Friday, May 26, 2006

Lessons from Mahatma Gandhi

My wife and I just got through watching "Gandhi", and it really has got me thinking about violence, war, and pacifism. Bare with me, I am partially venting, but just partially. You are allowed to disagree here, and I would love to hear your reasons why.

It really amazes me how history can repeat it self so many times in the forms of war and how little we learn from it each time. Was there ever a war started for reasons outside of revenge for something? We always feel we have to "pay someone back" for the wrong they have inflicted, which of course brings them to the same reaction. It amazes me how much we have so bastardized the word "justice" that it looks just like "revenge". How can two things that should be so opposite become one in the same?

I use to believe there was a time for war, for defense or to protect those who don't have the ability to do so. But, in the last few years I have moved farther into pacifism. I don't understand how some many people who follow a savior who said to turn to your enemies your other cheek, the one who said love your enemies as yourself, the one showed us the ultimate example of how we are to be during our time on this earth, how can these same people be in support of war of any kind.

Don't get me wrong, we should absolutely fight for the rights of others, we should fight for social change, for justice, for the least of these, for the truth. As Christians we are called to fight for these things. Gandhi fought his whole life, he fought to his death. The results are a free India. But he never took a life. Why do we have this idea that to truly get make the world a better place for all people we have to kill people? How does taking life do anything but perpetuate the cycle of revenge that started with Cain and Able?

We are all made in the image of God, we all posses the ability to be creative, and I believe we are called to be creative in all that we do. War and violence are absolutely the least creative solutions for any problem. After much thought, I firmly believe that violence has absolutly no place.

Here are some quotes from Gandhi:

"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"

And just to be safe, these are some things I DID NOT say in this post:
"You can not be a Christian if you are in the military"
"You can not be a Christian if you support war"
"Supporting our troops is the same as supporting war"
"George W. Bush is going to hell"
"Gandhi is perfect"