Eleven years ago, a great tragedy took place. It is a tragedy that we in the United States will not easily forget for at least another decade. The tragedy I reference was the crashing of two planes by al-Qaeda in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. We all experienced anger and sadness over many unnecessary deaths in this country.
Very shortly afterwards, we responded by going to war with the country suspected for harboring these terrorists. Eleven years later, thousands of deaths later, and hundreds of billions of dollars later, we successfully avenged the deaths over two times over and killed the mastermind, Osama Bin Laden. Some would call this a justified war. However, some serious questions are being raised on this issue: was this a last resort, did we figure the benefits, did we properly distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, did we use the principle of minimal force, etc,?
In some cases we did do this, but on many counts we did not. We were fast and furiously vengeful. We decided to take a rhetoric of not just war, but total war, one of doing whatever it takes and paying whatever costs no matter the costs.
We have not taken part in just war ever since the end of World War II, and as Christians in America, we must take responsibility for this. As a pacifist, I enjoy chatting with those from the Just War position in Christianity. The thing that makes me enjoy their company is that they confess that death and violence is evil, although we would disagree on how and why we interact with it. The problem with the other alternative to war is that it does not take seriously violence as evil and even when it might start to, refuses to “work out its salvation with fear and trembling” as part of the Church (Philippians 2:12; ironically, this follows right after the passage urging us to be like Christ who surrendered himself to death).
The only cost worth putting all of ourselves towards is the one that moves away from violence. I mentioned John 13 in my last post. I pointed to the fact that Jesus washed the feet of the one who would betray him to death, Judas. Jesus was still inviting him to join in Kingdom living, even after Judas had already made His mind up to betray Christ. If we are Christians, and take seriously that our very name means follower of Christ, we must find that way of lesser to no violence.
And when we find that we have brought unnecessary violence, we must make amends. As an American citizen, I think that we should end involvement in any conflict we are now engaged in. As a Christian, I challenge our country to do what it can to make amends and bring peace into this world, on top of the efforts already attempted. This is the way that will bring a little more of God’s Kingdom on earth.
What is your stance on war and violence? Do you agree or disagree with America’s pursuit of “justice” this past decade? Should we be involved in more or less conflict? Why?