Whose Side is God on Anyway?


When was the last war you remember that the leadership of The United States of America did not proclaim something akin to this:

“it is our duty as the ‘Special People of God in Heaven’ to sacrifice our children and the children of our enemy in order to save the world from this evil force.”

With the exception of the war against the Iraqis I don’t recall any. That was a war fought to protect our energy resources and “God forbid” our sinful lifestyle. The “sin” of conspicuous consumption is at the top of my list these days. In a former life I awarded those who tore down old buildings with a certificate recognizing them for their “conspicuous consumption”. It was called the “Waste Not Want Not Award”. This is not a new sin for me. I plead guilty and ask forgiveness. I recognize that I am as guilty as the next one. Or, is that just one more piece of evidence of my tendency to “pious scrupulosity”

I suppose there are some who profit from our conspicuously consumptive tendencies, who stoutly affirm that protecting our energy sources are a sacred cause.

The sacred wars that were lost causes in Vietnam and Korea were part of the protracted war against the “Unholy Communists”. By the way, “Unholy Communism” is a failed ideology but it did not fall as a result of a shooting war.

The two great sacred wars of the last century were Holy Wars against the aggressive nationalistic movements of that century-the Nazis, the Fascists, the Nipponese expansionists.

An important factor in the U.S. decision to go to war against Spain in 1898 was the growing imperialism of the United States.. The increasingly aggressive behavior of the United States was often justified by references to Manifest Destiny, a belief that territorial expansion by the United States was both inevitable and divinely ordained;

Certainly, the War Between the States was a “Holy Jehad”. The great struggle for self- determination was defended with Holy Scripture and a lot of pious finger-pointing. That continues until this day.

Various wars against the Native Americans were promoted as righteous and pious attempts to gain control of North America because the European vision of the divinely ordained Manifest Destiny of the emigrants to this New World.

The sacred rebellion of the colonists against the colonizers in England was supported by church men and women of every stripe. That support by the established religions of the day continues to be a proud moment in the history of America and of Holy Wars that have been undertaken and pursued as a sacred duty.

As a people of wars fought because they are our “Sacred Duty”, the United States of America seems to be on the losing side in the Middle East. In recent memory, we seem to have lost all the sacred wars outside our borders. Will our side lose another war ?

Genera/President Dwight David Eisenhower reminds us: ” It is possible, even probable, that hopelessness among a people can be a far more potent cause of war than greed. War-in such a case-is the symptom, not the disease.”

Are we on the losing side because of our greed, our self interest, our egocentricity or to salve a guilty conscience.

The Palestinians have no reason other than hopelessness to be in a state of war with the Israelis. They have no greed. They are beyond that. Betrayal is the root cause of their hopelessness. As trustee of the mandate left over from WWI the British betrayed their trust. The trusted people of the United States of America betrayed them. Hopelessness springs from the failure of that much vaunted paper tiger-The United Nations. Where would you place your hope if you were the Palestinians. Since they have been betrayed so often do you mind if they place their trust in a higher power? By the way, they sincerely believe that God is on their side!

The inability to get to and from their workplace and their schools and their hospitals, and to their churches and to visit with their families are other causes of the hopelessness. The refusal of the Israelis to honor their commitments is another cause of it. The maltreatment of an entire population under the care, custody and control of Israel is a cause of it. There are hundreds of causes of the “disease.”

The rock throwing is a symptom of it. The suicide bombers are a symptom of it.

The Israelis and their friends around the world, if they have any, must surely know by now that “force can protect in an emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.” D. D. Eisenhower

(Mr. Charles Howell is Chairman and CEO of Trust for the Future, Inc. in Nashville, TN)