Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Reflection spot - Peace on Earth

Today is the last Sunday of the church's year. Next week is Advent Sunday which starts the countdown to Christmas - the coming of the Prince of Peace.

And therefore an appropriate time to reflect on how you manage your response to an organisation like DA'ESH or Nazi Germany to which the only response is to fight or to surrender to evil. As Thomas Sowell put it in one of my recent quotes of the day,

I was one of many people who was very impressed with Antoine Leiris's response, repeated below as my quote of the day for today, to the authors of the murderous attack in Paris in which his wife was one of the victims.

Some of the comments, however, when he appeared on Youtube reading it out were less supportive.

My impression is that the people who posted those comments had jumped to the conclusion that, because Leiris refused to respond to the murderous hatred of the murderers of his wife by hating them back, he was therefore not supporting any action being taken against them.

I did not take it that way. The open letter said nothing at all about what France or the West should do about DA'ESH and it neither called for not opposed any particular strategy. He simply said that he was not going to let hate poison his life.

I admire Mr Leiris because if some terrorist follower of a perverted version of any religion, or for that matter a terrorist killing in the name of any perverted political philosophy, were to murder my wife, son or daughter I doubt very much if I could have responded as calmly as he did or resist the temptation to hate those responsible. But although it is necessary to respond, it is not necessary to hate. I'm going to recycle another of my past quotes of the day, this one from Mark Twain:

To me it is perfectly possible to believe that both Thomas Sowell and Mark Twain were right. The fact that you have to defend civilisation and those you love does not mean you have to allow yourself to become ruled by anger and hatred.

As I have previously written, if any of the great powers whose citizens have been slaughtered by the movement which calls itself "Islamic State" shared their total disregard both for the value of human life and for normal limits to acceptable conduct and what other people think, Raqqa and the rest of their so-called Caliphate would now be a dead, radioactive wasteland which glowed in the dark.

I know that Britain, the USA and France have a whole series of safeguards in place to stop any one person, even the head of government, unleashing nuclear fire in a fit of rage or anger, and I presume (and hope!) that the Russian Federation and China have similar checks and balances.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am entirely in favour of the existence of such safeguards and believe that using nuclear weapons to incinerate the territory DA'ESH controls would be a grossly disproportionate response to their crimes because it would kill many thousands of innocent people along with the guilty. I cite the fact that any of the five great powers has the military capability to kill every living thing in the territory of the so-called "Islamic State" but none of them has been stupid or morally bankrupt enough to do such a thing, as evidence of the difference between the butchers of DA'ESH and the civilisations they have attacked, but also as an illustration of how horrendous the conflict could become if we allow ourselves to be blinded by hate and anger.

William Shakespeare once put into the mouths of one of his characters a very disturbing line which encapsulates how the world can become if we give in to those emotions:

We must respond to protect our people from the menace of DA'ESH. I don't see a way to do that without using force, but the West must use that force in a way which minimises the loss of innocent life and the number of fresh martyrs and injustices created. And the strategies we build to defend innocent people must be guided by reason, not the search for vengeance.

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