by Tom H Hastings
Back in the day (an expression my undergraduate students sometimes use) we had an expression, It’s all Greek to me. Aristotle helped us define what that means vis-à-vis war. He taught that the only just war was one fought with non-Hellenes. To borrow from another set of expressions, Mighty white of him. As long as you are attacking, say, Persians, war is alright, but please, stop with the city-state swordplay between Athens and Sparta.
Fast-forward to the time of Jesus. He was not in favor of swordplay and even rejected that in self-defense. He took it another step and admonished his disciple who rose to defend Jesus in the Garden on the eve of Passover. The disciple cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest and then Jesus took it to the next level and healed the ear.
Yet in our “Christian nation” we still hold that the doctrine of the Just War is supreme. It was cited on the floor of Congress to justify voting for Gulf War I. Most Christian denominations expressly believe in this Aristotelian doctrine...
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Tom H. Hastings is director of PeaceVoice and a founder of Whitefeather Peace Community in Portland, Oregon. He teaches full-time in the Portland State University Conflict Resolution MA/MS program.