May 25th, 2009

To Renounce War and Proclaim Peace

Fifty-six years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Mormon community in Missouri was viciously attacked by a mob consisting of their disgruntled neighbors. Speaking of this event, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote:

July, which once dawned upon the virtue and independence of the United States, now dawned upon the savage barbarity and mobocracy of Missouri. (History of the Church, 1:372)

Having lost their homes, their loved ones, and their possessions, the remaining Latter-day Saints understandably felt a desire for retaliation and revenge. After all, this latest bout of persecution was not a unique occurrence; time and time again, the Saints were subjected to similar oppression to some degree. In the midst of such intense feelings and contentious circumstances, the Lord gave a revelation in response.

Despite a strong desire to strike back, God’s instructions were to “renounce war and proclaim peace”. This pursuit of peace was intended by the Lord to be a persistent effort, for the Saints were told to thrice “lift a standard of peace” to whomever tried to do them harm. Then, and only then, would the Lord justify their retaliatory attack. And what’s more, He would fight their battles for them, ensuring them victory. Lest we think that this protocol is not relevant to our own day, the revelation explains that this requirement for justified warfare applies to all people.

In a world of constant conflict, how well are God’s chosen people renouncing the status quo of destruction and death and proclaiming peace? Do the followers of the Prince of Peace carry His standard in the face of war, or do they gladly parade around with the flags and insignia of their respective Caesars?

It would seem that in recent years, the Saints have rallied around the standard of the sword, as evidenced by the stinging assessment of President Kimball:

We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45.)

We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us—and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Ne. 1:7)—or he will fight our battles for us (Exod. 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do… (Spencer W. Kimball, via Quoty)

Our efforts to proactively proclaim peace undoubtedly pale in comparison to the vast amount of blood and treasure expended on war and all its related industries. Bleating like sheep for security, we dedicate unconscionable amounts of money to anything and everything that can be used to wage war and kill others. Lacking immediate threats of attack on our soil, we now go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.

The latest in a long string of wars has, sadly, enjoyed a healthy amount of fervent support among American Latter-day Saints. Prophetic pleas for peace are evidently cast aside as partisan politics and their attending talking points rise to the surface and become adopted as each person’s own. And, most regrettably, the voices calling for peace are pushed to the fringe by warmongering hawks, labeling such individuals with the pejorative “pacifists”—as if the preference of peace over war is a social evil.

President and five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower, who himself said that he hated war “as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity,” once commented on the cost of war in terms of peaceful, productive enterprise:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. . . .

This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace. It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honesty. It calls upon them to answer the question that stirs the hearts of all sane men: is there no other way the world may live?

To a people taught from a young age to love their enemies and live the golden rule, the commandment to renounce unjust war and proclaim peace would seem natural. And yet, a casual assessment of the average Latter-day Saint’s understanding of the application and practicality of this commandment as it applies to conventional geopolitical conflict seems to betray this assumption. Indeed, the degree to which so many American members of the LDS Church adhere to the arguments made by political pundits and mainstream media demonstrates a firm reliance upon the fleshy arm of military might.

President David O. McKay once said that “war is incompatible with Christ’s teachings,” and that “it is vain to attempt to reconcile war with true Christianity.” These declarations have their qualifiers, but fundamentally support the claim that war should be a last resort in all circumstances, and that any glorification of war, military strength, or political dominance should be rejected.

Until we start honoring those who dedicate their lives to the promotion of peace as much or more than those who lose their lives in war, we will fail to come anywhere close to God’s commandment. Understandably, the mandate to favor peace over war is a difficult one to achieve in a world of political turmoil, threats of terrorism, and fortified standing armies. But that’s the point—despite the ease with which we can escalate conflict and use force to spread democracy, dethrone a dictator, or repel an invasion, we are commanded to choose the higher road and pursue peace at all costs.

How well are we doing?

23 Responses to “To Renounce War and Proclaim Peace”

  1. Ethan
    May 25, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    I firmly agree that war should be renounced and peace proclaimed. The problem is that no one has firmly established what that looks like. And our own scriptures do not help us to establish what pursuing “peace at any cost” looks like.

    While not necessarily contradictory, we are faced with stories and instructions that can be difficult to reconcile. Christ’s admonition to turn the other cheek contrasted with Capt. Moroni’s Title of Liberty. The Anti-Nephi-Lehis and the 2000 strippling warriors. Must we bury our swords and prostrate ourselves on the ground, ready to be killed by our enemies in order to sufficiently “proclaim peace” or “pursue peace at all costs” as you put it? Or do we stand our ground and slay our enemies as Ammon did (or more accurately, fight back until they are either dead or no longer able to cause us harm)? Even Joseph Smith organized a state malitia, drilled them, and shot back in an attempt to fight off those who martyred him. Did he not “pursue peace at all costs?”

    You comment that we need to honor those who proclaim peace as much as those who lost their lives in war. For Latter-day Saints and practicing Christians, I think we do already. Christ is after all the Prince of Peace. Further, I don’t believe Memorial Day is about war any more than we tell the story of Teancum, Captain Moroni, the 2000 stripling Warriors, or any other Book of Mormon war story (not to mention the Old Testament) to glorify war. Both the stories and Memorial Day are about men and women who have fought and died in valiant service while defending “our [right to practice our] religion, and freedom, and our peace, our [spouses], and our children.” And in that context, I don’t believe that Memorial Day is anymore out of place in a Christian’s or Latter-day Saint’s life than is the verse about Joseph Smith “Praise to his mem’ry, he died as a martyr; Honored and blest be his ever great name! Long shall his blood, which was shed by assasins, Plead unto heav’n while the earth lauds his fame.”

  2. ldsliberty
    May 26, 2009 at 6:18 am #

    Connor, Thank you for your message of peace.

  3. May 26, 2009 at 6:25 am #

    This brings to mind Hugh Nibley’s letter to the editor, 1971:
    http://mi.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=49&chapid=309

  4. Connor
    May 26, 2009 at 8:24 am #

    The problem is that no one has firmly established what that looks like. And our own scriptures do not help us to establish what pursuing “peace at any cost” looks like.

    The Book of Mormon repeatedly mentions times of peace as the absence of war. As just one example:

    And it came to pass in the eleventh year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, on the fifth day of the second month, there having been much peace in the land of Zarahemla, there having been no wars nor contentions for a certain number of years, even until the fifth day of the second month in the eleventh year, there was a cry of war heard throughout the land. (Alma 16:1)

    So, I take these types of verses to mean that the easiest way to establish peace is to resist war. I believe, however, that there are plenty of efforts that can be made to maintain and augment peace. Education is one, and for a modern example of how this can quell conflict, I suggest this book.

    Must we bury our swords and prostrate ourselves on the ground, ready to be killed by our enemies in order to sufficiently “proclaim peace” or “pursue peace at all costs” as you put it? Or do we stand our ground and slay our enemies as Ammon did (or more accurately, fight back until they are either dead or no longer able to cause us harm)? Even Joseph Smith organized a state malitia, drilled them, and shot back in an attempt to fight off those who martyred him. Did he not “pursue peace at all costs?”

    I think that we need to draw a distinction between defense and retaliation. I believe that the Lord justifies us in repelling an immediate threat, as I argue here. This is true defense—preventing and terminating an imminent attack. A retaliatory strike on the home country of your aggressor is, in my opinion, quite different.

    Both the stories and Memorial Day are about men and women who have fought and died in valiant service while defending “our [right to practice our] religion, and freedom, and our peace, our [spouses], and our children.”

    If your assertion is that all military conflict the USA has been engaged in has been in the defense of our rights and freedoms, then I’ll have to strongly and respectfully disagree.

  5. May 26, 2009 at 9:01 am #

    I firmly agree that war should be renounced and peace proclaimed. The problem is that no one has firmly established what that looks like.

    You know, this IS a hard thing. I’ve wondered a lot about it over the last few years. But it is becoming clearer and clearer to me. How many of us take D&C 98 literally? How many of us are willing to allow our enemies to smite us (not just threaten us) three times and be forgiving before we take it up with the Lord and consider going to battle?

    We are commanded to lift a standard of peace multiple times before war is considered. What does that actually mean? Does it mean we ignore their stated concerns or grievances with us and simply stand our ground defensively? I think it would involve serious examination of the entire situation to see if we are possibly at fault in any way and doing what we can do to make reparations/restitutions if needed or called for. A standard of peace would not involve hostility or threats but a sincere desire to be on good terms. This method ensures that our actions are truly in defense and that we have the blessings of God in our endeavors.

    Hugh Nibley’s speech
    on pre-emptive war has been enlightening for me:

    [Captain Moroni’s] military preparations are strictly defensive, and he is careful to do nothing that will seem to threaten the Lamanites; all of his battles are fought on Nephite soil… Any thought of preemptive strike is out of the question… Resisting iniquity where? In the only place it can be resisted, in their own hearts. Not only is a preemptive strike out of the question but Moroni’s people have to let the enemy attack at least twice before responding, to guarantee that their own action is purely defensive

    Contrast a few of his quotes with those of our former president:

    new threats also require new thinking… If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long… the war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge… our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary

    Notice the reliance on the Lord and strict adherence to moral principles of defense in the first quote. In the latter, we are told that those methods are no longer good enough to keep us safe; that we must change our tactics to preemptive rather than defensive or there’s no way we can win.

    There was never much of a debate on the subject before our nation quickly adopted the changes in stratagem. I, myself, didn’t think much of it at the time but passively accepted the President’s eloquent conclusion- not fully understanding the Lord’s way. The contrast between these methods, however, is quite stark when you take the time to examine each closely. They cannot co-exist. It must be one way or the other. The counsel in D&C has not changed. Should we abandon it for a more “modern”, “practical” approach?

  6. JHP
    May 26, 2009 at 10:01 am #

    I agree with just about everything you’ve said, Connor. I think the problem is application of these principles, as the comments above have noted. Every example in the Book of Mormon is based on a specific set of circumstances at that time. I think we can learn from them, but a Christian reaction today depends on the circumstances present. I’d like to think that the principles are clear enough to guide us, but there’s just so much information out there to consider. Let’s just say that I don’t see how any sane person would ever aspire to be president of the United States and have to make decisions about military action.

    Oh, and I’m sure you’ve discussed Pres. Hinckley’s statement in conference shortly after the Iraq War started. Some argue that he wasn’t expressing approval of the war, but he certainly wasn’t expressing disapproval of it, in my opinion. If anything, he was saying it was a necessary thing to do.

    This is a very challenging issue.

  7. Connor
    May 26, 2009 at 10:04 am #

    Oh, and I’m sure you’ve discussed Pres. Hinckley’s statement in conference shortly after the Iraq War started.

    Yes, my thoughts on this talk are here.

  8. May 26, 2009 at 11:14 am #

    Let’s just say that I don’t see how any sane person would ever aspire to be president of the United States and have to make decisions about military action.

    That’s part of the problem, a commitment to military action is the responsibility of Congress, not the President.

  9. Ben
    May 26, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    I want to add a hearty amen to this post. I was so grateful that this past Memorial Day Sunday, there was a great absence of the glorification of war and military in my own sacrament meeting. We instead had talks about resisting the distractions of the world and about the power of the atonement from a branch president who presides over a local women’s jail.

    This is the gospel, and what sacrament meeting is all about.

  10. Ethan
    May 26, 2009 at 10:16 pm #

    Connor,

    First, the fact that there are extended periods of peace in the Book of Mormon is not an example of “peace at any cost.” They are simply examples of times of peace. We’ve had a few of those in the course of our country’s history. The very fact that they went back to war (even with Mormon and Moroni leading them in the very end) is evidence that “peace at any cost” isn’t always possible unless that “any cost” includes war.

    Now, I agree with the premise of repelling an attack in progress as being in line with Mormonism. I have to admit that this is the first time I have been presented with the dilemma on preemptive attacks. The changing face of war, from frontal assaults and trench warfare to guerrilla and covert attacks that never intend to leave a force to be repelled leaves me wondering how this applies to us. It is something I need to consider.

    If your assertion is that all military conflict the USA has been engaged in has been in the defense of our rights and freedoms, then I’ll have to strongly and respectfully disagree.

    Far from. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the time to honor those who did fight in such wars, even back to the Revolutionary War.

  11. May 27, 2009 at 7:29 am #

    I think Ethan in right about honoring our soldiers. The talk Connor mentioned by Pres. HInckley after the start of the Iraq war clarifies that we have a responsibility to fight in a war if we are required by law to. If we are a soldier already, or are drafted, then it is our duty to obey. The soldiers that have fought in these wars, whether or not the wars were justified, still made great sacrifices. As our brothers and sisters, they deserve our respect.

    I also agree with Connor, many of our military actions are questionable. The most important thing, however, is using this lens to attempt to influence the future actions of our government.

    As Hugh Nibley said, we should cry for peace as often as possible.

  12. Reach Upward
    May 27, 2009 at 11:40 am #

    This is a complex issue that requires comprehension of the whole situation. Capt. Moroni developed the Title of Liberty just before instigating harsh military action against those that were continuing to agitate for a change in government even after their side lost. He created the Title because he thought Nephites were being too slack about the dissenters. While the situation is not exactly the same, Moroni’s actions were far worse than anything National Guard troops did during the urban riots in the 1960s. His methods were far more harsh than recent abuses of liberty done under the auspices of the Patriot Act.

    Connor has presented some prophetic pronouncements that are carefully selected to bolster his point. But when we look at the entire compendium of modern prophetic teachings on the subject of force and war, it presents a picture that is far less cut and dried than seems to be suggested. How, for example, are we to be prepared to deal with an attack unless we … actually prepare for such?

    Ike hated war, but he knew what to do when it was necessary. It ought to be abundantly clear that recent US foreign policy is extremely problematic, especially from a Christian viewpoint. But let’s not suggest that all action has been unprovoked. Middle Eastern terrorist attacks against the US have been occurring at least since Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. It is all well and good to say that US response has been overboard, erratic, and ineffective, but it has not been wholly unprovoked.

    I have no problem honoring those that have given their lives in military service for their country. I do not think that doing this necessarily denotes approval of war or approval of warmongering policies.

  13. May 27, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    Reach,

    As for me personally, I’ll have to consider your comparisons to Moroni’s responses further, but — speaking of ‘comprehension of the whole situation’ — we know far, far, (far!) less about the complexities of any situations in ancient scripture than we do about our own. So trying to be too specific in such analogies may not be very wise or helpful.

    As to our own day, Presidents Kimball, McKay, Benson, Hinckley and others all lay out strikingly consistent qualifiers for war responses that — I would agree — lay bare the fact US foreign policy towards the mideast is (to say the least!) “problematic, especially from a Christian viewpoint.”

    As for ‘unprovoked’ attacks it is difficult to identify enmity between the USA and any other country that is not deeply based in our actions and interferences in their own sovereign affairs. This silly idea that some nations simply “hate us for our freedom” has never once been tied to any action I’ve actually seen occur in my 36 years (or read about occurring before that). It is a supremely morally-enervating red-herring since it allows the casual US citizen an excuse to avoid asking what has really been done ‘in our name’ by our OSS, CIA, and earlier forces for over a century in every corner of the planet.

    America came late to the colonial game in the Middle East but we picked up just like old pros. Consider this nugget from a recent Smithsonian article:

    In August 1953, the CIA sent one of its most intrepid agents, Kermit Roosevelt Jr., grandson of president Theodore Roosevelt, to Tehran with orders to overthrow Mossadegh. Employing tactics that ranged from bribing newspaper editors to organizing riots, Roosevelt immediately set to work. From a command center in the basement of the U.S. Embassy, he managed to create the impression that Iran was collapsing into chaos. On the night of August 19, an angry crowd, led by Roosevelt’s Iranian agents—and supported by police and military units whose leaders he had suborned—converged on Mossadegh’s home. After a two-hour siege, Mossadegh fled over a back wall. His house was looted and set afire. The handful of American agents who organized the coup were, as Roosevelt later wrote, “full of jubilation, celebration and occasional and totally unpredictable whacks on the back as one or the other was suddenly overcome with enthusiasm.” Mossadegh was arrested, tried for high treason, imprisoned for three years, then sentenced to house arrest for life. He died in 1967.

    Often-times we don’t get adequate light on these things for decades [when documents get de-classified, etc.] but going back to only “1968” doesn’t even come close to approaching “comprehension of the whole situation”. As far as US foreign policy goes, we have shown bursts of enlightenment (such as many of the pamphlets laying out the philosophical justifications for American Revolution or the many principles enshrined in our original Declaration of Independence and Constitution) but more often than not the USA has participated in schemes and machinations of exactly the sort that garner God’s ire (and not His blessing) — not to mention the deep hatred of the common people in countries in which we operate.

    That simplified history of Iran in the Smithsonian — where British and American companies would manage to gain absolute control over all the resources of an enslaved people again and again — and called in secret ops and sometimes full military to enforce their plunderings — is an excellent microcosm of the history of most colonies throughout the MidEast, Africa, Central America, the Asian islands, and much of the world. These are things we don’t discuss in our history books because they are ‘problematic’, but until we do they will keep occurring. There has been no slowdown in the last millenia.

    Finally, I think most here would strongly agree with you in honoring those that have given their service (and even their life) for their nation. I also agree that doing this does not “necessarily denot[e] approval of war or approval of warmongering policies” but I hope that in doing so that we expand our perspective a bit — as President Hinckley did in his Conference talk on ‘War and Peace’ — to remember that those serving on the ‘other side’ of conflicts tend to feel that same ‘honor’ in serving their own leaders.

    Too many of our conflicts escalate to the point of armed conflict simply because neither side (that would include our own!) is willing or able to discuss the complexities and true histories. I truly believe that if we were to put 1/100th of the time, treasure, and manpower we put into militarizing our conflicts in the expanding ‘war on terror’ instead into:
    – developing domestic energy independence
    – reviewing our roles and goals in de-stabilizing some foreign governments while [seemingly] arbitrarily propping up other dictators
    that most of our conflict — both armed and philosophical — with most of the factions of the world would cease.

    It would be then and only then that we could fulfill the likes of J. Reuben Clark’s observations about our nation (which I quoted yesterday at Connor’s Guantanamo post) and truly be a free and happy people.

  14. Gabriel
    May 28, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    I believe Mohandas Gandhi is an excellent example of proclaiming peace and have having remarkable success. Here is one of my favorite quotes from him:

    “There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.”

    A lone man inspired several hundred million people to protest against the tyrannical British Empire through complete non-violence to win independence. It is a remarkable story that for more reasons than one, is not fully told in the United States educational system.

  15. May 28, 2009 at 10:25 pm #

    Connor,

    I’m sure you were expecting this from SOMEONE. So, why not me? Hitler’s early expansion in Europe was a great example of what “Peace at all costs” looks like.

    Your thoughts?

    I need to comment on your statement that those who cry for peace are often dismissed as partisan hacks. I believe that in most cases it is true.

    So few who are not motivated by the leadership of such and so party actually cry out for peace based on fundamental principles alone. I hear both sides in several wars in my lifetime who were just crying for peace because the party in power was not their own.

    You’ll see what I mean if this thing with North Korea gets much worse.

    As far as celebrating peace-loving figures vs. those who fought and died in wars: Name some. Outside of religious leaders (including Gandhi, and Mother Teresa) I can only think of a few.

    The fact is that peace doesn’t stick in people’s minds. It doesn’t motivate to action. The initial meeting between Luke and Yoda comes to mind:

    “I’m looking for a great warrior.”

    “Wars to not make one great.”

    But this came from a movie about a WAR.

    The paradox of strong warriors who favor peace has always been a difficult objective. I’d like to strive for it. But I’m never surprised when it is not achieved.

    Even with the Nephite army, only the stripling warriors truly achieved this. Most of the rank and filers weren’t so keen on publishing peace while they saw their friends dying beside them.

  16. Curtis
    May 29, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    Carb,

    As far as celebrating peace-loving figures vs. those who fought and died in wars: Name some.

    Here are a few. The sons of Mosiah.

    Alma 26:
    23 Now do ye remember, my brethren, that we said unto our brethren in the land of Zarahemla, we go up to the land of Nephi, to preach unto our brethren, the Lamanites, and they laughed us to scorn?
    25 And moreover they did say: Let us take up arms against them, that we destroy them and their iniquity out of the land, lest they overrun us and destroy us.
    26 But behold, my beloved brethren, we came into the wilderness not with the intent to destroy our brethren, but with the intent that perhaps we might save some few of their souls.

    Then there was Nephi and Lehi of Helaman chapter 5. These guys stopped a huge war by their preaching. Of course, there’s also Alma and Amulek who knew that the preaching of the word had a greater effect on the hearts of people than the sword did.

  17. Curtis
    May 30, 2009 at 12:03 am #

    I’m glad that Doug brings up the Mossadegh overthrow orchestrated by the USA. There have been dozens of nations since then in which the USA has done similar actions. Our wars are largely a product of the failure of a Mossadegh-like overthrow. When someone is disobedient to the US, we make sure they are replaced with someone who is obedient. The Iraq war is a great example of one of our own CIA point men, Saddam, becoming disobedient, being hard to assassinate (since he had been schooled in the CIA’s tactics) and thus you get a war. In reality, wars pursued by the US are very rarely, if ever, about freedom, defense or democracy. It just doesn’t happen.

  18. Connor
    May 30, 2009 at 3:00 pm #

    Hitler’s early expansion in Europe was a great example of what “Peace at all costs” looks like.

    As I said in an earlier comment, I draw a distinction between legitimate and imminent defense, and retaliation. The section of Doctrine and Covenants makes mention of “go out unto battle”, seemingly indicating venturing beyond one’s own borders to put down a threat, whether before or after an attack has already been made. Additionally, one of the qualifiers in the quote by Pres. McKay that I linked to allows for defense. Finally, there are several quotes from church leaders, especially early ones, supporting a strong defense when attacked.

    This is, as I have said, different than an official declaratory act of war. The section of scripture also talks about lifting up the standard of peace when war has been proclaimed against you. This perhaps refers to an intermediary moment of time when a group of people have given advance warning of their intentions, but have not yet striked. Were they to strike, you could defend yourself. But after they have simply declared war, these scriptures seem to indicate that our preference should be to first seek peaceful resolution of the conflict, trust in God, and not rely upon our own war machine to ameliorate the issue at hand.

    So with respect to Hitler, I think that the countries he invaded were justified in defending themselves through military action, since the ball of war had already been brought to their court. Pres. McKay’s quote offers a third possibility for just war, namely coming to the defense of a weak nation being crushed by another. This principle, if correctly applied, might even justify portions of American military action in WWII. But history shows that our own political leaders were anxious for war and looking for ways to enter the conflict. Using a just cause as an excuse for one’s own nefarious desires is immoral in my book, even though the popularized reason for entering the war might be written off by the masses as an okay thing to do.

    As far as celebrating peace-loving figures vs. those who fought and died in wars: Name some. Outside of religious leaders (including Gandhi, and Mother Teresa) I can only think of a few.

    Need they be in the national spotlight to be celebrated? What about EMTs who work long hours to provide a crucial service? Underpaid and overworked schoolteachers looking to inspire the rising generation? Scientists researching the cure for cancer? Humanitarian organizations making a difference in individual lives around the world? Musicians, artists, and athletes showing what the human body can accomplish? Stay at home moms who reject cultural pressures to enter the workforce and instead spend their days personally raising their children? Scholars and historians who challenge the status quo and make a case for true change from the status quo? Family history researchers providing a connection to the past and enriching our lives? Diplomats who favor dialogue and discourse at all times? Basically, any individual that works to enrich and assist the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of others qualifies in my mind.

  19. Sidney Carton
    June 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    The invocation of Hitler and the appeasement does not justify any belligerent foreign policy decision made by the United States since 1945. The degree of threat faced by Britain and France by the Third Reich was particular and deserves some consideration.

    1. Nazi Germany had specific expansionist goals that were widely known. These asperations could be seen not only in Mein Kampf but also in a steady chain of recriminations directed against the Versailles Treaty dating back to 1919. The Germans intended to get the land they had lost to Poland back, and achieve an Anschluss with Austria no matter what. Furthermore, Hitler’s invocation of his desire to gain “Lebensraum” (living space for those who don’t sprechen the Deutsch) had been popular even before the rise of the Nazis, so it was clear to all parties involved that the Third Reich intended an aggressive campaign of territorial expansion.

    2. Nazi Germany had arguably the largest military machine in Europe, outside of the Soviet Union by 1938. As such, it was more than capable of fulfilling its territorial aspirations by force if necessary.

    3. The “Hitler Element” Adolf Hitler was willing to gamble on aggression in order to get his way, even to the point of recklessness. (for example, one may consider Hitler’s willingness to attack the USSR while the war with England was yet unconcluded, or his declaration of war against the United States, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, had he not done so, Congress may have limited American participation in the Second World War to a war in the Pacific against Japan.

    When Chamberlain and Daladier met with Hitler in Munich in 1938, Hitler was determined to go to war. They could not comprehend this mindset because unlike Germany, Britain and France had taken far different lessons from the massive losses which they had incurred during the First World War, and were willing to find any compromise that would avoid its repetition. Hitler, on the other hand was willing to do anything in order to get the war he wanted.

    In the years since 1945 the United States has never faced a foe who had the combination of expansionist goals, military capability and reckless aggression that Britain and France faced in 1938. Our continuing attempts to argue that each foreign policy crisis is a repeat of Munich merely cheapens the unique nature of that particular historical moment, while pushing us toward policy decisions and conclusions based on an inaccurate reading of events.

  20. Connor
    October 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    I just came across the following quote by Erastus Snow which epitomizes this post:

    The safety and protection of the Latter-day Saints lie in their preparing for peace. In other words, it is to make peace with their God, and with one another, and to proclaim peace unto all mankind, and so live and deport themselves, that they will encourage, extend and maintain peace to the utmost of their ability. (Journal of Discourses, volume 25, 2/24/1884)

  21. Allen Levie
    May 24, 2015 at 1:26 am #

    The source of this problem seems to go deep into the roots of our culture; debate, sports, politics, entertainment, grammar, etc. We have a long way to go to substantively shift toward peace. It would be nice to make a dent via political activism; but, if we are serious about it, I’m confident change is going to have to hit home a bit before it really gets traction. Totally doable.

  22. May 24, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

    Ethan states that: “The problem is that no one has firmly established what that looks like. And our own scriptures do not help us to establish what pursuing “peace at any cost” looks like.”

    Our scriptures actually do tell us exactly what this looks like. D&C 98 is the quintessential dictum on the matter and as the Lord says, this is what he has revealed to all of the prophets since the beginning.

    So what about all the war in the BoM? As Hugh Nibley states, “It’s always the wicked against the wicked in the Book of Mormon, never the righteous against the wicked. In the duel between Amlici and Alma (see Alma 2:29-31), wasn’t that a good guy against a bad guy? No, when the war was over they mourned terribly because they were convinced that the war had been because of their wickedness. They had brought it on themselves. They weren’t fighting bad guys as good guys after all. In the same way, Mormon counsels, Don’t worry about the wicked; surely the “judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished” (Mormon 4:5).” (Warfare and the Book of Mormon)

    So all those battles, where they doing it the right way? Apparently the Anti-Nephi-Lehis were. They were proclaiming peace at ALL costs and they won their victory. And yes, the Lord used the wicked to punish the remnant wicked. The generals of the Nephite armies lament over and over from the wickedness of the people.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Rumors of Wars | Connor's Conundrums - September 9, 2013

    […] latter-day disciples have been commanded to renounce war and proclaim peace. Similarly, however, we must recognize and beware the rumors, or propaganda, that almost always […]

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private.