Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 25, 2002
Forgiveness offers a just, true peace
Is technology our servant or our master? Do we still know where we are going and the moral boundaries of progress? Let us consider the question as it pertains to warfare.
Art Eggleton has hinted that the Geneva Convention is out of date. Does that mean we should change the rules of engagement and move the parameters to allow for 21st century overkill?
The same week George W. Bush announced "our men and women deserve the best weapons" money can buy - some $40 billion worth, over and above the $250 billion already designated for that purpose.
Remember when politicians promised jobs, or a chicken in every pot? Are ratings now dependent on a politician's ability to terrorize some phantom enemy?
Witness the approval of Bush's pugnacious State of the Union address.
Secretary of State Rumsfeld has decided any surviving prisoners of war are actually illegal combatants and that a military tribunal would be a more efficient way to mete out justice.
Are we moving towards a global police state with one lawmaker and enforcer?
Would it not be wise to examine these proposals in the light of the Gospel?
Many were disappointed to see the U.S. bishops come on side so quickly. "The bishops have abandoned us," said Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan.
John Dear wrote in the National Catholic Reporter: "Whether the bishops endorse Jesus or not, we are called to practice Gospel non-violence."
We've been conditioned to embrace a kind of idolatry which makes a mockery of our Christian faith: our unquestioned dependence on increased military expenditures for our security.
All the weapons of mass destruction and sophisticated delivery systems in the world could not have prevented the Sept. 11 tragedy.
There has even been talk of first strike readiness to eliminate our enemies before they get any nasty ideas. Some nations have already been put on the short list. Have we gone daft?
It seems to me the God of revelation is not in favour of a white Christian minority setting aside a major share of the world's resources to provide them with a false sense of security while half the world's population lives in abject squalor.
The best we can hope for is a xenophobic balance of terror. The larger the number of destitutes in the world, the more afraid we will become they will lust after our possessions and the more frightened they will become that we will write them off as potential terrorists.
Today's armed conflicts are so beyond any human scale, every effort is made to keep combatants away from the killing fields.Yet our soldiers come back with post-traumatic stress disorders and other debilitating diseases.
It has been proposed therefore that the next generation of weapons be entirely operated by remote control. But since the majority of victims in modern warfare are civilians, who will consider the debilitating effects of modern warfare on mothers and children?
Rather than putting our faith in more and better weapons, it might be time to consider the words of Pope John Paul: "Only forgiveness and justice can quench the thirst for revenge and open the heart to a real and lasting reconciliation between peoples."
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