Me and Thee

I would venture that the majority of conflict I’ve seen has been over not much.  A friend of mine spent over twenty years in prison for murder.  One day, in talking about the incident, I asked him what it was over.  He said, “Nothing, really.”  Can you imagine one person losing their life in death and another losing a lifetime in prison over “nothing, really?”  Aside from tragedies in this degree, however, is the plain fact that small issues frequently initiate grand destruction, and it can be difficult, even in hindsight, to quantify the discord.  A little fire kindles a great matter, little foxes plunder the vines, and no one claims responsibility for striking the original match or not building a secure fence around the crop.

Pyrrhus was a Greek king that defeated the Romans in battle but suffered as great a loss as his enemies.  In modern terminology, a pyrrhic victory is a hollow win.  It is a fair to ask the nature of the gains if you win the conflict.  Such thoughts seldom occur to the inflamed but may leave lasting regrets.  Running backs in the National Football League do not normally have long careers because of the extreme physical demands of their chosen profession.  The ones who have taken the most hits will suffer most in later life.  In like manner, people who’ve led lives of conflict will limp in their latter days.  Interesting how things of value tarnish and lose their luster as time goes by.  The ordinary things apply.

A few times, in the Bible, one person would say to another, “The Lord judge between me and thee” or some such.  It seems the statement was a way of saying, “We can’t settle this here, so we’ll lay it down for now.”  We are always talking about needing to settle things, but the truth may be that no conditions are feasible.  I’ve known feuds to last years and years with no intervening wisdom or terms of cessation.  Sometimes, a sort of cold war follows actual hostilities with no real treaty intact.  Near the end of a recent three-part television epic on the Hatfield and McCoy feud, Kevin Costner, as Anderson (Devil Ans) Hatfield, said, “The warrior spirit within me has abated.”  Grief should have an end.

Our actions go before us into eternity.  We can lessen culpability if we rectify our deeds during our lifetimes, judge and cast ourselves on the mercy of God.  The thing with interpersonal conflicts is that the involved will often fail to understand anything other than their own viewpoints.  It can be that the points and issues are not different to any significant degree, but this may not be readily seen in righteous indignation.  We try to infuse our viewpoints with morality undeserved.  It is often true that positions are directed by dispositions, and we should admit it.  We might learn to agree with the sentiment of the old song, “There ain’t no good guys, there ain’t no bad guys, there’s only you and me, and we just disagree.”

Future and final judgment is certain while present adjudications are likely to be overturned.  God will pronounce the final sentence in His court requiring no testimony as He knows the hearts, as well as, the actions of all defendants.  While it is true that we cannot settle all issues that divide individuals today, it is also true that we should fail in the attempts.  At some point, we will necessarily default to the eternal and commit the final decisions to God.  Until then, we must make efforts to understand the varying perspectives our limited visions provide.  Paul said to live in peace when possible.  Beyond our capacities, we will need Divine empowerment to love and live as Scripture informs accepting inclusions in ourselves and others.


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