Farmers Market




Lewis & Quark

When was the last time you were angry with a sibling of yours? Why were you angry? Did you act on your anger by retaliating? People are social rational animals, and one of the things we crave as humans is comfort. Peace. Peace to a person is subjective. I find peace in silence while reading something I find aesthetically pleasing, something I like. Augustine wrote in his Confessions that true peace and contentment is found in God, and this is true, but also not necessarily universally applicable to all pleasure or comfort we may find.
     As addressed in Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, Philosophy comes to Boethius and comforts him, though philosophy is not necessarily God, and the comfort he finds in her words is not necessarily Christian while still being Godly and virtuous. When our peace is disturbed, anger can follow. And if not anger, at least resentment and a wish to have what we want.
     Desire is a primal, if not the primal human emotion. What we desire, and the slighting of that desire, can often lead to anger. Jesus said:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Matthew 5:21-22) 
     By this, Jesus is saying that even if there is anger in your heart, you have committed murder, the base unit of war. James also confirms this point.
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (James 4:1) 
     Desire for our will to be exercised is the ultimate cause of war. By this, we know why wars happen, better equipping us to deal with them as Christians. Fighting with your siblings, in any way shape or form, is a scale model of war.
     War is now defined as when two parties come against each other because one or both of the two feels as if their will has been infringed upon. We can see this on a small scale, individual to individual, in assault or simple murder; we can see this in groups like gang wars and two families struggling against one another, (think Romeo and Juliet); or we can see this played out in whole nations, spending thousands of innocent lives, typically for the rulers’ personal scruples.
     In All Quiet on the Western Front, a book with covers, pages and everything, a soldier wonders why a war can’t be like a bullfight, saying, “in the arena, the ministers and generals of the two countries, dressed in bathing drawers and armed with clubs, can have it out amongst themselves. Whoever survives, his country wins” (All Quiet on the Western Front). The idea that only the rulers should fight it out is appealing. But that idea does not apply in a representational government of elected people. War is a choice, and although not necessarily by all the people, it is a choice by a majority, carrying it out for the whole population. War specifically is usually motivated economically. Certain things happen in wars based upon the people involved in them. The same is true of any political system or thing used by different humans over a long period of time.
     The Geneva convention laid out multiple rules, but those rules haven’t necessarily been followed throughout all of warfare. Jus in bello is a debated question, but it is primarily and quite easily subject to “love God and love your neighbor.” In the Crusades, a hardly just war, jus in bello was still applied by the warriors who trudged through foreign lands. In his Chronicles of the Kings of England, William of Malmesbury notes their just treatment of land and the people around them in those lands. These wars did not only disillusion the world with Christianity, it made the whole spread of Christianity look fickle and weak.
     However, jus in bello alone does not make the Crusades just. I can be very civil as I kill someone. War shouldn’t restrict us to change our views on murder, or even how murder is done because it is licensed by the state against another state. Is that war? Murder licensed by the state against another state? Surely not. The factor to consider in everything is justice. Morality. Is war just?
Is war just?
     Can war ever be just? Why yes, you say, it can. All you need is proper authority, a good and noble purpose, all the means of peace must be exhausted, proportionate force, a good dash of probability of success. That will make everything right. So, let me ask you a question about that just war of yours.
     When you’ve killed all the bad guys—and when it’s all perfect, and just, and fair, when you have finally got it exactly the way you want it—what are you going to do with the people like you? The troublemakers. How are you going to protect your glorious war from the next invading state? You’ll win? Oh will you? Well, maybe—maybe you will win. But nobody wins for long. The wheel just keeps turning. Violence leads to more violence, and more backbiting, and more betrayal. Do you remember your sibling? Do you remember that scale model of war? Every war ever fought, right there in front of you. Because it’s always the same. When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you don’t know who’s going to die. You don’t know who’s children are going to scream and burn. How many hearts will be broken? How many lives shattered? How much blood will spill until you do what you’re always going to have to do from the very beginning? Sit down and talk! Listen to me, listen. Everything dies.
     You, me, and everyone on this planet. Our sun, our galaxy, and eventually the universe itself. This is simply how things are. And it is a thing to be accepted. What should not be tolerated, what should not be accepted, is the unnatural acceleration of that end. Murder, no matter how right you think you are, is unnatural. The man on the other side of whatever war, just or unjust, is human. I just, I just want you to think. Think of what you’ll do. Or what you very well could do. You are tomorrow’s leaders. I might be in the presence of the next Jane Austen. The 50th President of the United States. The next musician to transform culture. The next great leader. You will make the decisions to destroy life or save it.
     Augustine sums up the whole thought in his City of God, Book XIX.7. “But, say they, the wise man will wage just wars. As if he would not all the rather lament the necessity of just wars, if he remembers that he is a man; for if they were not just he would not wage them, and would therefore be delivered from all wars. For it is the wrongdoing of the opposing party which compels the wise man to wage just wars; and this wrong-doing, even though it gave rise to no war, would still be matter of grief to man because it is man’s wrongdoing. Let everyone, then, who thinks with pain on all these great evils, so horrible, so ruthless, acknowledge that this is misery. And if any one endures or thinks of them without mental pain, this is a more miserable plight still, for he thinks himself happy because he has lost human feeling.”
     Just—just think. Thank you.

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