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Peaceful Middle of the Night Reflections


I just finished Thucydides, and I am too excited to sleep. This was a huge hurdle, but "little by little gets the job done." What a bear! I liked Herodotus much better because he had more observations about the peoples throughout Persia and their social customs; some things were even hilariously funny! But Herodutus was just called Histories while Thucydides was called The History of the Peloponnesian War. So, there was very little commentary and 21 years worth of battles! UGH! Susan Wise-Bauer suggested we just skim the battle scenes, and I took her up on her advice.


I did like his observations of human nature; that we are basically bent toward our own gain, that human nature is always rebelling against the law, that the Athenians didn't respond to initiations of peace because they were always grasping for MORE. That was interesting.
It got me thinking about peace. As I was reading that the Athenians refused Sparta's offer of peace and alliance, and instead "grasped for something more," I had an epiphany. I realized that I love peace! It made me grateful for a culture of peace at my church, in my immediate and extended family, in all relationships. It is cultivated everywhere I go, and I LOVE the peace that I now enjoy in every area of my life. Why wouldn't Athens want that? Well, Thucydides answered that by explaining the essence of human nature: we are bent toward always "grasping for more."
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James 4:1 says:
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"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Aren't they caused by the selfish desires that fight to control you?" GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
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Selfish desires always get in the way of true peace.
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It grieves me. Once, I was in a culture that didn't allow for that. The culture said, "We will make you the bad guy." That is how that culture has always dealt with conflict. I saw employee after employee be forced to resign, and it was always the employees problem, never the cultures. After about the sixth "forced resignation," you start to wonder if it isn't always the employees fault.
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There were no fair negotations of a peace treaty where both parties came to the table and discussed terms of peace because the culture doesn't really want to have peace: they want to be right. They hold out until, years later, the other party says they are sorry. Then, they graciously "forgive" and never admit their part in the conflict. In the middle of the apology is character assasination, gossip, slander. (All attack responses even though they aren't directly to the person's face). I saw it over and over again throughout the 28 years of being in that culture until one day I woke up and smelled the coffee (and I don't even like coffee). Before that, I heard the rumors and chose to keep my head in the sand because I didn't want to gossip. Others tried to convince me in hushed whispers of the "just cause" for the "war" with that person who had now become the "enemy." Of course, the former employees weren't called the "enemy" because we are all Christians, right?
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It is also interesting to note the same person was the person trying to convince me of the "just cause." In fact, they were behind almost every forced resignation when they "shared their concerns" with those who "needed to know." This person never had an official role either, but they had the leaders' ears. My experience with that person was that they look at situations through their own lens, and it is often a very distorted picture of what really has happened, but the culture doesn't allow for the other person to come and tell their story. That distortion become reality, and the employees goose is cooked.
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It still grieves me to know how many wonderful people have been hurt by that culture. They are wonderful because they go on to other places and do great and wonderful things! It grieves me that my former culture is so arrogant that they can't take a long, hard, objective look at their culture and change it. People who have tried become labeled "the problem." Most people in the culture don't stand up and say "That is wrong!" for fear of judgment and character assasination being directed at them because of what has happened in the past.
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Some of the Athenian people did not stand up to the murderous oligarchy when they started murdering those who oppossed them:
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"The People remained motionless, being so thoroughly cowed that men thought themselves lucky to escape violence, even when they held their tongues" (p. 518)
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No, there is no physical murder in the culture; but there ARE attack responses in their gossip and slander. Yet, the people in the culture all breath a sigh of relief and say, "I'm glad it is not me." It made me think of a friend who sat on my couch and told me she was forbidden from talking to another friend who had expertise in a certain ministry because that friend had "left." That person regrets not speaking up and defending. She was afraid. What right do the leaders of that culture have to stand in the way of a friendship and helping make a ministry better by picking the former members brain? It seems like a no brainer to me, but that is where the whole jelousy and selfish ambition thing comes in.
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I had the same thing happen to me when I was there. I had a friend whom I knew to be an expert in team-building exercises who used to be an employee there. I was going to do some of those with a group I was leading, and I want her to come and run the games. That was very much FROWNED upon. Fraternizing with the enemy, you know?
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It really makes me sad. It grieves my heart. So sad to think that people would control other people in such a way, but I was controlled by it at one time too.
But I am free now! Just people "always grasping for more" for a multitude of unhealthy reasons. It honestly doesn't make me mad, but it makes me very sad. I grieve because the war still rages in muffled tones, and I feel guilty that I am free, and they are not.
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I am grateful for the culture of peace in which I reside now that has mechanisms to negotiate "terms of peace" in case of hostilities (that are normal and natural when you have selfish people trying to work together). There is no fear of standing up when people need to be accountable for their actions there either. There is no fear to stand up and disagree. Everyone has a story - no one is the "enemy" there. We all know we have that basic human natural bent of selfishness that causes fights and quarrels, but there is a mechanism of grace in place. I love it. The only thing that is not allowed is to not forgive. I love that too.
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It make me glad that my 28 year (got you beat by 7 years, Athens and Sparta!) war is over. AWWWWWW


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