The willingness to do or complete things that are difficult, commonly referred to as fighting spirit, is a characteristic that is encouraged and admired by most of us. To have a fighting spirit, is to have the determination not to give in, and the courage to struggle and overcome adversity.
I have spent the last few weeks at the Bield sitting in the Barn gallery surrounded by the Stations of the Cross Exhibition. It has led me to reflect on the fighting spirit of Jesus, and how his courage and determination manifested itself in his acceptance of death at the hands of others. I wonder at the internal battle that he might have fought to reach this point of acceptance and overcome the more natural flight or fight responses.
At the eleventh station Jesus is nailed to the cross. Exhibition goers are invited to hammer a nail into the cross. The sound of metal-on-metal pierces the otherwise peaceful atmosphere, and each time I hear the noise I wonder how the person who was hammering Jesus to the cross felt. What would it be like to repeatedly hammer nails through the hands and feet of living people? Would that too have required fighting spirit?
My thoughts drift to imagine what it is that incites one person to be violent towards another. Just war theories have argued that violence is necessary for ensuring peace and security, other motivators might be revenge or material gain. In the case of Jesus, his executioners were perhaps motivated by fear. Richard Lebow, Professor of International Political Theory, King's College London suggests fear is a motivator for violence when reason is unable to constrain ones ‘fighting spirit’. In this context, fighting spirit’ or appetite for violence is determined by a person’s quest for self-esteem and honour. Leblow argues that this is the main reason why people fight, and nations launch offensives on other nations. Perhaps that offers some explanation as to why Ukraine now finds itself at war.
But our culture IS changing, and such aggression at least in the western world is more likely to result in a loss of ones standing, so can we hope for a more peaceful future?
We pray for Ukraine and for peace at noon each day in our chapel, and you are welcome to join us.
by Kim Stafford
How many do you have? Enough
to line the roads? Enough to give
to others so they can fill the fields?
Enough to plant in every bomb crater,
bullet hole? That would be too many.
If you have just one, one can spiral
into a thousand in a halo of gold.
Where will you hide it in the earth
so every seed may declare peace for
a survivor’s knees at a brother’s grave?
If you would like to grow your own sunflower seeds, we are selling sunflowers for Ukraine at our Southton smallholding plant sale on 7th May from 12 noon