Peter Ustinov once said, "Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich." Now that statement is a mouthful.
I am fascinated with the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict. Perhaps fascinated is too nice of a word, I'm intrigued and horrified by the whole episode. What intrigues me is both sides are at fault, and neither side will own up to their wrong doings. What is more evil: a nail bomb in a shopping district or a laser guided missile into a ghetto? What is more evil: the belief that one nation should be destroyed or starving an entire population?
I have always wondered why the Trade Towers? Why did Osama -twice- attempt to destroy the Trade Towers? Think about it, when we went into Iraq in 1991, we first attacked military communications - that makes sense. Why did Osama go after the Trade Towers?
I was watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart the other day and his guest had written a book about one county in Mississippi which refused to succeed from the Union during the American Civil War. One of their reasons to not succeed was because they didn't have a problem with the outlawing of slaves, they were poor. They thought that the whole idea of succession was a rich man's idea. The guest (and I forget her name) made the point this was pretty much the mindset of many in the south during the early 1860's.
As I write this, I wonder what's the difference war or terrorism different? Both are working from a weakness. Because a strong person does not need to result in violence to move in the world; only the weak. I'm not talking about physical strength, but the strength that counts. You know the strength that helps the single mom raise her child, the marathoner to run further, or the adult restraining himself/herself from hitting a child that his just hit them.
Violence, either through war or terrorism, reveals an inner weakness. The strong do not need to respond with violence; they respond with love and compassion. The strong can do this because they understand their place in the world; they understand that even at their strongest they are not nearly strong enough.
My friend JD Walt has a theme in his teachings, the mind of Christ, which is found in Philippians 2. Here we see that Jesus, even though he was co-equal with God, did not attempt to use his status for his own gain, but he humbled himself. He humbled himself to become a man, he humbled himself to death, and in death he even humbled himself to die on a cross (which at every level was an awful death).
How could Jesus do this? Well because he was strong. He didn't need to resort to terrorism; a ploy many of his fellow Galaliean freedom fighters had done. He didn't need to resort to calling his fellow Jews to rise up in a fight to the death. That would mean that he was weak. Instead he humbled himself and in his death made a spectacle of the powers of his day.
Where does strength come from? I think strength comes from knowing one's place in the universe. It comes from knowing that the one who has all strength, chooses to love all the world, even his enemies. Strength is choosing to follow in that pattern and love all the world, even those who consider themselves our enemies. Real strength is love.
I think what Ustinov was getting at is that terrorism and war come from the same place. Perhaps as followers of Jesus we should take Paul's advice and have the mind of Christ.