KEEPING THE FAITH: At the brink

Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 10:31 AM.

But then, a second missile was detected; then a third; a fourth, and a fifth. The sky seemed to be filled with American warheads! Still, Petrov had a “funny feeling in his gut,” that the alert system was malfunctioning. Further, it was unthinkable, for him, that he would be the final reason for a war that would end human civilization.

So, Petrov sat on the alert message, overrode the security system, and prevented the USSR from retaliating. The seconds passed, then minutes, and finally an hour: There were no missiles. His gut feeling had been right all along. The warning system had failed with near cataclysmic consequences for the human race.

Singlehandedly, Petrov had prevented a worldwide nuclear war, simply by not becoming a participant in it. And for averting this cosmic disaster Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov was relieved of his duty, and the entire episode was locked away in the cellar of Soviet secrets for nearly two decades.

The Pauline admonition is fitting upon the anniversary of Petrov’s heroics. Paul wrote, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Literally translated, “Whatever comes out of you, let it lead to peace.” It is redemptive counsel to us to do all we can to protect harmony; clearly, don’t be the one responsible for creating conflict — exceed all limits — to neutralize it.

Now, not every personal or individual skirmish has the potential to balloon into a global apocalypse. But worldwide wars are not that much different than private ones in the end. The same tit for tat is in play. The same wounded pride demands to be assuaged. And likewise, at some point in the conflict there is an opportunity for someone to step away from the brink.

There is opportunity for someone to refuse to perpetuate the ruthless cycle of attack and counterattack; for someone to reject the established protocol of retaliation; for someone to practice peace. Let that someone be you. You might just save the world.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.



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