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Bombing is not a solution

Tornado SX 395To answer violence and hatred with more violence will just make a bad situation worse says Revd Philip Young on the subject of military action in the Middle East.

As we watch the bombs falling in Syria and Iraq we can see for ourselves their destructive power.  The destruction of buildings and oil refineries is bad in itself. Just think of all the human skill and time that has gone into constructing these places, which are blown to pieces in a few seconds. Just think of the waste and of the consequent pollution this causes. All terrible.
Even worse is the loss of human life. It must be a terrifying experience being blown up by a bomb. Not that you know much about it if you have a direct hit. But just imagine all those who are injured and their lives are changed in a split second. Possibly maimed physically for life and almost certainly traumatised in their minds and then living in fear of further attacks.
What is true is that we have a real problem with the IS terrorists in Iraq and Syria. They have done unimaginable evil, killing and beheading people and driving people from their homes, in order to create an Islamic State without borders.
We need to eliminate this evil, but the big question we have to ask ourselves is, ‘Will bombing IS and eliminating them with violence solve the problem?’  My answer to that is an emphatic, ‘No!’
To answer violence and hatred with more violence will just make a bad situation worse.
Bombs are destructive and will never provide a creative solution to the violence of the terrorists.  As Gandhi said, ‘An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind’.
I am fearful that by using violence to try to eliminate the terrorists we are condemning the whole world to a very long war without a foreseeable end. Do we really want endless war?
The only way to break the vicious circle of hate and violence is by using the creative force of love. By using the terror of bombing to fight the terror of the terrorists we are in danger of creating more terrorists.  As Martin Luther King said, ‘only light can drive out darkness’ and the most powerful force in the world is love. Love has the power to transform and to change.
So how do we love a terrorist? We should certainly hate what they are doing, but we should separate what they do from who they are. They are misguided people with evil in their hearts. We need to hate the evil that they do but we should try to reach out to the good in them, however buried and hidden that good might be. We are all a mixture of good and bad. In some people the good is more active and in some people the bad has taken over. It falls upon those who are in touch with their good side to reach out to the good in those who have buried their goodness.
The other alternative to this is to treat them as if they are purely evil and to eliminate them by killing them. If we do this we are in danger of judging others when we are not in a position to do so. We are also in danger of using evil ourselves, and then we are no better than the terrorist. When a bomb falls in a war, who is the terrorist? Every bombing is an act of terror. Every bomb makes matters worse.
Love, by contrast, is creative and looks for ways of connecting with every living person and thing. Love is transformative, and what is needed is a transformation from war to peace.
What would be good is the recognition that love should be at the centre of our lives. Democracy and peace are worth upholding. Loving one another and loving our planet can build them.
Bombs tear people apart.
Love brings people together.
We need love not bombs.

The image of the Tornado aircraft is courtesy of Alexander Rist on http://www.freeimages.com/

Philip Young June 2014Philip is an Anglican, Quaker, and a member of the Third Order of Franciscans.
Until July 2014 he was the Diocesan Environmental Officer for the Norwich Diocese. He is now devoting himself to prayer, study and writing.

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