Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Senseless Destruction of War

A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

This was probably not among the most frequently used MLK quotes on Monday, but it should have been. As I have asserted several times, war is the most asinine of human behaviors. And yet we seem incapable of abandoning it, so sure are we that violence can solve our problems. Now to be fair, it does excel at giving that impression, at least momentarily, but those victories never last long. So insanely, we try, try again.

To make matters worse, too many of us refuse to question the purposes for which so many of our brothers and sisters have died. Most recently, a television journalist had the gall to voice his unease with the seeming senselessness of American casualties in Afghanistan while on-air. The outrage was swift and silly; a shining example of our "support the troops" mentality in action, with its mindless cliches and chest-thumping antics more appropriate to devoted sports fans cheering on their favorite team. Sadly, this incident was also an example of denial at its worst and deadliest.

Every war death is senseless, because each is a product of our failure to find better ways of settling differences. Living in denial about this truth might bring us temporary comfort, but it also ensures more destruction and more death.

And not only through the occurrence of future wars. Our insistence that violence can solve big problems inevitably leads us into believing that it can solve personal ones as well. Which is how a silly personal dispute in a movie theater turns deadly. And why too many children choose to express their rage with a gun. And, it must be said on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade, one of the hidden reasons behind so many of us being convinced that abortion is a reasonable solution. We are surrounded by symptoms of the spiritual death of which King warned us. Why do we not heed them?

"It is past time that we recognize this family of the One, this fellowship of the One. They are tired of us ignoring, neglecting, and tarnishing it. This family is our Creator's greatest gift to us and we spit upon it constantly. Enough!"

"Our brother calls us to love, love God, love your neighbor, love. How hard is that? What are you afraid of? If he was willing to die to love you, what’s your excuse for not loving those you fail to understand, those you despise, those you hate?"

How many of our siblings must die before we finally say "Enough!"?