Friday, March 04, 2005

Whatever It Takes

"I'll do whatever it takes — and I know you'll join me in doing whatever it takes — to prevent the enemy from attacking America again like they did and causing thousands to suffer and to mourn and to grieve," he vowed. "We will use the might of America to protect the American people."- George W. Bush, May 2002

Today's post is a closer look at the consequences of a "whatever it takes" policy which the current administration has practiced both here at home and abroad. It might be easy for an atheist or pagan to adopt a "whatever it takes" ethic, but what about the Christian? Can he or she do whatever it takes and still be a true disciple under the lordship of Christ? Where does the Christian draw the line with a "whatever it takes" mentality? Most importantly, is there a line at all?

First, what does it mean to do "whatever it takes"? It means that one will commit any action if it produces the desired result. There are no limits imposed on such a person because he or she is willing to do whatever it takes. A person will spend as much, lie as much or kill as much as is needed to bring about their end goal. There is no law a person is bound to because many times the law can get in the way of doing whatever it takes. A person who does whatever it takes believes it is sometimes necessary to break the law if it brings about the greater good. How scary it is to live in a land where no limits are set and no laws to protect.

Second, what does it look like to do "whatever it takes"? The "whatever it takes" ethic can justify any action. It can justify genocide of Native Americans. It can justify dropping two nuclear bombs on the human beings of Japan which killed close to 200,000 from either the extreme heat or radiation. It can justify the napalm bombardment of Vietnam. It can justify the torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners. It can justify detaining "enemy combatants" in Cuba with no access to a lawyer or family. In their time, all of these actions were justified as doing whatever it took to bring about the greater good.

The "whatever it takes" mentality is synonymous with "the end justifies the means" thinking. MLK had a profound illustration to disprove such thinking. MLK, rightly so, saw the means and the ends to be interrelated. He believed the means to be the seeds and the ends to be the trees. If you plant seeds of war, then you will get a tree of war. If you plant seeds of peace, you produce a tree of peace. The same is true of our everyday desire to become more like Christ. If to be like Christ is our end, then we must use the means of Christ to achieve this end. We cannot do whatever it takes to become like Christ. Our ends are Christ's ends.

So this coming week ask yourself, how far are you willing to go to protect your comforts and pleasures? Will you do whatever it takes or will you do as Christ did? And what did Christ do? He left the throne to be born in a manger. A king who became a servant. Loved the enemy to the point of death. For a short time a corpse, but forever the risen Lord. All of us struggle to live a life worthy of Christ's calling. Let us not struggle alone, but struggle together as brothers and sisters. I pray that our actions will have one end and may that end be Christ.


Coming next week: I Apologize


J-Wild 7:20 PM  

Chris, great post and your MLK illustration is very thought provoking. I agree with you that the ends don't always justify the means. What you become in the end is inflenced by the means that got you there.

However I believe that you are too one sided in your argument when it is dealing with the current issue of terrorism and responses to terrorism. You have neglected to highlight the "at all cost" principle that is adopted by the vigilantes, terrorizers, and religious zealots. In our current situation is it not those people who set the rules of the game, rules that we (probably too hastily) adopted at the compromise of certain freedoms and rights.

Yet, comparatively where we have harmed and detained a few, others have harmed, maimed, and killed many. It's a really difficult question to deal with. Especially if you take seriously a governments responsibility to it's people to do what's in their own best interest for Christian's non-Christians, and everyone in between.

Our government is a reflection of our society and our beliefs and one of those beliefs is to be protected. Unfortunately our methods of protection have reflected the "at all cost" mentality of those who are against us.

Chris Ewing 4:46 AM  

I agree, I am one sided. I will not yield my position to anyone who thinks the way to stop terrorism is to become a terrorist. If anyone would make such a claim, they better be prepared for a firestorm of questions from me. A firestorm that will not so easily be satisfied.

A great question is, what causes terrorism? Not what justifies it because nothing ever does, but what causes it?

Might it be when a society imposes its will on another group of people. Imposing its will on a group of people that they know nothing about. Nothing about their culture or their history that has made them who they are. Only knowing what they have been told by others.

Others causes of terrorism are poverty, racism and vengence.

In regards to vengence Gandhi said it best, "Eye for eye leaves the world blind and toothless".

J-Wild 5:05 PM  

So you would describe the current ideology and actions of the US as terroristic? By saying we are imposing our will on people and cultures are you referring to the idea of democracy or the double tall latte from Starbucks?

I believe terrorism is caused by ignorance, power, desperation, mis-placed loyalties, and lack of freedom.

Would love your thoughts regarding this interesting commentary.

We had a discussion at the staff meeting regarding power and the way the church has used and misused power. Hugo said that if it wasn't for the church he would have died the way he was born, poor, uneducated, and ignorant. Instead the church used the structures of power to bring him from the bottom to the top. The US is by no means a church but it does have power that is cabable to bringing people from the bottom to the top.

If we can somewhat agree on the cause for terrorism, what is the cure?

Chris Ewing 5:24 AM  

Not every act has been a terrorist act, but the US has committed its fair share of terrorist acts. Terrorism is not merely political, it's economic as well.

The cure? Sadly there is no cure-all. I am not as navie as Bush is to believe that you can rid the world of evil. We live in a fallen and imperfect world. There will always be evil and forms of terrorism. So should we just give up and let it burn? Absolutely not.

I believe there is a step we can take to lessen the practice and damage of terrorism and it is...

The International Criminal Court

The ICC will allow us to bring international terrorist to justice. We can pursue the individuals responsible to justice and spare the majority all the pain and suffering that comes with a war on terror.

Sadly the US has still not signed the charter and refuses to be a part of the ICC. Why is that? Because that would mean we would be held accountable for our actions in the war on terror. The last thing the US wants is to be held accountable.

J-Wild 7:50 AM  

International bodies have proven to be more corrupt and less accountable than alliances between "like minded" countries. Look at the absolute disregard with which the UN deals with the atrocities of the world. How could we leave things to the ICC, that's a bad idea.

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