I believe that war is not the answer. I went to jail back in 2002 for leading a sit-in at my senator’s office in protest of his early support for war on Iraq. Since then, I have been increasingly troubled by how many of my fellow Christians have become such avid supporters of war. I have come to believe that they support war because they see the world as a stage for a war between good and evil. They see God in a perpetual battle with the power of evil, a war between the light and the darkness. They give great power to the darkness and essentially worship a God of War that they believe can destroy the darkness.
However, as a Quaker, I believe in the God of Love, not the God of War. Evil is not the presence of some dark power outside of us. Evil is the absence of the light within us. The fundamental Quaker belief is that the light of God is present within each of us and is only revealed by love which is why we are commanded to love our enemies. I believe that only the light of God, not force, can displace the darkness.
It’s hard to explain what I mean by saying that evil is the absence of the
light. The best I can do is the plant analogy. Plants are created to grow
and flourish in the light of the sun. They do nothing to receive that light.
Humans, however, are created with consciousness and free will that gives us
the power to control the amount of light from God that we receive. Every
act of hate, violence, greed, and selfishness closes the aperture of our spirit that
receives the light. As the light fails, we, like the plants, struggle,
wither, and die spiritually. God created us to grow and flourish in the
light of the spirit. God did not create the darkness. That is our own doing.
I believe that violence is useless because it shuts out the light and serves only to
produce more darkness. The fundamental reason why force does not work is because there is nothing to be destroyed. Evil is an empty state, the absence of God’s light. Shine a light on the darkness and it disappears! No amount of force can destroy that which does not exist. I believe that our calling is not to kill our enemies because we see them as servants of darkness, but, rather, to help bring more light into the world through the power of love, understanding and forgiveness. We are called to increase the light that will ultimately dissolve the darkness. Violence blocks the light that is in each of us. Non-violence allows the light of God to shine through conflict and to illuminate the path to peace and reconciliation. This is why I believe with my heart and soul that war is not the answer.
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