Pope Francis has invited the world to pray and fast today for peace - specifically in Syria and the rest of the Middle East. While courage is noble, war is always horrible, and world leaders have an obligation to their citizens and to the rest of humanity to work to avoid war whenever possible.
|image courtesy Freedom House, flickr|
I think that's often easy for us in the comfortable first world to forget. I tried to read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning but had to stop because I couldn't handle his descriptions of the Nazi concentration camp. George Weigel's descriptions of Karol Wotijla (later Pope John Paul II)'s youth in occupied Poland were harrowing to me. Human beings are capable of awful, awful evil.
This NYT slideshow of Purple Hearts shows some of the human faces that came out of war. (Warning: don't click unless you have time to pause and think, maybe cry.) Mark Shea wrote (and followed up here) criticizing politicians who don't take the human factor into account when sending human troops to unjust, unnecessary wars.
I am all for honor, bravery, and all these good things our servicemen and women live out. But it's not fair for politicians or anyone to tear apart bodies and families - Americans, Syrians, Muslims, Christians, atheists, anyone - without a very good reason.
Let's join Pope Francis and pray for peace in Syria and the Middle East, and let's work for peace in our families and communities.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Hello!
Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to make add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.
There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.Read his whole address (it's not very long) here.
I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.