The red horse

Red-horse1“And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living being say, ‘Come!’ And another horse, a red one, went out; and to its rider it was granted to steal away peace from the earth, and that men should slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.”
The Apocalypse 6.3-4

This prohecy is not painting a picture of formal, international war; other predictions in the Apocalypse speak specifically about that. This is a prediction of non-centralized, non-state violence, of people killing people.

Just take one dimension of such violence, terrorism. Those of us who live in the Americas feel sheltered somewhat by our geogrpahic location (at least so far), but we hear reports almost daily of new terrorist activities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, the problem threatens to increase. Refugees have been streaming into Europe by the hundreds of thousands, and apart from the humanitarian crisis this is creating, there continues to be concern that hiding in the flow of refugees are ISIS extremists looking for easy entry into Europe and beyond. According to CNN,
U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove “warned that the mass influx of migrants is allowing ISIS to spread ‘like a cancer, taking advantage of paths of least resistance and threatening European nations, and our own, with terrorist attacks.’”

This, of course, adds a serious complication to the already difficult challenge of providing sanctuary to refugees, because careful screening of every single person must be built into the whole process. Is it actually possible to intercept all covert extremists? Perhaps; at least we can hope.

However, even granted that this might be accomplished, an even greater challenge looms before us. It may theoretically be possible to prevent the physical migration of extremists, but is it even hopeful that the migration of an ideology can be prevented? Take, for example, the recent case of the San Bernardino tragedy in which 14 people were killed. The husband of the couple responsible, Syed Rizwan Farook, was born in Illinois. The attack is now widely considered to have been an act of “terrorism,” but this perpetrator was not an immigrant. Any ideology he had embraced found its way to him right at home in America.

There is still the further reality of non-terrorist violence that rings all too frequently in our ears; things like passenger airliners deliberately scuttled, mass shootings, and homicide plain and simple (which creates annual numbers of victims far outnumbering any other form of violent crime.) It may be terrorism that strikes fear into our hearts, but death by violence is a problem far more encompassing than terrorism alone, and one that seems
to be increasing with time.

People killing people. Is this global phenomenon “fixable,” a temporary social “glitch” that can soon just be turned into a memory? Or is there something bigger going on here? Click here to join the conversation.