Have you seen a mustard seed? They are mighty tiny. What I want for my country this Christmas season is small but consequential.
During the Vietnam era, Arlo Guthrie sang a humorous anti-war ditty. A young man is drafted and told to report for his physical. When he gets to the psychiatrist’s station, he starts jumping and shouting Kill! Kill! Kill! When I hear American politicians shouting Bomb! Bomb! Bomb! as a solution for all of our foreign policy problems, I am reminded of the Guthrie song. We have been exploding ordnance in the Middle East and North Africa for more than 20 years and, so far, it has only made matters worse. Our national government’s reliance on violent solutions has set an example that has trickled down to police forces and to individuals in our society. We are becoming a violent nation. It is time to look for non-violent solutions.
There is a substantial number of U.S. companies whose profits depend on “wars and rumors of wars.” They are supported by an army of lobbyists in Washington, D.C. because their profits come from government contracts. Their propagandists attempt to convince us that the world is full of enemies that we must fight. Without war and the threat of war, they are out of business.
Harvard professor Eliot A. Cohen is a long-standing war-hawk and government advisor who urges us to “crush” the Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa. He anticipates that it could require a substantial mobilization of troops and could last two or three generations. Is that the future you want for your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren?
Our continuing military actions against Muslim entities may be well-intentioned and justifiable, but we need to recognize that it is generating hatred of the United States. It would be reasonable to assume that our actions generate a desire for retribution. We could reap what we sow.
Christ did not counsel violence. Violence isn’t the only way to solve a human problem, and it usually isn’t the best way. In the spirit of this Christmas season, let us petition our government to explore new options. Government officials will need to demonstrate faith and courage but not much. Something equivalent to a mustard seed will do.
Jack Stevenson is now retired from military service. He served two years in Vietnam as an infantry officer and worked three years as a U.S. Civil Service employee. He also worked in Egypt as an employee of the former Radio Corporation of America (RCA).