This is not fine.
In the last few days, a thought that has repeating itself to me like a broken record is this: this all seems like I’m watching a movie. Reality left me like an out of body experience, and all that remains is a surreal feeling. This nation has been rocked to its core with the violent protest at its Capitol building, killing five people. Our (Dis)United States Of America is a nation unraveling like a mystery that had met Sherlock Holmes. We are living in an unparalleled time in history. Is civil war inevitable or can it be prevented? This may be easier than it seems.
To answer that question we have to start with answering this one: do we even want to prevent a civil war? I’ve seen many things on social media that are showing eagerness for war. Let me remind you that comes at the highest of costs. Most people’s experience with war has only been watching movies of it. Many war movies are great at capturing war-like conditions, but the pain, suffering, and death do not jump out of the screen for you to experience like you actually would in a battle.
Lets take a few examples from history. In the Civil War over 600,000 died, and if you were lucky to live you would most likely need amputated by a handsaw with only whiskey and a towel to bite on for comfort. In some cases brother fought brother and father fought son. In the French Revolution you have the guillotine which sometimes didn’t cut all the way through if they didn’t sharpen the blade beforehand. In Nazi Germany and China you had concentration camps (still do in China), and in the USSR you had the gulags. I’ll pass.
Speaking of the USSR and the gulags, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn lived through that time and wrote the Gulag Archipelago which won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970. I highly recommend this book as there are so many lessons we can learn as individuals and as a country, but here is a quote from it:
“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years.”
The first step in preventing evil like a civil war is recognizing that EVERYONE naturally has evil in their hearts. Its not just the other political party, it’s not just the people who are richer or poorer, and it certainly doesn’t stop at borders of nations and states. This includes you. This includes me. If the first step is to look in the mirror, lets look to another quote from The Gulag Archipelago for the next step:
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
And who is willing to destroy a piece of their own heart? Naturally we aren’t willing to do that. My favorite lesson from this book is that the author looks to himself and doesn’t blame others for the events happening. He looks inward as if even his tiniest mistakes or the lack of good deeds is what caused the chaos. We all have our natural inclinations we crave to live by, even if it is preventing us to who we can be, and even if one day it completely destroys us. Even if we attempt to rid of it, it can creep back in. How can we live a life where we become a man or woman of such humility, accountability, and love?
Lets rewind the clock to almost 2,000 years ago. Jesus in the garden of Gethsamene. Judas one of his disciples betrays him for money, and instead of Jesus looking to escape or fight he says “Friend, do what you have come for.” Just moments later another one of his disciples cuts a soldier’s ear off with a sword after they tried to arrest Jesus. Jesus does the unthinkable and completely heals the soldier’s ear. So not only does Jesus allow the arrest that was unjust, but he heals the one who intended to do him harm. Jesus had the justification and the resources lead a revolt. Jesus was perfect and was not guilty of any crimes. He had the following (hundreds of disciples and crowds who welcomed him on Palm Sunday), and he had the narrative: Jewish theology in that period of time and still to this day believe the messiah is a political figure who will rule the Jewish state by military force and law. Jesus denounced that:
“At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a man inciting a revolt? Every day I used to sit within the temple grounds teaching, and you did not arrest Me. 56 But all this has taken place so that the Scriptures of the prophets will be fulfilled.” -Matthew 26:55-56
Jesus could’ve been a king (in the earthly sense). He could’ve chose to start a revolution just as some people want to today. He chose sacrifice, and sacrifice is what’s required for America to become united again. That’s a guy and a life I can get behind. As you may have read in This Is Fine Part 1, 2020 meant we need to connect to the Tru Vine (meaning Jesus). Once you do that the war has not ended, it has just begun. A war to keep your soul, to battle to win others, and to win the culture. To fight in this war Jesus says “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?“
Sacrifice isn’t easy. For me it will require things like less time watching sports, less social media time, less of the things that don’t really matter and more of the things and people who do. It requires me being in a daily relationship with Jesus: listening to what he wants for my life, what I should do or not do, and how I should view the world and the people he loves. Sacrifice isn’t easy, but the reward is much greater. I need this mindset daily, we all do. If you are motivated to change for yourself, but also for the sake of others you aren’t alone. Look for my next article on setting goals to change habits, experience personal growth, and to have an impact.
Photo Credit: KC Green- This is Fine