Inspired by this Tweet / Facebook post: “I feel like Phineas in A Separate Peace. I can’t understand or fathom or believe in war. Just can’t. Maybe it’s a defect in my personality.” Twitter / Facebook
Israel is at war with Hamas. I find myself in a familiar position. That is, unable to comprehend the entire concept of war.
I am not writing this to question to need or wisdom of the current operation in Gaza. That is not the point here. But when my brothers and sisters are in harm’s way, I cannot but help and wonder about the concept of war.
I want to be very clear, I support Israel and its right to defend itself. I am urging my congregation and family to have Israel in our prayers. Last night our Daf Yomi class was dedicated to the safety and security of our brothers and sisters in Israel. That does not mean I can’t have a discussion about war. I do not intend to minimize the importance or sacrifice of those involved in the current conflict. This is very much a theoretical discussion.
This is going to be short and to the point. Here are my primary issues with war:
It seems to me that the only thing a war proves or accomplishes is that one group can be established as physically stronger or better strategists than the other group. War does not set morality or determine which group is more fit to exist (except in the Darwinian sense). The victors of the war get safety and security until someone bigger and badder than they are start up with them.
It seems to me that the people fighting the war, as in the soldiers, are fighting a war for their parents. I don’t think 18 year old kids are old enough to appreciate the gravity of war. I don’t think many of them would choose to fight the war. But they are sent into harm’s way by people of authority, while those people who are making the decisions are mostly out of harm’s way. I don’t have a better alternative, but the inequity here is great.
It seems to me that the groups at war should be able to resolve their issues without killing one another. I know it sounds idealistic to believe this, but I honestly believe that people have the capacity to love and care for anyone. If we would spent a quarter of the resources that are used for fighting, and reallocate those resources to creating mutual experiences and friendships we would be much better off. People don’t go to war with their friends. The world is big enough for everyone to have a place in it. Yes, there are places that multiple groups want, but people know how to compromise with their friends.
The entire idea that since I am born in Place A and you are born in Place B means that I am right and you are wrong is something that does not fit in with modern thinking. If I was born in Gaza, I am sure I would sympathize more with Gaza. If a member of Hamas was born in Tel Aviv he would feel differently too. In other words, these convictions and affiliations that create friction are a fiction of our own creation. Why should it matter where on is born? That’s no fault of our own. We can’t control these affiliations for the most part, and so it seems borderline insane to place so much stock in these affiliations.
I really wish that younger, less entrenched, more idealistic people from both sides of any conflict could come together and show their leaders that they prefer peace to war. That they prefer friendship over hatred.
I guess, the overall point here is that when analyzed, war is pretty senseless. I understand that sometimes events that are out of our control force our hand and we find ourselves in open conflict. I just feel that if humanity could understand this, we would be a lot better off and we could focus on the progress of humanity as a whole.
I cry for the victims of terror. I cry for innocent civilians in Gaza who are caught in the crossfire. I cry for the families that are under constant threat of violence. I cry for people born into the worst of situations, as they are in Gaza. I cry for children who are taught that the only way out of their struggle is violence. I cry for people who feel oppressed and see no way out of their predicament. I cry for people who inherited an almost impossible to resolve problem. I cry for all of them. But most of all, I cry that we cannot resolve our differences without death and violence.