Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
One of the difficulties with maintaining a commitment to the Peace Testimony is the elevation of W.W. II to the status of a ‘Good War’. The idea is that W.W. II is an exception; other wars may be awful, unnecessary, or even evil, but W.W. II is considered to be an example of a necessary and even a virtuous war. The impact of this view is that the same kind of logic is carried over to contemporary conflicts so that the U.S. attack on Iraq under Bush II was done for righteous and ‘moral’ reasons. Similarly, Obama’s attack on Libya was done for ‘moral’ reasons. The line of argument is that we are always just about to enter into another situation similar to W.W. II, and we cannot sit on the sidelines. We must ‘do something’.
Unfortunately, many Quakers have accepted this kind of analysis. This has been going on for a long time: there are even examples, significant ones, of Quakers who supported the U.S. entering W.W. I. In hindsight this can only be seen as excruciatingly embarrassing. Just as embarrassing are those Quakers who have supported Obama’s military aggressions.
What if W.W. II was not a ‘Good War’? What if W.W. II is not an example of a ‘necessary war’? Recently I have seen two online posts raising this kind of question. The first was posted at ‘Thinking Pacifism’ and announces a new book by Ted Grimsrud, a Mennonite author and scholar. The book focuses on W.W. II, both its conduct and its legacy. You can find his announcement here:
The second post is a recent thought piece published in The Guardian which you can find here:
Both of these posts raise questions and make observations that, I feel, are significant, particularly for those of us who regard the Peace Testimony as central to Quaker Faith and Practice. Perhaps you will also find them insightful.