Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day Reflections: What is the More Excellent Way?

Is it not providential that the same day that the United States honors military veterans, the Church remembers Martin of Tours, a military man who laid down his weapons in order to follow the Prince of Peace?

Martin, a fourth century follower of Christ, chose to abandon his military career after he became convinced that there was a more excellent way. He refused to go into battle. He was not a coward, his trust in his God was his security. "Put me in the front of the army, without weapons or armor; but I will not draw sword again. I am become the soldier of Christ."

We live in a nation which is the new empire, the new Rome. While we respect those who sacrifice their security by taking up arms to defend their country, we should respect and honor those who do not believe in the redemptive value of violence, but believe in the redemptive and transformative power of love.

A new proposal would expand the definition of conscientious objector status to soldiers who believe a specific war is immoral. The "Just War" doctrine offers a stringent test that must be met before a nation embarks on warfare. It recognizes the destructive power of violence and permits a defensive war only when specific criteria are met. Recent US armed conflicts have not met the just war criteria. This proposal will allow soldiers the option to obtain conscientious objector status when they believe a specific war does not fulfill just war criteria.

On Veterans' Day let us remember the countless number of veterans for peace. Let us examine the wars we are involved in and seek a better way.

"I'm gonna lay down my sword and shield...I ain't gonna study war no more."

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