For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
- Ephesians 6:12
“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
- Leviticus 19:18
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor 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?
- Matthew 5:43-47
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
- Luke 10:27
“The Palestinian writer Edward Said was one of the 20th century’s foremost critics of imperialism. In 1978 he published Orientalism, which explored how the depictions of Islamic societies by 19th-century European scholars were closely related to the imperialist ideologies of European states.
“In his later work, Said remained critical of all forms of imperialism, past and present. He points out that although we may be critical of empires of the past, these saw themselves as bringing civilization to the world—a view not shared by the people they claimed to be helping. Empires plunder and control, while masking their abuses of power by talking about their ‘civilizing’ missions. If this is the case, Said warns, we should be wary of present—day claims by any state undertaking foreign interventions.”
- Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained
Edward Said (1935-2003) has a point here, but in a way, the point is made accidentally. As a Palestinian, he argues that the West does not understand the Middle East or the East in general. This is indeed the case, but that does not negate the imperialism done by the Muslims over the last 1500 years. Countries were taken and the people governed by Muslim law.
True, his idea that forcing civilization on a people that already has a form of civilization is not a good thing, but the present trend is to digress into anarchy. The special interest groups shout loudly. They get their voice heard, but is it the right thing to do? When I went to school, the streets were clean and safe. The schools had teachers that focused on the students and teaching them. These days the streets are not clean. My automobile has been vandalized simply because I parked it on the street in front of my own house. A neighbor uses the street to work on cars and trucks at night, making sleep nearly impossible. I do not feel safe in my own home.
And having recently spent two weeks visiting our son in Tennessee, the discussion around the supper table was how many elementary students, were arrested, normally 6-11 years old, how many fights were broken up, how many fights were simply observed due to idiotic rules about teacher interference – and this was talking about just that one day, each day. One day out of two weeks, my son said that for three class periods, he got through his lesson plan rather than calling the office to deal with near riot conditions. And they had one bully organizing a gang of bullies to torment another child into doing unspeakable things. If the parents had not ignored the phone calls, by protocol, the school would not have called the police. The police were only called due to the parents refusing to answer the phone, but the parents were there when the arrest was made. Oh, and in my son’s neighborhood, people have spotted a stalker, following young boys. They have still not made any arrests.
Mr. Said might have a point, but I would rather have the civilization of my youth to what we have today.
But let us not think of the 19th century empires. Let us look at local governments. An old joke is still true today. “You know you are in deep trouble when there is a knock at your door and the person says, ‘We are from the government, and we are here to help.’”
Maybe people who are wanting help with disaster relief can get some help, but the efficient help usually comes from faith-based groups that ignore the red-tape and simply get the job done. The government makes a big show of helping at first and then five years later, there are still people with blue tarps instead of a new roof, still waiting for the promised help.
And most of the ‘problems’ that the government says they are fixing were not problems, until the government got involved.
Whether the empire is your block or the empire spreads over several time zones, we have to know people before we can help them, understand their value system, do what God commands us to do – love our neighbor. Governments are horrible at that, but we as individuals have the choice to do that on our own.
If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
I read Edward Said in college; this brought back memories. Your post made an excellent point of a timeless lesson that empires, government and magistrates have limitations of how much they can help…and also the likelihood of another agenda with all that much power
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