Now We Celebrate War

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King Ahab once greeted the prophet Elijah with the title
“the troubler of Israel.” Elijah rightly responded to King
Ahab by calling him “the troubler of Israel”—the one who
had abandoned all the values and deeply held beliefs of the
Jewish people in favor of brute, raw power. We face such a
critical juncture in our own country. We face a time when
people who stand for peace in our own communities are
referred to as “loonies.” A hobby shop owner who does not
believe a mother, who has lost her son in this war, has a
right to speak, tries his level best to silence her criticism of
our government. This man is hailed as a hero.
As another Memorial Day passed, we made the prosecution
of war in this country such an idol that we do not dare
grieve the dead (both American and Iraqi), critique the government,
or call for peace, or we will be marginalized by those
who think this is all some political gambit. Not one word of
critique from the editorial staff of our community newspaper
about war without a cogent reason, torture, secret prisons, private
war contractors, war profiteers, the rape of a teenage girl
and the burning of her family, the killing of civilians, the
planned bombing of an alternative media outlet, the use of
weapons of mass destruction by our own country, and the loss
of basic human rights. Memorial Day used to be a day when
we grieved our war dead and promised that we would never,
ever let the world come to this necessary evil again.
Now we celebrate war. In full military dress our soldiers
show up at our public schools to encourage our children to
enjoy the toys of war. Our teachers openly advocate for
such play. Our school administrators throw up their hands
and say, “I don’t know what we can do.”
Now proponents of peace are roundly mocked. Faith
communities do not dare lift up the word “peace” unless
the word is romanticized and irrelevant.
Iran looms on the horizon and the drumbeat has started.
The only real chance we have is people, enough people
in our communities, who will transcend their political
viewpoints to recognize values that are more deeply held.
“Loonies” or “troublers” though they may be, we need soldiers,
mothers of soldiers, former soldiers, editorialists,
reporters, administrators, teachers, and faith leaders who
care less about being right and winning and more about
walking the hard road of peace.

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