Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

In 2001, the War in Afghanistan began and was quickly followed by the War on a concept – Terrorism. By 2003, after brief excursions in Yemen, the Philippines and CÔte d’lvoire, U.S. forces were in Iraq. Then came Liberia, Georgia, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Drone strikes began in 2004. Strikes occurred next in Haiti, Pakistan, Lebanon, Somalia and Libya. Beginning in 2010, the number of troops in Iraq was reduced to 50,000. Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in 2011. Military activities were undertaken in Somalia, Uganda, Jordan, Turkey, Chad, Mali, and Somalia again. North Korea lurks.

Since about 2007 I have been posting some version of the following piece most years. My thought at the start was that I would keep posting it annually until America was no longer at war, then I'd move on to something else. At this point, it looks like I'll be posting it for the foreseeable future.

In September 1862, President Abraham Lincoln was increasingly concerned by the tremendous growth in the number of causalities in the Civil War. Following the disastrous loss at the second battle of Bull Run, he wrote a Meditation on the Divine Will in which he expressed the quandary of God’s presence.
“The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God can not be for and against the same thing at the same time.”
But to most Americans - north or south - God was on their side. Union and Confederate soldiers both prayed to the same God. Both read the same Bible. Both invoked the same God to aid him in battle against the other side.

Lincoln’s thoughts read like an ancient philosopher’s argument.
“By his mere quiet power on the minds of new contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.”
In a country split and ravaged by war - truth, for Lincoln, had begun to dawn. God was not at America’s beckoned call. America was at God's...

By October 1863, with the Union victory in the Civil War all but assured, Lincoln was looking for a way to reunite the country. He proclaimed a national holiday to be spent in reflection – a day of thanksgiving.

The proclamation, written by his Secretary of State William Seward, called upon each citizen to regard America’s vigorous growth despite the long war.
“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.”
America remains at war – not a civil war - but one that divides us spiritually nonetheless.

As we pause to celebrate Thanksgiving 2013, and acknowledge our blessings, let us also remember our disobedience and “commend to His tender care those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers” in our present conflicts.

Let us become peacemakers.

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