Tag Archive: Community


Fresh on the heels of the scenario I recently wrote about, here is the next installment of my observations and struggles to figure out what is right.  The following is probably too simple and idealistic and not exacting enough for debate, but I’m fleshing out my reactions in the light of the verse below:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”–Matthew 5:9

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Now the problem with the previous exploration is that I want to extrapolate it.  Perhaps it isn’t something that can be expanded to society at large or to a global scale.  Our country often finds itself in situations similar to that.  However, our country is invested in keeping conflict going rather than resolving it.  In our history, we have entered into conflict around the world, and basically become the onlooker in the above situation.  In our haste, we have jumped in and protected one side of a conflict without flinching and then found ourselves protecting that side forever afterwards.  Other times, we have reacted to such a situation and provided one side the ability to overwhelm the other.  In the aftermath of seeing the outcomes of both methods, we sometimes have a reactionary response.  We then provide aid and help to both sides of the conflict.

That happens so easily because conflict between peoples or nations rarely occurs in short durations of time.  Years and years can pass.  So as a benevolent nation, when we step to assist one side of a conflict we observe the horror that conflict brings.  So, we step in and provide aid to the other side of the conflict.  Medical supplies, food, infrastructure, trade, and even weaponry are things that we’ve provided to both sides of a conflict.  In fact, it’s rare nowadays that there isn’t some assistance to both sides of an international conflict that we’re not involved in reaching out to help.  That is because if we make sure that two sides of a conflict cannot wipe the other off the face of the earth then they eventually will find peace, right?

That reality sounds like a caring and compassionate extension of our character.  It really appears to be a positive philosophy.

Now let’s look at the scenario that I used earlier.  Two people beating on each other.  If we provide support on one side to equal the fight, the one that was “winning” earlier might seek out assistance from elsewhere.  (this happens)  Then the conflict gets worse because they come back with better weapons, more people, better tactical advantage, etc.  So we then have to jack up our support to either match again (so it will be a standoff), or to keep the other side from getting more support we have to over-support our ally.  Essentially we would provide a superior advantage to our ally to discourage them from ratcheting up their abilities.

What would you do if you all of a sudden had a superior position against someone who was previously beating you silly?  Many of us would try to get revenge.  As conflict escalates, more hurt and pain gets inflicted until it spirals out of control.  Dispute leads to conflict leads to confrontation leads to war.  Eventually, things will just get very ugly.

Now watching this as someone who is now involved and now responsible for giving the tools for revenge it hurts.  What do we do now?  If we are truly not wanting this to continue, we must get involved again, right?  Do we help the other side even the balance of power?  The USA has been doing basically that very thing for the better part of the last 100 years.  Most of the time, we unify against a grave injustice.  Other times, we’ve been working on both sides of situations and conflicts.

That statement makes me feel ill in reflection.  It basically means that we’ve basically watched the two people beat each other up, and provided arms and assistance to both sides for long periods of time.  Whatever our intentions that got us into the conflict, the longer we allow the conflicts to continue, the more pain, bloodshed, pain, and anguish happen to people.

I have a question echoing in my ears as I think about this.  How long will the people involved in the conflicts go until they realise that the real enemy in the situation is us?  Because it occurs to me that if we provide military assistance to both sides, medical assistance to both sides, monetary support to both sides… we are on the side of the CONFLICT itself!

I view what happened to us on 9/11 through that mentality.  Eventually people resented our involvement in their conflicts for so long that they were angrier at us than the nations and peoples they’ve been at war with for centuries.

To truly be a peacemaker, we have to end the conflict.  Pacifists have the mentality that all conflict that ends in war is unjust.  They believe war is not an answer.  I agree with starting a war, but ending one… that’s another question.  How do you help someone end their war?  How do we watch others’ conflicts and see the horrors that naturally come from them without being moved to action?  The answers don’t really come easy.

(I wrote this a couple of weeks ago before I heard about a boy being savagely beaten by three other boys on a school bus.  Now it takes on a different tone.  Still I wanted to start unfolding this for myself.)

The following isn’t a treatise.  It’s a gut-check reaction.  (and probably not that well thought out)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.–Matthew 5:9

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One day, you notice someone in the neighbourhood.  They are getting beaten up pretty badly by someone else.  What do you do?  If you intervene, you might save them from the beating.  That action keeps them around for another day.  But, you don’t prepare them in case they are in the same situation in the future.  What could you do then?  Remove them from the situation completely?  Teach them to defend themselves?

Most of us would not be sure what to do.  We’d call the authorities.  We’d try to ignore it or look away.  We’d secretly hope that we wouldn’t have to get involved at all.  We would try to deflect our responsibility to someone else.  It’s difficult to enter into a situation where we don’t know what will be required of us.  And, if it might involve our own suffering, it’s even more difficult to voluntarily join.  We often become spectators and watch things unfold.

Even the most compassionate hearts can be paralysed by situations where someone is being oppressed.

However, in a community, we learn that the greater well-being is dependent upon the individuals within it to be protected from such things.  That value has been eroded in society quite a bit over the years.  However, there were times in history where community was a much stronger force in the world.  Community imparted a value that everyone was tied together, and as such, what happens to the one being beaten up affects me.

So, back to our dilemma.  If we enter into the situation, we have to recognise that from that point we are included in the outcome of the conflict.  Whatever we decide to do, as soon as we affect change on the people we become a piece in the equation.  No longer is it two people fighting, it’s three, and everyone has an agenda.  Whether or not we agree with that assessment, it is essentially true.  Even if we don’t “pick a side” in the conflict, if we assist either side, we become an ally of theirs.  Theoretically, if we don’t choose a side then we by default become an ally of the conflict itself.

So, what if we help the weaker side not only defend itself, but equip them to be able to overcome the other entirely?  That would end the conflict with the one who was losing actually winning.  Although, I think that in any conflict like that, there rarely is a winner.  Perhaps being victorious is a better way to it.  Is this an appropriate way to end this?  A part of me believes that unless we can turn back time to the point before the conflict and fight started, no one can really come up with a satisfactory resolution.  Creating an environment where the one being beaten then gets revenge by beating the other senseless doesn’t sound like an appropriate response, does it?

So if in our rush to help out the one who is being overwhelmed, we find out that we’ve tipped the scales to the other side.  So now the thirst for vengeance has flipped the balance of power.  Do we now provide assistance to the other person?  By getting into this, aren’t we responsible, for better or worse, for the outcome?

What is right?  Do we equip them so they both can beat themselves silly on an even playing field then?  If one picks up a stick and starts beating the other, what do we do then?  Give the other a stick?  Do we give the other something more sophisticated like a knife?  A gun?  Or do we make it completely balanced? Many people would probably lean towards this last concept, If they agreed at all.

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But, what if the above is only a metaphor?  What if extend the concept out to evaluate the difficulty in deciding what is right to situations that all of us observe or deal with in life?

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