In my last post, I discussed Just War. To continue…
The key to solving the issue, the plague, of war, just or unjust, is for humans to adapt a culture of life.
We are raised from infancy in a culture of death. Whenever anything is uncomfortable, inconvenient, or fearsome, we kill. So if a spider appears, I kill it. If a fly is on my hamburger, I swat it. My hamburger itself, of course, comes from a dead animal that was killed for my convenience. Because my culture is so advanced, I can eat anything I want anytime I want from a variety of forms of life killed for my convenience. If my yard is being destroyed by a mole, poison will do the trick. If a mouse is haunting my pantry, a mousetrap will stop it cold.
Death is all around us, and death caused by the human propensity to kill at will. We have few compunctions about taking life for our own purposes. Girls and women are taught that if a pregnancy is inconvenient, that it can be terminated—i. e., the fetus, a life, is killed. Some prospective parents will terminate pregnancy because the fetus has been determined to be “deformed,” hence kill and try again.
War is just an extension of the human propensity to kill other forms of life, now brought to the same life-form, ourselves. Because a person looks or acts differently, they are fearsome, and humans have long figured out that the easiest way to deal with fear is to cut it off at its apparent source—of course, the fear remains, often now combined with guilt.
Fear of the other combined with narcissism leads us to assume that we have a right to our possessions, have a right to defend ourselves (defensive war has long been the explanation for going to war), have a right to take another life to preserve our own life or our culture. Life as a thing of wonder and beauty is lost when all we can think about is me: my convenience, my safety, my rights, my possessions.
Jesus taught in the Gospels that life is to be treasured, life is sanctified. God concerned himself with even lowly forms of life such as birds. How much so does God concern himself with human life? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”—that last word, life, is the essence of the Creation, the essence of God, the essence of who we are.
Who, in short, has given us the right to determine who should live and who should die?
Who has given us a right to ignore slavery or genocide? It is vital to remember that there are sins of omission as well as commision.
And your statement that “Death is all around us” is more correct than you imagine. We may be no longer stalked by predators, but we are still stalked by illness and natural disasters. Review your history, and you will find that until recently, far more soldiers died of disease than of violence in wars. It is not so much humanity as the universe itself, that does not care for life. The “culture of life” can be adopted by the majority, but as long as humans have free will, some will conclude that life is expendable.
And how is it better to allow the innocent many to die, rather than kill the guilty few?
Kenneth, thank you for your reflections.