War and Wisdom (@revpamsmith)


from rgbstock gallery Canoneer by Mzacha

from rgbstock gallery Canoneer by Mzacha

Today, the 4th of August 2014, is the one hundredth anniversary of Britains entry into the First World War.

It seems horribly ironic that the news media seem to have been full of suffering, persecution and war in the weeks leading up to this sombre anniversary.

People still describe Twitter as trivial, and use the cliche about it being nothing but people talking about their breakfasts. But my Twitter feed has been full for weeks of horrible and graphic pictures of children suffering and dying in Gaza, Christians being persecuted in Mosul, and other images of death and destruction wrought by humans on other humans.

I see pictures of violence and death because theres no way of avoiding seeing them, but I cant find an adequate response. The reality of war is being brought home – literally brought home, right into my laptop by the power of the internet. People post the pictures because they care, but does this help in the long run? Will we all rise up in protest at the sheer weight of suffering were seeing? Or will we tune it out because, as T.S. Eliot said, Humankind cannot bear too much reality?

Most days my Facebook page offers a range of advice and observations about life that my friends have shared because they find something helpful in them I dont agree with all of it, but its a good instinct to draw on the wisdom that others have gained from their experience.

The Book of Proverbs is part of the Wisdom Literature of the bible – books which set down advice and observations for us to absorb and live our lives by. It says very little about war, but a lot about how to lead a good life.

I couldnt find much about war in Proverbs – but a lot about how to live a good and just life, cultivating wisdom and avoiding foolishness, like this passage from Proverbs 3.

A contemporary piece of wisdom that is frequently shared is Be the change you want to see.

If I want to see change in the world, if I want to bring peace in the world, can I take on this advice and live it?

Proverbs 3.27-35

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,

   when it is in your power to do it.

Do not say to your neighbour, Go, and come again;

   tomorrow I will give it’— when you have it with you.

Do not plan harm against your neighbour

   who lives trustingly beside you.

Do not quarrel with anyone without cause,

   when no harm has been done to you.

Do not envy the violent

   and do not choose any of their ways;

for the perverse are an abomination to the Lord,

   but the upright are in his confidence.

The Lords curse is on the house of the wicked,

   but he blesses the abode of the righteous.

Towards the scorners he is scornful,

   but to the humble he shows favour.

The wise will inherit honour,

   but stubborn fools, disgrace.


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