Thursday, August 6, 2009

Reflections on Hiroshima Day

Sixty-four years ago today America destroyed a city, and thousands of civilians, with a new weapon. Some have called this "Hiroshima Day" to mark it as an occasion to think, not just of the war victims then, but of peace in general. It is also a time to dialogue on the merit of any nation possessing nuclear weapons. Yet, for me it is a time to reflect upon the magnitude of what Jesus calls us to do.

I have a poster on my classroom wall with that oft-quoted Thomas a Kempis line, "All men desire peace, but all do not care for the things which belong unto true peace." In less than two weeks I will have classes full of kids from Japan, Korea, China, Ethiopia; places not unaccustomed to what it means to be called to war. They will probably pay little attention to that poster, however it serves as a call to me to remember what it means to be a Christian.

Jesus is very clear that to be a Christian is to be one who is given the peace of God, and therefore, works to make peace. We make peace through hospitality, prayer and sacrifice (which includes forgiveness) especially with those "not like us." We don't kill those with whom we are hospitable, or with those whom we pray. Instead, we kill those who we view as "strange," and "dangerous." If you are flying across the country and see a young Muslim man board the plane before you, does that thought ever cross your mind?

At Babel, our pride made us enemies with one another, but at Pentecost, God has given us His Spirit to bring us together in love and charity. To be a Christian, means to accept that Pentecostal mission to embrace those who are different in order to be united as children of God. Our identity and vocation should be tangled with the idea that peace is possible, because the Holy Spirit makes it possible. He empowers us to be humble, and to accept one another as Christ.

How is it possible that I will soon become a teacher and a friend to a student who's grandparents were at war with my grandparents? Or that Koreans will become friends with Japanese? It is possible because God has given us his peace. Even what we will blow up, with nuclear weapons, God can and will put back together.

The PC(USA) has a peacemaking initiative with resources.
The Quaker's Colonel also has interesting things to say on war and peace.

1 comment:

  1. Ryan,

    Thanks for the post and the references - especially Quaker's Colonel. The use of nuclear weapons is one of the more problematic issues for me as I work through my adherence to the just war tradition. It's clear that intentional bombing of civilians wholeheartedly fails the "justice in war" test.

    However, given accuracy improvements over the course of the Cold War and the immediate post-Cold War period, and also given -- as a result of accuracy adjustments -- the capacity to drop weapon yields and still take out hardened military targets, nuclear weapons don't automatically fail "discrimination" or protection of civilian noncombatants jus en bello tests. Nevertheless, it's a very hard one for a national security scholar like myself who is also a committed Christian.

    If you're not familiar with his work, I think you'd appreciate Glen Stassen. His personal website is:

    Glad to see you made it back safe and sound from Alaska.




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2 Ages Verging by Ryan Cordle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.