Thursday, November 06, 2003

Danger, Will Robinson!

So, I was thinking today (hide the children! bolt the doors! turn off the computer now!) during my International Relations class, and it occurred to me that Christian thinking isn't Realist or Liberal/Idealist, but is actually Radical. Not Marxist, as most Radical thought tends to be these days, but it's pretty far outside the mainstream.

Basically, the reason for foreign policy (and domestic policy, too, I suppose) is that people want their rights secured. They don't want to be marginalized, enslaved, killed, or for anything else bad to happen to them. This is pretty understandable. Thus, people band together into groups, whether they be clans, nations, or other types, and use their combined power to protect the rights of each member of that group. Fights break out when two groups have competing claims for the same thing, whether it be property, land, or the labor of a weaker group. When these fights are perceived as being important enough, groups are willing to sacrifice lives in order to win, thus securing the rights of everyone else in the group.

This has been widely noted as being bad, as no one really wants to die, especially so other people can get the benefits. Thus, suggestions have been made that everyone live in peace and harmony, sharing all and not fighting. It sounds good, but there are problems. Firstly, there is a finite amount of resources, and when there's not enough to go around, conflict arises. Secondly, different people have different ideas as to what is "enough," meaning that greedy or corrupt people want what others have, and are often willing to do whatever is necessary to obtain it. Thus, there can be no utopia while sin exists.

What is left to be done? Seemingly nothing, until you realize that the basic assumption present is that being marginalized, enslaved, or killed is the worst thing possible, and thus that all other alternatives are preferable. If you are not afraid of these things, you're freed from having to hurt others in order to provide for your security.

Why is this radical? It's radical because it means that those who follow this philosophy do not fit into the current political spectrum. If someone threatens to raise taxes, the follower doesn't care. If the follower is imprisoned or enslaved, he doesn't care. The threat of death does not weigh on the conscience of the follower. What does concern the follower is what he regards as more important than the usual concerns. If it is the glorification of and obedience to God, then only those things which could hamper his effectiveness in serving God stir him to disobedience.

Think about this. The Apostles feared neither death nor captivity. St. Paul proclaimed himself a slave. What would it be like if we, as Christians, lived as the Apostles did? Would we welcome persecution? Would we willingly drop everything to go evangelize the unchurched? Would more of us forego marriage and dating?

I'm still turning this over, but it shakes up a lot of assumptions to think about.

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