If I were to ask you what images or words would fall under the term collateral damage, I wonder how you might respond. To me the term conjures up images of building, apartments, churches and schools blown to dust in war torn cities where conflict is the norm. These once bustling, excitable areas of the city now remain eerily vacant. Occupied by the ghosts of memories very recently past. This, all because they were the unintended targets of ‘well meaning’ countries aiming to clear the area of danger. Danger in the form of evil individuals hell bent on destroying lives of the innocents.
The other more prominently sad image collateral damage stirs up in my tiny and very limited brain, is one of children, parents, and family members being drenched in blood, not necessarily their own, running from the places they once called home because they became unintended targets. Men, women, children and the vulnerable of their society succumbing to the same fate as the evil men/women the bombs had intended to destroy.
Progressive in language, backwards in reality
As a society with such progressive views, how did we fail to grasp the seriousness of what collateral damage really is? Even the term ‘Collateral damage’ seems void of any feeling. Its as though it were created to separate the head from the heart when discussing the possibility of war. You may view me as being ridiculously liberal when talking about this issue, but my belief is that we need to understand and fully take hold of the grim seriousness this war has placed before us. If we had our feet placed in the plimsolls of those running for their lives, would we be forced to think differently as we sit shaking our head at the image of refugees on the six o’clock news?
‘Listen Michael, give me a better option than bombing these areas, you have to understand there are always going to be innocent casualties of war’.
How the hell did we end up here? Since when was unintended death permissible?
Is this a responsible way to think and act as we head further into the 21st century?
I need you to understand, I fully support the military – The men and women laying down their lives for our freedom will always have my heart. When I voiced my distain for the bombing in Syria some folk rushed to the though that I did not respect those on the front line. This is completely untrue. What frustrates me is a ten hour day in Parliament can determine lives being put in danger within an hour of men with comfortable lives saying ‘yea’(the first bombs dropped within an hour of the discussion being passed through the house of commons). The Syrian people are not the only ones whose lives are now in danger. Spare a thought for the brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, sons, daughters and partners now facing crazy difficult decisions in the coming days, weeks and years as they face war in their future.
Some folk reading this may be biting their tongue for fear of swearing at the screen because what I’m talking about seems far too ‘wishy-washy’. I don’t blame you, really I don’t. You ask for better alternatives and the truth is I cant give you any. I’m not intelligent enough for answers that don’t involve bombs, guns or war. Its just deep down in my gut I feel far too uneasy about how we are going about the resolution of this horrible situation. I know my wishful thinking wont eradicate ISIS/ISIL/DAESH. What I do understand is that this is a very intricate and delicate moment in time we find ourselves alive in. The stakes are at the highest they could ever be, and we need to be awake to every decision being made on our behalf.
"Do we go blood for blood?"
Should we respond blood for blood? Do we really believe that reacting with violence will lead to the absence of a world without evil? I see it as a little contradictory, but maybe my view is skewed somehow. When we look at history Christians don’t have a great record with peace in the middle east, for instance, the Crusades. What really troubled me when reading about the crusades was man’s lack of understanding for the same biblical text we have today. In particular one verse stands out – ‘LOVE YOU ENEMIES AND PRAY FOR THOSE WHO PERSECUTE YOU’ (Matt 5 :44). This verse can really infuriate me. Especially after witnessing the aftermath of the Paris attacks unfold. If some of us are honest, it would be fair to say we wanted bloody revenge. Show no mercy and hunt down the evil men/women who perpetrated these attacks. Yet if I follow what Jesus asks of me, I'm called to love them?
I don’t know if I can do that, but I know I need to try. Hate begets hate, revenge for revenge, blood for blood. The circle needs to be broken at some point. This does not mean absence of justice, as you know we have a system in place for that, regardless of how flawed it sometimes seems.
"Life is but a precious flicker"
We are not like the evil cowards that now roam our streets looking to fulfil their own sick missions. Each of us were given this life, therefore its not ours to take. Collateral damage can be human souls, it can be children with dreams and aspirations or a husband and wife looking to build a future filled with joy. Life is but a precious little flicker in a dark and desolate world. It is not ours to take, even if it is by accident because we tried to remove other humans from existence.
The bombs will drop. As for now they are inevitable and people like you and me have no way of slowing them down or bringing them to a conclusion. Lets rewrite what is inevitable. Let love and compassion become thenorm as we welcome those searching for somewhere to rest their heavy hearts.
We are all refugees headed home together.
Lets rewrite the inevitable and pray for resolution for everyone involved throughout the world in this conflict.