Discover more from Peter's Proverbs
We Have Sown The Wind. Now We Shall Reap The Whirlwind
Time And Again, We Have Chosen War. Now We Have No Choice But War
For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads, it shall yield no meal; if it were to yield, aliens would devour it.
It takes no great insight or wisdom to conclude that Hamas very much sowed the wind on October 7, when they launched a vicious, savage, even barbaric attack upon Israel.
Indeed, about the only thing that could be certain in the immediate aftermath of that day was that Hamas had not only carried out a massive offensive against Israel, but also has ensured a massive Israeli response. Hamas has well and truly reaped a violent and bloody whirlwind.
Yet we must not overlook that Israel has itself now sown the wind in Gaza. As it launches massive bombing campaigns against targets within Gaza, the casualties among Palestinian Arabs—not all of whom were necessarily ever tied to Hamas—have been staggering, with over some 7,000 Palestinian Arabs reported killed. The death toll is already producing international consternation and pushback globally against Israel’s stated intention of eliminating Hamas. There is little doubt that Israel is and will continue to reap a whirlwind of continued conflict from the choices they have made in the aftermath of October 7; no matter how one frames the moral dimensions of those choices, that conflict with the Palestinian Arabs will continue follows as surely as the night follows the day.
Let us also not overlook how that portion of the 2.3 million Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza not active in Hamas (and who arguably did not participate in the October 7 attacks) have also sown the wind. These are the people who voted Hamas into power in Gaza in 2007, even as Hamas’ official position on Israel was that it should be obliterated. These are the people who have remained passive as Hamas brought some 200 hostages back into Gaza. These are the people among whom Hamas trained for the October 7 attack, practiced for the October 7 attack, and stored supplies in preparation for the October 7 attack. But for the acquiescence of the Palestinian Arab peoples living in Gaza, Hamas could not have carried out this attack. October 7 and all that has followed is a whirlwind of death for the Palestinian Arabs.
It is, of course, almost trite and cliche to point out the myriad ways the United States has sown the wind in Gaza, and across the Middle East, with demonstrably illegal and seemingly endless wars, sowing death across the region, reaping a whirlwind of death and war as a result.
It surely is no coincidence that Hamas, Israel, the Palestinian Arabs, and the United States have separately and jointly reaped the same whirlwind of death, destruction, misery, and more than enough suffering to spawn future generations of militants opposed to one party or another as the seemingly implacable “enemy”. Whenever we sow winds of war and chaos, we reap a whirlwind of death for ourselves and for future generations, each of whom is motivated to seek not peace but constant war. In every era, in every age, and in every society, this has always been the order of things, and will be the order of things.
We reap also a whirlwind of justification, of rationalizations, each calculated to avoid an unpleasant and impolitic truth—and such truths abound on all sides.
Hamas committed barbaric acts of rape and murder, desecrating the corpses of their victims and taking some 200 hostages back into Gaza. This is a truth that cannot be denied and must not be avoided.
Israel, in its reprisal bombings and attacks, has killed potentially as many as 7,000 Palestinian Arabs, not all of whom are known to be affiliated Hamas. Israel has shed innocent blood as a consequence, and that too is a truth that cannot be denied and must not be avoided.
Israel has, since disengaging from Gaza in 2005, barricaded and blockaded the territory, preventing Palestinian Arabs from traveling into Israel—ostensibly to prevent further Hamas-like mischief, but also as a consequence limiting the economic potential of the Gaza region. This is another truth that cannot be denied and must not be avoided.
For their part, the Palestinian Arabs have nurtured Hamas, have chosen to follow Hamas, have given aid, comfort, shelter, and succor to Hamas. Regardless of the moral justifications offered for this, it is a truth that simply cannot be denied and simply must not be avoided.
It is easy to say that Hamas was wrong and is wrong for its savage violence of October 7. It is easy to condemn Hamas for that unspeakable evil. In truth, it is required that we condemn Hamas for that unspeakable evil. No cause, no grievance, no litany of oppressions can ever rise to a level where rape and murder are excusable. We must never excuse what Hamas has done.
It is only slightly less easy to say that Israel is wrong for its tactics in response, that it is not exercising sufficient care to avoid civilian and collateral casualties. To the extent that such a criticism is warranted, it is comparatively easy to condemn Israel for what some would say is its unrestrained violence, for its evil acts against the Palestinian Arabs. Ultimately, it is also necessary that Israel stand condemned for unrestrained violence against the Palestinian Arabs in those instances where the violence was truly unrestrained. How many such instances there are and which instances they are is a question that admits of no easy resolution, but where Israel has gone too far, Israel has done evil and must both account and repent of its evil choices.
It is likewise easy to criticize and condemn the United States government for its over-reliance on the Bush-era Authorizations to Use Military Force as a legitimate policy response to events across the Middle East, and for numerous other questionable policy choices over the past several decades. As with Hamas and Israel, it is necessary the United States stand condemned for its own evil choices. As we must not legitimize one set of evil choices, we must not legitimize any sets of evil choices.
It is easy to say any one of these things when we are only saying but one of these things. It is easy to condemn Hamas and not Israel, or to condemn Israel and not Hamas. It is easy to condemn the United States and pay scant attention to the failings of both Hamas and Israel. It is even easy to condemn Hamas, Israel, and the United States while ignoring the evil choices made by the Palestinian Arabs themselves.
Yet when we say but one of these things—and omit the many other unpleasant and impolitic truths that redound on the world stage—we are again but sowing the wind and will again reap a whirlwind of death and destruction, or war and chaos, of seemingly endless conflict. If even by our silence we legitimize and excuse the evil choices from any party to a conflict, invariably we help perpetuate that conflict. In that silence we continue to sow the wind, and it is therefore certain we shall continue to reap the whirlwind.
This has for me been a stumbling block with regards to not just the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs but also conflicts such as the war in Ukraine. When all sides are in at least some way condemned, how do we proceed towards peace? How do we move from evil choices towards righteous ones?
In many ways, the answer is a simple one: simply choose peace over war. All sides must choose peace over war. All sides must acknowledge and repent of their evil choices. War and conflict must be replaced with peace and rapprochement. Violence must be replaced with forgiveness.
The challenge is what to do until all sides are prepared to acknowledge and repent of their evil choices. Even if Israel tomorrow acknowledged its error in causing collateral and civilian casualties, what option would remain if Hamas remained defiant in its evil and error? If the Palestinian Arabs will not disavow Hamas, and will not distance themselves, politically and physically, from Hamas, what option remains to Israel? What options remain to the Palestinian Arabs, or even to Hamas?
This is the whirlwind which Hamas, Israel, and the Palestinian Arabs—and parties to conflict everywhere—must now reap. Having already made the evil choice for war, any one party to a conflict can on its own choose to continue to fight or it can surrender. All other choices are permanently foreclosed.
Hamas can either continue to fight Israel or it can surrender itself to whatever mercy Israel is disposed to offer.
Israel can either continue to fight Hamas or it can surrender itself to whatever mercy Hamas has to offer.
The Palestinian Arabs not part of Hamas can either disavow Hamas, distancing themselves from Hamas, or they can share whatever fate awaits Hamas.
These are the only choices left—continued war or surrender. These will remain the only choices until all parties unanimously choose peace over war. When Hamas and Israel can commit themselves together to the path of peace, then and only then will they have peace. When the Palestinian Arabs and Israel can commit themselves together to the path of peace, then and only then will they have peace.
Until then, Hamas, the Palestinian Arabs, and Israel can only have war.
The war in Ukraine is no different. When NATO and Russia can commit themselves to the path of peace, then and only then will they have peace. When Ukraine and Russia can commit themselves to the path of peace, then and only then will they have peace.
Until then, NATO, Ukraine, and Russia can only have war.
For every conflict, in every part of the world, whether between nations or between peoples or between individuals, this is the whirlwind we reap. Once we choose the path of war, we are condemned to that path of war until those whom we call enemy are prepared to choose with us the path of peace.
Previously, I have argued that we can have peace in this world, if we will but ask for peace, if we will but seek peace, being committed to peace in our hearts.
What I pray we all come to realize is that, having already chosen paths of war, we can only find peace if everyone finds peace. We all must now seek peace or none of us will get to have peace.
Too often and for too long humanity has chosen the path of war. Too often and for too long humanity has chosen to sow the wind. Now humanity reaps the whirlwind of perpetual war, until at last we all realize our error and together choose the path of peace.
I pray we realize that soon.
Thanks for reading Peter's Proverbs! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.