Yours Faithfully: Why can’t we solve our problems peacefully?

Oxford Mail: Dr Timothy Bradshaw Dr Timothy Bradshaw

Why do the nations rage? This question, the first line of Psalm 2, surely matches our feelings as we watch war on the TV news night after night.

The latest is in Syria whose people are caught up in the most vicious of civil wars, a battle to the death with no mercy, no quarter given on any side.

We see pictures of hundreds dead, mutilated, tortured, such is the hatred of tribe towards tribe.

Other nations sponsor different sides with weapons and money.

The situation is a nightmare of violence and rage. Why?

We have seen similar warfare in Libya, it goes on in Afghanistan, now in the Ukraine.

The human race seems unable to solve its problems peacefully and reasonably. It is now more than half a century since the end of the Second World War, and yet war shows no sign of withering away.

The French Christian writer Pascal was surely right when he said that we humans are capable of the highest and lowest, the angelic and the demonic.

We see self-sacrifice and care for others, and we see obsessive hatred, indeed we feel them in ourselves.

Perhaps hatred can be compared to drug addiction, it takes hold if we fail to resist it early on.

And if violence is done to individuals or groups, then a resentful lust for revenge sets in.

Such vendetta feelings can remain in the tribal memory for decades. On our own doorstep Northern Ireland shows this all too clearly.

For people of faith, one major problem is that religious differences often seem to be at the root of this hatred.

In Syria the Sunnis and the Shias are at each others’ throats, the Saudis and Turks back the Sunnis, Iran the Shias. And these of versions of one religion.

The last book of the Bible, Revelation, speaks of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse: war, famine, destruction of harvests, and death.

We see these metaphorical figures galloping across our TV screens nightly.

The Christian believer gains hope by looking at Jesus himself. Jesus reveals the heart of God in not taking up arms, not being a warrior, but bringing about a kingdom of peace. He went to his unjust death in order to bring reconciliation and love, to conquer resentment and revenge by forgiving his killers and seeking in turn their hearts.

Our prayers must be that his Spirit will win out in the end.

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