It was in the days before blogging became a contact sport ... before Twitter or Facebook or YouTube and its Christian counterpart, Tangle ... but there was an email chain that started, so I shared that Word on the chain and for the efforts was roundly slapped down by the brother of a friend of mine who, it later transpired, has made quite a comedy career on TV, largely supporting our troops.
"Don't worry about my brother," my friend wrote. "He's an idiot."
Small consolation at the time ... and even smaller now, 8 years later, as the death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan closes in on 6200 and three more of Canada's young and fair of face come home in boxes.
Don't get me wrong (and I'm surprised to think that I might have to explain myself): I do support our troops. There's a part of me that's awfully proud of the job they do over there, especially after hearing for years how the Canadian military is poorly trained and ill-equipped. When one unit took out a key Taliban position back in the fall of 2001, I remember saying to anyone who'd listen, "where have they been hiding these guys?" I'm also keenly aware of the freedoms we enjoy because men and women like them lay down their lives to protect it, and this being Remembrance Day, you bet I think about that.
But in the shock that followed the 9/11 attacks, with the world wondering what to do in response, the Word from the Lord was that the best response would be ... nothing.
Nothing military, at any rate. Why? Because this was an attack spurred by religious fervor: people believing they will be rewarded by their god for killing as many "enemies" of that god as possible. The spirit behind such fervor has only one source, and there is only one way to combat it: through prayer and faith and turning to God for protection and for Him to sort out our enemies. AND ... reaching out to those enemies with love.
No, I'm not talking about the lame let's-all-try-to-UNDERSTAND-the-people-who-did-it approach that many in the media -- particularly the Canadian media -- took. I'm talking about recognizing that the spirit behind the attacks was evil and the only way to overcome evil is with Good (Rom. 12:20-21). At the time, I pointed out in that email chain that the terrorists and their masters wanted a violent, military response and to drag the US and its allies into a long and costly war, diverting attention and resources away from important domestic issues and forcing Christians into that confusing position of claiming to believe the Bible on the one hand but not standing on it when the rubber meets the road.
Now, 8 years later, we have the fruits:
- 133 Canadian soldiers, plus a diplomat and two aid workers, dead in Afghanistan (out of a total of 1,515 soldiers all-told)
- a total of 4,680 soldiers (4,362 Americans) killed in Iraq
- unknown number of casualties, many of them maimed for life, be it physically or mentally or both
- who knows how many civilian casualties
And after all this, the alleged mastermind is still at large, and 123 people are killed in a terrorist bombing in Baghdad.
Indeed, you could argue that this most recent attack is "right on time": people who were children at the . of 9/11 would be in their prime now, having watched first hand as those who claimed to promote God -- in a different form from theirs -- killed and destroyed their homeland, became ready to do their part.
In other words, what have we accomplished?
We got Saddam. A cruel despot was removed from power and eventually executed. Was hanging him the right thing to do? Or should we not, as Christians, having de-fanged him and ended his reign of terror, been praying for him and giving him opportunities to see the One True God and repent? Think of Nebuchadnezzar, who was not above wiping out his opponents and whole races of people.
But beyond that, we seem to be into an endless cycle of killing and having our young people killed, and all through it all the spiritual forces that spawned 9/11 and bombings in London and Madrid, that inspire Iran's nuclear adventure and make it the stated goal of at least one recognized territory to wipe Israel off the map are still alive and well in the Heavenlies. The attack may have been quasi-military, but the response really can't be. As Einstein said, you don't solve problems with the same methods that caused them -- and that's just as true in a holy war as in anything else.
This is no disrespect for the sacrifices our soldiers have made and continue to make in the name of defeating the enemy and protecting the world we live in, but it's time to end the bloodletting. It's never too late to repent and fight this battle where it should be fought: on our knees, loving those who hate us, blessing those who curse us, and letting God FINALLY have His perfect will.