I’m trying to work on my book these days to which I’ve given the preliminary title of “Love’s Resurrection: it’s power to roll away fear’s heaviest stone,” which is my attempt to speak love’s truth and good news to the powers that spread fear about our own land. I might as well take a break from that this morning to address the most acute fear I am now sensing from my fellow Christians on social media. That has to do with the most recent beheadings of the 21 Egyptian Christians by the agents of ISIL working in Libya.
In roughly 65 A.D. Christ’s apostle Paul was beheaded in Rome. It is unlikely he was the first Christian to be beheaded and most obviously he wasn’t the last. But how should we as Christians react to such a terrorist act against one or more of our own? How should we best respond?
My own first reaction is to bomb the hell out of the ISIS and ISIL camps, wherever they might be. Though not today’s news, USA Today’s Feb. 3rd edition gives at least a somewhat recent account of where our own country’s reaction has taken us to date: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/02/03/pentagon-isis-air-war/22814039/ In short, we’ve already dumped tons of bombs from August 2014 through February 2015 killing thousands most likely. We’ve already bombed the hell out of them as best we can with actionable intelligence and pinpoint accuracy; yet ISIS continues to recruit by the tens of thousands.
And now in this past week we find both in social and other media even greater sentiment for our sending ground troops to places like Iraq in particular to do combat service against ISIS strongholds. This Sunday’s “Meet the Press” program aired a number of Republican views of why we should have already entered this war “on the ground” instead of waiting so long as our President has.
This has gotten me thinking further about the difference between a reaction and a response. It has also led me to do some further research on matters of military history. My first research has involved America’s responses in World Wars I and II. Now, granted, life was slower in those days. People were probably more “thoughtful” all the way around. Less impulsive, or hot tempered. Road rage was not yet even invented. We’d not yet entered the “instant gratification” age in our society. To merely skim the timeline for US intervention into World War I, take a quick look at one of these links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_World_War_I and . http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/world-war-i-history. Notice how slowly but effectively we became a winning force in that war? France and England were historically ill-suited allies but became committed to sending troops on the ground into that war over 2 years prior to the US doing so. Happened again in World War II. See http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/britain-and-france-declare-war-on-germany and also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_declaration_of_war_upon_Germany_(1941) for a quick peek at how we waited those 2+ years before following England and France into any ground combat.
I’m no military expert to say the least. I’m the last person anyone should consult for military advice. But I did have an undergraduate major in History and have some sense of how it was we managed to win the two World Wars of the last century. And neither happened because we led the charge sending in combat “troops on the ground.” Rather, in both cases, we waited until England and France, enemies of each other by history, joined their own coalition to fight against the Germans. We sometimes say that not learning from history dooms us to repeat the same mistakes. True, but in the same way learning from history can empower us to repeat the same successes.
So where am I going with this blog?
Well, suppose we learn from even our own history the benefit of waiting for ISIS / ISIL to make the same mistakes Germany did during both WW I and WW II? That is, waiting for them to make enemies of multiple nations to the point that unnatural allies, or in this case Arab nations led by both Shia AND Sunni Muslims place troops on the ground in this fight to defeat their/our common enemy. Frankly, my friends, I doubt we’ll need to wait 2+ years as we did before entering our victorious wars against Germany last century. Bottom line in any case, to react quickly is to lose yet another American war. To respond, slowly, deliberately, and waiting for unnatural allies to join in taking the lead, is perhaps our best opportunity to defeat ISIS/ISIL. And that, my friends, is one difference between a reaction and response to the killing of 21 Egyptian Christians. Please comment if you can think of other differences.