threatens your own liberty.” Luciano De Crescenzo
Your neighbor is the person who threatens your own liberty.