What the world needs now

Home Columns Books Talks About me Contact me

- Midland Daily News, December15, 2004

 

"What the world needs now is love, sweet love."

 

Sentimental as the words of that song sound, everyone wants to love and be loved by others. Love is at the heart of being human. Yet so many of us, including me, occasionally avoid love in order to satisfy desires for greed, advantage, revenge, or other things.

Holy origin of Christmas

Even though Christmas is pre-eminently a Christian holy day (commemoration of Jesus' birth), it has taken on and become a secular holiday. Even our celebration of the secular holiday has its roots in its holy origin, however. And the essence of that origin is LOVE. Isn't it out of love that we give presents and share greetings of joy to each other, participate in the Sharing Tree, give to Salvation Army bell ringers, and help provide meals to the hungry, even if we aren't Christian?

 

Jesus spent his public ministry of three years engaging in the lives of the marginalized and the poor. He invited them to follow him, he ate with them, and he healed them of sickness of mind and body - all expressions of love. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is very much like the first: love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10: 25-27) How wonderful to have a season to recall and recommit to this message.

 

Unfortunately Christians don't always live up to the commandment of love. One way is by taking sides and causing division. Isn't it scandalous how divided Christianity is? Yet, even in the first century Paul had to chastise the Corinthians for doing this. He urged "that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose." (1 Cor 1:10)

 

Many people say that the United States needs to go back to our Christian roots. We can't go back, of course, but nothing prevents us from more earnestly practicing the love that Jesus taught and showed us by his life. And that begins with you and I, not the other guy.

The war in Iraq

Christians have even fought wars in the name of Christ. War is so antithetical to the message of peace and love that Jesus taught. That underlies my opposition to the war in Iraq. In a column in the Midland Daily News on December 5, 2004, Wilburn H. F. Saia took me to task for not offering constructive solutions for the war in Iraq. I will address that right now.

 

When a decision creates an irreversible situation, as going to war in Iraq, the solutions  are no longer the war but repairing the damage caused by going to war. This situation reminds me of the old saying, "when you are up to your neck in alligators, it is hard to remember your objective was to drain the swamp." We are dealing now with alligators of insurrection, terrorism, and chaos, a far different problem unleashed by an unwise decision, rather than draining the world of terrorists, the original objective.

 

The first step begins with peacemaking. And that must begin now to offset the worldwide damage our war initiative has caused.

 

The next step the US needs to take is to secure the aid of the rest of the world to end the terrorism and instability in Iraq. A stable Iraq is for the good of the Middle East and indeed the whole world. This will happen only if the US gives up its demand for hegemony in the region and works cooperatively with other major countries of the world.

 

A third step is normalizing relations with the millions of Arabs and Muslims who are not terrorists. Contrary to what Mr. Saia wrote, the Muslim world has not declared a holy war on us nor was Iraq responsible for the 16 events he listed. Even President Bush has said there is no connection between Iraq and 9/11. 

You and I

Let's not demonize whole groups of people because of a few! Rather let love and peacemaking guide our personal and international behaviors and policies. Let us talk to each other in love and peace to heal this divided nation and world. What better time to do this than during the Christmas season right in our own communities.