Spring is in the air…along with war.
It’s just kind of a perinneal thing, that old “necessary evil.” So as the missles fly over Libya, Iraq winds down, and Afganistan is business as usual (read: very little progress), people get to choose again if they “support the troops,” or if they’re “peaceful pacifists.”
Christians have it extra tough to try to see eye to eye on war. I suspect that someone who opposed the war in Iraq has a fundamentally different view of America than a guy who supported the war. But then we throw Jesus into the mix, and we’re just a mess. We can’t decide what Jesus meant about “turning the other cheek.”
So whether you’re a pacifist, a war hawk, a lover or a fighther, I think I’ve got you all covered…
Don’t Be a Hero
Okay, let’s say you’re at the bank where you work, and the place gets held up by a bunch of masked men with guns. You’re on the floor with your coworkers, and you have an opportunity to take out one of the bumbling henchmen while he’s not looking. The background music is getting pretty intense too. What are you coworkers all telling you? The same thing they always do at a time like this.
“Don’t be a hero.”
That’s what everyone says. When the chips are down, don’t be a hero. Just do what the man with the gun says. Be a pacifist. But you can’t be a pacifist and a hero. The hero is the guy who takes down the terrorists or carries the kitties out of the burning building. The pacifist in every movie is the guy who pees his pants. Even though we think of the Messiah as a pacifist, we’d probably hesitate to call him a hero in our typical sense of the word.
Being a pacifist is all well and good. If you don’t want to defend yourself, fine. It’s not cowardly. Seems pretty gutsy to tell your enemy to do his worst while you take it. But what about defending someone else? I know Jesus said when someone slaps you to turn your other cheek to them so they can slap you again. But say someone else is getting slapped? Are we supposed to turn their cheek for them so they can get slapped again? That’s when pacifism breaks down – when your “righteous” non-violence allows more violence to exist against defenseless people.
Do I have to wait for someone to be robbed and beaten half to death by the side of the road to step in and be a ‘good Samaritan?’
The President is going on a big anti-bullying campaign these days, which happens to be very relevant to Libya. It’s not about oil. Libya produces 2% of the world’s oil, so don’t try to justify your pacifism with that delusion. I do not understand non-violent pacifists who frown on confronting ruthless dictators who slaughter thousands of innocent people. You tell your chronically bullied, emotionally broken child to turn his other cheek to a bully. The next time your kids are fighting, just be a pacifist and let them eat each other. It’s the same thing.
Pacifism in America is really convenient. We don’t have anyone attacking us. It’s really easy to say we wouldn’t defend ourselves while other people are on the front lines defending us.
The Game of World Domination
But wait! I know only half of you are spitting at your computer in righteous indignation. Let me see what I can do for the rest of you.
You probably liked my last point. Being a pacifist just seems un-American, doesn’t it? As American Christians, we speak softly, but we carry a big stick. You and I know that there’s plenty of God-ordained violence and war and nation invading in the Old Testament. And we know that Jesus never told Roman soldiers to stop being soldiers. So we’re proud to send our soldiers over to take out a guy who looks like he gets beauty tips from Mickey Rourke.
And isn’t that just as convenient and cozy for me as pacifism is for the next guy? I can say I “support our troops.” What does that mean? I put a sticker on my car? I take some flak from my pacifist friends? What are they going to do to me? They’re pacifists! I’ve never enlisted. I’ve never had to ration my own food or buy a war bond. I’ve never lost anyone I love in war. It sure is easy for me to say a tyrant should be taken out, when I’m not the one to do it. Maybe I should be less concerned with making sure I’m not a pacifist flower child, and more concerned about the rampant pacifism and indifference in my heart when I see my actual neighbor in need.
It just doesn’t seem like you can really figure out if you’re a pacifist or not until it’s your own life on the line.
What do you think? Do the seemingly pacifist words of Jesus apply to nations? Are we supposed to be radical pacifists, or do we draw the line when it means being a good Samaritan?
By the way, I’ve got a special short post going up tomorrow and all you bloggers out there won’t want to miss it.