Sunday, January 11, 2009

The world is not black and white but shades of gray

I am writing this blog in great sadness with the murder of Palestinians in Gaza. And more questions than answers in my mind.

I once talked with a Christian friend on where is God when Hitler killed the Jews, where was God when 911 happened and his answer is this is a fallen world, waiting for Kingdom of Heaven (which many believe is Palestine). That's why there we so many Holy Crusades to the Holy Land I guess.

Mine is a more simplistic answer. God does not interfere in the business of man. Its man themselves that have to settle all the mess that they create. It's like man create buildings and when they collapse, they say "It's an act of God". There are so many Arab countries around but they do nothing and expect me to raise my hand to the sky and cry "God"???.

So some people say "Boycott American products!!!". The problem is how do we differentiate America as an entity or America as a country?. Its like a few Muslim blew themselves up and then people generalize "All Muslim are terrorist". Aren't we doing the same thing then??. And can these people tell me exactly what is American Product? Coke? Its produced here locally. Microsoft?? Intel processors? There is no black and white in this world...only shades of gray or even blood red.

Rather than that, I believe the countries should work together rather than fight over trivial things. Then only can we manage to achieve something...


Dumbo said...

Is it Islamic belief that God does not interfere with mankind's affairs, or is it your own view? I mean, if Muslims believe that God does not interfere, then why pray (berdoa)?

I wish to add to the Christian view here (was it me who said what you are quoting here?): the belief that "it is a fallen world, we are waiting for Jesus' second coming to straighten out the mess" is only a partial answer to your question here. In fact, I can add to the question, "why did God kill the innocent firstborns of Egypt to bring out his people?" and "why did God command the Israelites to kill ALL the Canaanites when conquering their lands? Surely there were good people among them?"

Well, the only thing I can say is what Jesus told His disciples: "I am the life and the resurrection". God can take life (or allow a life to be taken) because He can give back life. We can't give back life, therefore we can't kill. Sometimes God allows innocent lives to be taken in the course of fulfilling His plans/promises (e.g. His promise to give the lands of Canaan - modern day Palestine - to Abraham's descendants), and we think that God is being cruel. But how do we know that God has not kept in store much better things for these sacrificed innocents in His eternal kingdom? When a good man dies, we often ask God why. But how do we know it is not God's grace unto him that he needs not suffer this world any longer? We do not know. We can only trust God simply that He is just, and He will not be unjust towards any soul. He will reward goodness, and punish wickedness. Eventually (which could mean "at the End of it all").

Another thing is, sometimes God allows evil things to happen, to test our hearts, whether we will uphold justice, or we will let injustice go unchecked. It does not matter that we are not able to straighten all the mess. To God, what matters is our hearts, and whether we try our best. I believe that we can't ever solve the Middle East conflict between the Extremist Jews and the Extremist Arabs (notice that I do not think of the conflict there as between religions, but rather between peoples... religion is just the perfect excuse). After all, according to the Book of Revelation, the conflicts there will play out till the end time. But that does not mean we should not try to do something. God is looking at our hearts to see what we will do about the cruelty being meted out. And we will stand or fall in front of His Judgment Throne based on the course we have chosen.

I agree with you that boycotting American products is not the answer. It is not even America's war. And the American government is entitled to their biases, just as our government is entitled to their biases. Why are we looking at the speck in other people's eyes and not doing anything about the beam in our eyes? Are we truly just in our judgment? Do we truly understand what caused the deep hatred between these two extremist groups? If not, then why are we condemning any side at all?

Rather, I think the only effective thing to do to protect the innocent is for the people of the world to form a movement, not to protest outside any embassies, but to go en masse (numbering in thousands upon thousands) to Gaza, blend in with the innocent civilians there, and challenge the Israeli military: go ahead and shoot, if you want to kill us, too. Is your hatred for Palestinians so great that you would kill innocent non-Palestinians as collateral damage?

Likewise, another such mass should also move into southern Israel, and tell Hamas: go ahead, fire your rockets.

I'm an idealist, yes. But I believe that's the only solution we can use, without judging either side. "Judge not, that thou shall not be judged".

Dumbo said...

By the way, those "Holy" crusades were misguided political agendas. The modern churches have apologized for that history, and according to our belief, the "New Jerusalem" (Kingdom of Heaven) as promised in Revelation is not even an earthly one, so why fight over Palestine or Jerusalem or any place at all?

SMS said...

Its my own view, however

“Truly, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Quran 13:11)

So human must make an effort to change first before God does any changes.

For example, if a human chooses a particular thing, there will be a particular outcome leading to a particular conclusion. If the human chooses a different course of action, then the outcome and conclusion will be different. If you choose to swallow a whole bottle of painkilling tablets, you will die this afternoon; but if you choose to swallow only two, it may cure your migraine and you may live to be a hundred. God, knows all the possible outcomes but He leaves the choice to you.

On praying, All that believers can do is to ask for guidance along our path of life. We may not be able to see the road way into the distance, but we can pray that God will show us the next step, one step at a time.

SMS said...

Another thing, on the concept of pray. Why do we pray? Are we sincere in our prayers?

God knows what is in your heart and if you are not sincere, will God grant your prayers? So don't make it just a formality which I have seen so many =.=

And prayers must be followed with action, or action than prayer. Its like "I pray for a million bucks" and then sit on my ass, nothing will happen right?

Jwo-Haur said...

"Why do we pray?"

I think one of the answers (there are many answers to this question) is: we pray so that God may be magnified (to ourselves and to others) when that prayer is answered.

I mean, God already knows what we need (note: "need", not "want"), right? So why does He want us to request through prayer?

Now, imagine that I pray to every so-called "god" there is for something. If I get that something, how do I (and any other person) know WHICH "god" answered my prayer?

But if I am faithful to the one God - the only true God - and pray to Him, and to Him only, then when my prayer is answered, I know it is from Him, and I will praise Him, and everyone who has heard me praying to Him (or knows that I had prayed to Him) will know that He is true and mighty in deeds, and that He is a loving God who answers prayer.

That, I think is one of the reasons why God wants us to pray.

Another reason is that we believe prayer is a two-way communication. It is about having a personal relationship with God. What true father-son relationship does not involve active communication? While we "talk" (pray) to Him, we also wait for what He would tell us through the Holy Spirit.

(My confession: I'm very lacking in the 2-way communication department... something I brought over from my upbringing. I'm not very close to my dad. This habit of not talking a lot to my dad has a very negative effect on my life as a Christian.)


"Are we sincere in our prayers?"

Often, we pray with a disobedient heart. Like a pampered child, we tell God, "I want this and no other." We do not open ourselves to other possible ways God might answer our prayer.

I think a sincere prayer is one made with humility and submission. "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42) Thus prayed Jesus the night before his crucifixion. "...but yours be done." How many of us pray with that kind of submission and obedience?

I totally agree with you that there should be action following prayer (or alongside prayer, whichever way you prefer to put it). I just wish to add that many people pursue his/her action plans as if he/she had never prayed about it.

I mean, while you put your prayer into action, you should also prepare yourself to be "surprised" by God. He may reveal to you an even better way, and you must be ready at any moment's notice to align your actions with His revealed plan, rather than stubbornly insisting with God, "but I had a good plan going!" Trust me: forget your "good" plan. God's plan is always the BEST. :-)

Many people complain that God does not answer their prayer. My question to these people is: "Are you prepared to obey God's will if He answers you?" If not, why should God waste His breath answering you?

Approach prayer with humility, obedience, and submission, and you will be surprised how readily God answers prayers.

Teoh Han Hui said...

In the eye of an atheist it's plain stupidity. The strong tend to bully the weak. That is nature. And since the Arabian nations are not united (some like Saudi Arabia have very close ties with the US) how can they stand against Israel which has the backing of the US? It's a country that popped out of nowhere in 6 days!!! (I believe its existence is illegal but that's another thing...)

Dumbo said...

And who are you to throw your own stupidity around? Have you done enough research to say what you just said? If the existence of any country can be "illegal", then even the existence of China is illegal, because it was united (and has since been kept together) by military force and countless bloodshed!

And my dear atheist, please go look at the "design" of your eyes before you decide there is no God.

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1)

Teoh Han Hui said...

It's illegal by the conventions of the modern world, but of course the United Nations is weak and powerless in enforcing its resolutions (they have passed many resolutions in the UN Security Council demanding that Israel return their illegally claimed territories in the past, and now even the ceasefire resolution is not obeyed by both sides).

And please understand that I'm not doing any personal attacks. The 'stupidity' refers to that of the parties involved (political leaders in Palestine and Israel etc).

I did not 'decide' that there is no God. It is just a belief, much like yours is (albeit in the opposite manner). It is this freedom of faith that is protected under the Constitution of many countries (Malaysia included) and I detest those who do not respect that right. =)

Jwo-Haur said...

If I have misunderstood your words and been harsh in my own, please accept my apology.

Nevertheless, I must still ask you to look deeper into the matter, even historically, before you pass your judgment.

The modern Israel did not pop up in 6 days, as you said. Men and women who had migrated back to the land of Palestine since the beginning of the twentieth century (due to the persecution they faced elsewhere) had toiled many decades in the land, reviving it from a wasteland into what is now among the world's most productive agricultural lands, in terms of fruit production - practically what the Bible used to call that land: a land flowing with milk and honey.

If you are such an advocate of freedom and right to choose, why would you deny a people - a nation - its right to exist?

True, they eventually took over the land by force. But do we really know what happened? They had lived half a century peaceably with the Arabs that originally dwelt in that land. Why the sudden need for their own nation? If a people can live peacefully and prosper in a land (even though not their own), would they stir up trouble? For what? To destroy the very things they worked so hard to build? Something must have happened between the Arabs and the Jews. What? And who caused it?

Of course there will always be those radical "nationalists". But will ordinary, peace-loving folks ever really rise to the call of ultra-nationalists?

If my sources are correct, part of the reason is oil, and the countries that manipulate it for their profit. The problem is more complicated than just "the strong bullying the weak". Rather, it was, at that time, the strong (countries eying the oil there) manipulating the weak (the nationless Jews and the suspicious Arabs at that time).

(Happy spelunking into the caves of history.)

As for Israel taking over Gaza later on, I do agree that Israel should let that go, give it back (though to whom, that I wonder). But I would not deny the nation of Israel its right to exist. Would you?


Regarding God, I also appeal to you to look deeper into that matter, too. And I do mean deeper, as in deeper into yourself, both physically (have you looked into your eyes? :-p) and spiritually.

I used to be an atheist myself. But it was resentment that drove me to deny God: if God exists, and he is loving, why had he let me live through HELL growing up?

Then one day, God rebuked me. Sternly, but gently. At that time, I was down in the dump, and afraid of the future.

I thought back about the several times in my life, when I was also at my lowest. At those times, there had always been a special person - in Chinese they call it "贵人" - who would come along and pull me out of the mire. When I thought back about those times, I was suddenly very afraid. Suppose no one come to my rescue the next time I'm at a dead end?

My heart sank. I do not know if you had ever had such a nightmare, in which you feel yourself falling, and falling, into a bottomless pit. But that is merely a nightmare; you wake from the nightmare, and you are all right. But imagine feeling my heart sinking when I was wide awake! It was worse that those nightmares. I guess I was, at that time, on the brink of crossing over to serious depression.

Then there was a voice. The voice was unfamiliar to me, and it was firm and authoritative, but not unkind. It said, "You suppose that those were coincidences?"

What I felt was miraculous. I felt a hand lifting up my sinking heart, and in a moment I felt all right again. And I wept. In relieve. I knew I could have gone out and do something stupid then and there, if that voice had not rebuked me. (Imagine being rebuked and feeling comforted. Weird huh?)

What the Voice said was true: those crucial good turns in my life were not coincidences. Someone up there is looking after me. And not just looking after me. Everything is within His plan. "And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28).

I did not become a Christian right away (I came from a family with mixed Buddhist and traditional beliefs). I did not know right away who He was. Just that He was a Supreme Being. Then just shortly after that, a couple of U-mates came along (see the flawless timing?) and invited me to their Church. I was reluctant at first, but there was a blood donation drive there, so I went. After that, I went back there on and off. And I got to know about God. I did a "voice-matching", and recognized Him. :-) Just kidding. The voice I heard was stern and authoritative yet loving. Like the voice a father should have (not that my father ever talked like that). That is exactly how the Bible describes God. So I knew it was Him.

I have since only heard His voice one more time. He doesn't talk directly to us much, for the reason I had shared about in the previous post (I'm not a very obedient child myself). But, it's good to know that He is always there. :-)

Just look deeper into yourself. He is waiting there.

Jwo-Haur said...

I'm bracing for SMS to throw me out and say, "Bah, go proselytize elsewhere!" Ha ha. :-D

Hey, you'd better start throwing me out or some religious "police" would start thinking you are condoning my actions. :-p

Teoh Han Hui said...

To me, what is true needs no testament from the 'believers'. It only makes it seem dubious (but of course I'm not saying it's false, as I fully respect your choice). IMO truth is supported by proven facts (i.e. science) and not by words of mouth or experience (i.e. emotions).

The Israeli nationalists (Zionists I afraid) are the ones who thought they needed a nation. The manipulation, I afraid, is the other way around. US economy has largely been controlled by the Jews. That is why the US never fails to back Israel in its actions. (I suppose you understand how serious a problem lobbying is in the US.) Talking about provoking the spirits of the people, have you forgotten about Hitler and his National Socialist Party? (Nothing new here.)

Jwo-Haur said...

Science is a practice of observation. You cannot prove using science what you cannot observe. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1). More things in this world are achieved through faith than through science. The greatest achievements of mankind have always been because of faith, of an undaunted belief that a much greater power than our own puny effort can help us achieve something of eternal value.

You don't like history lessons much, do you? :-) I didn't either. But some histories are worth knowing.

You speak of Zionism as if it is something evil. By itself, it was just a people's wish to return to the land of their ancestors and dwell there, where they believe God wants them to dwell. "Next year in Jerusalem", they said to each other, while suffering persecution elsewhere in the world.

It is how you MANIPULATE Zionist desires that might have wrought the evil.

And talking about manipulation, you should not hate the U.S. as a nation either. It has always been their leaders - and yes, I will admit, those behind the leaders, controlling them, some Jews, no doubt - that had screwed things up everywhere in the world.

But before we even look at the U.S., I wish to point out that, historically, it was Great Britain (yes, the good old U.K.) that first advocated for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. Why? The motive is suspect. Colonialism is one, I'm sure. Oil is another, I think. And if you want to start pointing fingers, France was another, and also Italy. They were all eying the oil-rich middle-east at the end of WWII. The U.S. was not even in the picture yet. If you ask me, what we are seeing now today is another British mess. Remember their "divide and conquer" trick in Malaya? We are still suffering from its ill effect. Thank God at least we (Malays, Chinese, Indians, etc.) did not end up like the Palestinians and Jews. At one point in time (513, remember?) it almost seemed that was the path we are going down.

Divide and conquer. They had used it in Palestine, trust me.

And I will not condemn the U.S. for choosing side. Everyone chooses side. No one is truly impartial. As I said in an earlier comment, the U.S. is ENTITLED to its bias, just as we are entitled to our bias. You must understand that Hamas is not an innocent party, either.

Of course, I do agree that the current bloodshed has to stop immediately, no matter what historical excuse they want to cite. It is getting very, very sickening.

Jwo-Haur said...

Just to acknowledge that, without realizing it, I was actually partly agreeing with your final statement.

Yes, the manipulation of the emotion of the mass. It was a part of the factor, too. But you must also consider that the same trick had surely also been played on the Arabs at that time. The Arab nationalism may not have a name attached to it, as "Zionism" is attached to the Jews', but they had (and still have) their own brand of nationalism, too, as disunited as they were (/are).

It had been politicians that had caused the divide (especially the "divide and conquer" part, I strongly believe). I do not believe any present political intervention can undo that. It will only make things worse.

I believe human nature is very simple (it has become very bad, but still simple, or, predictable, I should say). If two brothers started fighting, the last thing a third person (be it an outsider or a parent) should do is to mediate their fight. With a spectator present, they would start to seek justification in the eye of the spectator. "He started it. It was his fault." And if the spectator decided to choose side, kaboom. World War III.

From the very beginning, if you'd just let the two brothers be, they would eventually forget why they were even fighting at all, and just make up without officially making up. Brothers are like that. It may take a few days, a few months, but they make up. Provided there had been no outside intervention at all. Once they realize someone is WATCHING, they will seek justification, vindication, etc. and the war will never end. The brothers will not speak again to each other until they die.

I may have over-simplified the situation, I'll admit. But hey, I'm a very simple man. :-)

CLARIFICATION: of course I do not mean we should let the present massacre go on. That should stop IMMEDIATELY. What I meant was, in the very BEGINNING - way back then - there should not have been so many outside interventions. From the beginning, if the world - including the Arab neighbors - would just let the two peoples settle their own scores, I'm quite sure things will be much simpler now.

Teoh Han Hui said...

Science can only disprove, not prove. Everything could be proven false but nothing could be proven true.

Oh, I do love history. However, please forgive the fact that my understanding is certainly not impartial. (And thanks for pointing out my oversights.)

I'm not a US hater. Actually I think it's kind of a great nation holding the dreams of people from all over the world.

As we speak, more and more innocent people are getting killed and badly injured in Gaza. Some even go as far as to call it a genocide. This will only create more hatred in the future. Life is hard for those who are lucky enough to survive as they are deprived of basic supplies. Let's hope the peace talks in Egypt bear some results this time around, and quickly.

Jwo-Haur said...

(after taking a cool bath)

Mr. Teoh (and whoever else is reading),

I think I had been over-excited in my previous comments (in response to your comments in response to mine in response to your... focus!) I kind of lost focus on the present and talked too much about what's past.

Actually, I do agree with most of your points on the present issue, about political leaders on both sides being stupid, about the U.S. condoning Israel's war atrocities, about the people's emotions being manipulated, etc. The only thing I had wanted to contend with you was your comment that the existence of Israel is "illegal".

All my arguments had only been to plead for their right to exist on this earth. Every people deserves a place to call home. You can't deny that human right.

But even in that issue, I had lost my focus, too. I mean, personally, I believe they deserve a PLACE to call home. But I do not really believe it had to be their ancestral land. No. It could be any place. Heck, the combined wealth of some of them should be sufficient to buy a whole nation!

When you said that Israel as a nation is "illegal", I had subconsciously misunderstood that you share the Arab-extremist sentiment that the entire Jewish people should be annihilated (as in a genocide); hence the many arguments I presented.

If you had not meant to imply that they should be wiped off from the face of the earth (if your comment had been purely from a legalistic point of view), then I actually do not have a quarrel with you. :-)

Perhaps the Jews should have just lived in Palestine among the Arabs without declaring independence. Perhaps they should not have taken so much land. Perhaps. But what's done is done, and we see that they are a better caretaker of the land than the previous tenants. Look at what they did with that small piece of desert land. Perhaps the Palestinians should have just accepted this bunch of "home-coming" aliens and learn to benefit from the uncanny way the Jews can turn practically anything into gold. Perhaps. I don't know. We will never know.

Damn those British colonialists. @#$%


I'd say, hang them warmongers and let the peoples live in peace. ^^V

Jwo-Haur said...

As I said, there are only two things we ordinary people can do now:

ONE: we, the other peoples from all over the world, in throngs of thousands upon thousands, go into (if that's possible) Gaza, blend in with them, and use ourselves as human shield. See how Israel like making enemies of the entire world. (What's the use of protesting in the street and in front of embassies?)

TWO: pray. Believe that there is a greater power at work, waiting to unleash His awesome power to reconcile when we human concede that we cannot do it with our puny and limited abilities.

I know you would object to BOTH. Ha-ha. That's how you keep an interesting conversation going.

Anyway, I don't understand Hamas. Israel had been perpetrating all these atrocities to achieve only ONE goal (and it's not genocide, I'm sure): to get Hamas to promise they would not attack Israelite territories again. But what is Hamas' stand? "Let them kill our people as long as we do not give up our chance to occasionally irritate them with some fireworks." Huh? Sigh.

Teoh Han Hui said...

Yes, the people are innocent. Leave them alone...

Your first solution is a desperate and useless one. With the power of the media and the Internet, the critical voices of the global community can reach those people in Israel. (I don't know. Perhaps they're concerned about their country's image and that's why they've put an end to the invasion for the time being?)

I'm not saying that you should not pray but without any real actions miracles will not happen.

Hey, I'm not trying to keep the conversation alive. Just expressing my views...

The Israel leaders' true intention is to fulfill the wish of the majority of their people (to strike back at Hamas). Hamas' rockets don't really do much damage but it's still lethal at times. The problem is that Israel's response is disproportionate and it has caused a major humanity crisis.

Jwo-Haur said...

Of course, when there are still viable actions to be taken, we should not sit around waiting for miracles... however, miracles are precisely the very thing - the only and last thing - we can hope for when we have exhausted all our means. :-)

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. ... Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:1, 8-10)


I do not know what Israel means by saying that they have achieved their goal for the invasion... one guess is they think they have struck enough fear into the people of Gaza so that they will no longer give their full support to Hamas... perhaps? Or perhaps they think they have put enough pressure on Egypt to exert tighter control on the Egypt-Gaza border, to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza? As you said, we don't know. But thank God for the present respite (yes, I'm sure it's just a respite... the conflict is far from over, unfortunately, seeing that Hamas has vowed to fight on... sigh...).

Thanks for sharing your views... it's always good to hear other points of view.

God bless you. :-)