Just in case anyone in the world is unaware, there is already a world war afoot and “we” are not winning it because we are trying to stop an ideology of hate with guns, drones and missiles. It would have been funny if it was not so pathetic and tragic.
ISIS, Boko Haram and the almost daily random killings in the US show the inadequacy of our present level of intelligence to deal with the challenges of our times. Depending on physical weapons to fight an ideology suggests a lack of intelligence not only on the part of CIA but among the “powers” that be. It suggests profound weakness on the part of those we consider powerful and I think the crises of our times now require us to rethink what it means to be a powerful nation. Power lies not in how powerful your physical weapons are or in how technologically advanced you are but in your ability to subdue your enemy without needless casualties. And the US and the “powers” that be will get much weaker than they presently are if a gentleman who wants to “bomb the hell out of ISIS” gets elected. How smart are you if all you can come up with in addressing the present danger that ISIS represents is to bomb the hell out of them?
Nicolas Henin the french journalist who was captured by ISIS and released after watching them kill his friends said,
“The winner of this war will not be the party that has the newest, the most expensive or the most sophisticated weaponry, but the party that manages to win over people”.
That is like saying love is the only thing that can overcome hate. Of course. But we have a culture that equates love and gentleness with weakness, and violence and aggression with strength. Terrorizing a terrorist will not subdue the terrorist, it will only multiply terrorism and this is so basic it is like saying 1+2=3. You cannot clean a dirty floor with a dirty mop. You will only multiply dirt and germs. Isn’t that obvious? Many people on the supposedly religious right disagree with that because to them when you are attacked, you strike back in kind with more sophisticated weaponry. After all, “we produce the weapons the jihadists use”. And this makes sense given a materialistic culture, which sorry to say can never defeat ISIS and the like in a million years.
Whoever needs to resort to physical blows to subdue another, is terribly weak. For sure Boko Haram and ISIS are weak otherwise they will not attempt to use violence to conquer the world but if we are responding in kind, does it not indicate that we are at best not stronger? If you can subdue your enemy and cause them to lay down their arms without a fight, then you are truly strong because true strength is not physical.
Many “believers” are afraid to turn the other cheek because we think it shows weakness. What if it does? What is wrong with appearing weak? Why would you want to show your enemy that you are strong? Sun Tzu advises in The Art of War, that when you are strong, feign weakness.
Jesus displayed weakness by:
- being born
- being born to peasants descended of course from royalty but peasants in status
- being born in a manger in Judea colonized by Rome and not in the courts of Rome
- being a baby
- being whisked away to Egypt
- being a child
- being human
- being tired
- shedding tears
- being captured
- being beaten and
- dying on the cross.
Was he weak? On the contrary, He hid His glory and His omnipotence as a warfare strategy and he used weakness to incapacitate the enemy. Scripture says, “God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong…” Weakness is a warfare strategy for those who know how to employ it.
When Jesus asked us to turn the other cheek, he was inviting us to take the battle beyond the physical not just to be made a punching bag. A materialistic society that believes that all we see is all there is can never grasp what Jesus was inviting us to. A materialistic society must engage in physical combat even when fighting an ISIS and that, to put it in a less offensive way, is not witty. ISIS leaders must be laughing because they at least know the weakness of materialism in combatting what they represent.
The original meaning of the word “Boko” is “something that involves a fraud or any form of deception.” Before we indiscriminately attack Boko Haram, how real is an educational system that raises people to believe in the supremacy of physically observable reality? Of course there is a fraud somewhere because any thinking person knows that there is a lot more to reality than what can be physically observed. The moment you can physically observe an object or a movement, you are late. They display a little more intelligence than many in assuming they are being lied to. They are. Are we not showing day by day the weakness and inauthenticity of western education and culture? Isn’t our educational system faulty at best if all it produces are looters masquerading as leaders? How better are we than ISIS if we kill indiscriminately more people than ISIS or Al-Qaeda kills. “We” blow up villages killing mostly innocent people including babies, thereby spawning more Jihadists.
When you use a dirty cloth to wipe a dirty surface, you are not cleaning, you are making the space dirtier. It is Cleaning 101.
How enlightened is the killing of innocent people? How better than ISIS or Boko Haram or Al-Qaeda is that? How real is our educational system if we cannot effectively address an enemy like the one we are facing without stooping to the same wanton destruction we decry? Yes our education has produced sophisticated technology and Google and Facebook and Instagram and 24/7 surveillance anywhere in the world but what technology enables you to arrest the seemingly peaceful and unassuming young couple with a baby before they kill scores of people?
In order to begin to intelligently fight the war we are in, we need to pay attention to how we are educating and what we are extolling as the values of our society. If money, fame and status remain the core values of a society, that society is doomed and it cannot but lose the battle for its own existence. In order to effectively clean the dirt we are confronted with, we need clean cloths, free of the dirt we are trying to remove. We do that by educating (interestingly the meaning of the root word educe is similar to this definition of cleaning) the next generation correctly, starting at kindergarten as my very Mom is doing in Nigeria with her school Anchor Kiddies Palace, on whose board I am privileged to serve.
Nigeria can never develop unless the mindset of corruption is cleaned out and in the public realm, you need to start from kindergarten to develop a different way of thinking. We cannot address terrorism with materialism. And terrorism, sorry to say, is a much bigger threat than climate change. We can incinerate the planet and kill each other with our remotely controlled drones long before the sun dries it all up. Are we not endangering our children if we fail to raise them in a culture contrary to the prevailing materialistic culture when they are confronted with Jihad? To control Jihad, you cannot just “unjihadize” people, you need a more powerful belief system and worldview. That is what Jesus came to introduce, not the “Christian” religion. As long as we see Christ as a religious figure, we will keep playing catch up with corruption and indiscriminate violence everywhere.
Yes we are sent as sheep in the midst of wolves but we are not sent to be devoured by wolves neither are we sent to kill the wolves’ cubs. We are instructed to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Bombing villages in retaliation against ISIS or Boko Haram is neither harmless as doves nor wise as serpents. To go into battle harmless as doves, you must have the ability to absolutely contain your enemy. The instruction to be harmless as a dove in battle, is not to get yourself shredded to pieces but to shift from physical combat to spiritual warfare. Being harmless as doves and wise as serpents calls for superior intelligence which our educational system precludes.
Using physical means to subdue an enemy that is driven by a strong ideology as represented by Jihad suggests ‘unwittiness’. It also shows that we have nothing with which to replace that ideology and if we cannot replace the ideology, forget winning the war. When you “destroy” al-Qaeda along with innocent men, women and children, prepare for a more sinister ISIS and not only that, prepare for them to recruit youth from seemingly decent church going homes to fight because we lack a stronger ideology than materialism. Ideologies are not weakened by mere physical weapons but must be replaced by stronger ideologies. When people are ready to lay down their lives for a cause, materialism is…not a good replacement. You need a cause that is worth laying down one’s life for. Saul the terrorist shifted into something much stronger than that which made him kill people, something to die for. What do we have to die for? Our jobs? Our retirement accounts? Our businesses? We will need a much stronger ideology than materialism or Jihad in order to overcome Jihad. If not, we are simply wiping dirty surfaces with dirty cloths.