not so happy anniversary

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Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

not so happy anniversary

what were you doing 6 years ago?

for me, life looked very different. i was yet to be married. i was still in college. i had little vision beyond the small church in which i was the youth pastor and i was far, far away from having a child, much less multiple children.

in the relative grand scheme of things, 6 years isn’t a tremendous amount of time, but certainly, it’s a long time in terms of how my life has changed. i truly don’t know the person i was 6 years ago. so, for me, it was a long, long time ago.

it’s also a long time to be at war, which is exactly where our country has been. six years ago (a couple days ago), the united states invaded iraq. within that 6 years, tens of thousands of people have died, saddam hussein has hung from a rope, george bush has hung his “mission accomplished” sign and that very same george bush who engaged this war is now sitting in his retirement home in texas.

so, i’m not going to go on and on and on detailing every single moral and political issue i and others have with the war, but i thought—on the anniversary—it was a good time to offer a broad reflection about war and the objective of this particular war.

ultimately, as we all know now, there were no weapons of mass destruction. so then it shifted to “get rid of saddam hussein.” ok, so be it. most agree that hussein was a tyrannical leader who oversaw the death and suffering of hundreds of thousands of people. i’m certainly glad that he’s out of power. i think that’s a globally positive and well-received outcome. BUT…

i recently heard about a pastor—who is very focused on social justice and issues of global peace—talk about his feelings on the war and about the removal of saddam hussein. this pastor spent time in iraq 6 years ago as the war began ministering to people being daily affected by the invasion (so, in other words, this person has a first-hand account of what’s going on over there both with the war and with the attitudes and lives of iraqi citizens). knowing he was anti-war, he was asked, “don’t you think it’s a good thing we got rid of saddam hussein?” the pastor responded with the following:

“absolutely. but let me tell you a story: a madman held his family hostage in a house. the police mobilized and pledged to make sure this man was removed so that he could do no more harm to his family. after a brief time of pleading and negotiating, though, the police were convinced further options would be fruitless. rather than furthering the dialogue, the police decided to take drastic measures, deciding that the man could be removed if they set the house on fire. certainly, in the end, they got rid of the man, but ultimately, they also destroyed the family and their home at the same time.”

(sounds like the way jesus answered questions…)

in war, you can never merely remove the madman without burning down the proverbial house and destroying the family. you just can’t do it. certainly, saddam hussein isn’t ruling tyrannically over the people of iraq, but at what cost? no doubt, there were oppressive regimes ruling japan in the 1940’s, but well over 200,000 civilians died in the horrific atomic bombings that effectively ended the war. in japan, we removed the madmen and we also killed his family.

as many long-time blog readers know, i’m a big barack obama fan and supporter. i’m glad that he’s put into motion a plan to withdraw from iraq, but unfortunately, he’s also very openly talked about plans for ramped-up involvement in afghanistan. i’m not saying that the united states doesn’t have the unique global ability to intervene in situation of oppression and terrorism and injustice, but war isn’t the way to exercise our authority. ok…i’m getting off on tangents here…

so, my deepest and most sincere prayer is that we end this mistake, bring home our troops and let the people of iraq begin to live in some kind of semblance of peace. i’m not saying any of those things will be easy and certainly, someone much more intelligent than me will have to determine how to go about those things, but this is six years overdue now.

the madman is gone and the house has been nearly destroyed. it’s time now to move along.