August 25th, 2007

War Isn’t Hell

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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.

3 Responses to “War Isn’t Hell”

  1. Kelly W.
    August 25, 2007 at 10:16 am #

    The murders of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan are only a portion of the story. Most estimates are that there are two million innocent Iraqis that have fled the country to places like Syria and Lebanon and are doing nothing more than surviving in miserable refugee camps without water and sewer.

    Those that are not fortunate enough to be able to afford to flee the country must flee their homes and/or hole up in what is left of their homes and communities, to endure there the delapitated infrastructure of less than adequate power, water, sewer, protection and food.

    There are also the issues of DU contamination and inadequate health care.

    Perhaps the dead are better off dead than being forced to survive in the most dangerous country on the face of the earth.

    But at least they’re “free” and we’re told we’re making good progress in Iraq.

  2. john
    March 1, 2009 at 12:27 pm #

    We can never forget 9/11 and should be reminded every day.All you over protected,whiny,anti-America,America is evil crowd who think we are wrong and cause the evil in the world are the problem.You will defend the evil terrorists and persecute the American soldier who defends you 24/7 around the world in some of worst and most dangerous conditions possible.You get your information from the people who will tell you what you want to hear and not the truth.I seved at GTMO and Iraq, you only believe what you want to hear as long as the U.S. is bad.Evil exists in the world if you ever came face to face with it you would piss your pants

  3. Kelly W.
    March 1, 2009 at 3:12 pm #

    John, I’m more scared of you than I would be of an actual terrorist. You have incorrectly judged me. Therefore I perceive you as the dangerous one. You probably would have tortured me if you met me, like they torture the alleged terrorists at Gitmo. The actual terrorists are the ones who brought down the three WTC towers with two planes by controlled demolition. (And that’s the 100% truth.)

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