Last night, I gave self-defense plenty of thought after the news of planned killer robots to roam the skies, seeking the enemy.
Several people commented about the need to protect the good life they have, otherwise somebody would invade to snatch it away. Quite right. We can't bow under bullies' threats. Reducing the conflict to a playground scenario, it would be like stopping a gang of thugs from beating you and taking your apple.
In this morning's news, the U.K. defense secretary is to announce details of where the British Army will be based after its withdrawal from Germany. 4,000 troops have already moved back to the UK, and 16,000 men and their families are to follow over the next five years. Read the full story here. What? Britain still has troops in Germany, 70 years after WW2 has ceased? I didn't know.
Back to the dilemma of stopping other people taking what is yours. What does the lesson in the bible mean about turning the other cheek? That's not about protecting, but rather about accepting. Can we apply the meaning to the present day?
One summer back in the 70's, we moved to a small fishing village in South Australia. With the cold war threatening to break out at any time, and a missile pointing at Adelaide four hours drive away, we built a high wall around a courtyard vegetable garden for protection from roving hordes expected to roam the country like those in Mad Max.
While my daughters remained at a local primary school, my teenage son would need to catch a school bus to an Area School, set aside for local farmers and families dotted over the countryside. During the summer holidays, my son chose to become a practicing Christian. At his last school in Adelaide, he'd defended weaker children and had become a hero. Tall for his age and slender as a young teenage boy can be while he filled out his bones, he left for his first day full of enthusiasm.
He returned that afternoon shaken and bruised, declaring in all his bravery that nothing was wrong. After a week or so, we got to the bottom of the problem. The bus driver explained that the younger boys were hitting him just to watch his reaction when he turned the other cheek. The Christian driver didn't know what to do about it and had discussed the problem with the headmaster. They both said the boy would need to sort it out himself. The beatings went on for two years while my 6'4" son grew into his bones. All the advice and love his father and I could give him didn't show a result until one day, he hit back. The beatings stopped. The boy became a man, warped beyond recognition. His youthful zest for life had changed into a bouncer mentality. Whilst remaining a loving son, his actions away from home fill me with horror.
Not only did this real-life experience teach me how peer-group pressure can change a beautiful soul, it highlighted the need for restrained defense at the beginning of a conflict to prevent a build-up of aggression. Bridle as I might about the bleak reality, that's the way things are. Protect yourself or succumb to another order.