A Fragile Peace

A Fragile Peace

Pentecost #173

Eleven minutes of the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month the guns went silent and World War I was ended with the stroke of a pen.  This was not the first nor the last time one group had sought to rule.  In some countries today is known as Armistice Day and in others it is Remembrance Day.  Since 1954, in the United States of America, it has been a day to honor all those who served in the military, Veterans’ Day.

In the Middle East today, thousands protests the beheadings of seven people, including two women and one child.  Protesters from various Afghan communities that included Pashtoons, Hazaras, and Uzbeks were not the only ones protesting, though.  Ethiopians gathered in Addis Ababa to rally against killings in Libya.  Both instances are said to be the work of ISIS.

Mankind was once simply a collection of small groups living among other small groups.  Many believe a prince of Macedonia and student of Aristotle was the world’s first great conqueror.  By the time he turned 22, Alexander the Great had conquered Greece and set his sights on further lands.  In turkey myth and man came together when he cut in half the famous Gordian knot, a knot with which, according to mythology, the Phrygian god Sabazios had once ties an ox cart to a post.  Legend stated that whoever untied the knot would rule the world.  Alexander’s empire eventually reached from Greece to India and many felt he had fulfilled the prophecy of the myth.

Alexander the Great was just one of several world conquerors.  Eleven hundred years earlier Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III inherited the throne at the age of seven.  He established Egypt as a major power and was known for his humane treatment of those he vanquished.  The Romans, as they expanded the Roman Empire to Great Britain, were said to have been successful rulers because they tolerated the continuance of cultural ways of those they conquered.

Fast forward to the thirteenth century ACE and we find the Incas living in the Cuzco Valley of the Andes Mountains in the new World’s southern continent.  By 1438 the Incas had their own great empire that reached from Colombia through Ecuador and Peru into Child and across Bolivia into Argentina.  The Incan emperor Pachacuti not only appropriated lands but also the myths of those they vanquished.  He took the Aymaran god Viracocha and made him one of the supreme deities of the Incans.  At one point, the Incan Empire boasted sic million people.  It had a sophisticated system of roads and they successfully farmed the mountainous regions by creating elaborate terraces and intricate irrigation canals.  With no written language, the Incans preserved their “history” with professional troubadours who used fact, myth, and the legends of other cultures to record their existence – their ethos, their values, their principles, and their living.

The Incan creation myth explained the importance of their being rather than the actual creation of the world.  Some might call it a defense for their life style and their actions in aggressively conquering other tribes.  The Incans believed their rulers were children of the sun and therefore rulers themselves.  It was a defense that Adolf Hitler used in justifying the killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children in the actions that precipitated World War II.

This concept of leaders being gods has come back into fashion, especially in cults.  A cult is often characterized as a religious group that does not allow “free” or independent thinking.  Some might claim all religious groups, due to their being organized with stated doctrines, disallow independent or free thinking.  While we could debate those last two sentences for several months and still not be complete in our discussion, it cannot be denied that those who disagree with extremist groups often end up killed, considered vanquished for the cause.

Nothing good is gained from the senseless killing of innocents, particularly children. Good will always need defending but perhaps one day we can learn to fight with wisdom and grace instead of fear and death.