What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: pingnews.com
A recent LRC blog post referenced a M*A*S*H rerun that had the following dialog exchange:
Someone: “War is hell.”
Hawkeye Pierce: “Bull. War is war and Hell is hell. Between the two, war is worse. Innocent bystanders don’t go to hell.”
There is truth to be found in this quote, illustrating how “when the wicked rule, the people mourn” (see D&C 98:9, Proverbs 29:2). When governments wage war, men and women are commissioned and authorized to murder other children of God in the name of preserving the nation and accomplishing objectives deemed important by the executive.
Lest we are led to believe that soldiers, as pawns in a game of chess, are murderers themselves, we would do well to remember the words of a 1942 First Presidency message on this topic (hat tip to Quiet Observer):
The whole world is in the midst of a war that seems the worst of all time. This Church is a worldwide church. Its devoted members are in both camps. They are the innocent war instrumentalities of their warring sovereignties. On each side they believe they are fighting for home and country and freedom. On each side, our brethren pray to the same God, in the same name, for victory. Both sides cannot be wholly right; perhaps neither is without wrong. God will work out in His own due time and in His own sovereign way the justice and right of the conflict, but He will not hold the innocent instrumentalities of the war, our brethren in arms, responsible for the conflict. This is a major crisis in the world-life of man. God is at the helm.
Despite the fact that the politicians are to blame for waging (often unnecessary) wars, the action is aptly labeled as murder. Soldiers are free from blame for their actions (so long as they are upholding their oath), but those actions nevertheless entail killing other children of God.
It is folly to think that in a war, soldiers kill soldiers. The evident truth found in the annals of history and newspapers of our day is that soldiers kill plenty of innocent civilians as they tread the path of destruction through a neighborhood, city, or nation. Bystanders, mothers, children, and neutral persons are often casualties of war, murdered at the hands of those authorized by their government to punish another nation or people for crimes or actions alleged to have been committed.
Meanwhile, we civilians grow numb quickly. We become used to seeing death in the newspapers and on the TV at night, and no longer are shocked or dismayed at seeing 20 killed here, five there, 43 somewhere else. We might express sorrow for a minute or two and then move on with our day. We might discuss it with our spouse or friend and then forget about it. We might write up a blog post or letter to the editor. But we forget. We live in the United States of Amnesia, where the world is so busy that we don’t have or make time for things that don’t immediately and directly affect us.
And so, we forget. We forget that day in, day out, innocent people are being maimed and slaughtered in the path of war. We forget that should “we the people” rise up and hold our representatives accountable, it could all stop tomorrow. We forget that war is not necessary, that those dying are literally our brothers and sisters, and that we have a responsibility to them. We forget.
Being forgetful, our government realizes that it can slowly but surely assume more power that it was never delegated, pursue an agenda contrary to the Constitution, and send our brothers and sisters into a no-win, never-ending war that has gone on for decades. The government realizes that the civilian death count in this real game of Risk becomes unimportant to us, and so despite the fact that it is responsible for the deaths of millions of people, it marches on in the glorious name of “liberty” and “democracy”, using the only method it can to keep the engines running: force.
And so, every day, life becomes a living hell for those who lose friends and family at the hands of an invading force. We can find comfort in the fact that those who die are taken to a better place, but that by no means justifies the early termination of their lives.
Our political leaders will have much to answer for at the judgment bar.