"But daddy, why do we have to go to war?"
"Because it is the right thing to do."
The 10-year-old's mind began to circulate like a merry-go-round at recess.
"So what you're saying is that war is the right thing to do?"
I realized then that I was going to have to disengage my mind from the activity of the moment and look into her eyes.
"Honey, sometimes war is the right thing to do."
"When what?" I needed more time to get my own merry-go-round moving.
"You know ... when is it right to go to war?"
"Do you have any bullies at school?"
"Pick out the bully that is the meanest kid on the playground."
"Daddy, do you want me to choose a boy or a girl?"
Gender had not entered into my equation.
"Doesn't matter," I said, still trying to picture a pigtailed bully.
"Well, we have five that I can think of. There are others who are wanna-bes, but I don't take them very serious. There is one kid who is always getting in trouble for fighting and picking on other kids."
"OK, now tell me what the other kids on the playground do when he starts picking on someone."
"They don't do anything dad."
"Why is that?"
"Dad, they're not dumb, just scared."
"What would happen to them?"
"They would get pounded on. This kid is big, Dad, and he is mean too. And that's not all. He has his little gang of friends that do anything he tells them to do."
"So what do people do?"
"They secretly tell the recess duty teacher.... Hey dad, I think I get it. Saddam is a bully and everyone is afraid of him and America is like the recess teacher and we are going to go and get him and take him to the principal, who will give him time out."
"I think you got it."
"Dad, why do we have to do that? Why can't someone else do it?"
"That is a great adult-type of question. The answer is in what the Bible teaches about taking care of people (brother's keeper, Genesis 4:9, Matthew 12:46-50). If you know of a need, such as someone being picked on and bullied, and it is possible for you do something, then you have a responsibility to do something to help them."
"I see, Dad, and so that is why we are helping the people in Iraq."
The Lazy Boy became comfortable for days until the phone rang.
"Duncan residence ... may I help you?"
"Hello is this Reverend Duncan?"
The person on the other end responded far too formally for this to be a casual conversation.
"This is principal...."
Disclaimer: The names of the people above are not very fictional.
Prayer: Lord help us today to be good stewards of the lives that are watching and emulating our every move. May we not be intimidated by the questions but rather ask you for wisdom and guidance.
James D. Duncan is pastor at Peninsula Christian Center, on Kenai Spur Highway, two blocks from the Soldotna "Y." Sunday services are at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
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