Just War theory obsolete?

a_large_painting_of_the_great_mahabharata_war_mysore_south_india_19th_d5881087h
A painting of the Great Mahabharata war

Deep in history, the Mahabharata, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, engages one of the first written discussions of a ‘just war’ including a contextualised discussion which develops criteria around ‘just cause’ and ‘just conduct’ which are appropriate to the context of war. Interestingly, it also references attempts at reconciliation to avoid war. In the epic, one of five ruling brothers asks if the suffering caused by war can ever be justified the dialogue with his brothers goes on to discuss ideas such as proportionality (chariots cannot attack cavalry, only other chariots, no attacking people in distress etc.), just means (no poisoned or barbed arrows), just cause (no attacking out of rage), and fair treatment of captives and the wounded.

Howard Hensel explores in considerable depth both Asian and Western theories of Just War in his book ‘The Prism of Just War: Asian and Western Perspectives on the Legitimate use of Military Force’ (2010). Western just war theory is a tradition that has developed a set of criteria to evaluate whether and under what conditions the use of violence can be considered morally justifiable. Based on the writings of fourth century bishop St. Augustine of Hippo, it was later articulated in depth by 13th century theologian St. Thomas Aquinas and is today outlined by four conditions in the formal Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

Conflict and war is deeply embedded in the human experience of co-habitation of Planet Earth but how we shape war and correlated responses to conflict can change. In her essay ‘The roots of war‘, Barbarah Ehrenreich notes that:

Wars produce war-like societies, which, in turn, make the world more dangerous for other societies, which are thus recruited into being war-prone themselves. Just as there is no gene for war, neither is there a single type or feature of society — patriarchy or hierarchy — that generates it. War begets war and shapes human societies as it does so.

Next week, 11th-13th April,  delegates will gather in the Vatican to listen to some 80 experts engaged in the research and practice of nonviolent action with the aim of developing a new moral framework that rejects ethical justifications for war.

The Catechism   currently establishes in the section Safeguarding Peace; avoiding war that

The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition. (2309)

In an earlier section, it states:

Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war, the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war. (2307)

Next week’s conference will address the issue of whether just war theory remains relevant and sufficient. Organisers set out the radical nature of the task at hand with the statement in their literature to participants that just war teaching:

…can no longer claim center stage as the Christian approach to war and peace… After more than 1,500 years and repeated use of the just war criteria to sanction war rather than to prevent war, the Catholic Church, like many other Christian communities, is rereading the text of Jesus’ life and re-appropriating the Christian vocation of pro-active peacemaking…Emphasizing the need to work for a just peace, the Church is moving away from the acceptability of calling war ‘just,’. While clear ethical criteria are necessary for addressing egregious attacks or threats in a violent world, moral theologians and ethicists should no longer refer to such criteria as the ‘just war theory,’ because that language undermines the moral imperative to develop tools and capacity for nonviolent conflict.(Conference organisers)

The conference is organised around 4 main themes: Experiences of Nonviolence, Jesus’ Way of Nonviolence, Nonviolence and Just Peace, and Moving Beyond Unending War.

I, for one, am waiting with baited breath to see what emerges out of this conference!

The purveyors of violence are endlessly inventive. From child soldiers to the utter detachment of drones, from crude IEDs to sophisticated bombs, from oil wars to the formation of caliphates, those who use violent means no longer observe rules or boundaries. (Tom Roberts, 2014)

 

Please note:

For sources and more information please click on the highlighted links embedded in the text and to view the main source article in the National Catholic Reporter.

 

 

 

Refuge and watering holes from Aleppo to Wales

Before the war, I didn’t pay attention to how much water I used. But now, water is like gold for me. It’s practically holy. (29-year-old Ali)

aleppo-water

Water sourced from underground wells in Aleppo (Photo: Aref Haj Youssef/Reuters)

Aleppo is heartbreakingly broken. Disembowelled by conflict and war, her treasures dismembered and her citizens fleeing since 2012, seeking refuge and hospitality in a world increasingly shaped by fear.

These images depict the devastation and ruin of Aleppo in Syria, an historic and globally significant city.

During a recent visit to the Pergamon museum on Berlin’s ‘Museum Island’ I saw, for the first time, a very personal slither of history which impacted me more than the museum’s centrepiece-the Ishtar Gate or Gate of Babylon.

12523196_1044517495571551_2958406799257743757_n
The Aleppo Room, Pergamon Museum

The Aleppo room belonged to a prosperous merchant and Christian citizen of the Syrian town of Aleppo named Isa ibn Butrus (Jesus son of Peter). He commissioned the painted panels  for the entrance room in his house at the beginning of the 17th century. These paintings make up the oldest collection from a Syrian dwelling house from the Ottoman period and have preserved the work of craftsmen from the best workshops of the time.

As a Christian, Isa ibn Butrus’ desire was to communicate inclusive hospitality to the many travelling merchants he would have no doubt hosted in this entrance room. The room was painted in a variety of themes which included Christian themes from the Old and New Testaments such as the depiction of ‘Mary with Child’ which sit alongside courtly scenes like those portrayed in Persian book illustration.

The selection of encircling Psalms, Arabic proverbs and Persian principles further add to the impression of a peaceful community of different religious beliefs living together.

[Source: http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;39;en&cp%5D

Around the time that Isa ibn Butrus was hosting traders and brokers in the busy Silk Road trading city of Aleppo, another man, John Matthews ventured forth from Wales to make his fortune trading with Mercers in Aleppo- who knows whether their paths actually crossed?

Aleppo merchant inn, Wales
The Aleppo Merchant Inn, Carno, Powys

We do know, however, that John Matthews did not take to farming on his return to Carno in the late 1620’s and that he turned the farmhouse into a Public House. The Inn  he named ‘The Aleppo Merchant’  became an exotic watering hole for the surrounding farms and villages, licenced by the King to sell ‘spirituous liquors’.

So, history weaves on, shifting fortunes, forging alliances and connections in unexpected corners of the globe, displacing people from one side of the world to the other.

The current war which has engulfed Aleppo is complex and catastrophic. In the lull of the current ceasefire, 60 year old Abu Nidal describes the ongoing struggles to access clean water:

Everything is available to us except water

Watering holes, places where we can drink and be refreshed in community, are vital to life; be they merchant’s hospitality suites, rural inns or bore holes in the ground of a war-torn city. Today, entrepreneurial young men who remain are named the ‘Princes of Aleppo’ as they drive water-filled containers around the city helping others access the water they need to survive.

Other young men have already left in search of a safer place to live and build a future. ‘AlBsmehAl3Rbieh’, is a group of six rappers from Aleppo that formed in 2010, as Syria headed towards the civil war that has ravaged the country. The rappers all met while they were studying and made a song about the Syrian refugees’ journey to Europe. The video footage they shot with their phones as they travelled. I have not been able to source a translation of the lyrics (any offers?) but this is how they describe the content of the song on the youtube comments section:

…the major messages of the song talks about the way of the syrian megeration and how the guy in first section cant travel beacuse he cant collecting moeny and the sexond one is calling his friends to come back and the third section how he needs to work in turkey to collect money to travel to europ the furth talks about the journey crossing the see from turkey to germany crossing ” greece – macedonia – hungary – then germany … 🙂

The Christian understanding and practise of justice as ‘love and care of neighbour’ includes hospitality towards those who do not normally form a part of our close community, ie the stranger who may be studying, working or travelling. Christian hospitality is especially important and emphasised in the case of caring for those who are vulnerable and uprooted, fleeing violence or the effects of natural disasters etc.

Many of us do not associate justice with hospitality, but if we consider a facet of justice as sharing out the ‘goods of life’, then hospitality clearly has an important role in sharing material and relational ‘goods’ with those who find themselves vulnerable and stripped of both.

Not many of us are directly involved in forming refugee policy but almost every one of us will encounter, in the natural course of life, people who have been displaced from their usual ‘watering holes’. We can choose to reach out and connect and support, building acceptance and friendship. We will be changed in the process-for the better.

Resources:

Churches Together have a webpage with useful updates and resources at https://ctbi.org.uk/how-the-churches-are-responding-to-the-refugee-crisis/

Christian Aid:  http://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies/current/refugee-crisis-appeal.html

Post-election reflection on reviving exuberant hope

As the British election results sink in and we move on into the unknown but highly speculated upon future, there is little doubt that the mandate of those of us who profess to Hope, to Love and to have Faith, is largely unchanged…whatever our particular political convictions are. That mandate includes being salt and light; preserving and keeping fresh all that is good in our society and protecting against the toxic ‘social infections’ which ravage and destroy well-being. And, in addition, faithfully bringing revelation, insight and truthfulness into the public square to enable vision and expose lies. We certainly must neither lose our saltiness nor let the light dim and Jesus encourages us to remain in him in order that we ‘bear much fruit’ and stay salty and full of light; in fact his assertion was so strong he added ‘apart from me you can do nothing'(John 15:5). It is a good reminder to keep humble but it is also an urgent call to keep engaged and effective…Thomas Merton, in his reflections of Christian presence and resistance to evil in the chapter The time of the end is the time of no room, in his book Raids on the unspeakable, puts it this way:

It is therefore very important to understand that Christian humility implies not only a certain wise reserve in regard to ones own judgements-a good sense which sees that we are not always necessarily infallible in our ideas-but it also cherishes positive and trustful expectations of others. A supposed “humility” which is simply depressed about itself and about the world is usually a false humility. This negative, self-pitying “humility” may cling desperately to dark and apocalyptic expectation, and refuse to let go of them. It is secretly convinced that only tragedy and evil can possibly come from our present world situation. This secret conviction cannot be kept hidden. It will manifest itself in our attitudes, in our social action, and in our protest. It will show that in fact we despair of reasonable dialogue with anyone. It will show that we expect only the worst. Our action therefore seeks only to block or frustrate the adversary in some way. A protest that from the start declares itself to be in despair is hardly likely to have positive or constructive results. At best it provides an outlet for the personal frustrations of the one protesting. It enables him to articulate his despair in public. This is not the function of Christian nonviolence. This pseudo-prophetic desperation has nothing to do with the beatitudes…No blessedness has been promised to those who are merely sorry for themselves…the meekness and humility which Christ extolled in the Sermon on the Mount and which are the basis of true Christian non-violence are inseparable from an eschatological Christian hope which is completely open to the presence of God in the world and therefore to the presence of our brother who is always seen, no matter who he may be, in the perspectives of the Kingdom. Despair is not permitted to the meek, the humble, the afflicted, the ones famished for justice, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers…They refuse to despair of the world and abandon it to a supposedly evil fate which it has brought upon itself. Instead, like Christ himself, the Christian takes upon his own shoulders the yoke of the Saviour, meek and humble of heart. The yoke is the burden of the world’s sin with all its confusions and all its problems. These sins, confusions, and problems are our very own. We do not disown them. 1.

So how do we go about ‘owning’ the ‘burden of the world’s sin with all its confusions and all its problems’? Even for those who are rejoicing and relieved at the outcome of recent elections and certainly for those who are tempted to despair at the results, there can be no doubt that over the course of the next 5 years our nation faces considerable challenges to social cohesion; the possibility of growing outbreaks of instability rooted in growing inequality has neither evaporated nationally, nor even more significantly, globally and I find Walter Brueggemann’s insights on how we can participate constructively very helpful. In his book Deep Memory Exhuberant Hope: contested truth in a post-Christian world Brueggemann speaks of how we identify the dominant, destructive narratives of our time, their effects in society and how we can imagine and enact alternative narratives which subvert them.  He nails the dominant narrative, or version of reality as one of VIOLENCE:

This can run all the way from sexual abuse and racial abuse to the strategy of wholesale imprisonment of deviants to military macho that passes for policy. It eventuates in road rage and in endless TV violence piped into our homes for our watching pleasure. I suspect that underlying all of these modes of violence is the economic violence embedded in free-market ideology, which denies an obligation of openness to the neighbour who is in truth a deep inconvenience and a drain upon resources. (p6)2.

He suggests that a resistance to this Dominant Version of reality will require acts of ‘sustained imagination’ in 3 main areas: The first area is that of MATERIAL DEPRIVATION  ‘fostered by a myth of scarcity,the driving power of market ideology’ (p6) the antidote to which is a generous sharing and affirmation of abundance which is rooted in the faithful generosity of God the PROVIDER. The biblical account of the provision of enough in the wilderness and Jesus’ feeding of the thousands were subversive counter-narratives to the social myth of scarcity which breeds fear, insecurity and violence. In Brueggemann’s paraphrase, Jesus was demonstrating that even in times of oppression ‘where the gospel is trusted, loaves abound!’ (ibid) The second area he highlights is the BREAKDOWN OF CONNECTIONS-the ‘severing of elemental social relationships’ which drives people into isolation and defensive fearfulness. The antidote to alienation is the affirmation of covenantal community and solidarity which is precedented in the ‘offer of covenant, a vision, a structure, and a practice that binds the “haves” and the “have nots” into one shared community, so that we are indeed members of each other… where one suffers all suffer and when one rejoices all rejoice together…the only available alternative to the dissociation that fosters and legitimates and thrives on violence from below and violence from above.’ (p7) The third and final area he notes as being an important ‘breeding ground’ for violence is the SILENCE ‘of being vetoed and nullified and canceled so that we have no say in the future of the community or of our own lives’ (p.7). The antidote to silence is the legitimation of speech  a ‘speech that breaks the silence of violence and the violence of silence’ which often comes officially unlegitimated ‘from below in the daring speech of the silenced.’ Brueggemann notes a function of the Psalms as legitimating the voice of the oppressed and in doing so breaking the collusion of silence ‘speaking truth amidst power, speaking truth to holiness and evoking newness’ (ibid)

1.  Merton, T. (1994) Raids on the unspeakable, Burns and Oates Ltd.

2. Brueggemann, W. (2000) Deep Memory Exhuberant Hope: Contested truth in a post-Christian world, Mineeapolis: Augsburg Fortress

Book review: Against a tide of Evil by Mukesh Kapila

Whistleblowers can play an essential role in detecting fraud, mismanagement and corruption. Their actions help to save lives, protect downloadhuman rights and safeguard the rule of law. To protect the public good, whistleblowers frequently take on high personal risks. They may face victimisation or dismissal from the workplace, their employer may sue (or threaten to sue) them for breach of confidentiality or libel, and they may be subject to criminal sanctions. In extreme cases, they face physical danger. (Transparency International)

In March 2004 the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, went ‘…direct to the world’s peoples… above and beyond the heads of those who should have acted’ and gave a live interview with the Radio 4 Today programme. In his own mind, the culpability for the horrors being unleashed on the people of Darfur lay with both the ‘Khartoum genocidaires and those ‘good men’ who had chosen to do nothing.’ (Kapila, 2013, 222&223). His concerns about what was being unleashed in the Darfur region of Sudan escalated soon after his arrival in 2003 and his conclusion was that it was  ‘…more than just a conflict…an organised attempt to do away with a group of people… ethnic cleansing.’ (Kapila, BBC News online, 19th March 2004).

The day I finished reading Against a tide of Evil, Mukesh Kapila’s  account of the Darfurian genocide in 2003-2004, Human Rights Watch published their latest report titled: Mass rape in Darfur, Sudanese Army Attacks against Civilians in Tabi, cataloguing evidence of continued government- backed attacks against civilians in Tabit, North Darfur.  Mass rape of women and girls, arbitrary detention, beating and ill-treatment of scores of people continues to blight the peoples of a region ten years on from similar and worse events described in this book.

‘How one man became the whistleblower to the first mass murder of the twenty-first century’ is the official subtitle of Mukesh Kapila’s revelatory and disarmingly personal account of the role he played in exposing the horrors of what has come to be known by many as the ‘Darfur genocide’.  His conviction, which drives his own engagement in Sudan, springs from the words of British philosopher and politician Edmund Burke, ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’ Biographical detail of his childhood in India during the conflict of the Partition and the impact of racial bullying at a private UK College helps the reader to understand the motivation and passion which stirs him to action. His refreshingly honest self-appraisal is very human and moving:

As I contemplated all of this, I was consumed by an unbearable sense of failure. I had failed in my duty. All the rhetoric about acting early and the responsibility to protect had proven empty ….It had happened on my watch.’(Kapila, 2013, 200).

Against this reflective and personal backdrop, the book unfolds, drilled through with detailed accounts of the horrors which were being perpetrated against Darfurian villagers and a catalogue of his attempts to strategically outmanoeuvre intransigent blocks to humanitarian assistance and intervention.  His mounting frustration is palpable; the restrictions of his official remit and the reluctance of the UN to call for Security Council action further compound the challenges and disappointments he faced on the ground in a protracted and complex gridlock of political and ethnic violence.

Convinced as he was, that government- backed violence in Darfur was ethnically targeted, it comes as a surprise to learn that the UN’s own Commission of Inquiry at the end of 2004 concluded that the Government of Sudan had not pursued a policy of genocide. It did, however, conclude that both crimes against humanity and war crimes had been committed which were just as serious as genocide. It was not to be until 2010 that the International Security Council would issue a second warrant for arrest against Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir for criminal responsibility on three counts of genocide committed against the people of Darfur (ICC, 2010).

Against a tide of Evil is a book which traces the enormous complexity which hampers humanitarian intervention and assistance. In Darfur, the ongoing political, economic and cultural marginalization, exacerbated by the regions’ colonial history, has been compounded by drought and competition for water resources and the escalation of ‘Arab’ and ‘African’ identities being invoked and used to incite violence (Hottinger, 2006).  Mukesh Kapila and those like him, who seek to ensure humanitarian assistance to those who are caught up in the cross-fire of historically-seeded conflict truly find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

This is not a book which resolves for the reader every question which inevitably arises but its strength lies in raising awareness and deepening understanding. It invites us to consider whether, in prioritising our own security and success, we ourselves might come to compromise truth and justice and compassion and become ‘good men and women who do nothing’? With power and position comes responsibility; Mukesh Kapila’s book is testimony to both the considerable challenge and opportunity that that brings. It is well worth reading.

References

BBC News report 19th March, 2004, Mass rape atrocity in west Sudan, accessed 13/2/15 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3549325.stm

Human Rights Watch Report (2015) Mass rape in Darfur, 11th February, accessed 12/2/15 http://www.hrw.org/reports/2015/02/11/mass-rape-north-darfur

Human Rights Watch Sudan (2010) ICC issue warrant for al-Bashir on genocide, 13th July, accessed 13/2/15 at http://www.hrw.org/news/2010/07/13/sudan-icc-warrant-al-bashir-genocide

International Criminal Court (2010) Arrest warrant against President Omar al-Bashir, accessed 13/2/15 at http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/situations%20and%20cases/situations/situation%20icc%200205/Pages/situation%20icc-0205.aspx

Julian Thomas Hottinger (2006) The Darfur Peace Agreement Expectations unfulfilled, accessed 3/2/15 at  http://www.c-r.org/sites/default/files/Accord18_14TheDarfurpeaceagreement_2006_ENG_0.pdf

The United Nations and Darfur Fact Sheet  accessed 13/2/15 at http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/sudan/fact_sheet.pdf

UN Inquiry (2004) Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the United Nations Secretary-General accessed 13/2/15 at http://www.un.org/news/dh/sudan/com_inq_darfur.pdf

Questions…how shall I know?

Bridge of Europe, Strasbourg
Theodore Zeldin

Theodore Zeldin, Oxford historian, wrote the following as a contribution to the art installation,  Writing the borders, the Bridge of Europe, Strasbourg.

Questions

How shall I know that we have something to say to each other, that we ought to meet? How can I guess that you too believe that humanity’s most memorable achievements in extending knowledge or creating beauty have been the result of meetings between people and ideas that have not met before?
How shall I know that you wish to go beyond the language of politeness, beyond repeating what you have said before? How will you reveal that it is not mere information that you would be willing to exchange, but questions, doubts and dreams, the dreams which refuse to die?
How shall I know that, just as this garden is a work of art made out of plants whose history began in distant continents, you too are trying to shape your life into a work of art, however modest? How will you tell me that you welcome into the garden of your mind everything that civilisations all over the world have discovered about wisdom and folly?
How shall I know that busy and stressed though you are, you do sometimes find the time to pause and think, to ask whether they world has to be the way it is?
How shall I know that, just this bridge was built by people who wished to stop ancient enemies hating and fighting each other, you find it rewarding to be a bridge yourself, between individuals who fail to recognise what they have in common, and what they could do better together than alone?
How shall I know that you do not judge people by their religion, or even by their beliefs, and that you are much more impressed by how they put their beliefs into practice, whether with dogmatism, or humility, or compassion?
How shall I know that you applaud people not for their victories over others, but for the thought they have given to their failures, for the courage with which they handle their disappointments, for their ability to continue to laugh and hope?
How shall I know that you are not a prisoner of the prejudice which separates people of different sex and age? Or that you are more interested by what a person’s appearance conceals than the first impression it creates?
My answer. We can only discover who we are, and what we would like to be, by having conversations with one another. There are so many possible links between us, and we have to search behind the fashions and facades for them. That is why I rejoice that this garden has been created as a place, I hope, where people will meet to start long conversations, not just to pass the time, but to become clearer about what matters most to them, and what they can achieve together.
What is your answer?
Theodore Zeldin

Recognising the ǝƃɐɯI ɟo poפ

I read two articles which connected around one theme this week: the image of God in relation to justice.

The first article was about Claudio Vieira de Oliveira, a Brazilian man who was born with a severe and rare condition called congenital arthrogryposis. Not only was he barely able to breathe at birth, his mother was told that as he was unlikely to survive, it would be kinder not to feed him and let him die. She didn’t take that advice and today she claims:

…there’s only happiness now. Claudio is just like any other person – that’s how he was raised in this house. We never tried to fix him and always wanted him to do the normal things everyone else does. That’s why he is so confident. He is not ashamed of walking around in the street – he sings and dances.

One of the features of the rare condition Claudio is affected by, is that his joints cannot extend which results in his limbs being badly deformed; his head collapses backwards or ‘upside down’ over his shoulder. This has not prevented him from training as an accountant and engaging in an increasing amount of public speaking around the world, inspiring others to see beyond their limitations. One message he is keen to get across is that although his head is upside down he sees the world very clearly, the right way round…

Claudio Vieira de Oliveira

The second article was about a Brazilian film-maker, Julia Bacha who has chosen to see and portray the world in a way which is increasingly ‘upside-down’ or contrary to how we are frequently led to perceive it by the media. Her area of focus is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Julia summarises the simple philosophy behind her filming:

Violent resistance and non-violent resistance share one very important thing in common: They are both a form of theater seeking an audience to their cause.

Her focus is on non-violent resistance which is growing in both Israeli and Palestinian camps; relationships are being forged between people who believe that justice begins, to echo Rabbi Arik’s words, in ‘respecting the image of God in their neighbour’ and by refusing to be manipulated into fearful habits of hatred. You can see the trailer for her documentary, Budrus on non-violent resistance here.

Julia Bacha
Julia Bacha

The axis of a biblical vision of justice is, quite simply, relationship. The biblical love of neighbour flows from our love of God and is instructed by the prophetic stream which defines love as care through relationship.

Both Claudio Vieira de Oliveira and Julia Bacha may see the world from an alternative or upside-down perspective, but both of them know that it takes courage and persistence to forge and maintain relationship against all odds, demonstrating in very different ways that wholeness can manifest in the most unexpected, distorted and upside-down of circumstances.

Recognising the ǝƃɐɯI ɟo poפ in ourselves and our fellow human beings is just a starting point for forging bold, loving and respect-filled relationships which are crucial for the flourishing of justice.

Loving enemies?

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 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, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

 

I’m trying to imagine what Jesus would say to the Christians fleeing their homes in Iraq just now. As I wade through article after article flooding social media I hear many voices and much pain…what keeps coming back to me are these words: ‘what would it look like to love your enemy in Iraq…in Gaza…just now’?

I’d like to think that those weren’t just meaningless words but that they carried real, effective guidance and power for change…I’d like to think that Christians all round the world were putting them into practice by the power of the Spirit every day…but I can’t quite imagine what it would look like just now in Iraq…in Gaza…and that’s partly due to the fact I’m not hearing any stories coming out of the atrocious, hateful mess which are describing what I’m looking for…

I wonder if there are any?