Ministerial Musings: "War Is Not The Answer"

I am against war for a sundry of reasons. Aside from the fact that warfare leaves incalculable, innocent victims in its wake (including children), I also believe that just about all armed conflicts are perpetrated by elected officials and business moguls in order to maintain political power and economic dominance. War enables the upper echelon of elites to amass prodigious amounts of wealth while many a lower or middle class nineteen year old ends up dead or in a veteran’s hospital being fitted with prosthetic limbs, all for some propagandized purpose.

Do I think that there is such a thing as Just War? Sure - if someone invades your country you have a right to defend yourself with force if need be.

Do I support our troops? One hundred percent! In fact, I support our troops so much that I think they should be called upon to sacrifice themselves only in the most extreme, dire circumstances. The problem is that most armed confrontations do not fit that criterion.

Am I patriotic? “Right down to my red, white, and blue socks,” as Arthur Fonzarelli once said, but I do not subscribe to Nationalism. In other words, I do not believe that our country is right no matter what actions we take. I agree with Thomas Jefferson: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

We are taught to think otherwise, though. We are taught to believe that all wars are justified and if we oppose them we are traitorous.

An intelligent man once said, “Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”

Who was that wise man? Hermann Wilhelm Göring, a leading member of the Nazi party during the Third Reich.

But I think President Dwight D. Eisenhower was wiser. Eisenhower once said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.”

Humankind has been around for a long time now. We have evolved from being primitive, savage Neanderthals to intelligent, civilized human beings, haven’t we? I wonder if that is what God thinks.

Well, I do know that Jesus taught a message of love and, to me, Jesus is God incarnate. I am pretty sure that when Jesus told us to love our enemies, he did not mean that we should kill them.

Love your neighbor (which includes your enemy) as you love yourself. Treat others as you want to be treated. We teach such biblical maxims to our children. It is high time that we start heeding them ourselves.

John Tamilio III, a resident of Lakewood, is the religion columnist for The Lakewood Observer and is the Senior Pastor of Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in the Tremont neighborhood: a Just-Peace congregation.

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Volume 6, Issue 20, Posted 8:30 AM, 10.06.2010