Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Trouble with War

"War on Terror" montage courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The trouble with war, or I should say, one of the many troubles with war, is that it unleashes evil on all sides. I have written before about the atrocities of war and the problems of modern warfare. This week, the topic has again been raised by television and on my social media page. One of my friends who is living overseas put the following post on Facebook:

Are believers in the U.S. aware of the Christian genocide going on in Syria ... the people killing the Christians are American backed "free Syrian" Al-Quida terrorists....I hope some of you have been calling your elected officials to log your level of opposition to U.S. funds going to kill Christians in Syria.
My friend brought to light a problem that will inevitably occur when we embrace war. We will find that those we care about, or would care about if we knew them, suffer terribly. This is one reason I am continually appalled when Christian Churches so easily accept our country’s repeated call to war. In the Iraq war, Christian communities as well as Jewish communities that had been there for centuries were displaced. Of course, any community torn apart by war is a tragedy, whatever their ethnicity or faith. Here is how I responded to my friend:  

The USA is a big nation living in fear. Unfortunately all we know to do is to fight, whether it is “boots on the ground,” “drones in the air,” or guns in dissident's hands.  War is not the answer, and if you could convince evangelical Christians of that, you would deserve the Nobel Prize. We are Christians living in affluence but we've gone from faith to fear and desperation.
My point was that while my stance on war is in line with the Quakers, I see too many people of faith, especially my evangelical friends  align themselves too quickly with the state when the state chooses war, rather than offering an alternative to the state's socio-political actions.

Someone else responded to my friend’s Facebook post with another perspective:

As an Orthodox Christian (like those in Syria) I am very aware and very heartsick about this. I have opposed US interference in the Middle East all along. So few Americans understand that Christians constitute a significant portion of the population there--or did, until war and persecution began to drive them out.
On the same day that I had this exchange on Facebook, another friend posted an essay by Mark Sandlin which I was glad to read. It was titled, “Ten Political Things You Cannot Do while Following Jesus.” Among the things listed that one cannot do is advocate for war. You can read Sandlin’s essay here
Also on the topic of the atrocities of war is story that aired on CBS Sunday Morning last week (June 2, 2013). The piece was titled “A Dark Side of WWII.” World War II is one we like to hold up as a “good war.” We were fighting against the evil and tyranny of fascism and the fighters for freedom were victorious. It was, after all the heroic accomplishment of “the greatest generation” as Tom Brokaw phrased it in his book by the same title. In spite of heroic and valiant efforts, however, it is inevitable that war will bring out the worst in humanity.

The network gave the following introduction to the news story:

With the upcoming anniversary of the 1944 D-Day invasion, an untold story is coming to light about some of the soldiers who participated in that turning point in WWII. David Martin reports it's all part of a story that's not easy to hear.

My point in posting this information today is to emphasize that war is not a glorious campaign to be entered into lightly, though in recent years our leaders have, in my opinion, been too cavalier in their calls for military action. Furthermore, it should be the role of the Christian community to offer an alternative to war rather than to fall lock-step behind political leaders who stoke public fears in order to justify military solutions.

You can see the 15-minute segment from CBS Sunday Morning below:

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