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Is there another way?

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, February 20, 2006

Many of us, whether we’re for or against the war in Iraq, are aware that 2,268 Americans and roughly 30,000 civilians have already been killed in Iraq since March of 2003 … but have we ever stopped to ask ourselves if there is another way?

It is this question that drives the hearts of many who are involved in peace activism at Notre Dame. As we study Catholic social teaching and its implications in our modern world, many of us have come to believe that war is incompatible with human dignity and the common good. War does not happen in a vacuum – it breeds a culture of death that intimately affects each member of society, tearing apart communities and indiscriminately killing, injuring or scarring all who cross its path. Far from a just, effective solution to social problems, war strips all sides of their human dignity and greatly lessens a community’s potential for co-existing in peace and resolving future conflicts.

Thus, even in the face of grave human rights atrocities – we don’t need war – we need an active, nonviolent engagement of the conflict, which includes dialogue, disarmament, humanitarian aid and prayer, as a means to help us return to right relations with our neighbor. Some might scoff at these supposedly “unrealistic” suggestions, but Christ Himself set love as the measure for human dignity. Throughout the Gospels it is clear that He asks for nothing less. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44-45)

If love is the answer, it is clear that war cannot adequately address the wounds of our time. While it might make us feel like we are “at least doing something,” war is an ineffective remedy, a Band-Aid that will soon fall off, requiring even more violence to secure it. As we gather together this week to pray for peace and remember those who have been killed, I challenge you to let yourself be made uncomfortable when confronted with the consequences of war and to take the question seriously – is there another way?

Jess HeringerPasquerilla EastFeb. 16