It’s just collateral damage…

No humanity to see here at all. Don’t look at these pictures, for fear that you might be tempted to see this man and these communities as people incredibly loved by God. Don’t consider the fact that this man had both his legs blown off in his house, and four of his children seriously injured. And please, please, don’t see these urban neighborhoods in Haifa and Beirut and think that people lived there: buy the party line. For the Israelis, this neighborhood was a “Hezbollah stronghold.” For Hezbollah, any attack on Israel is one on worthless land usurpers and “infidels.” The problem here is if we engaged our thinking processes and saw each life that has been ripped out of this world or seriously wounded has worth, we might be tempted as Christ-followers to think “loving our neighbor” applies to them, and maybe, just maybe, could make the terribly un-pragmatic and extremist move of recognizing we’re called to give our lives for them, as Christ was willing to do for us. Because God so loves the world, not just me (and those most like me).

And please, please, at all costs avoid putting yourself in their shoes…a terrible move if you want to make decisions objectively. So look quickly, and click away quickly. Then we can all maintain the proper distance and declare war “necessary” and continue to consider them nothing more than a number, a means to an end.

Sigh.

p.s. Avoid this link, too, of a jurist panel deciding there are significant war crimes offenses on both sides already. I wasn’t surprised at their Israeli ruling, but I was surprised to find that Hezbollah can be charged under the Geneva Convention as well.

Lebanese death toll: 340 and rising (mostly civilians)

Israeli death toll: 34 and rising

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10 thoughts on “It’s just collateral damage…

  1. i agree with everything you say. it’s to the point for me that if i start talking about it i get so pissed off and i’m ready to punch a wall. i don’t honestly know why i’m so mad at this, but i am (my friends will back up my venting!). it stinks because individually we are so powerless in the worldly arena, yet through prayer we have an all powerful God who allows this to happen, yet can grant wisdom and SENSE to this situation and the people who are in control of this (the leaders), if God wants to, that is. specifically for america, how many terrible atrocities will have to happen in the world before the average american actually pays attention, feels emotion for the people suffering and dying, anger, whatever! instead, they say…that stinks, and the bigger headline is some 7-11 jingle that is catch! aargh…now i’m just getting mad, really mad again, and that doesn’t solve anything. but i’m glad you are aware, and i’m thankful that some are aware, i just hope more become aware before more death and nonsensical wars occur…

  2. i think the pissed off feeling is a great thing if directed in the right way, rebecca. it seems to me we often feel more powerless than we are because of a variety of circumstances, but i’m more and more convinced that if you care and I care and through our talking and thinking others begin to care then we’ve started something. Some woman named Margaret Mead said something I’ll never forget:
    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
    I agree. Isn’t that how the early church did it? Confused, dependent, seeking God, putting one foot in front of the other, wondering if this was really IT sometimes?

    More than anything else, this situation here is drawing out in sharp contrast for me the “way of the world” and the “way of Christ.”

    In seeing these situations, I seek to place myself in their situation (thought I can’t even approach their pain and fear), and consider how I would be tempted to respond, and how Christ would be calling me to greater accountability out of it. Maybe it’s patronizing to do that, because I’m not there, but I’m a firm believer in the idea that if we prepare ourselves beforehand for any variety of situations, we will be that much more prepared when they do come.

    Here, I’m trying to acknowledge my anger and channel it. This affects: my messages on Sunday mornings, my conversations, my prayer life, where my money goes, and ultimately if there were such an operation by the church, where my physical body goes. That’s the beauty in what Ron Sider said that has inspired me. Be willing as Christ-followers to put your life where your mouth is: reject the demands the fallen world puts on you and live like the beautiful picture of faithful community Isaiah talks about in chapters 58-61.

    And I think you’re right to put it in God’s hands; even if in laying it before him, we’re weeping and helpless and confused and angry…it’s a tremendous statement to trust God’s sovereignty in the face of evil. This life God has called us to isn’t a cakewalk, eh?

  3. This war is so frustrating. I guess it is kind of like every war in that sense. I hope that we find a way to end this peacefully soon.

  4. thanks for your comment. i like what you said about the dual heresies. that’s a brilliant phrase that you should get copyrighted.

  5. I am so afraid for what this war will escalate into …

    What worse is, no one seems to give a crap. Excluding the voices in this forum, obviously.

    Locally, in my social circles, no one is intersted in talking about it. I think that has to do with not understanding … I do not understand all the middle eastern conflicts myself …actually, do you know of any good resources to began understanding?

  6. I remember I was talking to someone who I am very close too and has been a “christian” influence on me my whole life …

    I was talking to them about the Sudan genocide, and they said, “it would be irresponisble for the U.S. to spread itself too thin” …. almost made me puke

  7. I guess my point in sharing that last comment was that, americans, even “christian” americans, (maybe even more so), really do think they are worth more than people who are not like them, or “mostly like them” as you said.

  8. Tank and Jessica,

    I appreciate your willingness to talk about this stuff. I also am afraid for what this war will escalate into, as well as the fact that many around us don’t give a crap. I think the second fear there is very indicative for me of two things (correct me if I’m wrong):

    1) I’m a part of a church, and it seems the line most of them toe is that Israel has the right to defend itself, because the Arabs want to wipe them out. Most have written them a blank check. And why? Because it has the name “Israel” and they’re “God’s people.” I’m so sick and tired of hearing that line the evangelical church always spouts. Romans 9-11 establishes pretty quickly the fact that those who embrace Jesus and follow him are the “children of the promise,” though Romans 11 DOES give a future hope for those who are alive at the second coming of Jesus (evidently God is SO gracious and compassionate, he’ll forgive and welcome those who missed the Messiah the first time). The tired “support Israel no matter what” line is so out of line with Scripture and so in-line with repeating whatever Jerry Falwell and John Hagee say. Why is it we are so unable to think for ourselves these days?

    and

    2) Most of us in our capitalistic, materialistic, individualistic culture feel about as important as the oil stain on our suburban driveway. Except for election time (when “We the People” come out of the woodwork and do our duty of voting), we’re pretty much told by the cultural elites to take our opinion and shove it. Many work either in factories or corporations where we plop down from 9-5 or whenever, do our job, feed the system, and leave the big stuff to the Prez and Ted Kennedy. So if the gov’mt can’t do something, nothing will be done, so I’ll go back to watching Lost on my DVR and ignore what’s happening. I’m pretty sure God would tell us that’s a pile of you-know-what. From what I see in the Bible, the first, most effective thing we can do is pray. Consistently. Honestly. Tell God we feel worthless but we’ll pray anyways because we know he’s the one who ultimately can turn the situation inside out. I think the second thing we can do IS put pressure on our government to stand up against obvious cases shredding international law in favor of national interests. And the third thing we can do is get a few other Christ-followers together and talk about what the church can be and do in the situation. Money, aid, and our lives on the ground. Because we love them.

    The problem with the third suggestion is that the church is so fragmented, and our faith so individualized, we feel further helpless because we think we’re alone in our struggling. Another problem is that the underpinnings of Christianity (concepts such as love, peacemaking, etc) have been defined almost solely in inner, emotive ways. Of course we’re called to love people, BUT we have to make peace happen through violent means, or the EVIL people will WIN!! Forget that Jesus called us to love radically with every bit of our lives, even going to the point of death for ANYONE in the world! THAT’S love, and THAT’S the ideal! But the nation-state has become the end-all, be-all, and we feel helpless.

    What can we do about it? Really? It is so sickening to me that we shrug and sigh when we see another 100 civilians died in Lebanon fleeing a city, and then flip back to Baseball Tonight. Remember that dialogue from Hotel Rwanda?

    Paul Rusesibagina: I am glad that you have showed this footage, and the world will see it. It is the only way we have a chance, that people might intervene.

    Jack Daglish: “And if no one intervenes, is it still a good thing to show? “

    Paul: “How can they not intervene, When they witness such atrocities?

    Jack Daglish: “I think if people see this footage, they’ll say, ‘Oh my God that’s horrible,’ and then go on eating their dinners.”

    I’m as guilty as the next, but I’m convicted more and more of my apathy these days.

  9. I should add to my point #1 “I’m a part of a (local church community)” though the point with the larger church (at least the Western folks) still applies, I’m pretty sure

  10. True.

    The term “collateral damage,” itself, blurs the humanity of what (indeed, whom) it refers to, so thanks for the pics. To me, this is simply the sin of too narrowly defining who our neighbors are and making the cliche mistake (often out of willful ignorance) of lumping in the populace with the militants. It’s basically guitly (and therefore dead) by association. It hurts to know well-intentioned Christians that truly love those around them but are yet too short-sighted (and dare I say: too Fox Newsded) to love those who are “other.”

    The only association we have with people in far off lands that we’re at war with is the fact that we’re at war with them. The rest of their lives is completely abstract, and as such, we unconciously fill in that abstraction with our concrete experience of armed conflict and assume the worst of all who bear the same nationality/ethnicity/religion as the body with whom we are in conflict. To not spend just a little time and effort to realize this as a distortion of their humanity is essentially laziness getting the best of our ability to love. Which is sad.

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