Thursday, November 02, 2006

The myths of war and violence

This started out as a response to a response in a different thread, but I decided to post it here, instead. My hope is that we can all work to find common ground or, at the very least, hear out one another's opinions. Everyone has a right and opportunity and invitation to post their opinions in full on this blog. It is an open forum and you are invited to disagree. You are also invited to offer compromises and common ground in addition to polemics. With that preface, here is my opinion on the war in Iraq and violence in general:

You can't bomb people into democracy. You can't point a gun at someone and say, "Act free, damnit!" You can't violently force a country into peace. You certainly can't torture them into taking the moral high ground. How can we compare life under one evil tyrant to life under a dozen violent warlords clammoring for power? And what would be the point of such a comparison? As I said before the war started in dozens of peace rallies that I attended... Are we truly so incapable of creative thought that war is the only "solution" we can think of? Is that the model that we think Jesus has left for us? Jesus was a simple Jewish carpenter who undermined the Roman Empire without using violence. Ghandi was a simple Hindu who overturned the British Empire without using violence. Rev. King brought greater equality to the US without using violence. Nixon averted war with China and Russia through something called “international diplomacy” (I’m not sure what that is, but maybe there is an encyclopedia article out there describing it.) Carter brought home captives from Iran without raising a gun. Reagan ended the cold war without firing a missle. That seems to be when our Presidents ran out of ideas...

Bush killed tens of thousands when he invaded Iraq 10 years ago. Clinton sat and watched while Bosnia erupted in Holocaust. He did nothing again when it happened in Rwanda. GWBush actually criticized Clinton for doing nothing when the holocaust began in the Darfur region of Sudan. It is 6 years later and the violence has escalated and spread all over Sudan and all over the surrounding regions, and still Bush has done nothing… not one thing.

Sitting idly by and doing nothing to save someone from evil and oppression is as sinful and reprehensible as performing those actions ourself. Certainly, we would criticize Bush for not acting against Hussein just as we do criticize him for not caring about the hundreds of thousands (a recent estimate said over a million) of people that have died during his administration in Sudan. However, responding to violence with violence is not a solution and it certainly isn't the only option.

If you want an example of someone who is offering peaceful solutions and nonviolent actions in the hopes of: ending the conflict in Iraq, intervening in Sudan, building bridges instead of bombing them, curtailing abortion, ending state-sanctioned execution, and uniting people to curtail death by poverty… and also happens to be an evangelical Christian minister, check out Jim Wallis’ organization:

I genuinely hope that this inspires some open, fruitful dialogue and mutually mindful efforts to build common ground. It is not a place to attack people for their beliefs, but a place to share them in a way that we can all grow together. I don't know if I have done that with my post, but that was my intention.
Shanti, Peace, Shalom,

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