Posed with this question while watching a docu film, I had to pause and think if I had an answer worth sharing online. I had none – so, I kept thinking some more. But then, I had to pause again because ants were coming in and out of my PC keyboard. My fault! I should never have moved from the computer table to the dining table to write.
The ants! Yes, they reminded me of King Solomon, who – as the legend goes – was marching his army one day and saw that on the road ahead was a colony of ants crossing their path. Now, we all know that Solomon was unlike his warrior-father, King David, for he was a man of peace. So, why was he leading an army? As a king, he had the obligation to keep an army for national and personal security purposes. Besides, as an artist/writer/scientist/tycoon/harem-keeper/leader all rolled into one, he had to travel to foreign lands and “explore” the world.
Well then, to prove our point that he was unlike his father, Solomon ordered his army to change direction, to find another way and avoid trampling on the tiny army of ants. He was simply avoiding committing a massacre without even shooting an arrow!
Perhaps, Solomon’s way – whether you believe the story was real or not — can help us find creative ways we have never tried before to end violence once and for all. Well, the docu eventually provided one possible answer to its own question by suggesting that we end the cycle of revenge and violence by allowing people to talk. Meaning, people need to listen to one another and discover that their own needs and issues are no different from those of their enemies. Perhaps then, we can learn to truly empathize and learn to live harmoniously with one another.
And so, like Solomon who talked to God and listened to His Creation, we can also realize that ants, no matter how despicable they may be to us, are some of the least of God’s creatures also collecting scraps of food and merely trying to survive in this world. And if we can learn to value these almost negligible insects the way Solomon did, we may also find in our hearts to value other people – no matter how despicable or hateful they may seem at times.
The violence begins in our hearts and minds. My own instincts are telling me to squish these typical ants with my fingers (while I type!); but I could not because the keys are in the way. I use my rubber-ball air-blower instead and send the ants flying off the keyboard. One can almost wish we can blow violence away that easily. Much like changing our path so we will not have to disturb an ant colony which, in reality, may have the capacity to make horses or humans go berserk. And you think Solomon’s wisdom only applied to splitting babies? In fact, he was only applying his simple rule to solve violence: Choose between violence and love. He gambled with a baby’s life and was vindicated by a loving mother!
This same vital question elicits various answers from people on the issue of the proliferation of guns v.v. the rise in mass killings all over the world. Many say controlling guns will solve the mass killings. Others respond by saying that mass killings have been committed using things other than guns.
Question: Have insecticides ever stopped ants and other pests from proliferating? That is, we might think of anti-gun laws like they were pesticides and that they are the most efficient or logical means of stopping people from using guns to kill people. But guns were precisely invented to kill people – good or bad! It is quite too late to stop people – governments and gun manufacturers – from producing guns. If we have heard of the arms race, we probably realize we cannot put a stop to arms being made en masse. We have tried doing that with drugs and they still proliferate. Where there is money; there is anarchy – and vice versa as well. Change direction and find other solutions.
Another question: If we allow guns to be produced and enacted stricter rules, how do we deal with other means of killing, such as using bombs or nerve gas, ramming into crowds with trucks, flying a plane into a tower or even slowly poisoning populations with commercial food laced with cancerous or unhealthful substances? Violence does not always come with a big or small bang or the sudden issue of blood from ruptured human veins. It can come from all the mean and evil ways we say and do to one another in our personal or collective pursuits. Do you know what Cain used to kill Abel? Who cares now? Not even Moses cared to tell us, aside from the fact that sin did it. Today, we say, “Guns kill – sin is not an issue.” If we only truly realize that we will all die because of sin!
I heard a respectable parent once say quite seriously that his child had a sort of imp or devilish spirit driving it to exhibit nearly crazy or violent behavior that is not uncommon among kids. He wondered where that “spirit” came from and how it came to be controlling his child’s actions, to his consternation. We can be sure the parent had tried “jailing” the child inside a room or “disciplining” it with a rod. But what other law or means of control can a parent impose – or a national leader, for that matter – in order to stop violent behavior once and for all?
Remember, Solomon did engage in war more than once during his reign. An army does not exist for no reason at all. Guns or bombs are modern permissible means of fighting those who use them as well for unlawful reasons. Violence – and its monstrous clone, terrorism – is here to stay. Not that we are giving up on the issue. If we must be practical, sensible and, yes, biblical, we would listen to the Lord of David and Solomon speak: “He who is filthy, let him be filthy still. . . ; he who is holy, let him be holy still. . . ; and behold, I Am coming quickly and My reward is with Me to give to everyone according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
Only God can stop violence once and for all. The best we can do is to stop it within our hearts and minds NOW. Not by throwing away our pesticides or guns but by throwing away our sinful anger. Not by looking to see if there are ants on our path but to see if there are people who might need whatever little attention and help we can give. Not by posting hurtful or unpolished words in response to photos, videos, sayings and actions of people but with corresponding words and actions made tasteful by a grain of salt. Taste first what we feed others to make sure we are not dispensing poison to an already toxic world.
Yes, I think that should work in a fast-paced world where we multi-task walking with texting, watching with working, eating with talking, socializing with bashing and, the most oxymoronic human activities ever, studying with gaming.
Living the kind of life we have inherited today can become a most tiresome task. That is why there is a need for us to study how to live life to the full. Many people fill their hearts and minds with hatred and violence because they never learned how to live a full life. Terrorists aim to kill because they themselves find no reason to live the empty life they have. They have a death wish for others – as well as for themselves. The new joke is that the only way to stop the mass killings is to sell more guns because those who kill with guns end up killing themselves!
The reason there is a judgment in the end is because the life we have is not in any way full. God rewards those who strive to live life fully with even more life, no, with endless life! But that does not mean we cannot live fully even now. There is a Way – if you know what I mean. If only we can talk one another into accepting this principle instead of fighting one another, we could make this world much better for more people. For even among believers, there is so much anger and violence hidden within us. Or as the song goes: What the world needs now is love, sweet love! And as the Golden Rule states: Love one another.
For only love can fill an empty heart. And the love of God is so great that He made this world and gave us life though it may seem un-full or unfulfilling to us. But if we truly believe, the perfect love and perfect peace of God will overflow from our hearts.
(Painting above: Courtesy of www.bibleencyclopedia.com.)