Rising tensions exist among the U.S. and North Korea, Iran, China, and Russia. Our leaders say we are not at war — at least officially. Unofficially, our actions tell another story.
“Unofficially” the U.S. is currently fighting, bombing and/or engaging in drone attacks in seven foreign countries: (1) Iraq; (2) Syria; (3) Afghanistan; (4) Pakistan; (5) Yemen; (6) Libya; and, (7) Somalia.[i] [ii] This list excludes U.S. militarization on the war on drugs in Central and South America.[iii] It also excludes the “official” and “unofficial” wars being waged by other countries, including civil wars.
Whether “official” or “unofficial,” men, women and children are suffering and dying. The victims of war include our military men and women, their families, infants and children, enemy combatants, civilians, peace-keepers, press, humanitarian aid workers, and refugees displaced by conflict. Whether “official” or “unofficial,” war is tearing at the fabric of humanity. It is wrestling with our souls.
The reasons underlying these wars can be obscure and are sometimes disputed; they are increasingly attributed to terrorist threats or attacks. According to the New York Times, “The United States has been at war continuously since the attacks of 9/11 and now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories.”[iv]
It is hard to reconcile war with the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus teaches, “Listen, all of you. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you; implore God’s blessing on those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, let him slap the other too! If someone demands your coat, give him your shirt besides. Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t worry about getting them back. Treat others as you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:27-31)
Jesus was unequivocal when He said we must love one another — even our enemies. Perhaps if we had done so, humanity wouldn’t be at war with itself.
It is not too late for peace. For although it may be humanly impossible to change our hearts on our own, “…with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) I pray for peace. I pray that God will soften our hearts so we may love our enemies; I pray that God will soften their hearts to love us. With His grace, I pray that He might begin with mine.
[i] “U.S. Foreign Affairs: The Number of Wars the U.S. Is Currently Waging,” Odyssey, November 28, 2016, https://www.theodysseyonline.com/7-wars-us-is-involved-in, February 2, 2018.
[ii] W. Gardner Selby, “Jill Stein, Green Party Candidate, Correct About U.S. Bombing Seven Countries,” Politifact Texas, October 21, 2016, http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2016/oct/21/jill-stein/jill-stein-green-party-candidate-correct-about-us-/, February 2, 2018.
[iii] Nicolas J.S. Davies, “The U.S. State of War – July 2017,” Common Dreams, July 8, 2017, https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/07/08/us-state-war-july-2017, February 2, 2018.
[iv] The Editorial Board, “America’s Forever Wars,” The New York Times. October 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/22/opinion/americas-forever-wars.html, February 3, 2018.