- My friend Aaron sent me a link to an essay by the Rev. Ken Joseph, Jr. on his rethinking of his pacifist stance concerning the Iraqi war. It’s an interesting read but like any kind of antecdotal evidence, the experieneces of individuals varies so much. I’ve spoken to Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness along with others who have been to Iraq on their campaigns (one is Andrew Mandell of JPUSA community and formerly of the Celtic-punk band Ballydowse) and their experiences were very different from the Rev. Joseph’s experience.
I doubt that either of those versions of the truth are completely right or wrong. Many ordinary Iraqis cheered to see Hussein gone, others deplored it due to the enormous cost in human lives. War is never simple.
In the end, I have to say there are some absolutes. Killing people is always wrong. Murder was the first sin after “the fall” (Cain slaying Abel), it was one of the ten commandments (thou shalt not kill), and certainly was echoed throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Christian canon of scripture. This prohibition is also found in most of the religious texts of the world, with certain exceptions certainly, but generally seen as being at best the lessor of two evils.
So, if killing can best be the lesser of two evils, then I have to believe that we too often aren’t creative enough in find ways to avoid violence. To quote Dr. King…
- Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
We need to rediscover “creative” forms of protest against violence. The problem with the Iraqi war was that it was the easy way out. Yes, the Iraqi people needed liberation, but they needed to liberate themselves. America can not and did not liberate that people. Until the Iraqi people discover the power of nonviolent protest, they will continue to be in bondage, if not by Saddam Hussein, then they will be under the yoke of foreign occupiers and domestic tyrants.
True liberty can only be achieved through what Dr. King called “soul force,” and in all reality is why everyone on planet earth today is still in bondage to evil. We all are both victims and perpetrators of violence. Even the most noble of us can’t help but contibute in some way to what is evil. We must, if we are to save our society from total corruption, recover what has been lost and begin to see the Imago Dei that is present in the soul of every human being we encounter. Until we see our fellow human beings as all having worth in the eyes of God we are no better than the wild animals.
- For another perspective on what war is like on the ground… PissedOffAmerican: Reprint of a Newweek article on Faith Fippinger, human shield during the Iraqi war who is now facing 12 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for her acts of defiance to the war in Iraq