'No more war, never again war'

by Joshua J. McElwee

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As the news broke Saturday that the U.S. would be making air strikes in Libya, I was frantically reading my twitter feeds to see the updates. I couldn't believe what I was reading.

One after another tweets popped up explaining what was happening. Pentagon spokesmen giving the specifics ('100,000 pounds of ordinance dropped in the first two hours'); reporters quoting the president ('there will be no boots on the ground'); commentators with the two sides of usual spin ('with this action the president has shown American strength'/'the president waited far too long and made us look weak.')

It was a visual representation of that drumbeat we're becoming far too familiar with.

How to take this? I'll be the first to admit that I don't really understand what other options there are. When you're facing a tyrant such as Gaddafi, what else are you to do? Gandhi said it best: nonviolent resistance only works when the people you oppose have a conscience.

45 years ago this October, Pope Paul VI stood at the United Nations and made one of the most powerful statements ever recorded by a pontiff: "No more war, never again war. Peace, it is peace that must guide the destinies of people and of all mankind."

Yet, here we are, again. At war. Our third of the new century. What does this say about our prospects for the future? Of what world we'll be giving to our children?

J. Peter Nixon over at the dotCommonweal blog has a personal reflection about why Christians argue against war. He captures it: Among so many other things, war is the primary way we devalue what we believe. We make ourselves out to be something we aren't:

Christians who witness against war do so for many reasons. First and foremost is the example of Christ himself, who admonished us to love our enemies and peacefully submitted to violence against his person. There is the tragic waste of human lives that always accompanies war, lives created by God and precious in his sight.

Along with this, though, is an understanding that war -- particularly modern war --represents the height of human pride and arrogance, an arrogance that forgets that God is God and we are not. Rather than being fought over territory or to settle rival dynastic claims, modern wars are increasing fought to shape the course of History itself and to usher in some form of utopia, whether communist, fascist, or liberal-democratic. hey are a form of eschatology masquerading as politics.

Come consider the works of the Lord, the redoubtable deeds he has done on the earth.

He puts an end to wars over all the earth; the bow he breaks, the spear he snaps, He burns the shields with fire.

"Be still and know that I am God, supreme among the nations, supreme on the earth!" (Ps 46 9-11)

As the wars continue, may we all echo the psalmist's prayer.

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