09/05/2013 01:25 pm ET Updated Nov 05, 2013

What Is the Spiritual Response to the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday, Sept. 1, that there now is no uncertainty whatsoever as to whether chemical weapons were used in the Aug. 21 massacre of nearly 1,500 people -- including more than 400 children -- in Syria.

Mr. Kerry said that hair and blood samples from the victims of that attack, collected by first responders and provided to the United States, have tested positive for sarin, which, an NBC News report said, "is considered to be the most toxic and fast-acting chemical warfare agent." Mr. Kerry revealed the results of those tests on the NBC program Meet the Press.

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has steadfastly insisted that it was not responsible for the use of those weapons, claiming that opposition rebel forces, whom the government labels "terrorists," launched the chemical attack in order to claim that the government did so, thus to rile international sentiment against the Assad regime.

Mr. Kerry on Friday, Aug. 30, said, however, that the U.S. believes with "high confidence" that the Assad government is responsible for the attack on its own people, based on a number of highly reliable intelligence sources, including intercepted communications between regime military commanders, satellite tracking of missiles launched from government-control areas to the site of the massacre, and other intel, which Mr. Kerry said could not be detailed publicly without jeopardizing sensitive sources.

The question before the world is: What should be the response of the international community if it is proven that the Assad regime did, in fact, gas its own people to quell the citizen rebellion that has plagued it for over two years?

As well: What should be the response of the international community if it is proven that the rebel forces perpetrated the attack in order to have something to pin on the government and give the U.S. and other Western powers a justification for launching attacks on Syrian government military assets, thus weakening the government's ability to fend off the two-year-old rebellion?

Conversations with God said in Book One that if despots are allowed to continue in their despotism, what does that teach those despots? It also famously said:

"Sometimes man must go to war to make the grandest statement about who man truly is: he who abhors war. There are times when you may have to give up Who You Are in order to be Who You Are. There are Masters who have taught: you cannot have it all until you are willing to give it all up. Thus, in order to "have" yourself as a man of peace, you may have to give up the idea of yourself as a man who never goes to war. History has called upon men for such decisions."

This leaves me, as a person who opposes any decision by U.S. President Barack Obama to employ U.S. missile power in targeted strikes against strategic military installations in Syria, in a challenging position. If there is proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that Syrian President Assad used that nerve gas on his own people, that would make him a despot of the first rank.

As President Obama himself has implied: What is a despot being taught if he is allowed to get away with despotism? And, likewise, if the Syrian rebels actually did use sarin on their own fellow citizens in order to "frame" Assad and his regime, what would it teach them if they were allowed to get away with it?

The spiritual response to these events would be to find a way to allow growth and remembering (or what some people would call "learning") to occur. CWG says sometimes humans must go to war. But now, here is where I notice something very important in the CWG cosmology. The dialogue does not define exactly what it means to declare war. Ah, but my dictionary does. Under "war" it offers as one of its definitions: "a sustained effort to deal with or end a particular unpleasant or undesirable situation or condition"... as in: the authorities are waging war against all forms of smuggling.

Now this is something I can agree with. We must not let those who used chemical weapons in Syria think they can do so with impunity. There will be consequences to pay, and severe ones that will not be pleasant, or easily ignored. Yet those consequences do not have to involve lethal military weapons. They do not have to involve the killing of people.

It is as Einstein said: We cannot solve a problem at the same level and with the same energy that created the problem. We cannot end killing with killing, violence with violence, hatred with hatred. Yet neither can we look the other way as despots commit despotism.

If the Syrian government is proven to have used nerve gas on its own people (and much of the current evidence points that way), the world (and yes, that includes Russia and China) can and should turn that regime into a pariah government, supported by not even its present allies. Not in the U.N., not in the international trade markets, not in the court of global public opinion, not in any way whatsoever. All imports of every kind, by any nation, should cease. Blockades ensuring that edict should be enforced. All cooperation with the government should end. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would find out soon enough that he made not only a humanly horrific, but also a politically horrendous, error.

And if new evidence emerges that the rebels were, after all, responsible for the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in an effort to frame the Assad regime, then any and all support from any and all quarters now flowing to the rebels must be immediately and forever ended.

Mr. Kerry said that the second scenario is completely fabricated by the Assad government and is impossible to believe, because of the high improbability that the rebel forces could get their hands on such weapons grade nerve gas, much less have the capability of delivering it from rockets tracked by satellites to be blasting off from government held territory at the moment of the attack.

The world's job now must be to deliver all the evidence gathered so far to allow the international community to deal with this monstrosity with certainty and sureness, bringing the perpetrators to non-violent but effective reckoning. It is possible to do this. It is just as possible as launching missiles and killing more people.