A Pacifist’s Dilemma on Veterans’ Day

I wrote this post in 2010, and it seemed appropriate to re-post this weekend.

* * *

I hate war. But I do not hate soldiers.

I believe engaging in armed combat goes against the teachings of Jesus. But I respect the fact that war veterans have made incredible sacrifices for causes they believed to be noble.

I am generally in favor of cutting military spending. But I think we should increase spending on medical and psychological care for veterans. The high rates of mental illness, divorce, and suicide among military veterans causes me deep sorrow.

My first-grader came home from school earlier this week with a little newspaper that featured an Iraq war veteran who had lost his leg. She told me he was a hero because he killed the bad guys. “How do you know,” I asked, “who the bad guys are? Remember what Jesus said.”

“Love your enemies?”

Is there a way, on this day, for me to honor the spirit of sacrifice but not the acts of destruction; to give thanks for the selfless nature of our veterans without condoning the violence they committed; to advocate for better treatment of soldiers without supporting the work of the military industrial complex?

I believe the best way to honor all veterans is to make sure there are as few new veterans as possible.

7 thoughts on “A Pacifist’s Dilemma on Veterans’ Day

  1. The dilemma. I have learned a lot from my retired military husband (turned pacifist) about what motivated him to enlist during Viet Nam and what his faith community was at that time. Another way to honor our vets is to hear and honor their story.

  2. As a once Marine, now pacifist, http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Pacifism-Fruit-Narrow-ebook/dp/B005RIKH62/ref=la_B001KMODGY_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1353098770&sr=1-4
    I understand your dilemma. We have lost the memory of what was once Armistice Day, the celebration of the end of the Great War which has the wonderful story of the Christmas truce.

    I just began a resource page on pacifism yesterday

    Blessings and Semper Fi for the Kingdom

  3. Reblogged this on notdarkyetsite and commented:
    I believe in honoring our veterans who have put their lives on the line to serve a greater cause. I also believe that war is not an appropriate answer to our global conflicts and often grieve at political leaders cavalier use of our military troops. I found the following blog post by a Mennonite pastor to be a helpful way to frame the honoring of our military veterans.

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