Friday, September 26, 2008

Faith and War

I am a Quaker and a core belief of the faith is that there is that of God within everyone. To kill people means to kill that of God within them. This, together with the teachings of Christ such as turning the other cheek, means I am by faith a pacifist.

I also live in this world. I know I am safe in part because the police exist and ultimately have the ability to keep order with force. I also live in a country where I do not need to test my faith because I am like almost all Canadians and I am not in danger of ever being in a situation where I would need to decide to take a life or not.

From my faith point of view, there is no war that is justified from a faith base. This means I would have been opposed to fighting Hitler in World War 2. I also recognize that he had to be stopped and he had to removed from power. Ultimately I did not have to make decision on that war. Quakers were very divided by it. There were many Quakers that joined the military to fight against fascism. There were others that chose to help by filling positions in non combat roles to allow others to fight in the war. It was a morally a very difficult decision. We are ultimately human and we can not live up to all of our ideals and live within a world where living up to them can at times be impossible.

This brings me to the wars we have had in the last few years. As far as I can see, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are broadly similar to the war against Hitler. The wars are about core civil values - either for an open and free society or for the modern fascist equivalent to Hitler.

Canada is Afghanistan fighting against religious fascists. If war is in any way justifiable, I can think of no wars more justifiable than the ones against the fascim in the middle east.

I have been reading Terry Glavin's blog a lot lately. His take on what is happening among the left and in Afghanistan is quite amazing. The left in Canada is sounding more and more like the isolationists before world war 2. They are like the people who interned the Canadians that fought in the Spanish Civil War because they were pre-mature anti-fascists.

The latest is the writings of now former Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes. The revisionist views of the attacks on September 11th 2001 are becoming this centuries holocaust denial stories.

The modern fascism we see in the middle east and central Asia is coupled with a virulent and horrid antisemitism on the left in the first world. I may not like the government of Israel, but then I dislike a lot of governments people elect in a lot of countries. What I do see is that Israel is the most open and democratic country between Greece and India. They have managed to maintain this even though they are surrounded by antisemitic fascists bend to killing them.

I want to see a peaceful resolution to what is going on in the region, but how far are we willing to go to achieve that? Leaving Afghanistan is an admission that the Taliban will rule the country. What crime have the people in Afghanistan done that we would condemn them to live under the Taliban? Do we not have a responsibility to all the oppressed people of the world to support them to become pluralistic and open societies with free elections? If we have a military, is it not right for that military to be used to free the oppressed?

I remain a pacifist and would prefer there to be no military. Could we change things if several hundred thousand of use pacifists went to Afghanistan and were willing to be human shields for the nation against the fascists? We would be willing to die to allow people in Afghanistan to live? I am not there and that is a testimony to my fear of where my religious pacifism should take me.

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