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Just after New Year’s Day this past January, while I was back in Grand Rapids, I walked past a reporter lady from the East Grand Rapids Cadence. She was asking passersby, “what one thing would you like to happen in 2013?” I felt tongue-tied for a full minute before I found myself blurting out “For us not to be in any more wars.” At the time, it almost sounded silly, and when I saw it printed up a few days later, I still wasn’t sure what had prompted me to say that. Oh well. But here we are, in the waning months of 2013, and this week the talk of potential action against Syria will dominate the media. I feel confused, overwhelmed, sorrowful about the news coming out of Syria. I’m not sure I even know enough about the situation to say whether I support a military strike or not.
I’m not sure what a Christian response looks like–how do we follow the ways of the Prince of Peace, love our Syrian neighbors as ourselves, and work for justice at home and abroad…all at once? I am worried that more Americans will care about whatever new products Apple announces tomorrow than will care about how we as a nation proceed in this delicate international situation. I hope I’m wrong. I hope we can pay attention and that some resolution can be reached before too much more blood is shed. I confess that I’ve been so preoccupied with my own business/busy-ness that I’ve hardly taken a moment to sit and pray, I mean really pray, for this whole situation. So that’s all I want to do this morning. I have sat here trying to come up with something wise or insightful or convincing or moving, but the only words that keep coming to mind are the church’s enduring prayer, Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. So yes, today, Lord have mercy. Have mercy on all of us. Have mercy on those who at this moment are living in such deep fear and grief in the middle east. Have mercy on your church, and give us courage to act. Have mercy on all those with political power. Have mercy on the media. Have mercy on Syria, have mercy on all of us. Christ, have mercy.
Why do I have a feeling that, if George W. Bush were proposing a military strike on Syria, Christians at The Twelve would know EXACTLY "what a Christian response looks like?"
Okay, Jamie, I’ll take the bait. Hope I don’t sound too defensive of The Twelve! In yesterday’s post, I acknowledged how these war/foreign affairs things become so blatantly partisan. It’s worth asking if comparing support for the Iraq invasion and a strike against Syria is fair. Syria is currently at war. Iraq was stable. Iraq was boots-on-the-ground invasion. Syria would apparently be missile strikes and bombers. Apples-to-apples? I don’t know.
True, some Obama-backers who were very opposed to Iraq, are now backing a strike against Syria. But as one inclined to be much more in agreement with Obama than Bush, I haven’t been in favor of military action in Syria. And my anecdotal experiences would say most Obama allies also have not been supportive of military action, and have been disappointed by his insistence.
What I notice and think is significant is the tone of the debate. Unlike the Iraq debate, no one has questioned the patriotism or manhood of those who were opposed to military action. When the UK said, “no thanks” a few weeks back, no one impugned their backbone, demanded that we boycott fish-and-chips or start calling English sheepdogs “Freedom” sheepdogs instead. Open discussion and respect for differences rather than the bullying and name-calling before Iraq—this is an important difference.