What If? -- Musings on the Tsunami

Thumbing through Isaiah recently I was startled to find this: after a passage (in Isaiah 19) in which the prophet describes horrors that caused the hearts of the Egyptians to "melt within them," he predicts that "the people will turn to the Lord, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them." The next lines describe how three bitter enemies-Egypt, Assyria, and Israel-will "worship together" and how all three will become "a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, 'Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.'" What a picture!

Like the ancient Egyptians, those who died in Southeast Asia on December 26 (and since then) are in God's hands. But among the living amazing things have happened. Will they last? In Sri Lanka, where a decades-old conflict has killed twice as many people as died in the tsunamis, Tamil Tigers and Sinhalese have joined forces in common relief efforts. So have Hindus and Muslims in India.

The United States has an unprecedented opportunity to embrace Muslims of many nations as the fellow humans they are, not only with disaster relief but with genuine compassion and generosity. The world has been struck; what would happen if we let God heal us? Why can't the miracle described in Isaiah 19 happen today? Why can't forgiveness and peace heal the wounds of today's wars-including the petty wars that fracture so many of our relationships?

What If

What if we grasped the moment that is now (don't ask me when; don't ask me how) and every person on the street became the most important one to meet?

What if the Hindu fishermen (the ones their Muslim neighbors sheltered in a mosque) called on all Indians of whatever faith to end sectarian strife?

What if the Tamil Tigers (who lost so many children in the waves) decided not to send any more child soldiers to fight their Sri Lankan war?

What if in the USA (tell me, why can't it happen today?) the Christians put their weapons away and disarmed their enemies with love?

What if the Laskar mujahedeen (who killed Christians on the Malukus) called on their brothers and sisters worldwide to embrace nonviolence and peace?

Why can't it happen now (while hands are helping and hearts are hurting) that we remove all obstacles to make this and much, much more possible?

Or will our hands and hearts and minds (united now in a common humanity) trade shovels, grief, and generosity for guns and greed and animosity?

What if we grasped the moment that is now (now we know when; now we know how) and not put off what we can do today for tomorrow, when all could be washed away?

You may reprint this article free of charge providing you use the following credit box: Article by Bill Wiser, a member of the Bruderhof - an international communal movement dedicated to a life of simplicity, service, sharing, and nonviolence. (http://www.bruderhof.com/).

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