Right makes might

Might without right creates wrong. Vengeful allies after World War I helped create Hitler. An autocratic Hitler helped create the alliance that defeated him. Corrupt colonizers helped create corrupt post-colonial rulers, who helped create the opponents who toppled them. Avenging Muslim fundamentalists helped create an avenging America, whose policies helped to create more avenging Muslims. Retribution creates only retribution.

Abraham Lincoln said it: “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” He said it as an unannounced candidate for President under the banner of a party that had never won a presidency, before he had political might.

Violence produces justice

People who turn the other cheek don’t get much respect. Oh, some admire us for our constancy. But if they really want to get something done, and done quickly, most people count on weaponry.

Before 1966, nearly all of the American civil rights movement was committed to Christian nonviolence. Then some young black leaders began calling for “black power.” They demanded to know how passive resistance could ever bring freedom to their people.

In spite of my non-resistant Anabaptist beliefs, I have to confess that they had a good point. Historically, violence has been one of the most powerful tools for spreading justice and righteousness. Don’t believe it? Read on. Continue reading “Violence produces justice”

Winning through nonintimidation

I just finished reading “The Children” by David Halberstam, about the nonviolent students who integrated lunch counters in Nashville. It gives me insight into what it’s really like to turn the other cheek, and how love is more powerful than hate. Some of these early leaders were young black fundamentalists, but unfortunately the book implies that nobody in those days had both a social conscience and a high view of the Bible.

What I like about that group is that most of them were motivated by their Christian faith and believed in nonviolence as a way of life, not just a temporary tactic. Even some who had lost their childhood faith seemed to be able to share in this fellowship. As if they had trouble believing the Christianity of their Sunday school but no trouble believing the Christianity of the civil rights movement. But by 1966 their organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, had been taken over by non-religious black power/black separatism advocates who wanted to abandon nonviolence.

Wielding force in love

I’ve heard Christians defend war a lot, since San Antonio, where I come from, is such a military city (six bases). They might say they’re motivated by love for country or family or justice, things they interpret as being equivalent to God’s love. But other Christians would question whether, for the sake of God’s love for a man, someone could put a bullet into his head . They would hold to be the real criteria of legitimate Christian force: can you do it in love? I suppose that’s applies to any kind of compulsion: when is it the love of God that compells us to coerce someone else? Maybe parents experience God’s love in that way, sometimes. I know that many American soldiers returned to Asia as missionaries after World War II. But I don’t know how many of them felt they were acting in love as soldiers before they returned as missionaries, or whether they felt their Christian testimony was lacking as soldiers and now wanted to make up for it.

You call that prayer in school?

Not meaning to offend anybody, but I’m not looking forward to the return of required prayer in school. For many young people, who don’t know God and don’t want to, being forced to pray to God is like being forced to kiss a maiden aunt. Like kissing, prayer is more satisfying when done willingly.

I acknowledge that a return to common moral values is necessary if America is to survive. But Continue reading “You call that prayer in school?”

Rolling somewhere

After listening to President Bush’s State of the Union address last night, my Methodist-Buddhist uncle said, “Jesus Christ would have rolled over in his grave if he could have heard that.”

Think about that. Think all about that.