Bright, captivating light of battle
transfixes ten-year-old eyes
in the war room.
This video soldier pushes a button,
destroying bridges and buildings
in safe, sanitized comfort.
A distant, demonized enemy –
transformed into collateral damage.
Here one learns to kill without
messy human contact.
In remote desert
a young soldier pushes a button –
a building filled with life disappears.
In game and life
practiced distance makes it easy.
Human faces need not meet in game or war rooms.
Wars and regional conflicts are a reality for any generation. With the beginning of the Persian Gulf War television viewers in the United States witnessed war fought by push button soldiers. Precision weapons hit bridges and buildings, lighting up the sky giving distance to warriors in a new age of warfare. This all seemed to create a more sanitary, safer conflict. However, civilians, now referred to as “collateral damage,” died or were injured on those bridges and in those buildings. Drones have now become the weapon of choice, and civilians are paying the price throughout the Middle East.
While waiting in line to purchase a movie ticket I noticed a young boy playing a video game in which he destroyed buildings, bridges and roads from a safe distance. What for him was only a game was being played out thousands of miles away, where soldiers pressed buttons and people disappeared from bridges, buildings and roads. With human beings being desensitized from an early age to the reality of violence and war, the chance for the “abounding peace,” that the psalmist speaks of in Psalm 37, seems distant and unreal. The psalmist calls us to “give up your anger and forsake wrath…the meek shall possess the land; they shall delight in abounding peace.” Those calling for peaceful resolution to conflict are often dismissed as unrealistic or even unpatriotic. Power has become the god listened to by countries around the world, while voices for peace are muffled.
With the grace of the Spirit, a new generation can embrace the words of the psalmist and “forsake wrath, embrace peace, and meekly inherit the earth.”