Thoughts From Your Regional Minister
February Kansas Messenger (Vol. 125, Ed. 2)
By Ken Marston, Regional Minister
Have you noticed how often our political leaders, when faced with a serious issue that they feel we, as a nation, need to solve declare war on that problem? There has been a declaration of war on poverty, and a war on drugs to name two issues. Election campaign advisors often approach their work as being at war. We even have a COVID-19 pandemic “war room.”
In war we have an enemy. That enemy is evil which we must conquer or destroy at any cost. In war, we adopt a black and white, right and wrong mentality that guides our thinking, our policies, strategies, and our actions. In war, we dare not consider our diagnosis of the situation or interpretation of the facts might be flawed.
This supposedly helps us take a problem seriously. This supposedly helps us marshal the resources, resolve, and commitment needed. The sentiment is good. The goal is righteous. Yet, all the striving, hours of hard work, the loss of lives, and dollars spent, little progress, if any, is made. Why?
There is a truism about declaring war that perhaps we too often forget. That truism says, “Truth is the first casualty of war.” Perhaps part of the problem with declaring war on social issues is the language of war and the mind set the language calls us to adopt.
The late Rabbi Edwin Friedman once said the seriousness with which we address many problems contribute to the problem. If this is true, and if truth is the first casualty of war, then in declaring war we lose the ability to see the truth of the challenge before us. Maybe, if we stopped using the language of war to address our challenges, we might stop seeing each other as part of the problem. We might see the humanity in others who think differently and live differently than us. We might even find solutions to our challenges we never would have considered otherwise. Who knows, we might even begin to love each other as God already loves us.