How do we Pursue Peace?
Editor’s Note: This article was published March 6, 2003, thirteen days prior to President Bush’s “Shock and Awe” attack against Iraq.
ON SPIRITUALITY & ETHICS
“Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.”
Psalm 34:14 (NRSV)
We are talking past each other. Those who favor a war on Iraq believe that peace is only possible if we remove Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Those who oppose a war on Iraq believe that peace is only possible if we remove the U.S. threat of a destructive war.
Is there anything both sides can agree on? Perhaps. Both say they want a peaceful resolution of this conflict. Both say they oppose the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Both say they are against the use of weapons of mass destruction.
The difference between hawks and doves, then, would appear to be the process they use to put their beliefs into action. Perhaps those on both sides need to ask themselves if their actions reflect the general principles they espouse.
For those opposing war, I have some questions: Are you consistent in your peacemaking efforts? Do you accuse George Bush of hating Saddam Hussein—yet harbor hatred toward President Bush, military personnel, or those advocating war? Do you promote peace as a goal—yet reject peace as the means to this goal?
I would remind you of the evening Martin Luther King’s house is bombed. An angry crowd with guns, knives and bottles wants revenge.
Dr. King addresses the crowd from his porch, “Now let’s not become panicky. If you have weapons, take them home. We cannot solve this problem through violence. Remember the words of Jesus: ‘He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.’ We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us.”
Those of us who oppose war must address the hypocrisy of loving peace while hating our enemies. Instead, we must address the fear beneath our anger—and use peaceful means to achieve peace.
For those favoring war, I also have some questions: Are you consistent in your warmaking efforts? Do you oppose using weapons of mass destruction—or oppose massive destruction only if it is perpetrated by your enemy? Do you promote peace as a goal—yet reject peace as the means to this goal?
I would remind you of the intention of President Bush to strike Baghdad with 600 to 800 cruise missiles in the first two days of the war. A Pentagon official told CBS News, “There will not be a safe place in Baghdad….The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated before.” Does this sound like mass destruction?
Even before this strategy was announced, the United Nations estimated that Iraq would suffer 500,000 casualties in the early days of the war. The principal author of this Shock and Awe policy, Harlan Ullman, states the effect is “rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima.” How can we oppose weapons of mass destruction by instigating a campaign of mass destruction?
Those of us who favor war must address the hypocrisy of loving peace while hating our enemies. Instead, we must address the fear beneath our anger—and use peaceful means to achieve peace.
Everyone loves peace. Everyone desires peace. So I would ask hawks and doves alike to reflect upon one further question: how will you seek peace and pursue it if you hate your enemy?
©2003 Harry Rix. All rights reserved.
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