August 7th, 2006 07:05 EST
Operation: Scorched Earth
Tragic tales of senseless and pointless feuding, motivated and perpetuated by spiteful ego. Capulets and Montagues. Hatfields and McCoys. Hezbollah and Israel.
Fighting each other has become little more than an endless" and beginningless-- tradition, a veritable way of life. The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah over ownership rights"to Lebanon is indicative and typical of the status quo in that region. A status quo of war without end. War that can`t be won, because it won`t be won; because the point isn`t to win, but to fight on principle, over a principle. Made even more hazardous and untenable in being religiously driven. It`s as frivolous, fractious and fracturing as a war on terror. You can`t destroy an idea without destroying they who believe it.
War that makes everyone involved and caught in the crossfire become casualties of doing business as usual.
It has been that way consistently" if not constantly, in some form, in the Middle East territories for over 2000 years, resulting in a stagnant and stifled culture that obstinately and obnoxiously refuses to change for the better, to learn from their history, to essentially grow up.
Maybe, ultimately, they are uninterested in doing so, incapable of it, too long inured and injured by a prolonged history of self-attrition. And if they, indeed, can`t be fixed"in whatever sense of the word, then is it not prudent and necessary" even if not "nice and proper", for the sake of humanity, to cut out this cancer, remove this stain? Theirs is a society that operates with the mentality of spoiled children, kicking and screaming and lashing out when it doesn`t get its way. It seems to me they must surely relish and cherish their strife, so persistent are they in sustaining their disputes without seriously attempting to resolve them like rational, mature adults. The local color is as habitually defined by this calamity among themselves as they are confined by it. They are stuck in a rut that they show no proclivity or desire to get out of.
Sadly, it`s all they`ve ever known.
Can President Bush`s initiatives to establish democracy and peace really calm internal affairs enough to improve the quality of life there, given the substantial burden and momentum of this troubled and troublesome history? Or is such a conceit na"ve and as much folly as the turmoil it hopes to stop? How much sense does it make to expect a person raised by Klu Klux Klan members not be a white supremacist, without removing them from that bigoted environment?
The players change, but the game remains the same: holy war" over disputed territory, over differing beliefs, over the interpretation and application of their religion and society, over political and military authority, over any damned thing they want. And when a war is declared "holy", rationality and being reasonable holds no sway, and anything can be justified. They assume power in their god`s name, in an attempt to justify and make just-- carte blanche and a priori-- whatever capricious audacity suits their juvenile whims in service to "the cause", because it is for the cause" righteous as they presume it is. That kind of "thinking" is dangerous because it provides a slippery slope on which all things are permissible that serve God. Who speaks for God? So many have done the Devil`s work in the name of their God.
According to Hezbollah, Lebanon belongs to them. Israel says Lebanon is Israeli land. Both entities base their claims on religious grounds (no pun intended). The alternating warring factions in the Middle East regularly appear intent on, and content to, performing genocide on their enemies (sometimes committing atrocities on their own people"for their own good, of course). No concessions or compromises are allowed, or even possible for them. No breach in their mutual aggression and animosity will be tolerated, nor will differences of opinion or lifestyle. The so-called infidels must perish-- no exceptions, no excuses. Must! Peaceful coexistence is not an option for these people. Not while they continue on as they are, as they always have. It is a logical and logistical impossibility.
Hezbollah is the primary political/ military/ religious agency in Lebanon, also acting as a resistance group/ movement that provides for many social programs and public assistance projects in Lebanon (such as schools, hospitals, construction, job training, agricultural and infrastructure development). The Lebanese government recognizes and accepts it as a legitimate resistance against Israeli occupation. And they oppose Israel as a "usurper". Although not quite as philanthropic, Israel, however, makes a similar claim against Hezbollah as interlopers in Lebanon.
So they fight each other.
Yet the American government (as well as Canada) sides with Israel and denounces Hezbollah as a terrorist organization--- while the United Nations (and most of the European Union) disagrees, even offering them support with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)" attempting to maintain peace. Which is ironic, since this implies and requires that peace exist there in the first place to be maintained. The reasons and motives are too complicated to delve into adequately here, and that`s beyond the scope of this article. But as they say: one man`s terrorist is another man`s freedom fighter.
Given the prevalent Mid-East unrest, one might wonder if this could be a sign of an impending apocalypse" a thread in the tapestry of the end times. Supposedly, Nostradamus wrote several visions of the future which could be read as apocalyptic in nature, and may apply to Armageddon. One of Nostradamus`s alleged predictions floating on the internets may be interpreted as referring to the UN"whose officers wear blue hats-- as a detriment to stability in the Middle East.
Out of the country of Greater Arabia Shall be born a strong master of Mohammed... He will enter Europe wearing a blue turban. He will be the terror of mankind. Never more horror.
Except that this isn`t actually a Nostradamus prophecy, but a fake. At least, this is not among the quatrains of his ten centuries. And besides, prophecies that are structured in such flowery prose are ambiguous enough to be open and subject to varied interpretations.
The excessive conflict that Hezbollah and Israel procrastinate to cease is reminiscent of biblical prophecy about the End Times. There are those who have erroneously and prematurely called the skirmishes the introduction to WWIII. One might perceive the situation as a scene appropriate and relevant to the book of Revelations; and, further, that we are in the prophesied end times. Imagine, if you will, the end of the world is unfolding around us as I type this. Indeed, many Christians-- especially of an evangelical and apocalyptic mindset"are inclined to interpret these harried and harrowing events in the Middle East as signs of the times" that the end of the world is eminent and inevitable. Considering that the Left Behind series of apocalyptic novels" which portray the millennial crises "foretold" in the Bible-- has sold over 62 million copies, it would not go amiss to wonder exactly what percentage of those who read these stories actually believe the reality these books depict.
Increasingly violent havoc and dissidence in the Middle East area figures prominently in this alleged prognostication. The word Armageddon, mentioned in Revelation 16:16, is commonly thought to be derived from the Hebrew words Har Megiddo, meaning hill or mount of Megiddo. The sight of many battles in ancient time, due to its perceived value as a strategic location" being positioned as a crossroads for trade routes, Megiddo resides in Israel.
However, we should keep in mind that such predictions and anticipations for the end of the world have been made several times before, particularly as the year 2000 approached, and always accompanied this kind of" tribulation. Each declaration proven feeble and feckless, as life goes on. Almost as if in defiance of God`s grand and glorious plan otherwise. More probable is that this is yet another case where: Roosters crow at the dawn, hoping to rouse the barnyard. But the owl knows it is still late at night, the foxes are about, and the master yet sleeps.
How many of these people enjoy the Left Behind story because they regard it as a good story or are fascinated by apocalypticism, and how many like it because they are eager and hopeful that Revelations literally and eventually occurs? It is disturbing to think there might be a great multitude who believe and want this, on the pretentious presumption that they are "saved" by God, with a guaranteed place in heaven--- and everyone else be damned (literally and figuratively). Pause a moment and think about how that scenario would play out on an earthly stage, the physicality of it. Would you really wish such torment on your fellow man? And what if it turns out that you really aren`t "saved", when the Rapture does not include you? Would it be so appealing to you then? Or appalling, then? Would you welcome the cleansing hell fire? What would you do, how would you feel upon the realization that, though they don`t know it, all the Christians are going to hell?
How can anyone of sound mind and philosophy be accepting or admiring of such an intolerant Jesus who returns to effectively throw people into a pit of eternal hell fire simply because they don`t believe in or worship or obey the Word of the bible`s God? A God who punishes us for thinking differently, freely, independently? What wisdom or worth is there in being so cavalier and cheerful about or toward a Jesus who would engage in fundamental genocide? An ethnic and ethic cleansing? Isn`t it a perverse irony that we condemn Muslim extremists for engaging in this kind of thinking and behavior? Shouldn`t we, then, be afraid and repudiating of Jesus? And ashamed of ourselves?
Certain questions arise.