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  A Christian Faith Magazine February 2005, Volume 10, Issue 7  

Rev. Mark Connolly
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Many years ago the famous English writer, G.K. Chesterton, wrote an article called "The Impractical Idealist". In this wonderful essay he gave a lot of simplified answers to complicated problems. One of the major themes of the essay was that sometimes our thinking becomes so convoluted that we complicate the problem and oftentimes do not come up with the best solution. He said a pragmatist is always willing to accept, after a long period of discussion, almost any solution so that he can get onto the next problem. In our country, in our world, we have complicated problems in almost every aspect of the globe. When we have these problems we barter, we negotiate, we compromise. But oftentimes some of our solutions fall short and oftentimes lead to more problems.

If Chesterton were alive today and analyzing the world at large from his standpoint of being called an impractical idealist, he would offer all sorts of theories and suggestions concerning how we could resolve the problem for example of the Middle East. He would say, let us get twelve different groups of Palestinians and Israelis together and bring them to our country and let these twelve different groups work differently and at the end of thirty days come up with their suggestions and their directives as to how this Middle East problem could be resolved. The theory being since they are going to be the future leaders they should have some say in what directives should be formulated to bring peace to both of their countries. The pragmatist who hears all the suggestions and directives of these twelve different groups would say they are too immature to understand all the complexities of the problems. We have to continue with our own form of negotiations even if it should result in wars and killings and destruction of the country. When you analyze their approach to these complicated problems you really have to wonder which one is wrong, Chesterton in his approach to achieving peace, or the leaders in these two countries. There must be a better way of achieving peace than what is now being tried. I really think younger blood, younger ideas, younger mentalities, might give us suggestions that have eluded us so far.

I think another thing Chesterton would analyze is this dilemma. Our country waged war against Germany, thousands of lives were lost, wholesale destruction took place and yet twenty years later after the war, both countries were back trading with each other. He would look at Japan the same way and say we waged war against this country, the atom bomb was dropped twice. Hundreds of thousands will be scarred for life. Almost twenty years later we are back trading with that same country of Japan. You can use the same principal with Vietnam and Korea. We waged war, finished the war, thousands are killed and twenty years later we are back trading. Did it ever occur to any of us that we might have to develop a whole new form of thinking as we enter the 21st century? We cannot be that impractical. Decade after decade to wage war, kill thousands, develop a peace treaty and then start trading all over with each country.

There must be someone in the 270 million people in this country who can come forth with a cure that prevents wars from taking place in our country. It sounds idealistic to write this way, but if we don't hold onto a vision that peace is possible before war, then we are responsible for the lives and deaths of thousands of people who follow us. Jesus Christ once told us, my peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. There must be either in the gospels or the place of some other religious leader an idea that will bring forth themes and values that will make this peace a reality.

We don't want to go on century after century declaring that war is hell. God has given us the brain power to put men on the moon, to bring them to the deepest parts of the ocean, God has given brain power to people in our country to come up with a solution to avoid war at all costs. Through prayer and creative thinking, our wish for this year should be that those insights that will help us avoid war and bring peace to others will soon become a reality. All of these thoughts might sound naive, might sound simplistic. They might sound as if they came from another impractical idealist who thought the same way Chesterton did. Wouldn't it be amazing if some of his thoughts were implemented without the scars of war being experienced and greater peace becoming a reality for more people on this globe.


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