My good friend Eric left a comment about some thoughts I posted on my blog yesterday concerning Veteran's Day. In that post, I expressed the tension I felt in trying to balance a commitment to follow Jesus' non-violent life with the fact that I have friends and family that have served nobly in the military. Eric referred to this tension as a "dichotomy". I thought that was a good word.
He then referred me to a friend's comment stream on facebook that also dealt with this dichotomy. I read it and decided to post some follow up thoughts. Here is my reply:
Thanks for the affirming comment, Eric.
I had a look at the comment thread you mentioned. Wow. Lots of discussion. I wonder if it'll modify anyone's positions??? Hm.
I still find it troubling that Jesus dismantled political and religious oppression without ever lifting a sword. Is non-violence robust enough to withstand terrorism? I don't know. All I know is: were it not for people like my brother, some kid in Iraq might have chased her ball into a death trap and a certain village would have been plagued with disease caused by unclean water supplies. He has worked not only for the freedom of Americans but, honestly, for the lives of our "enemies". Like I said: that commands my respect and, in some strange way, it seems to embody the Jesus-ethic to love our enemies.
The writers of a book called "The Anatomy of Peace", in this regard, state that even war can be approached with a heart of peace. Interesting, eh?
I guess the bottom line is: pacifists should not judge the soldier and nor should the soldier judge the pacifist. The same Jesus who said "love your enemies" also said "do not judge." How inconvenient.
Either way, we often make snap judgments without understanding or listening to the other side.
My brother and I had a heated discussion about this once. In that discussion I said to him: "Well, at the very least, we could chalk up our different views on this as an attempt to fight the same war two different ways. You have your way and I have mine. Maybe we could find some way for the two to work together. You can make my job easier and I can make yours obsolete."
Until every heart is changed, though, we still may need people like my brother protecting us from suicide bombers. And we might want to hold on to a few lawyers and politicians, too. :-) Just a thought.