Sometimes things just seem to coincide. A lot of it’s perception – you hear one thing, and that makes you hear all the other things that are connected. After all, over the last few days, we’ve had what could be attempted terror attacks on Glasgow airport and London (carried out by doctors, for goodness sake, aren’t terrorist doctors like book burning librarians?!), and the metropolitan police having to come up with a strategy to do something about the recent spate of teenage killings. It makes you despair for your country, it makes you despair for the world, heck, it makes you despair for your species…
And then I go to the Calling All Peacemakers event in Wolverhampton, a speaking tour by American pastor Rob Bell (of Mars Hill Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan; I’ve linked to a couple of his sermons in the past). Now, I’ve heard a lot of what he had to say before, but I’ve found that this isn’t the point with this sort of thing – it’s sometimes the way information is communicated that suddenly makes it spark ideas and questions. The key theme was that of shalom, the Jewish concept of peace (it goes beyond ‘peace’ as we understand it in English, implying a sense of ‘rightness’ between human beings, between them and God, and them and nature), and how that is reflected in Jesus’s endorsement of ‘turning the othe cheek’. This isn’t a passive surrender (and here’s an explanation why), but a way of rejecting both options available to you – should you punch back? Be a doormat? Or is there a third option, an option that requires us to use our God-given creativity and courage and ingenuity to present a workable alternative to the world?
Because we need that third option. I know I do. It’s easy to give in and be what the world around you expects, either a passive, cowering victim or the ranting, firey right hand of deranged justice. There needs to be another option, there really does, before we get stuck even further in the quagmire of wars and personal relationships and the general petty nastiness and apathetic cowardess that we see way too much of, both around us and, I venture, inside us.
So, do we lash out, give in, or come up with a better plan? When countries are looking at each other funny, do we bring out the nukes, or expedience, or something else? When we see violence against nature, do we reject technology and the related carbon footprint, carry on regardless, or rediscover clockwork (or something)?
We need a third option, because the other two haven’t exactly put us the best position. I guess the greatest question is – what does that third option look like?