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The Handshake

Confessions of a realistic pollyanna

Much press coverage will be made of the meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Singapore this week. Many will point out that the meeting was pointless in a way. Both men are known for their illogical stances, their huge egos, and being thirsty for power. Promises have been made and broken hundreds of times in the 65 years since the cease fire was declared in the Koreas. The promises made in Singapore had no deadline attached to them. So who knows when the war games put on by South Korea and the US will end? Who knows when the North Korean weapons program will end? So really other than a few words and nice gestures, nothing really has changed.

But I think something indeed happened. These two foes met face to face. They know a little bit more about each other. It is no longer a faceless entity that each other faces. I am not saying that Trump and Kim Jong Un are the best of friends. But at least they know now that there is a human face to the rhetoric in this war of words. And maybe that is a good thing. Maybe it makes the leaders less likely to press the button.

I remember one episode of the American sitcom M*A*S*H. A pilot is in the hospital. He has had an easy time during the war except for this small injury that he has right now. He leaves home each day, drops a few bombs, then flies home and sleeps in his own bed. It is all nice and neat. But while in the hospital, he meets some of the victims of his bombing. They are innocent women and children who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Suddenly the pilot no longer has an easy war. He realises his bombs destroys not a faceless enemy but families. Never again will he drop bombs without wondering who he has killed.

It is easy to destroy those things that are nameless. The fly that buzzes around my head I swat at without much thought. It is a bug. It is a pest. I have little, if any, relationship with it. My conscience will not suffer much if I kill it.

But once you can see for yourself that an enemy has family, has dreams, has desires, is just like you and me, that changes things. No longer are they a nameless foe. They are part of the same creative order that we are, and as such, they deserve life and security that we wish for ourselves. They are God's child, just as I am God's child.

Maybe, just maybe, Trump and Kim Jong Un can see this now. It is easy to battle against a nameless combatant, an evil empire, a country where we don't know anyone. Like a fly, we can too easily dismiss those countries that are unknown to us. But maybe if we can meet a few people from an opposing country we will come to understand that they like us are part of God's creation. And when we do that, maybe, like that pilot from M*A*S*H, we might understand that killing our enemies is killing part of ourself. Blessings

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