What About the Russians? | Sojourners

What About the Russians?

A group of Scandinavian women recently made a pilgrimage for peace by walking to Minsk, in the Soviet Union. All along the way they talked to Soviet people who characteristically responded to their pleas for peace with words like these: "We want peace. But you know how the Americans are, we can't trust them. We can't let down our guard. If we showed weakness they would overwhelm us. The only thing Americans understand is power."

Another group of friends sat in at the Soviet embassy in New York as a witness for peace last summer. They were told the same thing: "We desire peace too, but the Americans are seeking military superiority over us. We have no choice but to continue to build up our military strength."

The words sound like a tape recording. Substitute "Russians" for "Americans," or vice versa, and you can hear it played over and over in every American and Soviet city.

Our respective national fears have become mirror projections of each other. Like most fears, some are real and some imagined. Both sides have behaved in ways that cause the other side to legitimately be afraid. Both sides have allowed their fears to escalate far out of proportion to reality. Both sides paint "worst-case scenarios" of the other and make the necessary preparations to meet them. Our fears have now made us contemplate ultimate violence against each other, and unless dealt with, they will surely destroy us all.

While the arms race has many complicated political and economic causes, its root cause is fear. The bomb is the political result of fear, the logical, social extension of our personal anxiety.

Desiring to be saved from all the things that frighten us, we bow before our nation and its military might, which literally promises us salvation. We have allowed our faith and security in God to be overcome by fear, the greatest enemy of faith and its final contradiction.

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