Monday, July 31, 2006

A naive Christian view of war, peace, and cease-fires

A recent letter to President Bush from a group of church leaders had this to say about the need for an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon : "no hoped-for benefit should outweigh the cause of saving innocent lives."

That sounds very naive, I'm sure, to political and military strategists, but I believe it's at the heart of what being an adherent of a "non-killing religion" like Christianity is supposed to mean.

All our power stratagems are prone to reflect our blinkered views of reality and our quest for domination - and are prone to failure. To put them ahead of justice, mercy, kindness, and humility is to turn away from the prophets, the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer, as well as the social teachings of many churches, and to put our own best-laid plans first. (Or our stupidly-laid plans, which can go bad even more quickly.)

The illusion that we're making things better in the long run stops us from trying to treat people decently right now. I cast my lot with those who say that our calling is to love the people who are here right now, enemies and all. The mistakes that come from trying to do that are less destructive than those that come from grand ideologically-driven plans, or so our religious traditions tell us.

The only way to reconcile the different views about who's at fault or who's most at fault or who started it is to put all that aside for the moment and to look at the human realities of the situation and then work together to figure out how to live together. We can start to re-assess the historical process which has led us to the present troubles once we've calmed down a bit.

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