Most people don’t think that war is good thing. Many people who end up going to fight are ordinary folk, just like my parents were. For them, I think it was a mixture of patriotism and the chance for adventure. They certainly didn’t glamorise or glorify war. If each of us were called up to stand against a force that we were told was evil and threatened our very existence, how would we react? When I was mugged many years ago, I hit my attackers repeatedly and so hard that I broke my own hand. The instinct to survive is a very strong one. It takes strength to fight the enemy, it may take more strength to refuse to do so. There are many people of faith who will not go to war, such as Quakers. Many pacifists served their country by being stretcher bearers and ambulance drivers, alleviating the suffering of war where they could.
Christian theologians developed the Just War Theory to give an ethical framework for states when deciding on whether to go to war and how the war is to be conducted. It recognises that taking life is wrong, that states have a duty to protect their citizens and to defend justice, and that sometimes in order to protect innocent life and protect important moral values, force and violence may be needed. This doesn’t imply that war is good, only that it might be the lesser of two evils. On Sunday, someone was wearing a white peace poppy and a red remembrance poppy. He said ‘To me, the red one stands for the past, the white one for the future. They are both important.’ Let us thrive to make peace in our own hearts, in our own lives and pray for those who have responsibility for holding peace in the world.