What should we do now in response to the terrorist attacks in Russia, then Lebanon, and now Paris? What is an American response? What is a sane response? What is a response that predicts an effective remedy to an outrageous manifestation of evil?
Of course, these are just my reflections in the wake of a torturous week watching and hearing of atrocities inflicted on innocent victims by ISIS, the Islamic State. I feel what most feel: disbelief, helplessness, rage, more rage, and eventually numbness. But I confess that the rage remains. Part of me wants revenge. But I pretty much know the cycle of violence — we’ve seen all of this played out before. The Dalai Lama is right: “War is obsolete.”
As a Christian, I want to respond in a way that is true to my values, my faith,…and also true to my rage. I claim it as a “holy rage.” But the problem is, what to do with this rage? How can I can be truly authentic and also truly humane? Can I temper my rage with Christian compassion?
When Jesus told his disciples about his own destiny — that he would go to Jerusalem where he would suffer at the hands of the religious and political elite, and then be crucified and die — Peter spoke up for the others with his rage. He protested. He told Jesus “No!” Peter wanted a military solution. Which was when Jesus said the famous words, “Get behind me Satan!” Jesus pointed to the “Satan within” Peter — the same Satan that is within me, and you, and every member of the human race. We so naturally want to fight objective evil from the place of our own inner evil.
So, this week I have no final answers about a Christian response. I will pray. I will think about the suffering that the world experiences in the face of the evil that is ISIS. And I will also think about the children and the powerless, and the refugees who have left their homes. And I will try as best I can to keep Satan behind me and before me, always in my view. And I will seek the mind and the compassion of a Christ I long to know and to manifest in some way that feels both real and sane.