IRAQ REFLECTION: Fight or flight?

in:

CPTnet
October 22, 2004

IRAQ REFLECTION: Fight or flight?

by Tom Fox

"If an attacker inspires anger or fear in my heart, it means that I have not
purged myself of violence. To realize nonviolence means to feel within you
its strength--soul force--to know God. A person who has known God will be
incapable of harboring anger or fear within him, no matter how overpowering
the cause for that anger or fear may be." (Gandhi speaking to Badshah
Kahn's Khudai Khidmatgar officers; _A Man to Match His Mountains_ by Eknath
Easwaran, 1985.)

When I allow myself to become angry I disconnect from God and connect with
the evil force that empowers fighting. When I allow myself to become
fearful I disconnect from God and connect with the evil force that
encourages flight.

The French theologian Rene Girard has a very powerful vision of Satan that
speaks to me: "Satan sustains himself as a parasite on what God creates by
imitating God in a manner that is jealous, grotesque, perverse and as
contrary as possible to the loving and obedient imitation of Jesus" (_I See
Satan Falling like Lightning_, 2001)

If I am not to fight or flee in the face of armed aggression, be it the
overt aggression of the army or the subversive aggression of the terrorist,
then what am I to do? "Stand firm against evil" (Matthew 5:39, translated
by Walter Wink) seems to be the guidance of Jesus and Gandhi in order to
stay connected with God. Here in Iraq I struggle with that second form of
aggression. I have visual references and written models of CPTers standing
firm against the overt aggression of an army, be it regular or paramilitary.
But how do you stand firm against a car-bomber or a kidnapper? Clearly the
soldier disconnected from God needs to have me fight. Just as clearly the
terrorist disconnected from God needs to have me flee. Both are willing to
kill me using different means to achieve he same end--that end being to
increase the parasitic power of Satan within God's good creation.

It seems easier somehow to confront anger within my heart than it is to
confront fear. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right then I am not to give in to
either. I am to stand firm against the kidnapper as I am to stand firm
against the soldier. Does that mean I walk into a raging battle to confront
the soldiers? Does that mean I walk the streets of Baghdad with a sign
saying "American for the Taking?" No to both counts. But if Jesus and
Gandhi are right, then I am asked to risk my life, and if I lose it to be as
forgiving as they were when murdered by the forces of Satan. Standing firm
is a struggle, but I'm willing to keep working at it.