“The dentist who can stop one toothache has deserved better of humanity than all the men who think they have some scheme for producing a perfectly healthy race” -C.S. Lewis
This has been the Achilles heel of pacifism for me. It’s the realization that in the end, everyone looks for relief from suffering. When people are pressed to the end and have no hope of saving themselves, they scream for others to rescue them. The reality of self-preservation has kept the human species alive. Religious idealism is dangerous when the most vulnerable among us suffer so we can spiritualize reality.
Even Jesus prayed for the cup to pass, if possible.
“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” – Jesus (Matthew 26:39)
“If possible”…that’s a phrase that sums up the human experience in my ongoing pursuit of a philosophy of life that wont drive me mad. Paul, a Roman citizen penned similar worlds that speak to gordian knot of war, violence and peace.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Apostle Paul (Romans 12:18)
The writings of C.S. Lewis were hammered out on the anvil of service and survival of World War II. The sparks that so easily fly off his books, were ignited in the tensions of thought smelted in the crucibles of horror and heroism and the lasting weight of them is proof of the gold they produced.
I need the wisdom of Lewis in an era when the resurgence of ethnic and religious barbarism is once again seeking to bring people and countries under it’s bloody boot and flag.
In the past, our country was roused from pacifistic postures when our own lives were slaughtered and the national interests and conscience of Americans was provoked from inaction to action.
The idealism of humanism and the illusions of secularism were getting smashed on the reality of human despotism and depravity. The actual reach of those unimaginable horrors were to be discovered only when the light of liberty finally dawned on the darkness of Nazi concentration camps.
One of the most complex and morally defeating parts of WW2 was the story of the church in Germany. The challenges of examining what takes place in the minds and hearts of religious people in the face of evil is one of the most needful contemplations required today. We must look back, so we can move forward and avoid the same sins of the past, and do what is right today.
The inability or unwillingness to face the actual realities and practices of evil, was truly one of the threads of that moral nearsightedness. Believing in ourselves instead of what God says about us, unraveled the fabric of society into brutalities unimaginable up to that point. But the same shock and horror is taking place today on the daily news, religious people continue to pontificate while other religious people decapitate.
The Achilles heel of our undoing will be the pride of our own self-deification. Our worship of an illusion of humanity has continued to result in the slaughter and suffering of humanity at a scale that mimics an uncheck plague.
The failure of religious minds and hearts to differentiate the realities of life under the sun and the kingdom coming has been tragic. They have proliferated a confusing set of moral codes that continue to bind the hands and feet of those who would seek to protect and provide for the vulnerable, oppressed and suffering of the world. The blood of those people is on the hands, mouths and pens of those who bind consciences and cloud minds with illogical and unreasonable philosophies.
When we call for the military to use its armaments for humanitarian relief, we cheer but forget the way or means for which those weapons of mass destruction were created and used previously or in conjunction with mercy. We excuse ourselves from the moral weight of justice when we call others to fight for us. Isn’t it ironic that people call armed police, charged with protecting to the point of death, and walk away with a clear conscience because we supposedly didn’t do the actual work of harm? These types of moral mirages are all about us, and we bear the responsibility to be students of the history, humanity, scriptures and our own souls. Ignorance and tolerance won’t save us from the judgments of time.
I fear the Christians and progressive, sentimental secularists might once again be the ones who hand the keys of the cities over to the new Islamic Caliphate in the name of idealism, peace and brotherhood.