Wednesday, March 7, 2012

War is not the answer!

Axiomatically, my dear Watson!

Time for my own version of shock and awe: I agree wholeheartedly and without reservation with the title of the post.

...though probably not for the reasons you are expecting.

Yep, I said it, war is awful. I hate it, it is an abomination, and is quite simply not the answer.

And that's the problem.

Bumper stickers are great for sloganeering, but not so much on actual thought, and this particularly popular bumper sticker suffers from that lack. Specifically, no rational person disagrees with this statement!

Whoa whoa whoa, Jeremiah, are you saying that the Pope was not rational in calling the first Crusade to defend Christians in the Holy Land? Are you saying that the U.S. had no rational minds involved in the prosecution of World War II and the defeat of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperialist Japan?

No. Because most of them didn't think war was the answer either.

Pretty much...

Okay, enough beating around the bush, let me talk plainly as bumper stickers cannot.

The problem: ∫Log(7)*7x dx1≤x≤2

The answer: 42

The solution:

  • ∫Log(7)*7x dx1≤x≤2
  • = 7x1≤x≤2
  • = 72 - 71
  • = 49-7
  • = 42

Yes, Jeremiah, we all know you're brilliant and an engineer and had to take Calculus I, II, & III, as well as Differential Equations, we're all awfully impressed.

Good, you should be.

But my point is if I was assigned that as homework and all I turned in was "42" (unless by some miracle the professor forgot to write "show all work" on the assignment... HA!), I would get precisely 0 on the assignment, because I gave an answer, but what was required was a solution.

The answer is like the goal, or the destination, while the solution is the map that tells us how to get there. Which is of course why only the foolish think that war is the answer, because only the foolish and evil desire war for its own sake.

What is not addressed in the bumper sticker philosophy is quite simply that sometimes that map leads through a dark valley, even the valley of the shadow of death, if you will. Because of our fallen nature, there are times when the only way to reach peace is by waging war against those who will not allow it. There are times when the only solution that does more good than harm involves incapacitating the belligerents, and someone has to do that pacifying.

This is why the Church in her wisdom gives us the Just War Doctrine. Catholic Answers has a writeup up that goes to some depth both in scripture and catechism to explain what the Church teaches, why, and how it is to be applied. It is a good read, and frank if brief regarding America's failures.

It's kind of a hard read when you realize how often our nation has violated those tenants, going to war without good reason, or persecuting the war in an evil manner. Even when our cause is just, there are still many many ways in which we betray justice in the war. If America really wants that place as the shining city on a hill, if she really wants to say that her way is better than Nazism, Socialism, Fascism, Communism, Imperialism, and Terrorism, then she better be acting like it. That our foes have been more vile in war does not justify our injustice.

The long and short of it is that whether it is an accurate quotation or not, war is indeed hell. It should be avoided at great cost, and all other legitimate options exhausted. However, peace is our aim, and not just peace which is the absence of violence, but peace with is the presence of justice. Sometimes the only way to achieve that peace is to remove the ability to wage war from those who would do evil.

War. Never the answer. Unfortunately, sometimes a part of the solution.

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