By Victor Hulbert
what do you think? Have
American soldiers been abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison
near Baghdad? And what
about those pictures published by the British “Daily Mirror”
showing British soldiers in the south of Iraq involved in similar,
inhumane activity? Genuine
– or not? That is the debate going on in the press at the moment –
and is the cause of anxious investigation in military and government
don’t know what the truth is, and often in war situations, truth is
something hard to come by – a sad fact summed up by Joceyln of
Portsmouth, England, in the letters column of the BBC
sure it is a sad fact of life that a small element of soldiers from
whatever country has behaved in this way for centuries. The good thing
is that this time it has been exposed. There are brutal people in all
walks of life but perhaps the army has more than its fair share of them
due to the nature of the job."
fact was brought home to me in a listener’s reaction to last weeks
programme. You may recall that we shared the story of the Takenos,
Japanese Americans, born and raised in the USA prior to the Second World
War and who spent several years “interned”, during the war, just in
case their loyalties were in question.
We shared their story, not to highlight their treatment, but to
show how God could still lead them and be with them in difficult times.
Not everyone got that story of hope.
And perhaps if you or your family were on the receiving end of
Japanese hostilities during World War II that might be understandable.
Su felt the Takenos had nothing to complain about referring to the
“tens of millions of Chinese and other Asian people the
Japanese military . . . robbed,
raped, bayoneted” etc.
I’ve greatly abbreviated his letter.
point that struck me, reading that letter, and comparing it with the
gracious, humble nature of this Japanese couple, is that it is easy to
castigate a whole nation or group of people simply because of the
actions of a particular group.
in no way condone what the Japanese did during WWII.
I have civilian relatives that survived the internment camps of
the Philippines. It left an
indelible mark on their lives. Yet
war in itself is brutal. Horrific.
The trenches of first world war Flanders.
The holocaust. Vietnam,
The Genocides in Rwanda and the Balkans, the mutilation of
children in Sierra Leone. None
of these are attractive sights or the way God designed for mankind to
live. War brutalizes.
is also very easy to look at the faults and failings of other nations
when all of us have parts of our history that we might like to forget. For me, as an Englishman, I’m none to proud of us inventing
the concentration camp during the Boer war, or going further back, our
involvement in the slave trade between West Africa and the USA. The Spanish may ponder on their treatment of native south
Americans in their lust for gold. . . . and similar stories can be told
around the world.
back to the current Iraq issue
– and another letter from the BBC website. Alfred Oresaba write:
all soldiers are equally to blame and guilty of this crime is like
saying all Muslims agree with and carry out suicide bombings.
Ridiculous! We are perhaps united in moral bankruptcy. If true it is
abhorrent, but vast swathes of the Eastern world would think this of the
West anyway (just like West's tendency to see extremists everywhere).
Moral hypocrisy perhaps?"
then makes me think of the one person who could never be accused of
hypocrisy. Who always made the right moral choice. Who showed nothing but love, compassion and concern.
And what did we do with him?
Isaiah sums up his treatment:
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
the reason Jesus allowed himself to be so harshly mistreated.
The apostle Paul puts it so clearly:
Christ Jesus came into
the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very
reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ
Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those
who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
Tim. 1:15-16 (NIV)