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What Can We Do to Stop the Violence in Egypt?

bloody_egyptWhat can we do to stop the violence in Egypt?  Grim news of sectarian strife comes almost daily these days.  It grieves the heart to witness killing and maiming recorded by citizen journalists under fire (see an example below).  My own nation was once embroiled in a civil war so pervasive and vicious that resentment still lingers almost a century and a half later.  I grieve as I witness other nations, like Syria and Egypt, now tearing themselves apart. My hopes, born by the Arab Spring, are dashed.

Perhaps now nothing can deflate such spirals of violence.  Perhaps I can only pray, and urge restraint from my own government, so that we would not make matters worse.  Nations are much different than families to be sure, but when I used to do family therapy and had to wade often into the tempestuous waters of sick family systems, I tried always to be an un-anxious presence. By such self-discipline one can at least keep from amplifying the craziness.

On 9-11 Al Qaida jihadists ushered in a terrible new chapter of world history.  I disbelieved at the time that global religious war had begun, but I no longer do. Let us make no mistake, we are now in a third world war, one in which religious ideology plays a major role.  There are no front lines this time.  Everyone’s involved.  We may hope that Homeland Security will keep us safe, but Homeland Security has their hands full with would-be bombers, and cannot create the prophylactic fabric of good will required to keep citizens from turning on each other when fear breeds suspicion.

Years ago I met a refugee from the sectarian warring in Lebanon.  We were biding our time, calmly awaiting the start of a community college lecture on democracy.  She looked at me sternly and said, “You Americans take democracy for granted.  You take tolerance for granted.  Lebanon used to be a tolerant place.  It fell apart like a house of cards.  It could happen here.”


  1. Susan Moseley Susan Moseley

    Tom, I really appreciate your article. I had never thought of all connecting all the religious wars as World War III, but it makes total sense. And it is a painful, sobering insight.

  2. Thanks, Susan, for leaving the reply. Of course, at the moment the damage caused by this third world war is minescule compared to the previous two. Let’s hope that atomic weapons don’t fall into the hands of terrorists. The thing that’s unsettling about a war against them is that old ways of planning war strategies,” i.e., taking into account what your enemy is willing to risk, don’t work anymore.
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