Thursday, December 10, 2009

Remember What Mr. Nobel Invented ...

As they say on Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn't belong.
Just a fraction of what is expanded so obscenely on defense budgets would make the difference in enabling God's children to fill their stomachs, be educated, and given the chance to lead fulfilled and happy lives.
-- Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance remarks
This must be a world of democracy and human rights; a world freed from the horrors of poverty, hunger, deprivation, and ignorance, relieved of the threat and the scourge of civil wars and external aggression and unburdened of the great tragedy of millions forced to be refugees.
-- Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance remarks
In spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problems, it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr. Nobel Peace Prize acceptance remarks
As commander-in-chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
-- President Barack Obama's address to the nation two weeks prior to receiving the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize
As usual, the president was eloquent in his remarks accepting the peace prize, saying, "Let us reach for the world that ought to be -- that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls."
To which most human beings will say, "yes."
But in practicing an unimaginative realism, the president seems to have forgotten his own campaign slogan: "yes we can." As president, clearly Obama faces a different set of responsibilities than the rest of us, but in this crucial moment he is facing those responsibilities in the same way that each of his predecessors as commanders in chief did.
In falling back into a defense of just war, as the president did in his acceptance, he walks the same tired path that kings and despots and commanders in chief and revolutionaries all have walked; justifying their path for a thousand years in Augustine's unbiblical theory of just war.
In the end, however justified a war may seem, a just war is just war. The institution building that the president proposed is certainly important, but there is no way to peace. Peace is the way.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

War is hell.

But, as terrible as the American Civil War was, the result was the freedom from slavery of millions of people. Had the Confederate States of America come into existence, slavery would have continued. President Lincoln was right to wage war to hold the USA together -- and to free the slaves.

jamie said...

"Unimaginative realism" is spot on. The problem with justified war and its defenders is that they lack any imagination of how the world might be different.

On this at least Obama was 100% correct: Large-scale nonviolence by no means could have stopped Hitler...because no one had invested any infrastructure into making it a viable alternative, just as they haven't now.

Christian Wright said...

Jamie, you are exactly right. Justifications off war almost always ignore the preceding decades in which authentic nonviolence, grounded in respect for human rights, well practiced could have ameliorated the conditions that led to war. The way the victors treated the defeated in WWI led directly to WWII. Our ignorance of all-things Afghanistan once the Soviets were defeated created the fertile soil in which the Taliban and terrorism grew right up with the poppies.
I won't go as far back as the Civil War, only because nonviolence as both theory and practice was largely undeveloped. On the other hand, a broader respect for basic human rights and dignity would have certainly helped.
The American project -- toward a more perfect union -- is a remarkable and still incomplete journey. My hope, prayer, and work is that the next steps -- as many of the previous ones -- in that journey might be taken nonviolently.

The Old Geezer said...

interesting post and comments

Anonymous said...

"I won't go as far back as the Civil War, only because nonviolence as both theory and practice was largely undeveloped."

Amazing. Just amazing.

What an interesting thing for a Christian Pastor to say.

I think Jesus did a pretty good job of developing a theory and practice of nonviolence.