Civilization’s Gatekeeper: A Response
By Michael Furfari
In a recent article in the Daily News, columnist Christine Flowers writes why the US should go into Syria. In this piece called “We still must be civilization’s gatekeepers,” Flowers says that we have a responsibility to act for those who don’t have a voice, that our silence is deafening. I can’t sit aside while another columnist who writes in the name of Jesus rambles off a poor excuse for why war is necessary. Below is my email response to her article.
When I close my eyes and imagine Jesus teaching His sermon on the mount, I picture Him sitting on the green of the National Mall. I like to think that there’s a few police officers scattered throughout the crowd incase things get out of hand. Jesus isn’t using a microphone, but rather relies on the crowd to echo the message to those in the back.
President Obama isn’t there. He’s watching secluded in the White House the way President Kennedy watched Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Maybe there’s a photo op at the end.
As He preaches, someone calls out from the crowd, “Teacher, what should the United States do about Syria? We can’t ignore what’s going on there. It’s terrible what the leaders have done to their people” The crowd becomes divided. Jesus speaks with a tender look in his eyes “You have heard it said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The crowd murmurs for a few minutes before another calls out, “But Jesus, we’re different from them. We have morals, ethics and standards. They’ve been killing each other for years. We have to do something. We’re like…we’re like civilization’s gatekeeper.” Jesus replies, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
As daylight fades into night, the police disperse the crowd. They leave with more questions than answers. It’s nice out, so Jesus and his friends camp out near the Potomac.
By what rod are we measuring our justification for going into Syria? Take a look at homicides, education, poverty, racism and homelessness across our country. Look at the way the United States has handled prisoners both domestically and at Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay. Are we really the authority on what governments should and shouldn’t do? Like you, I profess an unwavering faith in Jesus. But unlike you, I can’t reconcile supporting military action in Syria. People have made the argument that the Syrian government needs to be “punished” for using chemical weapons on its citizens—chemical weapons that the United States uses, I might add. But war is not the answer if only because we’ll inevitably kill more Syrians than their own government did from that attack. Bombing another Muslim country in the name peace isn’t the solution the United States should be exploring. Yes, we should respond to the injustice and suffering in Syria. But violence only begets violence, Ms. Flowers. Cutting off diplomatic relations sends a stronger message than sending bombs. As you said, silence is deafening. I don’t pretend to put any faith in government. Earthly systems are flawed and ultimately need to be redeemed by Jesus. In the mean time, I will continue to promote a society of peace, justice and understanding, not as civilization’s gatekeeper, but as Jesus’ humble servant. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”