This blog was written during the opening week of this year's United Nations session.
Yesterday a coalition of nations (the USA and several moderate Islamic countries) began a mission into Syria. Much like what we have been doing recently in Iraq, the coalition is striking at ISIS strongholds. Planes are flying. Bombs are exploding. A force of evil which threatens the whole free world is now itself under attack. A few minutes ago Page and I were walking our dogs, nodding at the security personnel on every corner and chatting about how our city is now at High Alert. Page made a sobering comment. “Michael,” she said, “we are at war today. Yesterday it didn’t seem like that. But today there’s no denying it.” I agreed. We walked on a silence for a moment, then she added: “And you know what? It’s a world war.” I had not put it in that context. But she is correct. The world now has to decide how to respond to an organized force that would subdue or destroy us. We are at war.
ISIS controls 30% of the world’s oil supply. That is a perfect reason to move from a dependence on fossil fuel to the new day we all knew had to come. Other sources are available. It’s time to employ them. That would not undermine the 70% of oil producers. It would simply supplement so that ISIS does not provide anything indispensable. It would also help clean up our planet for the generations yet to come.
Today the Prime Minister of Britain had a conversation with President Rouhani of Iran. Tomorrow President Obama will do the same. As I understand it, those will be the first face-to-face conversations with the Head of Iran since the late 1970s. Friday I will be part of a group of our city’s clergy who will meet with President Rouhani. I think our conversation will focus on how our Faiths can somehow partner to restore hope to a frightened world. They say there’s always a silver lining to every black cloud. Perhaps the ISIS crisis has at least caused people who resisted one another to enter into long overdue conversations. We may disagree on a thousand topics, but we all want a safe world for our children. And, we have witnessed the failure of political systems to make it happen. But what if actual conversation, instead of rhetoric, is the key? What if we are beginning to understand the inherent power of honest dialogue... dialogue that includes voices of Faith? What if bringing God to the table is a key to establishing a “peace that passeth understanding”? (Philippians 4:7) What a concept!
We are at war. Experts tell us it will not be quick. I hope they are mistaken. But, until peace comes, may we all join in daily prayers for peace. May we all ask God to protect the innocent and to impede the agents of evil and terror. May we engage in conversation that is honest and based on a mutual hope for a world where all people are safe. May love overcome hostility. May we all live up to the Faiths we profess to believe. May we consistently bring God to the table. May God consistently have patience with us. And amid it all, may we hang onto hope and onto the reality that in the midst of crisis there are still holy oases where love and goodness exist. Throughout history, the forces of Good and Right have always prevailed. May it forever be so.