Here we go! October 25th, 2002, not all that long ago really, I posted something here concerning my opinion about the possibility of peace breaking out around the world. I said then that I wanted to expound upon my thinking as to how the smaller unit (family) was a good way to understand the problems faced by anyone hoping to bring peace to this world.
Let’s take a look at one area of constant conflict that seems always to be in the news. We have the nation of Israel against the Palestinians. If you don’t think this is a “family affair” then you don’t know your history. It’s about culture, tradition, inheritance, birthrights and land.
Tradition has it that the “firstborn” has all the birthrights to any inheritance. Ishmael WAS Abraham’s FIRSTBORN son so the Palestinian Arabs (the seed of Ishmael) feel they have the RIGHT to the land the Jewish nation of Israel presently occupies.
Revered in the Hebrew Bible as the father of the Hebrew people and of several other nations. By Sarah he was the father of Isaac; by Sarah's Egyptian maid, Hagar, he was the father of Ishmael, the ancestor of twelve clans; by his third wife Keturah he had six sons who became the ancestors of the Arab tribes. He is traditionally regarded as the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Biblical character, the son of Abraham by Hagar, his wife's maid. He was expelled into the desert with his mother from Abraham's household after the birth of Isaac. He is purported to have fathered 12 princes, and is considered the ancestor of the Bedouin tribes of the Palestinian deserts (the Ishmaelites). Mohammed considered Ishmael and Abraham as ancestors of the Arabs, and as associated with the construction of the Kaba at Mecca.
Biblical character, the son of Abraham by Sarah, through whose line of descent God's promises to Abraham were seen to continue. He was nearly sacrificed by Abraham at God's command (Gen 22). He fathered Esau and Jacob by his wife Rebecca, but was deceived into passing his blessing on to his younger son Jacob.
By virtue of a traditional technicality, the descendents of Abraham, through Isaac, who was the firstborn son of Abraham’s first wife, Sarah, believe they have all legal rights to the inheritance of Abraham, namely “The Promised Land” where Jerusalem, The Nation of Israel, The West Bank, etc. are presently located today.
As if that wasn’t already a big enough mess, throw into the mix three of the major religions of the world, (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and the matter really gets complicated.
Boil it all down to its basic elements and what you have is a family squabble over land.
There was another such feud in our country between the Hatfields and McCoys and that also came about over a legal contest concerning land ownership. Getting no satisfaction through the legal system, the families took the law into their own hands and the small war began. The results of that conflict almost wiped out two whole families. It would appear that the only reason there is peace between those families today is because there were no males left to continue the conflict and the young people who have been born into those families cannot find the motivation to take up arms again.
Is that the only way the conflict between Israel and The Arab nations can be resolved? One side will need to wipe out the other side to the point there will be no one left who can remember what it was all about.
The wife and I were watching a movie together the other day. It was “As Good as it Gets.” All through that movie, I kept seeing examples of relational principles that pertained to my thinking about understanding the complexities of world wide peace and conflict.
There was a bi-polar, eccentric author in it who had obsessive, compulsive disorders. For all intents and purposes, he was a despicable human being, rude, crass, inconsiderate, vulgar, bigoted. Actually, he was a nutcase. He was a successful author and thus he might have been considered “RICH.” Part of his daily routine involved walking down to a local restaurant for breakfast. He didn’t step on any cracks on the way there or back. Once there, he had to sit at one particular table and be waited on by this one particular waitress.
Said waitress was a single mother and her son was very sickly. She began to miss time at work and this messed up the nutcase’s routine. He just couldn’t have this; so he took steps to get things back to normal as soon as possible. If it was taking care of her sick son that was keeping her away from work and waiting on him, he would find a Doctor to treat her son, paying for all of it himself just so his favorite waitress could get back to work.
So the waitress got suspicious about the nutcase’s motives. She told him in no uncertain terms that no matter how much he did for her and her son, she WAS NOT going to be sleeping with him. That was fine with the nutcase because that wasn’t his motive anyway. He got her back to work, waiting on him and that was his goal at the onset.
What’s any of that got to do with the search for world peace? Plenty in my point of view. It demonstrates clearly the nature of most of the human race. It asks questions like, “What’s in it for me? Or what does that person really want when they do something nice for me?”
I hope you don’t think that the government of Israel doesn’t ask itself some similar questions when it comes to why the United States is one of it’s staunchest supporters. What’s up with that? What do they really want? Do they just like Jews all that much? Why are they so eager to supply us with the latest technology and weapons? Why would they take a chance on driving a wedge between themselves and the largest oil producing nations of the world? What’s in it for them if the nation of Israel survives or what will they lose if it doesn’t?
Why does Ireland battle so hard against England? Why do various tribes of Africa constantly try to exterminate one another? Why is the United States viewed by many of the Arab nations as the GREAT SATAN? Why doesn’t anyone care anything about helping the suffering people of Ethiopia? Could it be because Ethiopia doesn’t have anything someone else wants?
Sibling rivalry exists in other places besides your family and mine. Some nations resent being the black sheep of the family. Why do we use the term “favored nation” with reference to one country or another? Some of these same questions probably ran through my own children’s heads at some point. Except for the fact that they were only concerned about themselves and not millions of people, the forces that motivated such thoughts was very similar.
I am the male, head of household and my wife is the female neck that turns the head. Let’s face it, one individual that makes up a married couple must be dominant. It’s a law of nature. We own a home and a small piece of land. It’s our domain so long as we work together to maintain ownership of all that our union encompasses. If one of my neighbors wants to give me a covered dish of food sometime or a plate of cookies or wants to give me a hand-me-down lawnmower or string trimmer that he no longer needs, that's great. I will appreciate it and thank him for his kindness. Now, if that same neighbor wants to start paying all my bills and supplying all my food staples, I’m going to think twice about his motives or accepting his offer. It ceases to be simple kindness at that point. “What does he really want?”
I don’t want my own government to take care of me completely. If I allowed that, I would also obligate myself to being under their control completely. That’s not a good thing in my mind. I’ll soon be receiving my Social Security benefits but I don’t want the U.S. Government to think that I owe them something because of that fact. I live in this country, I pay my taxes, I live by its established laws but that’s about as far as I’m willing to go without protest or rebellion. I will do my duty as a citizen of this country but I want to have some say as to how my life goes. I don’t want them to come in here and build fences or set up guard towers to defend me or mine. I have my own army in the closet in the extra bedroom. I will defend my own homestead and do what I can to help defend my country too.
Peace is not possible because I have a twelve-foot-high fence around my property. Peace is possible because I’m not a threat to those around me. I’m not trying to take anything they have and vice-versa. I don’t disturb their peace and they don’t disturb mine. I am considerate of their rights and will try to help them any way I can when the need arises. I hope you see what I’m driving at.
Whether it’s another man or another nation, these same principles of relationship applies. Violate any one of them and you can expect WAR to break out. Stay within the boundaries of the rights of others and PEACE WILL REIGN.