After invading southern Greece and receiving the submission of other key city-states, sometime between 346-336 B.C., Philip II of Macedon turned his attention to Sparta and asked menacingly whether he should come as friend or foe. The reply was “Neither.”
Losing patience, he sent the message:
“You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city.”
The ephors of Sparta again replied with a single word:
Subsequently, neither Philip nor his son Alexander the Great attempted to capture the city. Did they lose interest, were they put off by the response or was it not worth the effort?
In today’s political climate we have seen a similar response in some of the weighty and inconclusive discussions on the world stage. DJT to KJU: “Will you stop developing or testing nuclear weapons?” KJU: “Neither.” Losing patience, DJT sent the following message: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” DJT on August 8, 2017.
Two days later, a statement carried by North Korean state media said: “We cannot have a sound dialogue with a senile man who can’t think rationally, only absolute force can work on him.”
If a sound dialogue is impossible, and threats of force are meaningless, what then? “If”
Here’s an alternative to either/or and neither/if. On this weekend celebrating Passover and Easter, I suggest we try to think and act by taking the initiative to lay down arms and weapons, offer an olive branch, and stop the arguing, debating and rhetoric. Go and come in peace and find a way toward understanding and appreciating differences – different cultures, different values, different perspectives. For heaven’s sakes, find some common ground and show the world’s children that you care about them and their future. Thank you!