by Max Ediger
Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam continue to experience the war that ended almost 40 years ago. Unexploded ordnance remains in many parts of these countries, bring death or severe disabilities to those unfortunate to hit them. Children and farmers are those affected the most. Despite courageous work by those trained in demining, the problem will continue far into the future.
While the suffering caused by these unexploded munitions is well-documented and the determined work by many organizations calling for a ban on further production of landmines and cluster bombs, many countries continue to produce them in large amounts and export them to areas of armed conflict. In October of 2015 reports suggest that cluster bombs were used in Syria to destroy military targets. However, cluster bombs usually have a more serious effect on civilians.
Why can we not stop the production of these weapons of mass destruction? Many campaigns have been held to call of an end to their use but some countries, including the USA, have refused to sign any agreements to end their production and use.
Bob Matt, an American who has been living in Cambodia for many years and has dedicated his life working for peace says that the problem is not the landmines and cluster bombs coming out of factories and flowing to conflict areas. Rather he says that the real problem is the landmines in our hearts. We allow ourselves to live with too much fear, anger and hatred. We do not take the time to meet and dialogue with the “other”. While these landmines remain in our hearts, we will continue to believe that the “other” is dangerous and we need protection from them. Thus wars will continue and the production of deadly weapons will continue destroying the lives of many while filling the pockets of a few with dollars.
James said the same thing much earlier
Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.
You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It is common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.” (James 4: 1-2)
To end war and to stop the production of landmines and cluster bombs, we first need to clear the landmines of our hearts. That is our greatest responsibility, and something we certainly need God’s help to achieve.