IRAQ REFLECTION: Fight or flight?

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CPTnet
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October 22, 2004
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<P>IRAQ REFLECTION: Fight or flight?
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<P>by Tom Fox
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<P>&quot;If an attacker inspires anger or fear in my heart, it means that I have not
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purged myself of violence. To realize nonviolence means to feel within you
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its strength--soul force--to know God. A person who has known God will be
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incapable of harboring anger or fear within him, no matter how overpowering
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the cause for that anger or fear may be.&quot; (Gandhi speaking to Badshah
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Kahn's Khudai Khidmatgar officers; _A Man to Match His Mountains_ by Eknath
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Easwaran, 1985.)
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<P>When I allow myself to become angry I disconnect from God and connect with
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the evil force that empowers fighting. When I allow myself to become
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fearful I disconnect from God and connect with the evil force that
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encourages flight.
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<P>The French theologian Rene Girard has a very powerful vision of Satan that
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speaks to me: &quot;Satan sustains himself as a parasite on what God creates by
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imitating God in a manner that is jealous, grotesque, perverse and as
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contrary as possible to the loving and obedient imitation of Jesus&quot; (_I See
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Satan Falling like Lightning_, 2001)
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<P>If I am not to fight or flee in the face of armed aggression, be it the
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overt aggression of the army or the subversive aggression of the terrorist,
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then what am I to do? &quot;Stand firm against evil&quot; (Matthew 5:39, translated
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by Walter Wink) seems to be the guidance of Jesus and Gandhi in order to
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stay connected with God. Here in Iraq I struggle with that second form of
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aggression. I have visual references and written models of CPTers standing
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firm against the overt aggression of an army, be it regular or paramilitary.
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But how do you stand firm against a car-bomber or a kidnapper? Clearly the
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soldier disconnected from God needs to have me fight. Just as clearly the
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terrorist disconnected from God needs to have me flee. Both are willing to
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kill me using different means to achieve he same end--that end being to
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increase the parasitic power of Satan within God's good creation.
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<P>It seems easier somehow to confront anger within my heart than it is to
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confront fear. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right then I am not to give in to
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either. I am to stand firm against the kidnapper as I am to stand firm
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against the soldier. Does that mean I walk into a raging battle to confront
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the soldiers? Does that mean I walk the streets of Baghdad with a sign
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saying &quot;American for the Taking?&quot; No to both counts. But if Jesus and
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Gandhi are right, then I am asked to risk my life, and if I lose it to be as
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forgiving as they were when murdered by the forces of Satan. Standing firm
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is a struggle, but I'm willing to keep working at it.
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