Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Tag: war

How to Win

     I’ve been winning for a month. Or nearly a month. When you win it’s hard to keep track of how long you’ve been winning. It’s easier to count the days slip by when you’re losing.
     Are you winning?
     We all seem to have something inside us prodding us to do something. The something is different for each one of us. Maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s film. Maybe it’s cooking or dancing or painting or sewing or reading or praying or humanitarian aid or jogging or karate. But it’s something. And we feel like it’s our thing to do. So we make plans, set goals and sit down to do our thing. And then, as we approach the starting blocks, it fizzles out and dies.
     We feel tired. We feel angry. We feel depressed. We feel like we’re no good a it. We feel like we’ll never accomplish anything. We feel resistance.
     My thing is fiction. There is nothing I like more than a good story. I’ve wanted to create my own for as long as I can remember. I’ve had fleeting successes, but I’ve never really been a winner. Until this month. I’m winning now. Every single day. And I think I know why. Shall I share?

     Know the Enemy.
     There is something insidious that works against anything good, creative or beautiful. It seeks to destroy, inhibit and pervert anything happy and alive. Steven Pressfield calls it Resistance. Theologians call it Sin. I’ve come to call it Hate. I call it that because of the way it rails and bites and spits with no goal other than destruction. Have you felt it? When you sit down to write your story? When you wake up early to start your spiritual disciplines? When you think about putting on your jogging shoes? It’s relentless. It’s evil. It makes you hate your thing. It wants to take you down.
     Once I realized it, I understood that every excuse I made for not doing my work was rooted in Hate. And every time I accepted those excuses, Hate won. And my thing was not created. Hate wants all things creative to cease. It’ll do anything it can to kill them. When you know the enemy is there, you realize that every step in the right direction is war. You realize that sometimes you have to work even when you’re hurt (emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically). Because Hate is always crouching at the door, and it’s desire is to destroy you and your art.
     And once you see the enemy, you accept that you must kill it if your thing is to live. And you can take the old Aiel purpose and make it your own: “Till shade is gone, till water is gone, into the Shadow with teeth bared, screaming defiance with the last breath, to spit in Sightblinder’s eye on the last Day.”

     Know the Ally
     Hate stands against you and your work. Love stands with you. Love, the greatest virtue, is primarily a spiritual and creative thing. Love always builds. Love delight in existence. It was for Love that God made the world. It was in Love that he put a part of himself in every human. And, through Love, we can create and achieve.
     All good creativity comes from the Outside. Its root is divine. And when we realize that it is not born within us, but outside us, we see that we can beg for it. We can reach out to the Creator and ask him to send a Muse to kiss our spirit so we can go forward and do what we were meant to do.
     And Love, of course, is stronger than Hate. For Love is, foundationally, something. While Hate, foundationally, is a non-thing. Love tends toward order and peace and life and existence. Hate tends towards chaos and violence and death and entropy.
     With an Ally like the Creator, how can Hate win? With Love we can trample the brats of hell under our feet and give to the world whatever gifts we have to give.

     And so I am winning. And I shall continue to win. And one day you will see the fruits of my victories.

     When will I see yours?


The pope was in Portugal a little while ago to give his traditional Mass at Fatima’s Sanctuary. While giving his speech he denounced homosexual marriage and said that it was one of “today’s most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good.”

Does that get you thinking? It gets me thinking. Here’s what I started thinking:

What are today’s greatest threats to the common good?

Here’s the list I brainstormed:

  • Nuclear Proliferation. There are about 22,000 nuclear warheads in the world. Apparently it would only take 500-600 warheads to kill every human on the planet. That’s too bad, eh? And now that wild countries like North Korea, Iran and Pakistan are getting their hands on the things, it seems pretty stressful. It’s a good thing Obama is taking steps to get rid of them, but it still feels like a threat to the common good to have these thing laying around, eh?
  • Extreme Global Poverty. I think I’ve mentioned this one before. 53% of all deaths in the world are hunger-related. That’s 35 million or so. I figure anything that accounts for more than half of all deaths is a hefty threat, don’t you? This is even more threatening than nuclear proliferation, I think. At least the nukes aren’t killing us yet. Hunger is.
  • Religious Violence. 85 people died a few days ago in Pakistan because they prayed in the wrong kind of mosque. I search for words to use against the sorts of people who choose violence to solve religious disagreements. I found the words, but I imagine I’d lose a lot of my audience if I actually used them. They are not nice words.
  • Malice. Ah, malice. That deep, enigmatic urge that drives man to hurt man. Can you imagine what the world would be like without it? I bet it’d be pretty good. Think of all the things that would go away! Violence, passive-agressive stuff, spite, all gone! Malice may be just about the worst urge a person can have. Would you call it a threat to the common good? I should hope so.
  • War. Armed, violent conflict between nations. The only sure outcome of war is dead people. And since war is always on a national level, it’s usually a lot of dead people. And whenever something leads to a lot of dead people, I consider it a threat to the common good, don’t you?
  • Ignorance. Great evil is often born out of ignorance. Some of the textbooks at the school I taught at in Pakistan said that 9/11 was pulled off by Israel in an attempt to get the US to destroy the Muslim world. This, of course, is breeding a new generation of young people who consider the West to be an implacable enemy. This gives birth to Taliban. This sucks.
  • I look at this list, coming just off the top of my ill-informed head, and I find a desire to ask one question of the Pope: “Amid these insidious and dangerous threats to the common good, where does homosexual marriage fit?”