Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Right War

I never fought in war. Every generation of Davis men did, from the American Revolution to WWII, but I broke the family tradition. I had an opportunity to fight in Vietnam, but I respectfully refused. I believed then ... and now... that the Vietnam War was a mistake. It was the wrong war in the wrong place for the wrong reasons. I feel the same way about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But I have great respect for veterans of war, including friends who fought in Vietnam. I salute them. They may have made a different choice than I, but their courage humbles me. They are willing to risk life and limb for country and kin. How can anyone not honor such heroism?

Jesus himself said, "No greater love has a man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." That happens on a regular basis in theaters of war, and that sacrificial love must be honored.

Such sacrifice I respect. It is killing I hate. So does every soldier I have ever met. I am not a pacifist. If necessary I would kill to defend those I love. I would not be able to live with myself if I didn't. But I am just not convinced that self-defense is the reason for our current wars.

I am not so naïve as to think that Al Qaeda and militant Islam are not threats. They certainly are. But I do not believe that the present American war strategy is addressing those threats. Once again we are fighting the wrong wars in the wrong places for the wrong reasons.

There is a deeper spiritual issue. War is a reflection of the war within man's soul. American Cold War diplomat Francis Meehan said, "Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself." Until the inner war is stopped, wars will never cease.

The apostle James wrote: "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" It is the inner battle that causes the outer battles. The war in the human heart is the real threat to mankind's existence. This war is not being addressed by religion. On the contrary, wars are often fought in the name of religions. Crusades and jihads. Gott mit uns.

I am religious, and I have war in my heart. That is what is causing the wars overseas. It is not Bush nor Obama nor the military industrial complex. It is the human heart. We act out our inner wars on outer battlefields. We are fighting the wrong wars in the wrong places for the wrong reasons.

The First World War was optimistically called "The war to end all wars." That was the right reason but the wrong battlefield. The right battlefield is the human heart. The right war is to end war.

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