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Saturday, 23 January 2010

Wendell Berry on war

Wendell Berry has contributed a number of essays on war that are striking in the clarity of expression and the breadth of their moral perspective.

The Failure of War
Peaceableness Toward Enemies
Thoughts in the Presence of Fear

In his first book of essays The Long-Legged House there are two relevant pieces that are not available on line: "A Statement Against the War in Vietnam" and "Sme thoughts on Citizenship and conscience in Honor of Don Pratt"


Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Christ's Teachings about Love, Compassion & Forgiveness. Washington, D. C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005.

Berry is especially helpful in reminding us of the impact of war on creation and hence on ourselves as inextricably grounded in creation.

XIV. It was, as any war must be, in part a war against ourselves. Even in winning, we lost. Many of our young people were killed or hurt-though we look on this as a bargain price for the massive slaughter of our enemies. Our war industries are richer, but as a nation we are poorer. And though we have achieved "victory" by the damage that we did in the Middle East, we are poorer for that damage as well.
XV. It was not just Saddam Hussein's world that we damaged; it was our world. As every modern war has been and must be, this was a war against the world. In order to damage Saddam Hussein and his people, we damaged the earth. In order to protect himself and his people, Saddam Hussein damaged the earth. There was much talk in the press of Saddam Hussein's "crime" of releasing oil into the Persian Gulf. And yet we knew that he could and probably would do this; it was something we were willing to risk. It was the sort of thing that will inevitably happen in industrial warfare in industrial nations. Let us admit that the only solution to "world problems" that is in keeping with our military means is the destruction of the world. ("Peaceableness towards Enemies")

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