On Sunday night, I watched the film Why We Fight with my wife and some friends over at the Dawg Haus. It had been a film that I'd wanted to see ever since it was released a couple years ago, but I finally got around to watching it.
I am glad that I did.
Not that the content surprised me to a great extent, but more that it caused me to think more deeply about the ugliness of war and the "military-industrial complex" (coined by Eisenhower) that pervades the American landscape. Over the years, I have fluctuated greatly in my views on the topic of war: pre-emptive strikes, nuclear war, torture, just wars, policing and protecting the world, advancing "democracy", fighting for oil, et al. Largely, this stuff makes me sad and disturbed.
This film is not a documentary, per se; however, I am not sure that I've ever witnessed a true "documentary." Why We Fight is trying to make a point. There are interviews with prominent figures from pro and anti-war camps. It is certainly a more balanced than a film such as Sicko (although, I really liked that one). This film reveals the ease with which we can turn to war, when we have interests in those nations which will better our own economy. When we have thousands of American jobs and corporate cash flows that depend on our production of weapons (read: murders), won't we find it a bit more easy to go to war? My friend, Stacey, brought up a necessary point: don't be too quick to judge the leadership of our country, it is much easier to judge from the outside. That said, we need to keep our elected leaders accountable to standards of integrity when and where we can.
I think that every American should watch this film. You can view it for free here: http://quicksilverscreen.com/watch?video=30172
As one who is trying to follow the way of Jesus, I find it difficult to support war to the extent that many Americans have (That support and patriotism has certainly wained over the past generation. Though, thank God that we stood up against Nazism, for example). Is there evil in the world? Yes. Are there unjust and evil dictators who cause genocide? Yes. Are there WMDs? Yes (just not in Iraq, or at least before we arrived). Is Wahhabism (extremist, fundamental Islam) a real threat to peace and civility? Yes. Are there nations and rebel groups who refuse to dialogue in a diplomatic manner? Yes. Are there nations and leaders who would do the unthinkable to maintain their access to oil and thus a prosperous economy? Yes. Are there political leaders who steal money and subsequently food, medicine, shelter and clean water from their people? Yes.
I do not want to be naive or turn a blind eye to this injustice. I do not want to just pretend that we can ignore bombings and mass murder. There is certainly a time for peace and unfortunately a time for war. We live in a broken world, but it is a world where we as Christians must take a stand along with Christ. Christ stood against self-protection. He said to give rather than take. He said to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. This is not to say that Jesus was a softy. He did not hesitate to rebuke his contemporaries who were leading people astray (it would be better for those leaders to have a millstone tied around their necks). Our allegiances are to God's kingdom, not to the American empire. America is not a theocracy, although many conservatives in American may wish it were. We live in a democratic state with leaders and decision makers who are not Christ-followers, but we are called to pray for and respect them. Somehow, we are to figure out how to respect Caesar and give him his money that he needs to run a government, but when that government takes money from the hungry, poor and uneducated and uses it to build up a weapons cache large enough to destroy 10 planet Earths? Come on.
May God have mercy on us and may we be immersed in his love, justice and peace.