War is hell. At least that’s what those who’ve seen it say. If my vicarious experiences of war via Hollywood are anything resembling realistic, I’m inclined to agree.
Many Christians over the years have considered themselves pacifists. I do not count myself among them. Still, there is something fundamentally broken about war. No other human dynamic is so perfectly tuned to bring out the worst—occasionally the best, but usually the worst—in human nature.
I remember one of the first times I was exposed to heavy-duty war in a movie as a child. I remember the sense of utter horror at the things people could do—and have done—to each other. But sitting at my desk now thinking back, the movie that impressed me so profoundly as a child is G-rated compared to what I now know war to be. The horror has worn off.
And it’s little surprise. As children, we were simple and naive. We didn’t understand how such things could happen or why they would be allowed to happen. We had not yet built up a rationale around war so we were free to experience the raw horror of it as it truly is. As children mature, they learn who mankind is and what he is capable of. They begin to experience those very flaws in themselves. They come to understand why war happens and often they learn to see war as an unfortunate, but at times, necessary evil.
The point is that childish naivete about war is… well… childish. But that callous indifference is… not to put too fine a point on it… callous. Maturity is good. But childishness is also good in its own way. If only we could have both the maturity to function effectively in society as well as the childishness to see the horror of war as it plays out in front of us every day around the world. Such a synthesis would change how we approach the topic of war whether coming from the right or the left. And it would give us compassion—that eminently Christ-like characteristic—for those caught up in war.
The same principle holds true for the “boat people” situation in Australia today. Without making a political argument either for the left or for the right, it is this “childish maturity” that causes Christians to show compassion when fellow-humans suffer, regardless of the politics.
Father, give us the innocence of horror that we might know the camaraderie of compassion.
Grace to you.