I am at a war. Inexplicably, I did not know it, and only recently made this discovery. No, I am not talking about the tragedy in Iraq, nor some other foreign war.
Nope, me. Personally. I was informed by a believer that solely due to the fact that I am an unbeliever, he is “at war” with me. Wow. I had no idea it was that serious!
Have you ever thought about what it means to make a formal declaration of war? It is a statement that means for a period of time we can suspend normalcy. Normally we attempt to talk rationally as human beings and work out our differences. In a time of war, diplomatic relations are severed.
Normally we only involve those directly related to the situation. In a time of war, “collateral damage” is expected. Normally we do not take a gun, a cannon, a rocket launcher, and do our level best to render another human being into the smallest possible bits of flesh. In war it is called “a battle.” Normally we do not hold people for ransom. In war, we exchange prisoners-of-war.
In the legal field, we discuss the propagandistic value of calling it a “War on Drugs.” If we can convince America that this is no simple crime, this is no ordinary felony, but that we are actually at WAR then the suspension of what is normally expected can be justified.
If you are printing millions of counterfeit bills in your house, it is not reason enough to seize the home. But if you grow one marijuana plant in your bedroom--the house, the barn, and the real estate can be taken by the government. Why the disparity? Because we are at war!
It is amazing the amount of dollars obtained by police departments through drug forfeitures. I am aware of one department that had so much, it did not know what all to buy with it so they bought grenade launchers. Yikes! (“Stop or I’ll shoot” took on a whole new meaning!)
In my state, if you are caught smoking pot, your driver’s license is suspended for 6 months. Not if you are caught smoking while driving—if you are caught anywhere at all. Driving need not be involved. What does one have to do with the other? Nothing whatsoever. But because we are at war, we can use any means necessary to stop the pernicious drug problem.
Our prisons are overflowing, our system is clogged, and our probation departments overwhelmed. When you are at war, you take as many of the enemy as you can. You don’t stop and think about the consequences, you don’t consider your position. No, you fight, fight, fight until you win.
We certainly see it with our current “War” on terrorism. Normally we would fight to protect our civil rights. To NOT have phone taps without valid warrants. But since we are at WAR, what we expect in normal life must be suspended. Normally we would cringe to hear America has secret camps, or has engaged in torture, or refuses to provide hearings for accused persons. But once we discover we are “At War” we understand that such things are a necessary evil.
Of course once we are no longer at war, we expect things to go back to normal. Right?
The problem of the Drug War, or the War on Terror, is that there is no end. There is no point in which an enemy capitulates, and the rifles are put down. There is not time at which we can return to normal.
It is with those thoughts that I am confronted with the fact that another person is “at war” with me, simply because of how I believe.
It was intriguing that this claim came about because we were discussing when it is appropriate to deceive another. And the person justified the use of deceit against a non-believer because we are “at war.” What was even more fascinating was how many simply shrugged and accepted that statement as an appropriate response! What we would normally never accept, if cloaked in terms of “war” we justify!
“What are you doing to that man! You should stop!”
”Why? We are at war.”
“Oh. Sorry. Didn’t know. You go right ahead, then.”
Have we gone so far insane that we are now using “war” as an excuse to suspend normal interaction and vindicate whatever action we desire?
Before one considers me an alarmist—consider the actions of the Russians on the German front, at the end of WWII. Because of the long, terrible ravages of war, when pushing the Germans back, the Russians would enter a village, rape the females, and kill the mayors. We look back on this with disgust, and think, “How horrible!” but why was it occurring in the first place? Why wasn’t anyone stepping up and saying to their fellow soldiers, “This is wrong.”? Simple. Because it was a time of war, and war is a terrible thing. Shocking things happen in war.
It is a time when normalcy is suspended.
We only need to read the tales of the Tanakh to see the Canaanites were labeled as “non-believers,” the people were informed they were “at war” and genocides happened. The same people that inform me they are “at war” with me, believe God literally tells people to kill others solely for what they believe.
What was more surprising was that after I was informed I was “at war,” no one stepped up and said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Going a little far there, don’t you think?” Instead they sat around, sagely nodding their heads and rubbing their chins, stating, “At war, eh? I see. I see.”
I am not interested in a war. I will debate, argue, discuss, interact, and even fight. But when I start to see a person justifying an action we would never accept as normal under the guise of “a war” and others nodding in agreement, a great part of me wonders—what is next? There is no enemy to surrender here. There will always be unbelievers. How far will a person go, rationalizing their actions under that three letter word?