Before the shepherds were scared by the appearance of the angel, before the star guided the Magi to the lowly stable, even before Jesus Christ was born, it was prophesied in Isaiah 9:6 that the Christ was to be the Prince of Peace. Some 700 years before Christ’s appearance, as the scripture says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” While a very common Christmastime scripture, it’s meaning is so very deep and life changing. And just after His birth, in Luke 2:14, an entire choir of angels appeared to the shepherds proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
As the Prince of Peace, Christ taught his disciples in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:9 that, “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called Sons of God.” It is even one of the fruits of the Spirit, along with kindness and goodness. Christ came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, not on a War Horse. Peace is one of the most discussed topics in Scripture, especially in New Testament verses. It is discussed in nearly every book. Peace was ushered in by the very birth of the Savior. While it seemed that all peace was lost in the Crucifixion, three days later, the Prince of Peace was the victor. The battle was won then and there. And that victory still reigns. Now, we can enjoy that everlasting peace. And not just enjoy it, but spread it.
Even in times of war, His peace reigns. Oh, it may seem to fade and our eyes may deceive us, but it is still there. And as Christians, if we are to live up to the definition, we are to be Christ-like. Christ would never partake in this world’s wars. Even in the age of the perpetual War on Terrorism, Christ has instructed us to be Peacemakers and to turn the other cheek. By turning the other cheek, we allow God to move through governments “on his shoulders” to be used as protection. And what could be the worst that could happen to the Christian by bowing out of the fight? Even as slain, we can rejoice in His eternal protection. Nowhere in scripture were Christians instructed to bear the sword other than the Sword of the Spirit, His Word. Even Peter was scolded for using force in trying to protect Christ by slicing off the ear of the servant of the High Priest. Yet all through scripture we are told that vengeance is the Lord’s.
I can already hear the scoffs though. I was among the scoffers. After the towers were hit that clear, bright, peaceful day in New York, after a plane destroyed a large section of the military headquarters of the United States, and after the plane with the unknown target met its fate in a Pennsylvania field, I grabbed a virtual war drum and pounded it loudly. This meant war! I scoffed at anyone that thought otherwise. I listened to my leaders declare war. I listened to them when they told me we needed to attack Afghanistan and even Iraq. I laughed when people wanted to turn the deserts to glass. I look back at myself 20 years ago, and weep.
Slowly my eyes became open to the reality of a perpetual war. One that can never be won. With the War on Terror, the enemy isn’t a county or even a particular people. What better way to line the coffers of the military-industrial complex? The amount of money the US spends on it’s Department of Offense (is it really Defense?) is almost greater than the next ten countries combined and 2.8 times more than the second place country of China! And beyond that, some quick research will show how we actually created bin Laden, we created Saddam Hussein, we placed into power the Shah’s of Iran.
We created so many other rulers of third world countries in the name of ‘help’ through loans of assistance. Then US corporations would sweep in to build, mine, and extract the resources and money to ‘help’ those countries with their newfound source of money. Once the country couldn’t repay the loan, the US would work out a deal to decrease the loan principal through the very resources the US desired, whether oil, gas, minerals, or other benefits. And oftentimes, the US would be instrumental in changing the leadership to become more palatable to the US interests. This practice even goes back to the one war I actually had justified most easily in my mind – World War II.
In WWII, even after the US Ambassador to Germany tried repeatedly to warn US officials of the acts of terror being perpetrated by the Nazis, the US encouraged Henry Ford and General Motors to supply vehicles and equipment to the German government. Ford even used slave labor in German plants. General Motors built German Luftwaffe airplanes. In the early 1900’s, Japan, like the US, expanded its empire in areas of Pacific Asia. The expansionist outlook of both countries set its eyes on China. Things came to a head in 1931 when Japan made the first move into Manchuria China. Even though the US declared that Japan was in the wrong, it is no different than the empire advances that the US made in other Pacific Island countries. Japan didn’t attack the US because it didn’t like our freedoms. It attacked because we cut off the flow of vital resources like oil to the island nation. They saw no other recourse than to grow the empire to other countries with those resources. If it was good enough for the US in the Philippines, Latin America, Hawaii, and other small countries, it was good enough for Japan.
This same military-industrial complex approach was used, and perfected, in the 1950’s in Iran. The US was instrumental in setting up the present-day Shah rulers in Iran. Norman Schwarzkopf and Kermit Roosevelt began Operation Ajax to overthrow the then-current ruler. Oh, and in the agreement the US gained more control of Iranian oil supplies. There’s that. So the enemies that we spar with today were placed by administrations of our own past, from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and many others. It’s a genius way to line the pockets of American corporations in a perpetual stream of cash. And the War on Terror, with no possible realistic end goal, was the ultimate chess move to maintain that system.
Unfortunately, the American soldier and the US citizen’s wallet have become the raw materials of that military-industrial complex. With a near endless supply of volunteers and cash, the US can wage war in nearly any corner of the globe simultaneously. As war has become more of a televised event, the American people only see the battlefield through the lens of a laser guided missile or drone. The deaths of women and children labeled as collateral damage are just the cost of war and are rarely reported in the US unless you go looking. It is a cost the US citizen does not have to worry about – out of sight, out of mind. Yet their blood is on our hands. It is hard to be a Peacemaker when tax monies go to fund these operations.
If the Christian Right can be so concerned about the unborn, why can they not be just as concerned about the disease, starvation, death and destruction imposed in the name of the United States? Just because “they” are not US citizens makes no difference in the eyes of God. Rarely do these military actions usher in peace in the area and generally make it much worse.
It is my belief that I will ultimately have to answer for the millions of people our collective money has gone to harm. As surely as I feel that way, I know there are others that are proud of the actions of the military. I weep. Not just for those harmed in other countries, but by the harm done to those in uniform both physically and by the haunting of their actions. That emotional toll can be seen just by looking at suicide statistics of the US soldier. We need to pray for these fine people and pray for those currently in harms way, on both sides of the conflict.
The solution? I have no solution for a Christian’s money going to fund war. I suppose I could refuse to pay my taxes or, as some are sure to suggest, move to a different country. I feel it is my calling to not be anymore a part of the machine as I possibly can. My calling is to promote the Prince of Peace and not the Prince of War. This is another reason why I personally feel lead not to vote, especially in Federal elections. Both sides are nearly equal in their appetite for war. My solution is to educate and attempt to inspire others. As the majority in America have been lead to believe that we just have to have a huge military to protect us from evildoers, the US has become the evildoer to millions of God’s own creation. The war in Yemen is a good example.
History has shown that avoiding war can be done. America can become a good neighbor while at the same time staying out of empire building. America can help and not harm. America can become outwardly beneficial instead of the current movement to become more inwardly isolationist. Switzerland in WWII successfully maintained armed neutrality, even with Germany to the north and Italy to the south. As the war progressed, the small country became entirely surrounded by Axis powers. Yet they maintained their neutrality. It can be done. Switzerland has not been involved in an armed conflict since 1847. In that same time, the US has lost nearly 620,000 soldiers, not counting the 620,000 that died during the Civil War.
What if the US had made Ford, GM, and other companies aware of Nazi Germany’s atrocities? What if the officials had heeded the early words of the ambassador of the time and worked toward a quick peaceful solution? What if the empire building of the US in the Asia-Pacific region did not threaten Japan to make the same moves? It is easy to look back at the wrongs of history. But moving forward, let us be ardent supporters of peace.
Let us as Christians live up to the name. Let us be Christ-like. If Jesus was living in the US and the draft was enacted, do you think He would grab a rifle and proudly fight? No. By all things Holy, No! He would turn the other cheek. Let us be a voice of peace and not a voice of war. Christ came as the Prince of Peace and not the Prince of War.