War finally came today. Not another regional conflict or another civil war or another ethnic clash. Not any of those confined horrors that smolder in the evening news like so many brush fires afflicting the forest floor. Not any of those now familiar insurrections and subversions and slaughters that reserve their true horror for the human beings who actually live in physical immediacy with them. Not any of those 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 almost exquisite moment of poise. Some might even say that today there was a moment of release. Call it what we may, there was that small window of time today when we the people stood free. Behind us and finished was the escalating of tensions and uncertainties that must proceed any war if it is to be credible to those who are to fight it. Ahead of us, but still unrealized in human flesh, lay the blood and agony and cumulative rages of war for those who are going to survive it. The procedures of provocation were at last done, and the fires of death not yet here. War.

About war, they were not wrong, I think, those ancient Greeks who capitalized the word and conceptualized it as a god. They were not wrong, that is, if by divinizing war, they intended to describe and explain its autonomy, its awful independence from human control. Now as then, 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 natural laws, works on the principle of immutable, random recurrence.

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

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