Friday, July 17, 2009

Warrior's Dilemma, 2

Continued from "Warrior's Dilemma"

I want to thank those who responded to my previous post on this topic. It looks as though they're thinking in the right direction. In this post, I'd like to take the analysis a step further.

The nice thing about hypothetical examples is that you can try to hide or obfuscate important details. That's what I did in this question about the dilemma facing Hans: Does he join the German Wermacht, as he harbors the hope to fight those nations which have so ill-treated his family, friends and neighbors?

Doesn't that sound a little as though Hans was tempted by revenge (Rom. 12:19)? Therefore, I think that in addition to the rightness of the cause, we must consider at least one additional criterion: the motives of the warrior himself.

It is very easy -- even for Christians -- to get swept up in a surge of nationalistic fervor whose cries for "justice" barely veil a bloodthirsty lust for revenge. In fact, I believe the evidence is clear that this is exactly how governments sell war to their people.

Many times, war slogans tend to foster a sense of indignation. "We've been wronged, and now we're going to set it right." Paybacks aren't Hell; they just lead there.

Remember the Alamo
Remember the Maine
Remember the Lusitania
Remember Pearl Harbor


Did someone mention 9/11? Oh, dear!

Continued in "Warrior's Dilemma, 3"

7 comments:

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Can't wait for part 3!

My only comment here, besides the usual "hhmmm..." you always bring out, is that I don't see anything wrong with those war slogans, or even retaliation (but if I'm reading you correctly, you aren't making that direct point?).

Spencer

Gravelbelly said...

You're right. The point I was making has to do with the fact that the incident behind each slogan created a huge public emotional response. The slogan served to manipulate people into support for a war on the basis of fear, anger and vengeance.

In an atmosphere of hysteria, slogans tend to bypass deliberative thought.

Your point on retaliation is an interesting one. Would you describe the difference between revenge and retaliation that is justified? Or do you see revenge as a just cause for war?

Seth Ben-Ezra said...

>Your point on retaliation is an interesting one. Would you describe the difference between revenge and retaliation that is justified? Or do you see revenge as a just cause for war?

FWIW, I would argue (based in part on Romans 13:4) that the government does indeed exist to carry out cold-blooded revenge. I say "cold-blooded" because of the need for careful investigation and good intel (e.g. Deuteronomy 13:14) before taking action.

But, yes, God is a revenger, and the magistrate is one of the servants He uses to carry this out.

Gravelbelly said...

Seth, thanks for bringing this issue into bold relief. I'd like to devote a post or two (or three or . . .) to this area of thought.

Seth Ben-Ezra said...

Glad to be of assistance. :-)

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Sorry I'm late!

Revenge would be similar to what you described. Retaliation, to me, would be America warring with Japan in WWII, as well as America fighting terrorists.

It shouldn't be emotionally charged to the point of revenge, no, but we can't let our enemies simply attack us without a military response.

Did that make sense? I'm sorry I'm in a bit of a hurry...will check back later!

Spencer

P.S. Great series!

Gravelbelly said...

I agree that strong emotion can overwhelm ethics & reason.

Makes good sense, and thanks for the encouragement.