Thursday, March 19, 2009

Six Years of War

Today marks the six year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. The arguments for and against this war are scratched all over the internet (including this site), newspapers, magazines, and any other media of expression. So I will not go over them again. I did go back and read some talks and articles written by our church leaders about war, however, and wanted to make sure to make them available to anyone who is interested.

President Hinckley's talk called War and Peace, given about six months after the beginning of the Iraq War, is a must read. He seems to genuinely struggle with the Iraq War. He, of course, glories in peace and condemns war generally, but adds that is personal feelings tend towards the conclusion that the war is like the war that Captain Moroni fought to protect their families and liberties. He makes clear to note that those are his personal feelings and that the members, being worldwide and diverse, have a right to protest and oppose the war.

Elder Oaks gave a talk called World Peace in 1990. In it he proclaims that peace isn't the absence of war, it is the affirmative existance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While reducing war and the opportunity of war reduces its horrible costs (in terms of lives lost, the growth of hatred, money spent), true peace comes from living and spreading the gospel of peace.

President Marion G. Romney, in The Price of Peace, noting the first and second world wars, stated that we are failing miserably at peace because we are not paying the proper price. I love this quote and I think it sums up his message:
Now, while I feel that the many people of the earth today are so infected with the works of the flesh that they do not recognize them as such, and, therefore, many people are not possessed of the moral courage to pay the price of peace, still we should not, Jonah-like, sulk under a vine if some of them should turn to apply the principles of the Prince of Peace and find its joyful rewards. On the contrary, we should rejoice, for to proclaim peace is the sole purpose of our life’s mission. We should find no pleasure in the fact that men’s strivings for peace have proved ineffectual. I wage no war against their efforts. Many of them are doing the best they can in the light they have. Nevertheless, I can see no justification for us, who have the clear light of the revealed gospel of Christ, to spend our lives stumbling around through the mists following the uncertain glimmer of a flickering candle lighted by the wisdom of men. Rather, we should devote our energies to spreading the true light, and leave the mists to those who do not see that light.
If we leave the machinations of war and peace to our hope in human intelligence, we will fail. The only lasting peace comes from spreading the peace that the Savior proclaimed and personally living its precepts.

There are other pronouncements and talks given on the subject of war and peace that are easy to find. I think my thoughts are perhaps best summed up by this quote from President Joseph F. Smith, speaking during WWI:
For years it has been held that peace comes only by preparation for war; the present conflict should prove that peace comes only by preparing for peace, through training the people in righteousness and justice, and selecting rulers who respect the righteous will of the people.
Are we now a nation that is preparing for war or preparing for peace? What about us as individual members of the church, are we preparing ourselves and our children for war or peace? Are we a nation that rejoices in the gospel of peace or the hope that human ingenuity alone can bring peace? Is the Iraq War another example of "stumbling around through the mists" looking for peace where it was certain not to be found? I believe it was.

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