As World War III develops, the words of George Galloway keep coming back to my mind.
Less than a week after the 9/11 attacks, as the evidence continued to point towards Osama bin Laden as the mastermind and the "Coalition of the Willing" was forming around the US and Britain to throw military might into the arena and crush the enemy, Galloway, the British MP for Bradford West -- then a Labour Party member -- declared that if they killed Osama bin Laden today, 10,000 more bin Ladens would spring up tomorrow.
So here we are, 13 years later, and doesn't it seem like his prophecy has come to pass? ISIS, ISIL, Boko Haram and other Muslim extremist groups are terrorizing, well, the whole world, and yet the best those who want to stop the terrorism can offer is more military might. That over-worked definition of insanity, attributed to Albert Einstein -- doing the same thing over and over, hoping to get a different result -- is spot-on.
To be sure, my perspective is different from Galloway's in that he also contended that the West was the author of its own misfortune and what had happened on 9/11 was a drop in the bucket compared to what Iraqi civilians had experience because of sanctions and other actions taken by the US and others.
For me, that was no time to say, "I told you so - you had it coming!" But as a Christian, I believed then -- and believe now -- the best response to 9/11 should have been no response. Or more accurately, that any response should not return evil for evil. Bury the dead, mourn them, remember them always -- and get on with life. But do not rise to the bait. Pray for the attackers and their supporters, Resiliency would have shown the terrorists that they cannot win. Living well, as they say, is the best revenge. Above all, I said, do not let the victims' collective epitaph be World War III.
I wrote that in a primitive (by today's standards) chat session -- a series of emails among a bunch of people who would just hit "reply all" to make their comments. One of them -- a Canadian comedian and social commentator of some note -- ripped into me for a weak, cowardly position and then demanded to be dropped from the mailing list. His sister -- a good friend of mine -- sent me a separate note, "my brother is an idiot: don't mind him", but I backed off the discussion.
But the inconvenient truth is, we're not dealing with a human army: we're dealing with an ideology, and recent history has shown that overpowering it with worldly weapons kills people, but not ideas. The Allies won WW II, but has Nazism or anti-Semitism gone away? France and the US spent more than 20 years trying to keep Communism out of Vietnam, and how well has that worked? Martin Luther King, jr., set out to end racial discrimination through means that, I believe, Jesus would have endorsed, and it was beginning to work; but he was killed and the Black Panthers stepped up with their "kill Whitey" message and 40 years on, I still hear "you people have been f**king up my people for 400 years!"
So how long has the West been battling Islamic extremism? And how well has it been working?
The fact is, God told us this all would happen back at the beginning. He said that the descendants of Ishmael -- the Arabs/Muslims -- would always be at odds with everybody else (Genesis 16:12 --[Ishmael] shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him.); Jesus also told us, two thousand years ago, that we would see the events we're seeing now (Matthew 24:4-14).
But along with these warnings, the Word of God gives us hope, in the knowledge that Jesus' return is at hand, and also gives us keys to handling the adversity by renewing our minds (Romans 12:2) and by following Jesus' instruction to "resist not evil" (or, as some translations put it, "do not resist the evil person"): do not fight back when attacked. Rather, He says, pray for that person, reach out in love and FORGIVE.
In the meantime, we go into spiritual warfare, using the weapons Jesus gave us as we receive Him: the weapons the Apostle Paul says are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. (2 Cor. 10:4) That is the only way we can battle an ideology.
At the same time, we live our own ideology -- our faith in Jesus Christ and the Royal Law of Love -- we are better able to show people who embrace the terrorists' ideology that there is a better way of living -- and people get saved.
As we do this, we draw closer to God, and as we draw closer to God, He promises to heal the problems in our lives. I get this image of God, watching His creation from the outside, saying, "Have you had enough yet? ... Had enough yet? ... How about now?"
Psalm 46 says [God] makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. God -- not man -- makes wars cease.
There is an elephant in the room and His name is Jesus. I've said that before, and it's still true. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life 100% of the time. People may reject out-of-hand the idea of using a Christ-based approach, but the fact is, we haven't tried it -- and maybe it's time that we did.