Where do you think these words come from?
As a result of certain conflicts and wars affecting the global scene, there have been more conversations around the topic of war in recent times.
A few times when I listened in, the conversation was about which side was to blame more, for the war and its repercussions. This kind of discussion can quickly become academic and even self-righteous, as we vicariously argue in favour of who we believe is on higher moral ground.
Today, I want us to take more of a personal look and ask the question, ‘How am I (and you) contributing to injustice, conflict and war?’
The above quote talks about how our passions (a form of sensual desire) cause war, fighting /interpersonal conflict and killing among us.
Think of an example like this: My cousin still hasn’t paid me back 100 bucks that he borrowed from me last week. He’s the same ‘deadbeat’ he’s always been in our family and it just makes me so mad – I’d like to kick his butt.
I have a desire for justice and my cousin took it away from me – he won’t give me justice in this situation. And it makes me really angry.
But the problem is – good people don’t beat up their relatives (though I feel like doing it) or at least yelling at him and making him feel really bad. So now I’m in this conundrum – my desire makes me want to do bad things. It makes me want to get him back and punish him. To make him suffer and cause him pain – physical or emotional. Maybe even kill him, if the pain he’s caused is especially severe.
What do we do with these conflicting thoughts and feelings? Desires usually drive behaviour. Often, we see the only two options as flight or fight. But both carry risks with them.
Flight can involve denial of a valid desire for justice, surrender to injustice or being passive and letting the person/s walk all over you. Perhaps we even justify it, because of a stronger desire for harmony or ‘keeping the peace’.
Fight involves getting ‘an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth’. But unfortunately, the great risk is that it can and often does, escalate the conflict, because it gets coupled with vengeance. And leads to me now causing injustice and becoming like the one who perpetrated the injustice on me.
Where am I in my own life contributing to injustice, conflict and war in my various relationships?
What’s a third way forward, which avoids the risks of both flight and fight?
These are questions I’d like to explore more in the coming days, for those who are interested in contributing to peace and justice in our lives and communities.
You’re welcome to contribute to the discussion with comments or questions.
* The above quote is from the letter of James chapter 4 in the Bible. Grateful to leadership coach Tony Stoltzfus for some of these insights.