STOP THE WORLD – I WANT TO GET OFF

STOP THE WORLD – I WANT TO GET OFF

That was the title of a 1961 Broadway musical production that was later made into a movie.  Given local, national and world events it seems like an appropriate title for our present state of affairs. Locally, we have a “shooting war” going on in Tacoma and Seattle. Graffiti, homelessness and daylight robberies are daily events in these cities.  Nationally, the seat of our government was invaded by a mob determined to overthrow a valid election in Washington D.C. at the urging of the loser in the election who without any evidence claimed it was an invalid election.  As an example of

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. A Russian attack has severely damaged a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials say. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

political disunity, Representatives Lauren Roebert Colorado and Marjorie Taylor Georgia in an extraordinary display of bad manners and breach of decorum interrupted President Biden’s state of the union address with shouting  accusations.  Personal political selfishness along with the likely support of a Supreme Court gone amuck  has been our national experience. Internationally,  Saudi Arabia executes 81 people one day by cutting off their heads. One man, Putin,  single handedly decides to start a war with a less powerful neighbor with the intention of making part of the more powerful country he controls. In doing so he has authorized inhumane suffering on civilians as well as putting the world on the teetering edge of nuclear disaster. In addition, Myanmar, which had been a fledgling democracy just beginning to recover from decades of military rule, fell victim to a military coup, the leaders of which even cited faulty elections as the justification for their course of action. Perhaps the greatest blow to democratic ideals was the fall of the people’s government in Afghanistan, which has seen war being waged for the sake of preserving democratic principles. Significantly, the United States, the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself, and was knocked down a significant number of steps on the democratic scale. Amid such geopolitical upheaval, the pandemic has raged on. Repeated outbreaks in different parts of the world simultaneously have made the disease all the more difficult to fight, and the toll it has taken has been grievous. That’s a very short list of the serious issues which exist nationally and internationally around the world. But, the most terrifying are those that put us teetering on the edge of another world war.

The basic underlying cause of world conflict is due to two historical principles. As Lord Acton pointed out ““Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely…” The other principle is from Saint Paul 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Power and greed breed corruption. The Bible teaches that all human problems stem from the same root — we are separated from God by our sin. Every hateful deed, every hurtful word, every self-destructive habit, every selfish action, and every wrong ever committed by anyone, including us, is the result of doing things our way and not God’s way. This is the essence of what religion labels “sin.” As more more money plus power is concentrated in fewer and fewer individuals the spiral continues in a downward path for the world.

The risks of a third world war are enormous. If we add in all the means and methods of warfare − conventional, nuclear, cyber, drones, and so on − we have the military potential to destroy ourselves entirely. Though, even if it is impossible to wage successful wars in the twenty-first century, that does not give us an absolute guarantee for peace.  Yes, this is a very negative outlook for the world, but we appear to have to go through another destructive world conflict before the situation changes. “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein The machinery of war and the available firepower has increased dramatically.  We should never underestimate human stupidity.

How should we view the situation? To start with, the great majority of these problems are simply not within the control of ordinary people in this country.  They are subject to forces and movements too big and powerful for any individual to remedy.  Wise political writers like David brooks have also pointed out “I hope we can humbly accept that history is complicated and we are not wise enough to plan it but also confidently remind ourselves that when the United States has stood with people like Winston Churchill and Volodymyr  Zelensky, we’ve ended up doing a lot of good.” What can we do about it? We should examine ourselves and our relationship with other people. We should treat others with concern, love and help. We should try to exercise the principle that love of God and neighbor is the basis of the Christian message as well as other religions. Prayer has power. Politically, our focus should be on national best interests and our relationships with other democratic countries. There is little we can directly do to change the situation, but we should do what we are capable of doing.

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