Sir Paul has written an interesting and provocative series called "Christian First or American First?" on his blog Beside the Point. While considering his wider topic of earthly versus heavenly loyalty, it brought back to mind an excellent commentary by Sir Jason a couple of short months ago in one of our earlier postings "Sectarian Violence, 21st-Century Style." I re-post it here for your re-consideration relative to Sir Paul's challenging stance.
...some people feel a psychological need to be loyal to something, which isn't quite satisfied unless "something" needs their loyalty. Which means in practice that a lot of people are fighting over something because it is being fought over.
This feeling can be channeled into harmless or constructive things. Military and civil emergency services (which are controllable and therefore better than terrorists), political lobbying or charity work. Or simply sports and hobbies. But some people don't feel quite "fulfilled" with that and are drawn to destructive activities out of restlessness.
It is a factor that hasn't been taken account of. It is an intangible and most negotiation theories think of intangibles as a nuisance instead of the most important part of it. Britain and Argentina were not really fighting for a forgotten patch of ice in the South Atlantic - they were fighting for their honor. Of course the British government may have been thinking of honor in the sense of "maintaining a deterrent". That was hardly how the British people were thinking of it.
Add to that revenge. Many times offenses cannot be revenged against an individual and are by default avenged against a group. This is the infamous "cycle of violence". It is most exaggerated because there are plenty of factors that cause violence besides that.
Political theorists, as I said fear and distrust intangibles. But they won't go away. They are the hidden flaw in all schemes to mathematically solve problems "rationally" - that people are not rational. That is they desire more than wealth, power and security.
A classic example is the War of 1812. None of the issues that caused it were solved. The British yielded nothing at the negotiations, and in fact there was no need to. Historians don't understand this, that America had made it's point, Britain had made it's and requiring official concessions was an unneeded complication. Or in other words it was tacitly acknowledged that there was in a peculiar way, enough glory for everyone to share. Thus America and Britain never fought each other again.
While calculated on a cost benefit the risks of war tend to outweigh the profit of spoiling one's neighbors, this mercantile approach to analyzing conflict is incomplete. Even merchants don't really think this way all the time as the Turks found when they met the Venetians at Lepanto.
Or take Palestine. Everybody knows the easiest way is for the Jews to have the portion they already have, and the Palestinians to have the portion they already have. The problem is that everybody is wrong. The Palestinians are not fighting simply because of religion, and certainly not for real estate. They are fighting so that they won't have to admit they lost.
Sir Paul challenges our loyalty to the red, white, and blue. And Sir Jason posits that we really just fight to claim an earthly loyalty and to have something to do in the meantime.
So, given their logic, what is the bottom line? Is there really any reason to stand up and defend our nation, our way of life, according to the direction of our earthly leaders? Or, should we just all go home and wait for it to blow over, Revelation-style?
Sir Chuck, the challenged patriot