War is STILL not the answer   Leave a comment

Since September 2001 (really, since long before that) the United States has been using violence to solve the problem of terrorism. That it has not succeeded is without question; I submit that it has only made the situation worse. The hundreds of thousands of human beings (a great many of them non-combatants) we have killed in the “War On Terror” have only resulted in more instability, more violence, and more enemies looking for revenge on the West.

Worse, we have spent billions of dollars on that violence, and sent thousands of our sons and daughters to fight those wars; most of those who come back return with deep wounds, physical and spiritual (and even the spiritual wounds too often prove fatal). We declare them heroes, and slap “We support the troops” bumper stickers on our cars—which mostly serves to perpetuate the glorification of violence—but the Congressional hawks who sent them to war show time and time again a complete lack of will to actually care for the veterans they have made.

Redemptive violence is a myth. The cycle of revenge never ends. Our country and France have already begun to retaliate against ISIS* for the recent attacks in Paris, and I believe it will do far more harm than good, just as 14 years of bombing, bullets, and drone strikes have done. For every person we kill, we make more enemies.

We make enemies, too, by demonizing those we fear. Demonizing begins merely by seem them as “other.” The refugees from another land (fleeing the same terror that horrifies us); those who follow a different religion from our own (forgetting the violence still done in the name of ours).

As I’ve said before, I don’t know what the right strategy is with terrorists, but I am convinced that it is not more violence. Perhaps it starts with trying to keep fear out of our hearts. I come to this from my Christian faith, and in the holy scriptures of that faith, God’s message frequently begins with “Do not be afraid.” Easier said than done, but a divine command nonetheless. When we hold back fear, we can begin to see the “other” as part of our human family. And then perhaps we can begin to imagine sharing the planet with them. And figure out a way to do that.

You may argue that to not fight leaves us vulnerable, but as my Brother in Christ Karekin Madteos Yarian, BSG recently said, “Non-violence and peacemaking may mean losing your life. That’s the risk.” We know that violence hasn’t worked, so isn’t it time to risk a peacemaking strategy?

Redemptive violence is a myth. Don’t believe it.


*I know that we’re supposed to be calling it “Da’ish” because Arabic homonym ha ha, but I can’t see even an insult as a successful strategy; like bombing, it may feel satisfying in the moment, but has more potential for harm than good.

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