War - In the Otherís Shoes

An essay by John Licata of The Eclectic Church



We can and should put empathy into practice while contemplating going to war.Many of us speak of empathy but do we really have the ability to put ourselves in a position to understand it in our hearts and minds?


Think of the young Iraq mother trying to bring up her young son or daughter in a tiny apartment in a small town near Baghdad.She wakes up one morning to the sound of TERRIFYING loud noises coming outside of her apartment.She huddles in the corner of her apartment hoping that somehow the walls will offer her protection against the bombing.She cuddles her young son in her arms, hoping that she can somehow protect him.The last sound she hears is the sound of her walls coming down around her.She looks into her son's eyes and cries as she thinks of her inability to save him.

Can you picture yourself as this mother?What if you woke up one day and you WERE this mother?Would you be to any degree as much for this war as you are now?What if the young son were to miraculously survive?What kind of feeling do you suppose he would have toward the U.S. as he grows up?


We are told that we have to go in with overwhelming force.That we have to go in with a combination of air and ground forces that is so overpowering that the Iraqis have no time to gather strength, to dig in.What that means is we do not have the time to minimize civilian deaths (by the way- I will not use the term casualties- it seems so benign for what is to really happen).We much less time to make sure civilians are protected as we just go after military targets.††

Why have not more religious leaders spoken up?This is the antithesis to ALL religions universal beliefs in the most basic of all truths- the love of ones fellow man.This is the antithesis of love- make no mistake.This is death, terror and hatred toward other human beings.Hatred just begets more hatred, killing begets more killing, and terror begets more terror.For how can one love one that one is killing?How can one have compassion for one that one is terrifying?I capitalized the word terror for a reason.I see little difference in the killing we are about to perpetrate to that of other acts of terror.How do we define terrorism? -The killing of innocent civilians to achieve an end.What are we proposing to do?Yes we are going after military targets- but how many civilians are to be killed to achieve our ends?The only difference is that we are ostensibly going after military targets- well, since we are doing so with the knowledge that due to our strategy of overwhelming force we are to take scores of civilians with those targets- we are committing an act of terror.We become no better than those we are fighting when we stoop to such levels.If we go to war with Iraq we are in danger of becoming that which we say we despise.


But of course this is one the oldest psychological phenomenons that exist.The people in the U.S. are understandably upset about the horrible act perpetrated by Al Queda.But we are having difficulty bringing those to justice that committed this unthinkable act-among other problems is that those that perpetrated this horror killed themselves in the doing.Combine with this the difficulty finding and bringing to justice those behind the act.So we have to find someone to blame- someone to project our fears and hatred toward.Unfortunately that target appears to be Iraq.Even though there is little evidence connecting this country to 9-11, we still press on.We do not seem to care how many people we kill- we want terror to stop and we will kill as many as possible to achieve this end.We are projecting our fear, insecurity and hatred on Iraq- hoping that it will somehow appease us.


Well, sit back and think of what we are proposing.We want to kill innocent people to stop terrorism.Instead of killing, perhaps we should look at some of the root causes of terrorism- why do they hate us?I have heard experts say they are jealous of us.Why?Could it be that many in these countries are economically deprived- that they grow up in atmospheres of poverty and the hopelessness of despair and war?So we will give more war, more despair and more economic deprivation.How does this solve terror?I can only see it bring more of the same.They will look across the sea at a country that could have offered a hand in peace and love and instead decided to attack.They will look at a country that is flowing with wealth and instead of sharing it decided to use it to build bombs and guns to kill them.They will look at a country that claims it is free- yet does not respect others rights of self-determination.They will look at a country that claims it respects all religions- yet seems intent on disrespecting those whose majority differs from its own.They will see a country that leaves some oppressive dictatorships alone and punishes lesser ones because of its own economic self-interest.They will see a country that claims it values democracy above all else yet ignores monarchies and dictatorships where it has a good economic relationship or none at all.


Let us stop this madness before it starts.Let us sow love instead of hatred, peace instead of war.We will reap what we sow- in planting the seeds of love that we will have it returned, in growing compassion and understanding that we will bring differing people together.

Ask yourself- would you be proposing war with Iraq if your infant son or daughter lived in Baghdad?††††††††††††††††††



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