In the Face of War

Our time -

Our time - as every era - is a time of structured enemies. Yes, there are moments of true regard for the other, even moments of sheer poetry. Yet the fabric of society is always woven with dangerous conflict. Socially constructed hostilities and historically clashing interests riddle life. When they are not overt, they are latent. Soldier and citizen, colonized and colonizer, poor and rich, Irish Protestant and Irish Catholic, Hindu and Christian, female and male, worker and management, Palestinian and Israeli, even child and parent, partner and spouse, all know the same thing: No soul is immune from harm, no life is without violation, no zone is enemy-free. Do individual bonds and emotions matter here? Of course. But far less than power relationships that effectively structure animosity.

The only real question, then, is whether there is an effective "ethic for enemies," to use Donald Shriver’s term. Or, to sharpen it the way Jesus did, whether love of enemy is a life imperative itself and reconciliation of structured enemies the only way to a new creation. It certainly is so when mountain ranges and great oceans no longer put anyone out of reach of the other, and "advanced" technologies wrap mass destruction in small packages.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2005
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