Daily Archives: August 8, 2014

A Trip to Gettysburg amid Worldwide Chaos

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I am heading up to Gettysburg with my students to conduct our staff ride teaching all of those things that I write about all the time. I guess a lot of what I like about studying Gettysburg and the men that fought the battle, like all of history is how timeless the lessons are. As I have pointed out this is not about weapons and tactics, but rather basic human nature, virtue, vice and character or lack thereof. It is about leaders, good and bad who make decisions that affect the lives of thousands and even the course of nations in times of crisis.

The fascinating thing is how so many of these leaders, like many of our own today had feet of clay, which I think makes them more fascinating to study than supposed “saints.”

But as I make this trip their are tumultuous events going around the world. In Iraq the forces of ISIS, or the Islamic Caliphate continue to enjoy their reign of terror against Christians, Yazidi, Shi’ite and moderate Sunnis in the areas they occupy. It is becoming a humanitarian disaster. As of last night U.S. Navy aircraft are conducting bombing missions on ISIS positions, as U.S. Air Force aircraft conduct humanitarian airdrops to refugees fleeing ISIS. Likewise through the Middle East conflicts are raging in Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Gaza. In the Ukraine the situation continues to escalate in the wake of the shoot down of MH-17. The situation in West Africa with the Ebola outbreak continues to grow.

All of these situations are troubling and very serious and I am concerned. In 1863 following the defeat at Chancellorsville, the delays in taking Vicksburg and Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania there was a near panic in Washington and in many places in the North. History is history, people are people and react to turmoil and uncertainty in predicable ways, many assume that the sky is falling and that things are worse than they have ever been. That is normal, it is human nature, but it doesn’t mean that perception is reality.

In fact as Barbara Tuchman so wisely wrote is as true today as it has been throughout history.

“Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded events. The fact of being on the record makes it appear continuous and ubiquitous whereas it is more likely to have been sporadic in time and place…. The fact of being reported multiplies the apparent extent of any deplorable development by five or ten-fold.”

That being said, I will sign off for now.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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