Over the weekend, I took my sweet wife into the city for an over-night Valentine’s Date. We used a gift card from Valerie Pogemiller for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and pricelined (is that a verb?) a hotel room on Main Street, between Liberty Memorial and the Plaza.
That Saturday, we spent several hours under Liberty Memorial, in the National WWI Museum.
It was a good experience, but it was also quite depressing. A few times, I had to fight back tears while realizing the immense loss of life in such a pointless conflict.
I also spent time in amazement. Amazed by the familiarity of the rhetoric espoused by the leaders leading their people into war. In summary, “It is clear that we’re the righteous ones and for that reason, God is on our side. We must offer all levels of sacrifice, even the ultimate sacrifice, to protect our people, our families and our homeland from the evildoers who, because of the corruption of their hearts, wish to take away our way of life and freedom.” Not only was I amazed by the similarity of the rhetoric surrounding that war to the rhetoric of today’s wars, but I was amazed that both sides fed their people the same BS – I mean, rhetoric. Both sides were convinced of the righteousness of their cause and of the fact that God (or Allah) was on their side. Can both be right? Or maybe both were wrong.
But it’s still the same today. Whether it’s several thousand civilians unfortunate enough to be working in a building that symbolizes global empire killed by self-proclaimed freedom fighters in hijacked airplanes, or the smart bombs dropped from the US’ unmanned planes killing innocent civilians unfortunate enough to be in the way of US targets, the rhetoric is still the same. It’s religious: “God/ Allah is on our side.” It’s nationalistic: “We must protect our nation.” It’s playground-esque: “But THEY started it!”
I realize war is complicated. NO ONE is ALL good. NO ONE is ALL bad. I know this. I know that in a fallen world, fallen humans will do terrible things.
I also know that Jesus showed us a different way. A way that leads not nationalistic pride, political freedom, economic stability but rather to nakedness, poverty and death. Governments tell us that in order to stay free, we must kill our enemies before they kill us. Jesus shows us that we are free to love our enemies, even to the point of dying for them. The "end game" is neither a nation nor political freedom. The "end game" is the Kingdom of God and the freedom found only in Jesus Christ.
"You, my church, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.
You, my teachers, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.
You, my father and mother, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.
You, my friends, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.
You, my government, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.
But now I know, you were wrong, and now I will tell you, my church, my teachers, my father and mother, my friends, my government, it is not wrong to kill except in war. It is wrong to kill"
To read the entire blog post from Shane Claiborne from which I copied that poem, click here.
And to see a reading list from Gene Sharp, the author of "From Dictatorship to Democracy" and a man who has inspired many different nations to undergo nonviolent revolutions, click here. Though it's not a part of normal thinking in our culture, there is a way to secure liberty by removing evil leaders without giving in to the "Myth of Redemptive Violence." - to quote Walter Wink.