Wars and Rumors of Wars

It certainly seems that we live in chaotic times, so much so that it is hard to keep track of the various conflicts taking place around the world. Large or small, hot or cold, sustained or intermittent, the article embedded above attempts to rack up most of the conflicts currently in progress. A few caveats are in order:

First, geopolitical situations that drive conflict can change overnight, and sometimes without warning. News commentators often have great 20-20 hindsight after the fact, but the fact in this case is that once a conflict starts, neither side can be completely certain of how it will turn out. War is unpredictable; politics even less so.

Second, while the mapped conflicts include a wider variety of activities, tensions, and hostilities than you might expect, they still do not include certain kinds of ongoing terrorism or coordinated lawlessness, which might itself be considered an ongoing conflict. And, as implied in the previous paragraph, a new conflict can arise tomorrow or next week to add to the list.

Third, some of the press and politicians like to draw moral equivalencies between different kinds of conflicts. The old claim that, “your terrorist is their freedom fighter” illustrates the point. Don’t fall for sound bites or false equivalencies. Instead, if you are concerned about a conflict, it is worth exercising critical thinking skills and probing the matter with good questions to really understand the situation.

Fourth, as we begin to understand the depravity that conflicts expose, it is easy to become angry, cynical, discouraged, and eventually disengaged and withdrawn. Not healthy. A neighbor’s car once sported a bumper sticker saying, “If you are not outraged, you don’t understand.” That eventually disappeared as the cycle of anger, cynicism, etc ran its course. Instead of going that route, let me remind you of a favorite passage from Scripture. In Philippians 4:8-9 the Apostle Paul writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Trite, naive, or too simplistic? No, for the simple reason that God is in charge, and He holds His children in the palm of His very hand.

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