Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Clarification...

In sharing my political regrets I feel I may have led some to believe that I've fallen more to the left that what I actually have. (See Janalee and Luke's comments from previous post.)

My regrets are twofold: A.) Buying in to the reasonings given to go to war. (WMD's.) and B.) Buying in to the President's insistence a couple of years ago that things in Iraq are good, when they weren't.

It should be known that I DO think we were justified in going to war with Iraq. It's just that, in retrospect, I believe the reasons we were given to drum up support were suspect, at best, and at worst, fabricated.

Hussein,(remember him? the guy who decided he'd invade a sovereign country and claim it as his own?) as a condition of surrender in the first Gulf War, agreed to unfettered access by weapons inspectors. I.E., we basically said "You let the U.N. have access to your country and we don't blow your ass off the planet." Well, no one doubts he cheated and kicked out, then invited back in, then kicked out weapons inspectors for years. Logic should tell us that he didn't live up to his end of the bargain, so the war is back on. And this is the reason we should have been given for going to war-- To resume the process of liberating Kuwait by bringing justice to Saddam's regime.

Unfortunately Americans have short memories and most people had forgotten about Hussein, so my guess is that it was reasoned that we have to paint Hussein as an imminent threat-- which we know now that he wasn't.

It's kind of like this. One day on our way home from elementary school with my neighbors Eric and Mandy, we decided to have a race. I on the left, Eric in the middle, and Mandy on the right, we took off. Of course in a matter of a second I was looking at their backsides. Mandy was about to win so Eric tripped her, causing her to cry. Afraid, both Eric and I ran off and left her there yelling at us that she was going to tell her dad. (We were afraid of her dad.) The next morning my dad came home from working the graveyard shift with Mandy's dad, and he was furious. Without even saying a word he ran through the door, ripped off his belt and headed toward me. In one instant I knew what was going on and all I could do was yell "It wasn't me! It was Eric! I was too far back!" But it was to no avail. My tail was beet red in a matter of seconds.

Several years later my dad, through a series of events, found out the truth, but refused to apologize to me. He said there were other things I had done as a child that deserved a whipping when one never came.

Was it a wise decision by my dad to punish me without all the facts? No! It was horrible parenting. It also showed a lack of wisdom and maturity in that he could not bring himself to admit making a mistake.

But, was my dad correct in his assertation that there were probably other good reasons for me to feel the pain of the belt? 100% correct. I deserved a whipping, just not for the reason I got it for.

And this is the analogy I use, knowing full well that it falls apart on many levels.
My regrets are the reasons given, and the haste in which the war was carried out-- not in the actual war.

I do realize I stand on shaky ground when it comes to balancing my faith with my politics. I don't think that embracing "emergent ideals" automatically requires that I move to the left politically. I believe it requires that I treat everyone with grace and respect and that I really, with as much sincerity and guenuiness as I can muster, listen to opposing viewpoints. It means that I have to be at least a little willing to say "I see your point, and I think it's possible I could be very wrong." Several years ago when the war was beginning, I was not like that, and those are my regrets.

A local pastor a couple of years ago wrote a column in the Waco Trib in which he stated, "I think Jesus was a pacifist. Unfortunately, I find it hard most of the time to trust God enough to be a pacifist myself." This is the tension I find myself living in.

I have more thoughts, but right now I'm tired. Waking up tomorrow to spend the morning with the Lake kids, so I need my rest.



Luke Smith said...

Dear Craig,
The pacifist strain runs quite deep at Duke. I personally find it inadequate. It is after all quite silly to suggest that any Christian could perform any function of government without the use of force. Luther argues that it is the Christians responsibility to enforce justice out of love for one's neighbor. This of course does not provide any direct help in a particular case. As you rightly in my view recognize the "reasons" for war may have been...may be...immoral. This seems to me a totally different question from the pacifist position.



ben said...

Craig, i just want to say that I am very proud of you. Thank you for being man enough to admit regrets. I completely understand where you are coming from and I respect it so much. I would like to confess a few things to you. Janalee mentioned that people who read ANKC tend to go left. Well, to some extend i agree with that statement and i believe it is a fault. I find it refreshing that people decide to deconstruct is so needed. However, it is unfortunate that in the deconstructing, we are so quick to jump ship and swim to the only other boat we can immediately see. I am guilty of this...two years ago i had serious doubts and didn't understand the urgency and wanted more proof about the need to go to war. We didn't get it. But I also made the decision that if I disagreed with the "right" then i must be "left". So i ask for forgiveness. Not for disagreeing about the war but for swimming to the nearest raft instead of being patient and trying to find a third way.
So this third way you speak of...i think 25% of the country is crazy right and 25% of the country is crazy left. How do we get the other 50% to get on the same team?

Mike Pond said...

I'd love to see some in-depth analysis on why "emergent" folks tend to move to the left. Usually what I see is a chain of logic that looks something like this:

1. As followers of Christ's call to embrace the Kingdom of God, we must take serious action to help the poor.
2. If you truly want to help the poor, you are a Democrat.
3.Therefore, true followers of Christ must be Democrats.

I emphatically agree with statement #1, but I find it disheartening the #2 is glossed over as a foregone conclusion that isn't even open for discussion by so many. Hopefully we'll begin to see folks in the emerging church engage these topics in a more even-handed manner.

tracey fields said...

good thoughtd to think on craig...have fun with the kids. we need to get together soon for dinner again...did u know our house is for sale???

Ifoundbobbyfisher said...

I found myself shifting left after ANKC... funny to see yourself in the posts of others... primarily because most of my political associations with the Right wing were attached to the vocal minority... Robertson, Fallwell, Ralph Reed, etc. The Christian radio shows in San Antonio are all angry political shows. My slide left was as much a reaction against what I didn't like about the right than a true association with their ideology.

The war, for me, crosses all bounds of political affiliation. My natural leaning is toward pacifism and I generally nurture that inclination. But Hussein was horrible to a point that stretches the pacifist in me. But every day, and every deceased soldier bolsters that resolve. I'm a war teeter-er