THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW YEAR

BLOG 416 January 7, 2019

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST ~ Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here we are with the first blog of 2019! Can you believe it? What shall we say?

The year ended with the worst stock market drop since the Great Depression. The president has shut down the government and no one knows when it will open. The president’s closest legal advisers are off to jail and the scandal over payments over his affairs with two women is cooking while Congress waits for Robert Mueller’s Investigative Report. In the Middle East, the police are for the third time calling for the prosecution of Prime Minister Netanyahu for corruption. At the same time, Israeli discovered that Hezbollah tried to dig tunnels under the border in the Galilee area to be used for an attack on them.

What can we say as a new year begins?

Let’s set the scandals and disagreements aside and start this year on an entirely different basis. Thomas Merton in his essay The Root of War is Fear has some important insight for us. At the root of all war is fear, not so much the fear people have of one another as the fear they have of everything. It is not merely that they do not trust one another: they do not even trust themselves. If they are not sure when someone else may turn around and kill them, they are still less sure when they may turn around and kill themselves … It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also and above all our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves that is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves … Only love – which means humility- can can exorcise the fear that is at the root of war.

Every time we turn on the television or follow news reports, we are swimming in a sea of anxiety. Violence, bombings, school shootings, terrorist reports, fear of environmental collapse, the Stock Market falling, on and on the sources of fear are constantly at our doorstep.

Thomas Merton has important instruction for us. Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to push aside fear and decide to walk in the pathway marked love. Let’s decide to follow the headlines without being swallowed by anxiety. Let’s allow love to remain supreme in 2019.

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