War finally came today. Not another regional conflict or another civilwar or another ethnic clash. Not any of those confined horrors thatsmolder in the evening news like so many brush fires afflicting theforest floor. Not any of those now familiar insurrections andsubversions and slaughters that reserve their true horror for the humanbeings who actually live in physical immediacy with them. Not any ofthose things. War. War that now, for a while, will embrace the entire earth in immediacy.

Briefly today, as at the opening salvos of any war, there was an almostexquisite moment of poise. Some might even say that today there was amoment of release. Call it what we may, there was that small window oftime today when we the people stood free. Behind us and finished wasthe escalating of tensions and uncertainties that must proceed any warif it is to be credible to those who are to fight it. Ahead of us, butstill unrealized in human flesh, lay the blood and agony and cumulativerages of war for those who are going to survive it. The procedures ofprovocation were at last done, and the fires of death not yet here. War.

About war, they were not wrong, I think, those ancient Greeks whocapitalized the word and conceptualized it as a god. They were notwrong, that is, if by divinizing war, they intended to describe andexplain its autonomy, its awful independence from human control. Now asthen, war is a madness without governance. If no longer a god among us,then at least an inescapable force which, as is the case with naturallaws, works on the principle of immutable, random recurrence.

Yet war, like all natural laws and most Greek gods, has boundaries itmay not cross. The first of these is that it can not utterlydestroy--indeed, will never be permitted utterly to destroy--humankindor to remove us from the earth. History is proof text of that axiom;Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures record it in the rainbow pledgeto Noah; and faith affirms it. Faith affirms it today. Some of us willsurvive. And that knowledge is more than hope or even fact. It issacred trust. Let us so live today that we who do survive will beworthy of our kind's tomorrows.