Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Molotov Cocktails

I really am not sure what was more worrying in the news this long weekend, the fact that there were firebomb attacks, or that by describing the contents of the firebomb in detail, the media unwittingly gave everyone who wants to know, terrorists and inquisitive children alike, the know-how to produce this dangerous and easily manufactured weapon.

The firebomb, commonly known as a Molotov Cocktail was used as early as 1915 by Taiwanese rebels fighting the Japanese; by Spanish nationalists under General Francisco Franco fighting the Soviet-supported Spanish Republicans during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930’s and received its name when the Finnish Army fought the Soviet Red Army in the Winter War of 1939. At that time the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union was Vyacheslav Molotov.

The Molotov Cocktail has been identified with resistance movements, anarchists and riots against the establishment ever since, which is why I find its attempted use over the weekend so worrying. It is a symbol not just of resistance but of frustration. The choice of targets, the deafening silence from the ensconced establishment most familiar with this type of device is sending mixed signals at a time when the leaders of this nation are preparing for the biggest exercise in trust since the Deuba Accord of 1987, which once achieved was promptly betrayed.

So the message seems to be, “Speak out against us and we’ll get you.” However, the “us” seems to be less concerned with the fact that they are not the only ones being spoken of. Speaking truth to power means that all who are in positions of power are held accountable by the people.

The prophets of the Judeo-Christian tradition spoke truth to those who held and abused religious, political, military and economic power. They were persecuted and yet continued to speak for they felt called by God to do so, uttering the prophetic statement, “Thus saith the Lord…”

I am not suggesting that all journalists, pro-democracy activists and concerned citizens are divinely inspired, although that would be a wonderful breakthrough. So far the only the Police Commissioner has made that claim. However they express their faith or spirituality, these people have been moved by reason, morality, compassion, a sense of justice, the zeitgeist, or have discerned by reflection and prayer to speak at a time when others are honestly, to afraid to do so. They speak out of love for this country. They need the support of the community to whom and for whom they speak.

The old adage of “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” does not hold true anymore. We all know that words can hurt as well as heal. However we are also learning that those who are hurt by words can use sticks, stones and firebombs. Even more worrying is that this is what our children are learning.

Bob Cass offers a lesson in how to fight so that everyone wins.
“Healthy relationships aren't conflict free; they're conflict resolving. The problem is: we fight for victories instead of fighting for solutions. The result is: one wins, one loses, and the relationship suffers! Here are some practical insights for fighting so that the relationship wins:

Firstly, differences are inevitable, normal, and potentially beneficial. They're inevitable, because relationships bring together very different people. They're normal, because all relationships, including great ones, experience them. They're potentially beneficial because, handled effectively, relationships grow through them.

Here are three conflicting handling styles:
(a) The avoid style. These are the 'don't want to rock the boat' and 'let sleeping dogs lie' people. They fear confrontation, so they bury their feelings, not realising they're buried alive and will rise again down the road. They go from clam-up, to build-up, to blow-up, inviting physical and emotional illness. Meanwhile offenses accumulate, unaddressed issues multiply and unfinished business erodes the relationship.
(b) The attack style. These are the 'get them before they get you' people; ruthless fighters who refuse to give in, they inflict terminal wounds on each other.
The Bible says, "If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other" (Gal 5:15 NIV). Attack leads to counterattack, both sides 'dig in' and nothing gets resolved.
(c) The approach-assert style. These are the 'no price is too high for a good relationship' people. They're sensitive to the feelings of others, yet insist on dealing directly with important issues. They avoid blaming, confront the issue, not the individual, and invite others to partner with them in solving the problem and saving the relationship!

To the perpetrators of the fire-bombings and other violent acts of intimidation, please remember this: As long as you hate your enemy, a jail door is closed and a prisoner is taken. But when you try to understand and release your foe from your hatred, then the prisoner is released and that prisoner is you.

May the rest of your week be blessed with he courage to speak the truth in love and the peace to hear and accept the truth.

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