As kids we learned the body language of crossed fingers to mean that we were telling a white lie, and couldn’t be held accountable for it, because our fingers were crossed. It didn’t turn out well. It seems that parents and others in authority don’t necessarily but into the significance of crossed fingers.
We might have had some credential for the act if we had had access to a laptop in those days. It turns out that crossed fingers is actually an early Christian symbol that refers to the significance of the cross. When first or second century Christians met each other they signified their faith community by crossing their fingers. In fact, if you were to consult the famous painting of The Last Supper by Ribalta, you would see that Jesus has his fingers crossed as he blesses the bread. What parent can dismiss that credential? It was kind of the fraternity handshake known to college alumni and even members of fraternal orders like the Masons.
I’m drawn to this topic by the confusion and search for meaning in the Syrian issue before the world today. Clearly, the Syrian government is committing atrocities that merit punishment. But it is clear to most in the world that to take action against Syria is a certain half-step to war…a Middle Eastern war that nobody wants to see happen. President Obama is seeking alliances around the world (and within the United States) to warrant a military execise to teach the Syrian president a lesson.
A number of people who glory in opposition to President Obama have jumped on board with his proposal, to the astonishment of everyone. Hard core conservative Republican and similarly rigid Democrats have joined their voices in support, and a similar configuration of those in opposition has emerged. There is no rhyme nor reason to the rationales for some of the mergers.
I can’t help but believe that a good number of those voting on this issue do so with their fingers crossed. It is to the advantage of many (in a campaign year) to be seen as either aligning themselves with the President or distancing themselves from him.
- The Iraq War issue is too close behind to be overlooked. There are still people elected to national office for either supporting or rejecting the votes on funding the ten year war in the Middle East.
- Very few Americans of any stripe want to be seen as supporting another war any place in the world.
I am one of those who finds himself torn by the situation. Thankfully I don’t have to vote in full view of the American public on the issue. My inclination is to want to support the President, who almost seems driven to want to take on the Syrian government. I’m not unaware of the potential consequences of military action against the leadership of Syria. Her allies, especially Iran, are just chomping at the bit to see the U.S. do something so seemingly dangerous and unwise. I don’t want to see him caught up in such a media war. And, to be perfecly honest, I do not condone military solutions to diplomatic possibilities.
But at the same time, I don’t want to see Syria dismissed with a slap on the hand. I also don’t want to see the U.S. take on such action unilaterally. Some of our closest allies, especially England, have stepped away from the decision. The U.N. is caught in a split on the issue, with at least two members of the Security Council indicating their intentions to veto such action.
But, recognizing that I am not allowed to vote on this issue, I also don’t want to see my legislators act with crossed fingers. If they disagree with the President, it is okay to say so. There is much at stake which exceeds political alliances.
Photo Credit: James E. Miller