Bombs and Fruit
I am the product of war. I had the privilege to lead and train America’s finest U.S. Army tankers to engage and destroy enemies of the United States. The training and combat activities included the use of all calibers of ammunition. The results though were the same once an engagement was completed. The sound of tank rounds being fired off rattled your body. The rhythmic noise of casings falling to the ground and vegetation swallowed in a billow of dirt had one conclusion; target obliteration.
The environment of war comes to fruition because all means of civil engagement has failed. Each party moves to their perspective corners, studies the strengths and weaknesses of their enemy, and then launches into full scale assault. The environment of war moves to a radically different normal when one opponent imposes its will upon its adversary. As it has been famously said, “there are no victors in war.”
Martin L. King Jr. stated, “Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.” When we drop massive payloads, launch drone strikes or send a tank round down range, the statue of a new tomorrow will look less glamorous. It is a statue carved out by tools that do not recognize the humanity of its targets. If a peaceful tomorrow does arrive, that which was envisioned prior to war and what becomes reality, are radically different.
Today we approach many of our conversations as if we are headed into full scale combat. Civil engagement with mature intellectual discussion fails and we load our mouths with all types of ammunition. We want to impose our will on another individual. We regress and with each word we fire at our neighbor, co-worker, political opponent, or religious brother; we slowly deny our own humanity and that of our opponent. Even if I beat you into submission, we both lose.
If war and vitriolic words are poor chisels for peaceful tomorrows, what options do we have? James offers the possibility that men and women become peace farmers who harvest fruits of righteousness (Jas 3:18). James recognizes the destructive nature of the tongue and concludes by reminding men and women that as sons and daughters of God we can work the fields of humanity in the soil of peace. Peace is the necessary soil with the rich nutrients of God’s grace to receive the seeds of gentleness, reason, mercy, impartiality, and sincerity. This righteous harvest does not produce the destructiveness of a tongue set ablaze to destroy my life and yours but serves to produce a harvest of life which we both can sit at a table and enjoy.