Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Those imaginary lines on the map

Look at the borders on a map. What are they? Nearly always they are the boundaries of ancient enmities where the blood of hated victims has been shed. Lines on a map, far from being benign, tell a bloody tale. At the dawn of human civilization, tribal identities were formed around a shared hostility toward an enemy “them.” Contrary to what Rousseau romantically imaged, anthropologists insist there was never a time when human communities lived peaceably and without war. The shared identity necessary for organizing the world was based around a common hatred—a common hatred hallowed in collective murder.

The relentless bloodletting of Homer’s Iliad depicts the foundational evil of the world that Jesus dared to testify against. Homer’s epic poem recounting the Trojan War became a sacred text within the pagan world consistent with the world’s bloody foundation. The blind bard saw more than most and knew what made the world go around—rage and murder. The Spartans needed to hate and scapegoat the Trojans so they could achieve a unity within their own society. They needed to project the anxiety that threatened to erupt into an every-man-for-himself violence onto a sacrificial “them”—an enemy whom they could hate in common and kill with impunity. They needed to kill, but they also needed to believe that killing was good. This is the basic (though hidden) political foundation of the world. It’s also evil. It’s an evil so well hidden that we hardly ever see it as evil. It’s an evil concealed behind flags, anthems, monuments, memorials, and the rhetoric of those who have won their wars. The hidden foundation of hatred and murder is why world history is little more than the record of who killed who [sic], where, when, and what for.

In a study of world history, you will meet far more warriors than poets; far more generals than artists. Jesus testified against this violent arrangement of the world. Jesus wanted to show us that the “heroic” murder of our enemy brothers is, in truth, evil. But we don’t see it as evil. We see it as simply the only way things can be.— A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

<idle musing>
Or, worse yet, as heroic and a virtue to be praised and emulated...and called "peace-keeping"!

Pax Americana, as long as you agree with us! Just like the Pax Romana...which managed to put Jesus on the cross for suggesting that violence isn't the answer (yes, I know; that is too simplistic!).
</idle musing>

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