“War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is
suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.” Karl Kraus, Austrian writer, 1874-1936
“Those who dare to interpret God’s will must never claim Him as an asset for one nation or group rather than another. War springs from the love and loyalty which should be offered to God being applied to some God substitute, one of the most dangerous being nationalism.” Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1980 to 1991
While tempting, it is too easy to write a diatribe condemning war or a puff piece promoting peace. If avoiding war or achieving peace were easy, simple and uncomplicated we would all be living in blissful (if perhaps boring) harmony. Having done some scholarly study of world religions I believe it can be said that all of them (including ones that make us uncomfortable and/or afraid) promote a path to peace. As Christians we know that Jesus was and is called the Prince of Peace. At the same time he said, “I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Matt 10:34) and spoke of how his message of peace would bring conflict within families and between nations. If everyone in the world would just . . . Well I’ll stop myself there because there is no way that all seven billion people on this planet “would just . . .” anything! And that is the problem.
The diversity of people, thought, lifestyle, need, belief, fears, grudges and resentments in this world is infinite in its complexity. Trying to get everyone to think, feel and live the same has been tried again and again and inevitably fails – usually with horrifying results. As a Christian I believe that peace is not a goal but a process of living with respect in creation. Respect for God and God’s creation, our global neighbours and ourselves. So simple to say, so difficult to do. Yet it is at the heart of all the great religions – treat others as you would have them treat you. The “Golden Rule”.
To paraphrase G. K. Chesterton, the path to peace has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.
My Remembrance Day challenge is to try once again, each day, every day, to live with love and respect for everyone and everything. It will be difficult. Of course you will fail. Try again. And again. And again. The proverbial glass is neither half full nor half empty and we all thirst.
Shalom, God’s peace through justice and healing, is with you each step of the way.