Rev Angela Steele: Let words take precedence over the use of violence
I HAVE on my fridge door a magnet. It says "If war is the answer then we are asking the wrong question". Somehow the western world and part of the rest of the planet too has got into the way of thinking that threatening to bomb a country or a people into submission is what makes for a lasting peace. In a war there are no winners. There are only those who lose more.
Sir Winston Churchill once said "Jaw, jaw, jaw is better than war, war, war". And how I have longed to jaw, jaw, jaw, to just talk to statesmen, world leaders, rebels, insurgents, terrorists, presidents and kings! I have longed to ask why, in spite of hundreds of years of war, anybody would think that aggression and power can replace dialogue and communication.
I long to ask the powerful and strong how beating the weak and powerless is any kind of a victory. I long to ask those who use religion as their reason for waging war, if they have really read and understood their holy books.
I long to ask those who engage in acts of war – permitted or otherwise – whether their struggle is really about freedom or about personal aggrandisement or national advancement.
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There are no easy answers, there never were and there never will be. But as a nation and as individuals we could lead by example. Instead of hitting first and asking questions afterwards we could ask what it is that the other needs, what drove someone to that first act of aggression, what we can do to help.
Jesus Christ said: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives." We would do well to follow him and not give as the world gives – violence for violence. Well-read Bible-watchers will rejoin that Jesus also said "I have not come to bring peace, but a sword…" In the Hebrew Bible the word "sword" means "word". Jesus would have known that and maybe using words to fight with would be much less damaging than using bombs. Shalom.