Chicken scratch? Line segments? Parameters?
We need black and white. In a world full of shades of grey, it’s important that we have values that cannot be broken. We need concrete ethics. I’ve been thinking about the words of our President over these last few hours, wondering why it has been so hard for him to make a decision that he can live with, and wondering why there is so much debate.
Inhumanity to man knows no political border, and people are killing each other all over this globe, using poisonous gas along with a whole lot of other lethal methods. So what makes Syria different than the holocausts in Africa, or the genocide in Asia, or fill-in-the-blank with any number of countries, rulers, or despots who have inflicted evil personally or allowed it within their sphere of influence?
We have an intuition inside each of us, whether we believe in God or not. It’s part of the human psyche that has been explored ad infinitum and ad nauseum. I think the part that gets to me is the idea that moral standards without moral actions, sanctions, or responses kind of negate the absolutes. What good are absolutes, if we never really take action for or against good or evil? If we never protect what we cherish and value?
Some of us hold to moral principles “just because” and that works, at least until the s@#$ hits the fan. Some of us hold to moral principles because of our religious upbringing. Our ethics and moral values don’t have to be connected to God. But if they're not, it takes a pretty strong character to maintain one's own personal belief system, and you'd be hard pressed to convince me to follow you while you make up your morality along the way.
It just so happens that my morals are firmly attached to my belief in God. I know that morals are invisible, and that good and evil actions are very evident in our world. Belief in God is no insurance policy against evil...just look at the many evil incidents in history promulgated by religious beliefs. Lots of those evil incidents happen really close to heart and home. Rest assured I've read Matthew 7:4: Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own? While most of us view the actions in Syria as intrinsically bad, as immoral, most of us are reluctant to act. Actions mean that we are vulnerable. What if our actions lead to more immorality, brutality, evil? That's all kind of scary.
We can bomb Syria, but there’s bound to be collateral damage, and none of us want that on our collective conscience. How can we call our actions moral if we in fact make a decision that harms innocent people? Bombing Syria might mean that the perpetrators of these gaseous bombings harm even more innocent people, within or outside their borders, and none of us like that idea much, either.
I think it’s a pretty sure thing that most of us don’t have a clue what’s really going on in Syria. We have had very little influence in that part of the world, either good or bad. So do we create moral sanctions when we’ve had little to do with creating moral standards? What is our role? I admit to being pretty confused.
I do know that absolutes bind us together…they reinforce our humanity. Humanity next door, across the street, or across the globe. So do we not protect the innocent, whereever and whoever they are?
If you listen to any conversation on the street today, you’ll hear the word “absolutely” a jillion times, and yet, there are very few topics that deserve that kind of respect from us. We’ve made most of those tricky ten commandments pretty negotiable. We absolutely abhor murder…but the red line is really greasy after that.
I need my faith. I need the absolutes that it provides for me. I don’t want to decide whether this man dies and that man lives. I don't want relativism to be our moral standard. I want to look at the ten commandments and use those as my moral compass. If a planned action or event defies those commandments, I think we have to search long and hard for the justification. Based on what I know about the Middle East right now, I have more questions than answers.
So when a politician goes around wagging the red line jargon, I think we should all stop and listen, pause and discuss, get involved and get smart. We should be spending quite a bit of time on our knees, in prayer for our nation, the nation of Syria, and for our leaders. At the end of the day, we have absolutely no business drawing a red line unless we’re willing to use our own blood to do so.