The war on…. Fill in the blank. This thought came to me with the thirtieth anniversary of the Polytechniqe shooting in Quebec, the one where the gunman specifically targeted women. I remember because it was brought up as a prayer intention at the parish I was attending. The supplicant prayed that men would not be so darned violent. She did not specify which men she was referring to. I felt tarred with a wide brush. The war on… I think I would have filled out “men” at that point. Sometimes it feels like it.
The easiest ploy for people who want something, is to claim oppression. It worked well for Adolph Hitler. He painted Germany as victim, and then rose to power and evened the score. Victimology might be the best weapon of all - intersectionality being the latest ace card in the deck. It means you can actually double up on victim points. Beware of groups who claim to be powerless. Their demands for equality might turn into a boot on your neck.
We are AT WAR with something it would seem. No one is sitting back relaxing too much. I could make a list of “at war’s” in my lifetime. They periodically get switched up and then everybody forgets that the current hobbyhorse is just the newest name for the same old thing.
The war on drugs. I think that died away when Ronald Reagan’s conveniently forgot things which might implicate the government in selling drugs. There was also Acid Rain, a popular one in the 1970’s when we were told the world would end. In that decade we also were told that a polar ice age was encroaching, yet the same science now claims that the world is warming. There is the war on Christmas and the war against the family. There is the war on gender, which restricts what language you can use. Islamophobia, xenophobia, anti-semitism, homophobia, mysogeny, misandery. The war on… seems to be endless.
A look around will tell you that men are not about to beat their swords into ploughshares any time soon. We seem hardwired for strife. It’s how we define ourselves cheaply and easily, via the OTHER. Since Cain slew his brother Abel, it seems no blood is too precious to be spilled. Romeo Dallaire noted from his posting in Rwanda, that our natural tendency is to pick a side. To be a UN observer is the hardest of jobs, simply because you are supposed to be non-partisan. You just have to sit back and watch one faction kill another, without placing value judgements. Such neutrality does not come easily to the human spirit. There is something in us that deeply yearns to be on the right side.
I recently re-read the Pilgrim’s Progress, the world’s best selling book after the Bible. It came to John Bunyan in the form of a dream. His depiction of the struggles of life is universal, the adversities common to man. The struggle he portrayed is ultimately a spiritual battle, a question of faith. Failure of faith is catastrophic to a human being, we need faith in order to carry on. Never mind the body, we are at war with those things which kill the spirit.
The enemy of faith has a name. In Pilgrim’s Progress he is called Apolyon. He is the great dragon Christian must fight against who has been the enemy of mankind since the beginning. His main goal is to separate mankind from God and all strife seems to trace back to him, the enemy hidden behind all our other enemies.
In Saint Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he tells them: “...we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 The war on... did not begin on earth, it began in the Heavens. Revelation chapter twelve spells it out.
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him... Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”
Revelation 12: 8–20
It seems we are at war. If so, knowing who the enemy is NOT, might be our best defence of all.