King Darius ruled the world. Or so he thought. He gave himself the title King of Kings, and never before, or after, has there been an empire that ruled over a greater percentage of the world’s population. Nothing happened anywhere that he had not decreed. It was if his eyes watched all the way from Egypt to India. The Persian Empire set a new norm for enormous and greatest. This was until they decided to subdue Greece.
When forced to obey rules from a ruler they did not agree with, the Greeks rebelled. They simply disobeyed and did what they thought was right instead. This brought King Darius into a tailspin. Nobody resisted the King of Kings. And when some did anyway, there would be consequences.
He sent an army of seventy thousand. Well-equipped they were. Victory would be easy. The Greeks (actually they were Athenians, but lets call them Greeks for simplicity) were outnumbered seven to one. The Greeks also knew what was at stake: Their freedom and all that mattered to them. With a strong conviction of what was right and that it was worth dying for, they fought. And won.
When one wins a battle against the strongest and biggest army in the world, it might be tempting to celebrate with some beer and dancing. It is what I would have done. Not so with the Greeks. They kept a keen eye on the defeated Persians and noticed they did not return home, but set their course for Athens. The nerve of the wicked! Wise Miltiades, ruler of the Greeks, sent a long-distance runner from Marathon to Athens to warn the inhabitants. The runner ran the 42 km so fast he died right after delivering his message. But he lived just long enough to be instrumental in saving his people. Again, they defeated the enemy. Not in numbers, but with courage and conviction.
I read this in a history book today and marveled. This was 490 BC. Today we fight armies larger than the Persian army, and some of us are tempted to think we can’t win.
I sat with two Rohingya men last night and listened to their stories. They were safe in Norway, and have all the freedom their kin don’t even dare dream of. “Nobody loves our people,” they said matter-of-factly while finishing a cheap cup of coffee. “We are Muslim and we have dark skin. We are just not interesting to the world.”
There are about one hundred Rohingya in Norway. Together they have collected money and supplies that a couple of them will take to Bangladesh and give to their people. One hundred people. Against the Myanmar Army with the backing of its government. One hundred people. Against the indifference of the world. It looks like a losing battle.
But I don’t think it is a losing battle. I don’t think it is a losing battle to fight for the survival of the Rohingya. I don’t think it is a losing battle to fight the xenophobia we witness in the Western world today. I don’t think it is a losing battle to fight the battle for the climate. I don’t think it is a losing battle to fight for what is just and right. Because, just like the Greeks, we know what is at stake. We act justly. We love mercy. We walk humbly with God. These are our weapons, and I believe we can win.