This post ran one year ago today in the immediate aftermath of the attack on Parliament Hill. The question raised, the striking of a balance between justice (which may at times be more vengeance) and love remains a difficult one. The natural response is to strike back at those who hurt you. The Christian imperative is to turn the other cheek. My heart and my head argue frequently on this one – and they keep flipping their positions.
UNDER ATTACK (Originally published October 23, 2014)
I had things I wanted to do on Wednesday and decided not to write a blog post. But what you plan and what happens are frequently not the same. What I expected to be an ordinary work day wound up being extraordinary, with an apparent terrorist attack on the Parliament of Canada that left me in a security lockdown for hours.
Neil Abramson sent me his initial thoughts on justice, mercy and the situation Canada found itself in yesterday. They were written as the news of the attack first became known, before any information about the shooter(s) or motive was available. This means he may have jumped to some conclusions about cause or motive that will turn out to be wrong. However I think his thoughts on the conflict between justice and mercy remain true, no matter what the facts turn out to be. (I’ll put in my two cents worth tomorrow.)
I drove into work, here in Vancouver, listening to the terrorist attack on our Parliament in Ottawa, three thousand miles from here. The distance had vanished.
I know very well where the soldier was shot at the War Memorial, and the front of the Chateau Laurier where the police had their guns drawn, and the centre block of Parliament where the gun battle raged as the Prime Minister was rushed to safety, and parliamentarians cowered behind barricaded doors. This is the second terrorist attack against Canada this week. What will be our response? What should be our response? Shall we deal them justice?
One gunman was seen to be wearing an Arab style scarf covering his head and face. The attacker in the previous incident this week was a devotee of ISIS, and ISIS tweeted responsibility. ISIS has threatened to attack Canada. We should suppose, I suppose, that these are their attacks. They certainly will be pleased to claim that they can strike us to our heart, ten thousand miles away.
We stand at a crossroads very similar to where the Americans stood after the attack on Pearl Harbour. It’s true that we were planning to attack ISIS and had despatched planes to do so but the planes had not done so yet, so perhaps we were not the initial aggressor. We can say that this was a largely unprovoked attack. So what should we do?
It’s very hard not to retaliate, seeking justice, in a self-justified way. My heart wishes that Canada should begin to arm itself as it did to fight Hitler and the Kaiser. Maybe it should be Canadian boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria. And we need a much bigger armed forces, much better equipped. And I hear a whisper that if we do all this it will create economic growth, and jobs, and maybe the misfit people who wage gang warfare in Vancouver and Toronto can be drafted and sent to practice their gun expertise in the name of Canada instead of against Canadians. I think the old British Empire used to send their misfits to fight and die for Queen and country. Can’t hurt.
But then I wonder. Jesus counsels reconciliation. Jesus says not to retaliate. Jesus actually says to love your enemy. So then I wonder if my desire to seek justice against ISIS and their Canadian homegrown terror henchmen is the sin Paul warned could overcome our commitment to the teachings of The Lord? And I am in doubt. Because my heart demands justice, as my mind remembers the call for mercy. So, what should we do?