The Choice

the Basica

  Those for whom the arts of war are a sport must have a place for their games, just as anyone else must have an opportunity for their recreation. When they do battle, their focus is intended to be put on honor, respect, fair play, courage, skill, and other sound values, rather than on simple winning or on permanently damaging an opponent. In such sport, the only true enemy is within, as fear and other obstacles are to be conquered by self-mastery. Let those who would challenge themselves in this way construct their arena, formulate their guidelines, ensure following of the rules by all participants, and have at it as seriously and vigorously as they will with each other.

  Those who base everyday life and relating to others on violence and ill will, however, are another matter. Their situation may spring from their own willingness to adopt and maintain prejudice, chafing at the abuse doled out to them by others currently or in the past, repeated and persistent disappointment concerning affairs of the heart, an inherent leaning towards emotions such as rage and their pleasures, finding enjoyment in seeing others in a state of helplessness or pain, defensive desperation... Will you be one of them? Be careful. In attitude, if not in action, you may become as they are, if you are not properly attendant to why and how you oppose them.

  The existence of people who would willingly inflict physical or emotional injury is as reliable in this life as death and taxes. Faith, however, requires trust, and trust involves an element of the unknown - sometimes in very large doses. The little we consciously know and understand about God is surrounded by and infused with mystery. A true, intentional, active, and developing relationship with God cannot proceed far without some faith.

  Here we are presented with a choice. We can depend on anger, fear, and hate to carry us, spending our lives preparing for, fighting, and recovering from war. Or we can turn to faith and God, in which case, even though we still do not deny the ongoing existence of those who do harm, we also know we must have the courage to give up our reliance on enemies as a foundation upon which to build our lives. We then must learn to deal with confrontation when it arises without eagerly carrying it with us everywhere we go and even into our sleep and dreams.

  This is a great challenge, especially for the greatly scarred - and who does not bear at least a little wounding? But let us distinguish here between those who excitedly pursue warfare of whatever brand they find accessible, or who at least don't mind letting themselves be caught up easily in it, and those who resist being dragged down, even if it is a hard struggle in which they are not always successful. Where is your heart in this matter? When the temptation arises, will you go willingly?

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