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Toby Schwarz
War: What Is it Good For?

by Toby Schwarz

As someone once eloquently put it, there are only two truths that I am absolutely certain about in this life:  (1) There is a God, and (2) I'm not Him.  These two truths give me great peace and comfort as I maneuver through this life.

If I were, indeed, God, I would do away with some of the ugliness in life.  I would lose such things as SPAM (the e-mail nuisance, not the food product), low-rider jeans (for both genders), and maybe even the designated hitter in Major League Baseball (sorry, Edgar). I wouldn't expect much backlash.

I would do away with much uglier things, as well:  HIV/AIDS, cancer, poverty, drug and alcohol addiction, pornography, murder, rape, divorce, abortion, depression, and war. I know that I am not alone when contemplate why such things as these exist.  The easy answer is that we live in a fallen world.  Human nature is rooted in selfishness.  All sin leads back to selfishness and to our desire to play God. Most, if not all, of the ugliness in life is a result of our or someone else's sin.  War is just one example.

Do I support war?  The question alone provokes a little anxiety.  To say "yes" in this day and age is to be labeled by many a warmonger, one bent on self-gain and overtaking the world.

But war is inevitable.  We live in a fallen world.  Everyone is not playing by the same rules.  The question to me is not whether a war is just.  The better and more relevant question for me is whether war is necessary. 

What is the result of war?  Death, destruction, ruined lives. However, there are other results, as well.  Wars have resulted in the end of slavery, the end of persecution, and the end to terrorism.  War is not in and of itself good, but I would argue that neither is it good for "absolutely nothing" (as the song quoted in my title says). 

I can't sit by and watch others being unfairly treated without taking steps to help them, and while I don't believe that I can in good conscience go on record saying that I support war, I do support certain wars that have been undertaken in order to protect or defend others. 

Wars are not a creation of God. Wars are inevitable in a world of fallen humans who disagree.  Wars should not be sought.  Violence should never be instigated.  However, in a world that includes conflict and disagreement, war may sometimes be the only response.  War may be necessary.

Turning the other cheek is a righteous act, as long as that cheek meets a hand and not a bullet. And do we have the authority to turn someone else's cheek?  I don't support war as much as I support people who are being wronged and those who step up to protect them. And even though I see some wars as necessary, I don't support war as much as I trust God. 

Schwarz is a professor of kinesiology & athletics and head coach of the track-and-field and cross-country teams at Whitworth.

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