Waging War with Civilians and Other Horrors

It can be very hard to understand why anyone should wish to use bullets, bombs, kidnapping, torture and other horrors to achieve their aims, yet that is precisely what is happening in many parts of the world. Hamas wants to destroy Israel so rains down rocket-fire; Israel wants to destroy Gaza so rains down air-strikes and ground offensives; ISIS wants to eliminate anyone who thinks or believes differently so uses bully-boy tactics on Christians and other religious groups; Boko Haram has its own vision, if one can call it that, for Nigeria and has no scruples about using kidnap and terror against the civilian population. In every case, it is civilians who suffer most; and as far as I can see, the shocking truth is that civilian suffering is what is intended. If enough civilians die, there will be a shift in thinking; existing power-structures will crumble; victory will have been won.

It would naive to believe that waging war with civilians is a novelty. Sadly, it has always been so; but today’s weaponry makes it easier and deadlier than ever. That raises all kinds of moral questions about Just War theory, individual/collective responsibility, the role of Superpowers and so on. I’m not sure what bloggers and others have to contribute to the debate, but perhaps thinking in terms of ‘debate’ itself contributes to the problem. We are not talking about something abstract and ultimately harmless but about human lives. Perhaps we all need to take a deep breath and remember that what is done, or not done, today affects not only the present generation but generations to come. Wars are rarely born of sudden misunderstandings or power-grabs. They tend to come from long-simmering feuds and resentments, from the memory of hurts, real or imagined, that we all carry within us. Perhaps there is something there for us all to think about today.


4 thoughts on “Waging War with Civilians and Other Horrors”

  1. Thanks for these reflections, Sister.
    Having lived & worked for many years in NW Uganda on the margins of ongoing, bloody struggles in S Sudan, N Uganda & NE Congo, I long ago appreciated the truth of the Ugandan proverb: “When elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled”.
    So often it is indeed the weak, marginalized, powerless & innocent ordinary civilians are those that suffer the most, and pay the greatest cost.

  2. What upsets me the most are the companies producing weapons (in any country) and tactical “consultants” that insulate themselves from any responsibility. They capitalize on governments which come up with “justifiable” reasons to “eliminate” a problem, i.e. kill, or groups bound together behind an irrational cause.

    To reason a “just war” requires an understanding of all the factors surrounding a conflict, i.e. evil, and a sincere moral attitude/ obligation to stop it before it succeeds. Unfortunately, some government officials and groups don’t see things this way. They are selective or never reveal all the circumstances behind a situation (Relative truth?), are more intune to personal self preservation/ profit (Simple animal instinct?), ideologically out of control (Dualistic!), blind themselves with illusions of power/ dominance (Gaming mentality?), and perpetuate a historical justification for self righteous/ vengeful action (Limited / n0n-contemplative thought?) .

    How can a person in our modern world say ANY war is justified? Nowadays, “institutional” organizations engaged in nurturing an environment for war [EITHER offensively ->aggression/ revolution/ narrow mindness/ greed/ superiority/ relativistic -OR defensively -> superiority/ wealth/ greed/ repression/ status quo/ relativistic] are incapable of identifying any moral obligation to kill.

    I believe “hiding” behind an institutional moral justification is a very dangerous modern invention. What makes it so dangerous are the means, weapons and tactics, used to achieve a perceived victory. The only way to succeed/ profit from this madness is to completely annihilate any possibility of opposition! Modern technology is very capable of making this a reality.

  3. Thank you for your thoughts, Sister. The scenes on the news in recent days showing the plight of children in hospital with horrific injuries and others being told that a parent or parents have been killed leaves one feeling so sad for these innocent
    little ones who are experiencing such trauma at such a young age.
    One wonders how these millions of children will grow into adulthood with very little if any education and maybe a mindset which only knows unrest and fighting along with having to up and move, to living in camps or bombed out shells of buildings.
    You are quite right, Sister, in stating about generations to come. There is indeed, a lot for us to think about and pray about.

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