Shane Claiborne and Harry Connick, Jr. walk into a bar...

Moving on from my last report, I am one chapter further into Claiborne’s book. If you thought the last installment crazy, just wait for this one. Chapter 7 is entitled ‘Pledging Allegiance when Kingdoms Collide’ and its all about politics.

First, I hate political conversations. They really frustrate me. For years, I have been the 'token Democrat’ or the 'Republican who won’t admit it’ in my group of friends. They all look at me, someone who believes in the following things, and think I scream 'Conservative’:

  1. Just leave me alone!!! (limited government)
  2. Get your own ball!!! (limited taxation)
  3. Dude, God Rocks!!! (evangelical Christianity)
What they fail to realize is that there is a much LARGER list of 'liberal’ things I believe, but don’t talk about, because my friends have no respect for these issues:

  1. Equality, not just for those who have the money to buy it (this applies to living conditions, health care, education, respect, etc, not just having a law that says everyone is equal)
  2. Tomorrow is MUCH better than Yesterday ever could be (the past sucked, stop trying to live there)
  3. Peace is the end game, not winning a war (initiating a war is just as terrible as a terrorist bombing, and in many ways, they are the same thing)
  4. Just because I have a bigger weapon/more money, does not entitle me to whatever you have, including your food, labor or life
In my opinion, Republicans fail at the above things a lot worse than do Democrats. Not by much, mind you, but enough that it matters. If I had my way, both parties would get the boot, but since I live in this society and am committed to being a member of it, I pick between a lesser of two evils, while wishing there was a truly good option out there.

Claiborne went to Iraq, during the second Gulf Conflict, while bombs were falling on Baghdad, to work for peace. Seems a fools effort, and I don’t think Claiborne would argue with that description. Did it stop the war? No, but I hope that his trip did some good by convincing at least a few Iraqi’s that not all Americans are intent on bombing them into the stone age.

While not defending the actions of our country, I have come to redefine my opinion of them in the last few years. Never, not once, did I support the invasion of Iraq. Yes, Hussein was a very evil man who murdered many hundreds of thousands of people. My problem is that having the USA, a country to which I pledge allegiance, try to stop that evil, is a farce. We, as a people, are no less evil than was Hussein, he just had the opportunity to do in a single country what we are doing to an entire planet. He stole from everyone in his country. We steal from everyone on the planet. He used his people unfairly and his direct actions killed many of them. We treat the rest of the world, and many people within our own country for that matter, equally as callously and many of them die from our neglect.

I think this is the primary point that most people in this country miss when looking at the situation. Forget about WMD, mass graves, IEDs, suicide bombers and religious extremists for just one moment and compare what is happening there outside of the news and what happens here outside of the news. People wake up, spend time with the family, go to work, come home, eat and go to sleep. People are married, have children, send their children off into the world, take care of their aging parents and eventually die.

Now, lets look at the 'news worthy’ events here and there. Religious extremist rules nation. What country am I talking about? Honestly, I don’t even know. I know it applies to this one. A 'Holy War’ where one country is righting the wrongs in another, through war, isn’t applicable to today. It is Old Testament stuff that God decrees. Anyone who tells someone of today to invade another country is not listening to God. Period.

That does not mean that the USA’s invasion of Iraq wasn’t done with the best interest of the Iraqi’s, only that a war would not actually achieve the goals. That is also not to say that things would have gotten better, faster, had their not been a war. The entire point is that both are bad solutions and to qualify them as anything else is simply incorrect.

So where does that leave us in a post-9/11 world? It is still a fallen, sinful world. We still have religious extremists of all colors, races, religions and creeds and all of them are wrong in how they see the world. Violence is never the answer. Ever. The only answer is Peace.

We have people in this nation who believe that unless we destroy anyone who might ever conceivably be a threat to our way of life, we cannot be safe. I have news for anyone who feels this way… you can never be safe. Ever. No matter how many guns are fired, no matter how many bombs dropped or how many fences we build on our borders, we will never be safe. Harry Connick, Jr., in his song Honestly Now, says it best with these lyrics:

Honestly now…
Wholly in demand
Coming off second hand
Sister don’t unravel
When there’s nowhere to go
Except lawless travel
And an end to infinity’s space
Safety’s just danger
…out of place

Safety is just danger out of place, but danger will always, always return. CS Lewis spoke of Jesus (as Aslan the Lion), in the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, in this way:

Susan asked Mr. Beaver about Aslan, “…Is he quite safe?”. Mr Beaver replied, “Safe?….who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe… but he’s good…”

If Jesus is not safe, what makes anyone think that this world he created and we brought down with sin and try to renew with weapons, would be safe? This place is, and always will be, dangerous. Peace will lessen the violence and danger, but it will not bring about safety. Only Jesus can do that. We cannot do it with weapons, and we should stop trying.

What could we do that might make a difference? It would be vastly different, but what if we matched, person for person, committed Christians to military men, stationed in Iraq? What if we flooded that country with 150,000 Americans, who do nothing but stand in the way of radical Islamists killing one another? Of Iraqi’s killing Americans, and vice versa? At that point, abductions and kidnappings would be meaningless because there would be too many Americans to capture and hold. Yes, many would die in the short term, but how much faster might the fighting end when the inhabitants of that country realize there are Americans who are there who want to help them through Peace, and not War?