This world is absolutely morally upside down, and the rot of that inversion continues to seep more and more into our American society. Everywhere you look, the headlines seem intent on shouting this reality from the rooftops: Our society’s moral consensus is collapsing (and has been rotting for decades); our political leaders seem incapable of coming to any solutions about any issue; and perhaps even more ominously, our fellow countrymen still seem relatively apathetic about it.
Abroad, perhaps the most revealing episode of this morally inverted world of ours is the way in which the war in Gaza is being covered: The world seems largely blind to the moral chasm dividing Hamas from Israel and the Israelis’ sacred right to self-defense as a beleaguered state protecting a beleaguered people against terrorist attacks on civilians carried out by men who use civilians to protect the barbarous weapons of their infernal trade. There have been times, when reading coverage of this conflict, one is tempted to despair that the world could be so utterly blind.
Almost 200,000 people have been killed in Syria at the hands of either a bloody dictator or bloodthirsty rebels, including almost 2,000 in just the last week (more than in Gaza), and the world is deathly silent. But when it comes to Israel defending its civilians against terrorist rocket attacks, the world sanctimoniously protests. Though I largely agreed prior to this conflict, I now fully agree with commentator Dennis Prager’s famous dictum about so-called “world opinion”: It has never really done any good for anybody and is quite prone to the opposite in fact.
In our day, “world opinion” has become worst than useless. When the U.N. Human Rights Council votes by a wide margin to investigate Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza, with zero mention of Hamas and its tactics, you know that the world and institutions that supposedly represent it (like the U.N.) have almost transcended moral death – they have gone beyond death and animated the world with an almost “living” death, a death that is so rampant, widespread and pernicious that it has taken on a life of its own among the morally dead. And naturally, who voted for this resolution? Human rights champions such as Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Libya.
But I do not simply want to run down the laundry list of items for which any normal, decent human being could justifiably claim concern. There is enough of that going on in this world.
I come to you, rather, with an exhortation, one I have been pondering for sometime, particularly in light of some recent travels to the Middle East in the midst of the current fiasco.
The fact is many of us are far too worked up by headlines, and as a result we succumb far too readily to fear. In our fear, we simplify the world and make gray things that are black and white, and make black and white things that are gray. We seek to make the world comprehensible to ourselves and fit its complexities, peculiarities and unpredictable nature into a pre-done, knowable, predictable and simple context. In so doing, we often times do not represent our King well.
This kind of fear-based outlook manifests itself in many ways, including in social-media posts and the proliferation of knee-jerk apocalyptic scenarios.
Here is my reaction to this confused and befuddled world: prayer, hard work in accordance with the role God has given me to play in “tikkun ha olam” (the redemption of the world in every sphere) and resignation to whatever He sees best for me and our society/world. It is his, not mine. He is sovereign, I am not.
This is not a call to be unconcerned. Christians should be very concerned about the state of the world. But concern and blindfolded fear are two very different things that, when combined, become immensely counterproductive – and unfortunately, that is exactly how I would describe large portions of the Christian world today, particularly in our own country. We are afraid, and not only are we afraid, but we let the whole world know about it constantly. Scratch that, we often berate the world with our fear. But fear is the great enemy of clear-sighted thought, of softhearted empathy and well-doing (rather than just well-meaning) compassion. We are called to solutions, not fear. To trust in the midst of the fires of hell. To calm in the midst of the storm. To belief in the midst of doubt. To conviction in the midst of malaise. To love in a world that has almost lost the art of conversation with the other, those with whom we disagree. As Christians, we are called to most exemplify those traits which, if adopted, would allow the world to deal much better with many of its problems.
So here is my exhortation – it’s short, it’s pithy, and I hope it encouraged you: Fear is impious, apathy is inexcusable, and hysteria is stupid.
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