Press reports touting the fall of Baghdad and the toppling of the regime of Saddam Hussein has unleashed a torrent of “We were right”s from those who supported the war option from the outset. Although they wouldn’t necessarily put it so crudely, they are in effect suggesting that the end has justified the means. But are we at the end?
Those who argued the cause of a peaceful resolution to the issues recognise that the supremacy of force is perpetuated. The violent regime of Saddam Hussein was overcome with a greater violence. The West has merely shown it can play the same game, only with bigger toys. The opportunity to mark out an alternative future – albeit a far more difficult road to walk – was passed up. The pattern for violence as the means for resolving disputes remains unquestioned.
It is into this context that the Easter events strike an unfamiliar chord with us. In a world which sees military might as the pathway to peace, Jesus chose to lay down his arms and his rights to achieve peace. In a world which values respectability, Jesus mixed with those society marginalised. In a world where people argue over religious points, Jesus chose to remain silent before his accusers.
In the final analysis, the Easter events demonstrate that, in God’s economy, violent means are not the end. Though subjecting Jesus to the most brutal form of punishment ever devised, and ultimately killing him, God did not allow that action to stand as the final judgment. In the resurrection of Jesus, God established a new order, based on a life-giving power. The power of resurrection.
The cause of peace has taken a brutal blow by the events in Iraq over recent weeks. The declaration of ultimate victory in Iraq, and the beginning of reconstruction will not mark the end for those who have championed peace over recent weeks. Peace is based on justice and equality, two attributes which have been sadly lacking in the approach and outcome of the Coalition of the Willing. We must continue to work for peace – in peaceful ways - for all peoples in the world: for those subjected to economic violence, as well as military violence. It is the essence of the gospel.
April 6, 2003