war! when is it good for?

it is so funny but if i go some time without writing on modesty it feels like i almost alienate apart of my family in a way.
i don’t know where to begin this conversation and i am sure i won’t know when to end.

i am not one of those people who stand on the side of the road and protest the war, in all honesty i try to look at the positives in the war (debatable whether the word “postive” and “war” ever belong in the same sentence). we all see clearly the negatives, i mean its war. people die. no matter if that’s one person or one million no one should die. but some positive aspects of the war in iraq currently are this.

* "there are now over 100 newspapers in the free press. . . in a free iraq." this means more freedom of speech in iraq! something we americans take for granted.
* "the independent central bank of Germany, it took three years after world war II to establish it-it was established in iraq in two months; that the police in germany were established after 14 months-in iraq, they were established in two months; that a new currency in germany took three years-it took two and a half months in Iraq. the cabinet in germany took 14 months. iraq has a cabinet today after four months."
* "the governing council of iraq is easily the most representative body of governance ever formed in that nation, and is rapidly gaining real powers and responsibilities, such as appointing ministers, representing Iraq to the international community, and beginning the process of drafting the first-ever iraqi constitution." the arab league last week accepted an envoy from the council as a legitimate representative of Iraq.
* "over 90% of Iraqi towns and provinces now have their own governing councils, including the holy Shiite cities of najaf and karbala."
* "schools were immediately stood back up. at all levels the school year was salvaged."
* "hospitals nation-wide are open. doctors and nurses are at work."
* "public services-electrical, water, sewage-are better than pre-war levels."
* "oil production has continued to increase, and recently it has averaged between 1.5 and 2 million barrels per day."
so in some ways we are working for a more “free” and stable country on the other side of the world. the problem rests for me not just in the age old question of ‘is war just or right?’ and not just ‘what makes any war just?’ but who voted america to be the police of the world? i want to help the world i really do but i just feel there is more ways to solve problems without the use of so much death, destruction, and debt.

i recently read an article on an education portal, which was explaining that we pay about $186,000 per minute (total of 443.7 billion). it is not the amount of zeros that make this frustrating its that they went on to say that with that amount of money we could put 21,510,598 (the amount of every high school student in the united states) students through a four year college education at a state school, add 7,689,734 million more teachers to our school system.

how ethnocentric (i hope) some of you are saying!!! here i am ranting on modesty all the time about helping the world but then i turn and use the money used to save a nation from a malicious and malevolence dictator. but honestly if we invest into all the children/high school students in America i GUARENTEE that we will live in a better future for the ENTIRE WORLD down the road. here we could raise up a generation who values the power of the pen over the sword, we could invest into their children’s children by empowering their parents with education (which equals better jobs and a more stable economical environment). the positive reprocutions to the generation who receives the opportunity for a free 4 year education is endless! when there is a suddam (and there will be) in 50 years they will know how to handle the problem diplomatically with more options than just “shock and awe”.

don’t get me wrong, war in american history has done some necessary, positive, and even very valid achievements in our history! revolutionary war freed us from taxation without representation, civil war freed mankind (america) from the oppression of slavery, and world war one and two were vital to defeating emperors and dictators determined to conquer the world. before i got into music for years i wanted to go to westpoint military academy and even visited it in high school hoping to eventually make the military my career. i theologically and philosophically have no qualms with the function of a democratically run military. i believe that we do need a military, not every government in the world can sit down at a table and have a in depth conversation and negatiate problems and come to a balanced and fair agreement. i think we need a good defense because not everyone wants america to be a thriving nation, and due to past experience liquidating our entire military would be asinine!

but where do you see the line?
what is a just war? and when is using a powerful military a just cause?
who should decide to use the military; the government or its people?
what is the point where ethnocentrism and military conquests collide?
i don’t have the answer, just inclinations and opinions.

Comments

x3beccamariex3 said…
I don't believe there is such thing as a just war. Killing is killing. Fighting a war for peace lacks logic. Even though there are great benefits at times during some wars, it is unnecessary for us to fight wars that don't directly call for our involvement. I am glad you mentioned all the good things that are coming out of the war, even though there are many reasons to disagree with it.

We are apparently a Democracy, and our elected president, senators, etc are representations of our majority of votes. Since it's only the majority, obviously many people will disagree. Personally I don't think that our representatives in government always hold our same views, even if we have voted for them. It's not a fair assessment. I would much rather us as a people decide, other than the sometimes flawed representations in government.

Sorry if that didn't make any sense. I hope you're having a wonderful evening.
Latrina said…
Thank you for this, it evoked a lot of thoughts. I'm amazed by the money you said we're spending on this war but more amazed by the fact that it could put so many people into a great school. What you said was absolute truth. Higher education for the children will eventually lead to a greater and knowledgeable America. This is upsetting. I encourage others to help out less fortunate countries (and I try to!) but I believe America should also help out themselves. I believe this war is unjust and killing in the name of war is the worst thing imaginable.

You're right though, it does have its good benefits and I'm glad I read those. I do believe good can always come from the bad and everyone can take something negative and turn it into something positive and learn from it.

I don't know, my views on this is still hazy & unclear, as I'm like you. I see the good and the bad in this situation, but I hate that the bad is over riding the good. And in my eyes, it always will. War brings a huge mess, so much more than it will bring good. Especially in this case.

I'm glad you're thinking about this & hopefully this will make a lot of people stop & think. As it done with me.

On a much better note, I hope you are doing well & I wish you and your family lots of happiness during the holidays. :)
Thank you for being one of the few people that is willing to stand up and point out the positive things that are coming out of the war in Iraq. I absolutely wish that we did not have to be at war right now, but I realize that we're doing a lot of good for the Iraqi people and giving them the freedom God intended them to have and allowing them a more fulfilling life. War is such an ugly thing, but so many wonderful things can come from the ending resolution.

Thanks for being bold enough to point these things out.
Adrienne said…
The question is why doesn't Uncle Sam step in for less profitable countries such as oh I dunno Darfur! Answer: Sounds like Honey. And rhymes with soil.

Food for though;
Martin Luther King would have gone nowhere without the violence of the Black Panthers. His words were only noticed when the BPs stirred up some trouble.
reid said…
if you want to read up on a first person account of the things going on in iraq on a smaller part, i'd highly suggest reading the reports from a man named michael yon. yon was the youngest american to ever become a green beret (and was subsequently discharged from the military after killing a man - and later acquitted as an act of self-defense). he's been over in iraq and afghanistan as a completely independent journalist, embedded with the troops, with his only funding coming from individuals donating on his website.

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/
leoland said…
i was so confused by this. you point out the good in the war. then you say that we should spend the money on something else. then you say that youre not saying the war isnt good. then you question whether the war is ok.

i understand war has fostered progress in the past but i'd like to think we could find other means to prosper. and i honestly dont think war is just. in this case especially. one thing we have to consider. while we're doing good in iraq. is it good by our standards or theirs? ok im really not going to explain myself well enough on this blog. i am one of those people that goes on the street to protest this war. i did not vote for this war (granted i only just turned 18 :P)and so i protest to show that. our leaders should know what we think so that they do their job right? i dont know. i know it was his decision to join it, but i dont want my uncle to come back anything other than alive for my cousins.

and i completely agree on spending more on education than war. the amount of money that goes into this war is phenomenal. the amount of money that goes into education is far from it. we'd like to think our educational system is pretty damn good. but it's not. i dont see any problem in taking money from the war and from the military and spending it on education. the US is a super power and as of right now there is no other state big enough to challenge us. we are not in danger. i dont see why we have to spend so much on the military.

granted i also believe in aiding other countries. aiding. as in providing aid. not bombing them. why would you bomb a city when it's the leaders you want to get rid of? it doesnt make any sense to me.

ok wow this is really long. im sorry about that. i have so much to say and wonder and question about this subject. i dont know. Dahr Jamail is an un-embedded journalist who recently released a book called Beyond the Green Zone. maybe youd be interested? i havent had a chance to get a copy but it's been recommended to me a lot. i hope i dont sound all naive and close minded and obnoxious... i usually do haha
Anonymous said…
It's great hearing opinions on the war from somebody who weighs both the positive and the negative points on this huge debate on the war in Iraq. I'm not a fan of killing, and think that war shouldn't ever be anybody's first choice, but there are some things that can't be done by just talking. There are people out in the world, people like Hitler who aren't going to just sit down for a nice cup of tea so we can try to convince them to rethink wiping out a certain people who they believe are worth nothing. It's everybody's job to help our brothers and sisters (coming from a Christian point of view). Iraq was suffereing from political leaders that were hindering the people, and even though there has been much blood shed, we are bettering the lives of those people by helping to build up a good government for the people that is stable and will benefit them.
That's all I really have to say on the topic.

Here is a link to an article. It's really quite stunning and disgusting in many ways. It doesn't really have anything to do with the topic of war, but you did mention the amount of money spent on the war, and how it could go toward education.
Is America's so called "education system" really something to be so proud of?
Here's a link to the article: http://www.wesjones.com/gatto1.htm

I'd like to hear what you thought of the article.
M. Shotliff said…
You bring up a LOT of good points. I've been really opposed to the war since it began, but I didn't really see the positive progress it was yielding. It's great that the Iraqi people are getting freedoms and comforts they never really had before, and that we've managed to put forth the changes in a relatively quick manner.

However, when weighed with all the lives that have been lost, I feel terrible saying it, but it doesn't seem worth it. People shouldn't have to die in order to earn these freedoms for themselves or others.
amy said…
wow. this is a lot to take in. i'm the first to admit, i dont involve myself it talks about war, politics, because i dont exactly know what to believe myself. i get frustrated because i dont follow it all. whats good? bad? right? wrong? so i chose to kind of ignore the topic. which sounds bad, i know. i dont completely shun it; i myself just dont talk about it. but that doesn’t mean i dont think about it all from time to time. one thing i do know is that i dont like the idea of war. someone mentioned earlier that killing is killing. its so sad when so much life is lost.

i've never read anything or heard someone mention the positives that have come from this iraqi war. so thank you for shedding that light. sometimes its hard for people to see things this way, and i believe its a good thing for people to hear this. it opens minds, you know?

i applaud you for discussing the topic about the high cost of education in the united states. its so out of control, how can anyone hope for a higher education? especially if the cost just keeps rising? being a past student myself (as lots of us have been, i'm sure), its such a struggle to come up with tuition funds. if there was more money from anywhere to help students succeed, we really would set ourselves up for a better future.

thanks for the commentary.
Chris said…
I have always said that going to iraq and trying to make them jr. america is foolish. They have been doing things their way for thousands of years why try to corrall them and make them like us? I think there are more important things going on in our country than fighting an up hill battle for a man with his own agenda for his own gain than trying to help out the country he is "running". But when you listed all of those valid points you did make a good point.

Alas i have something for you to read and watch:

http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/

amazing though provoking movie on religion and war.
Heather said…
We just had a discussion about this in my AP US history class today. I think it's great that we are able to help out other countries but we can't let that get in the way of taking care of ourselves. There has to be a balance there.

I didn't realize how much the money being used for this war could help with higher education in America. Maybe I'm biased, being a 17 year old stressing over getting into/paying for college, but I do think that it woulkd be better for our country's future.

I've never been a person to choose a side on the war issue. Whenever there's a debate, I can understand both side's point of veiw. I think that's important. But the bad is really starting to take over the good and that's only going to lead to (more) trouble.


PS. Happy holidays. You were great in St. Louis last night.
themockingbyrd said…
I struggle a lot with most of what you've said, here. I've never fully supported the war, and never fully opposed it--I'm simply not sure what to make of it. There are positive side effects to a wholly negative form of conflict resolution.

I don't know if you've read the book The Anabaptist Story that I gave Mr. Young to give to you during your Columbus stop, but a lot of the positions outlined in their are reflected in my own basic thinking. I am an Anabaptist, and so this is the philosophy that's been handed down, in one form or another, through generations upon generations to me, and lately, I'm trying to adapt it to the way I live, and to the way I think about war and the use of force in general.

I am opposed, personally, to being involved in a war, and in fact, I think that God mandates that Christians shouldn't be involved militarily. Now, in saying that, I'm not saying that no one in the military is a Christian, and that no one who disagrees with me is a Christian, or anything like that. Only that I have a personal conviction against it, myself, based on various scriptures.

If you read the book--I don't blame you if you didn't, it can be mind-numbing at times--you'll also have read about how, traditionally, Anabaptists do support the use of military power by a secular government, ostensibly ordained by God to work His purposes.

I'm not sure what I think about that. On the one hand, I have my personal conviction, and the theology that backs it up, and I'm not sure to what extent I believe in all aspects of traditional Nonresistance, and then I have the fact that God ordains the government as a disciplinary force within the world. Both of these, to me, are inalienable facts.

But does God approve of any killing? Does God approve of war? I have a hard time believing that, too, although it's not so easily backed by theology. I'm not a calvinist either (not really. I lean in that direction at times) so I can't fall back on predestinatory thinking for an answer.

Quite frankly, I've spent a lot of time coming to the same conclusion as the end of your blogpost--I don't know. I just have questions.

As to whether war is a good thing or not, I think that war is like almost anything--it's a fallen instrument in a sin-riddled world and while it is fundamentally a horrible thing, God uses this horrible machine, made up of thousands of men, desperate to live and therefore desperate to kill, to further His purposes.

So no. I don't think War is a good thing. I think it's a result of the Curse, but I think that God, in His infinite wisdom, can work through our wars to bring about good. I think you amply demonstrate that with your statistics.

As to whether or not the money should've gone into educating our own country, I again don't know--anytime that we compare instant versus future human lives, I come away unsure.

Thank you, as always, for stirring things up, and if you haven't read the book, I think it would be an interesting (if thoroughly dull, at times) perspective in this discussion.
Sarah Noel said…
we Seattle-ites are quite liberal, generally myself included. you raise some interesting points, and its a bit refreshing to hear a different perspective. keep going with this thought-
Joe said…
I know almost everybody will disagree with this statement but here it goes: I believe that our government is set up in pretty much the only way that there is to be a government set up so that everybody can have an equal voice in what we do militaristically. Yes, wars are bad, but I would argue with anybody that they are necessary. Our officials are elected on a majority basis. I know that the electoral college is unfair to some people, but to those who live in unpopulous states (like Nebraska, where I reside) benefit from it. We are heard. If you disagree with what the elected official says, then you should elect someone different. The reason that I don't think that "the people" should have all the power is that people change their mind to easily. I am not trying to be pro any party, but didn't we just find out that President Bush's approval rating is tanking? Yes. Most people want to pull out of Iraq, which I think would hand the country back over to whatever fundamentalist group wants it, and everything we have established will quickly go to waste.
I understand that the negatives are that people die, and that is wrong, but I am a lot more passionate about the radical church from Kansas that has been protesting soldiers funerals. My town has been affected by this, and I felt an intense hatred towards these people, it's a funeral for gosh sakes.
To respond to Adrienne - Martin Luther King would have succeeded just find without the Black Panthers. Were you alive to hear of this thing in India called peaceful protest? It got the British out of India without ANY violence at all...
I hate everything about war... but we are there; and I don't think we can leave right now.
As a Junior at a prestigious college in middle america, I really find it hard to relate to those who are not provided with education. I know that giving people a higher education is necessay, but from all the service work I did through my four years of high school and 3 years of college, I have noticed that people in the low class parts of my hometown have no desire to better themselves. This is more of a problem than the war. I do and have always felt that if you desire a higher education, that one can be provided for you. There are grants, loans, and donations that are made for people to attend state universities and community colleges. I know I have never been faced with the problem of not being provided for.. however, there is normally a way around it. I have been researching why people don't want to attend college; and through all my research I have found that a lot of less well off people think that there are other ways to wealth. I have found that many believe they have the talent to be a musician, a pro athlete, or think that the government and a part time job will do. I would really like to know where this begins? Are these people taught this as a child? I have learned in psych class that it all starts with your surroundings... people in the poor section of my home town are influenced by their peers who tell them that school is for nerds, pansies, or whatever word you want to use. They are not influenced towards getting to college.
I know our public school system is failing at it's roots, but that does not mean that we are a lost cause. Our public schools need to go back to focusing on the core subjects, and stop allowing kids to graduate without knowing how to write a decent paper, without knowing calculus, without knowing science, or history. I still believe that electives are just that - electives. They should be able to be taken on the side, much as I was forced to. I skipped taking study halls so I could pursue art. I don't regret it one bit either.
Sorry this got so off course and probably hasn't made much sense, but hopefully you catch on to what I am saying.
Oh, yeah - I finished reading The Alchemist (I emailed you about it a while back)... I'm going on christmas break for a month, and would appreciate more stuff to read, if you have time to give me a small list or something...
Thanks!
Joe
Although I am a pacifist and believe that war is a terrible thing, it is nice to see the positives and know that many people have the freedom and happiness that they never had before in Iraq. And I do believe that America should have a military that it can use to defend itself from attacking nations...

But overall it saddens me. Truth is, war is inevitable here on earth. It all comes from the selfishness and sinful nature of man, and although many wars in the past have brought great rewards for us, it's really a shame that they needed to exist at all. But thank you for posting that Stephen. Because there is nothing really I can do about the war at the moment, it's better to see God's plan in this mess of human existance than only look at the mess of human existance.
Chris said…
Just have to ask. Your title...were you inspired by the Edwin Starr song War? Here are some of the lyrics:

"War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again y'all
War, huh, good God
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me

War, it ain't nothing but a heartbreaker
War, it's got one friend
That's the undertaker
Ooooh, war, has shattered
Many a young mans dreams
Made him disabled, bitter and mean
Life is much to short and precious
To spend fighting wars these days
War can't give life
It can only take it away

Ooooh, war, huh
Good God y'all
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again"

You and everyone who's posted has made some very valid points (positive and negative) on war. I'd have to agree that based on the falleness of our world, we will not see perfection here and it's a tragedy that many lives are lost because of it. Although, that's not to say that we should not try to strive towards it(perfection). Such perfection, we will not achieve on our own.

As far as education, having a child in private school in order to get an adequate education, I would like to see the government allocate more funds towards public education. The children of this world are worth it!

P.S. Looking forward to seeing you at the Agora Friday!
amy said…
in response to joe; you made some great points about education. i especially appreciate your comments on peoples lack the desire for schooling. its so interesting to me to hear people state they arent interested, or hate school, etc. where does that attitude come from? is it taught? encouraged somehow?

i have to say though, that while there are ways around tuition costs, it is in no way easy, which i believe discourages people from pursing those avenues of income. personally, i started the application process for grants/loans/whatever else there was, and it got to the point where i just shredded all the paper and charged it to my credit card out of frustration. wouldnt it be great if it was just slightly easier? if you didnt have to fill out endless forms about your parents income that has nothing to do with you, since the reason you are applying for aid is because your parents cant/wont help you? it just makes my head spin.

i really enjoy reading everyones comments, thank you.
leoland said…
is it weird i get really sad when people say war is inevitable? i know it seems like we can't escape it. but sometimes it feels like people dont even question it.

and wow i came back and commented again X_X and sorry for totally missing the point of your post as raising questions rather than just stating what we believe...or whatever...i think... oh man ~fail~
themockingbyrd said…
Speaking as a member of the working-poor, I think that one of the primary reasons people skip college is simply ignorance of all the funding that is available, and as Amy said, the terrible frustration of wading through the paperwork in search of the necessary dollars to fund an education for which they haven't been adequately prepared. Not only that, but if you've spent your entire life scraping the bottom of the barrel, and your family is regularly in debt for simple necessities (electric, phone, etc), the allure of making a decent living sans education might simply be too much to resist. I have a number of friends who are working full time, and are thinking about college in the vague future, but right at the moment, they're making enough money to actually buy a car that won't need money and energy poured into its leaks and minor catastrophes every month, or to buy a guitar nicer than the Wal-Mart Special they've been fumbling at for three years, or to actually buy their clothes from someplace besides Salvation Army! They're actively bettering the quality of their life. Against the prospect of slipping into debt, like their parents did, and scrounging for four more stressful years when they don't know what kind of job market is waiting for them at the end, working at Schoenhoft's Custom Cabinetry is an attractive proposition. It's a short-sighted view of life, perhaps, but it's not one I can strongly condemn.

Similarly, a lot of my friends who have gone/are going to college haven't done so through some innate wisdom of their own--they're going to college because funding it isn't so difficult or tedious, and it's simply what's expected of them.
Sarah said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said…
I served in the military for three years as a mechanic....before I got discharged due to a back injury... People constantly say that soldiers are so brave and so awesome for serving their country but I can tell you that they don't feel brave and awesome, they feel like they're doing their jobs... a lot of times the conditions in which they are forced to work in, most average Americans would not be able to handle. I'm not talking about just over-sea's assignments, I'm talking about stateside, right here in the good ole USA. You work and work and deep down you know that you're doing this for your country but the benefits and the pay make you feel like you're wasting your time. People in the military are so afraid to get out because they feel like they cant live a normal life without the support of Housing allowance and food allowance but its just not true, so they're stuck in this vicious cycle, going overseas for years at a time, leaving families, loved ones and others just to do a job that they're underpaid for. Then when it's all over they're damaged or scarred in one way or another. Of course that isnt the case with everyone, some people are made for the military... but sometimes I wonder if all the death, and suffering of our American People is worth this war? I'm not pro war, and I'm not anti war... I cant judge what President Bush has done because I'm not in his shoes and I haven't had to make his decisions.... but being a Veteran who receives a disability check every month it kind of makes you think twice about the war and the military in general.

Did I mention I'm only 23??
Anonymous said…
You really hit the nail on the head when you said: "but who voted america to be the police of the world?"

Really, you could have just left it there.

WHO said the American way is the right way? The best way? The most correct way?

I DON'T KNOW!

But they really need to re-evaluate.

Firstly, as for all those "pros" of The War, how do you know they aren't stratigically placed propaganda for the socially minded, those inclined to research...left for them to find...to soothe them...to silence them? Even if they are true - it is not enough. Does anyone even know what this war is about anymore? Is there a clear answer? Or more importantly...is there a good enough answer? Is there EVER a good enough reason for war?
I don't know.

Secondly, I completely agree that education is the key to overcoming a great deal of the 'problems' in the world. The root of most problems is fear and fear comes from a lack of understanding. Empowerment through knowledge all the way.

Thanks for the post Stephen...and thank you for not saying something like "this is the only option"...people need to realise that sometimes, it's okay to say I don't know.
"Firstly, as for all those "pros" of The War, how do you know they aren't stratigically placed propaganda for the socially minded, those inclined to research...left for them to find...to soothe them...to silence them? Even if they are true - it is not enough. Does anyone even know what this war is about anymore? Is there a clear answer? Or more importantly...is there a good enough answer? Is there EVER a good enough reason for war?
I don't know."

Whoever you are, I just thought of how perhaps we DON'T know what it's about anymore. We started off by freeing people and doing a good thing, but I really wish we could just come home now. At this point, we've been there long enough and the only reason I can think of to be there right now is oil, and it's not even ours.

But to answer your question...
No. There is never a good enough reason. Wars have solved problems but they've solved it the hard way, a way that I wish never had to be taken. But being human, we just can't see that. And to quote one of my favorite singers...
Who is gonna sing my selfish song?
Well the answer is me so don't sing along
Who is gonna change this heart of stone?
Oh my God, my life is a selfish song!
And I forgot to add this to my last post, but it is appropriate to this whole thing...

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
Anonymous said…
I miss you when you don't blog :)

thank you for listing the good things, I really think they (media) should report the successes more often, they focus too much on the tragedies and make us think it is all in vain.

while reading this I couldn't help but think of Toby Keith's song "love me if you can"
Janelle said…
I never really did agree with the war, even though my dad was over in Iraq & sincerely feels it's necessary. That said, from what you posted & stories he's come back & told me himself, I can't deny that some good has come out of it. For the most part, though, my opinions on it are very much torn.

Also, when I haven't written in a while in general, I feel a bit disconnected & like I'm missing something. Heh. I guess that's why my major in English Writing is only appropriate.
Joe said…
To Amy: Thanks for the wonderful comment back to me.

I understand the whole process of filling out paper work. I KNOW how much of a pain in the rear it is. I chose my school based on where I thought I'd fit in. Where I loved things. For me, that happened to be a well-known Christian University in Downtown Omaha. Unfortunately, a degree from this place can cost upwards of $100,000 (without the extra's cost of school [books, meals, etc.]). I know what you're thinking... this boy's parents just have that sitting around... it's not true. I filled out all the paperwork that you did, and that you got frustrated with. And got denied. I went through over 50 pages of applications and essay writing to get into this school, and got denied all scholarships (because my grades and ACT scores weren't in the top 25% of the class) However, it didn't get me down either. I still chose to go there (even though I'm going majorly into debt), and luckily, I'm going to graduate in a little over a year now. Then it's on to grad school; so believe me... I know the debt problem too.

Mockingbyrd - So you have talked about the extreme forms of poverty, but what about those kids who just don't go to college because they don't want to pursue school any more. Don't you think that every child should WANT a higher education? Wouldn't you say that the easiest way out of poverty is through education? I understand that for some the easiest way to better the predicament that they are in is to get the 40 hour a week job they have now. But there is always ways to go after schooling, or knowledge. A four year bachelors degree isn't the solution for everyone. But there are trade schools. I think that those who want the 40+ hour work weeks should try to get into a union job where they are provided for at least to some degree. My brother didn't go to college, I know it's not for everyone. But, the smartest thing he ever did was tried for a semi-skilled job (as a police officer) and joined the Police Union here. I think there are ways to better your predicament that most people don't think of.

And finally, to Sarah - you will never understand the appreciation that certain people have for you, and the people of our military. We know you are underpaid, and here in the midwest, there are still those of us who would do anything to show our gratitude towards what you have given to make sure we have our luxeries. "Thank you" doesn't seem like enough, but it baffles me on what I could personally do to show my thanks to our military. I guess, fortunately, I have never been personally effected by a tragic death due to military expedition, but I have always wondered what it would be like. Would this change my view on how things should be operating? Would I agree with Mrs. Shehan (the lady who stalked President Bush)? Would I personally go towards a military life? I don't know how close to the situation I will ever get, and I don't think the military lifestyle is for me, but I would sincerely like to thank you. Don't ever think that you're taken for granted in what you have accomplished. There are people who pray for you every day while you're gone. Even people that don't know you.

Joe
That is really cool. I haven't heard anyone really put the positives out there. All you hear is "Death, Destruction, and American is Horrible" but then the absolute freedom that is being experienced in a country that was not formally free is never talked about. Sure, war is violent, but sometimes the freedoms won outweigh the cost.
Anonymous said…
I have to say I totally disagree with your take on education solving America's problems. Consider this point, and a quote from Calvin Coolidge.

* the most educated nation on earth at the time devised and carried out the Holocaust.

&

* "Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
Anonymous said…
Calvin Cooledge was president in a different time, with different standards, different morals, and a different mind set.

Quotes are not applicable for all time.
President Coolidge said…
I'll be nice and not punch a big hole through your flawed logic.
phillip said…
The "good" aspects of this war are kinda amazing. The people do have a government now. True, its only after we delayed elections until we could place a couple of unpopular and some might say corrupt leaders in positions of power. But they are the most representative, even if they are barely listened to, and have quite a bit of room to grow when you consider the "most representative" government for a country we created less than a hundred years ago which has also been ruled by dictator after dictator with our continual consent, is not saying too much.

There are more efficient utilities. But that really only applies in some cities and does not account for the perpetual blackouts and lack of water in areas of sectarian violence.

The papers thing is awesome, and I cant nay say about that.

Hospitals were open and working before we got there, we just provided them with more work.

Oil production has continued to increase, which is just great for those rich US companies which bought off the fields immediately after the invasion ended, at cut throat prices, before a government was even in place. The same fields that used to be nationalized, providing money for the meager iraqi economy. But thats fine, that money wouldn't do much more than provide adequate schools and sanitation for the destroyed nation. But why should the Iraqi's get a piece of the goo under their own land. We freed them.


Also not mentioned is that this war was never just. It was never about freeing Iraqis. It wasn't even about getting rid of an evil dictator. We ignored international protocol, defied the international community and the French (ha, those pansies), calling them all terrorists, and went in under false pretenses, killed scores of people, and incited a civil war.

I am not saying I am not glad S.H. is out. But to even mention just wars in the same breath as this war is a bit far. If we went to war with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, maybe I would agree. If we went to "war" on poverty, as we have on other intangible and ambiguous terms such as "terror" then I would agree.

I propose we cut military spending in a huge way, and fix both our educational system and work to provide clean water for the entire world. There are 1.1 billion people out there without clean drinking water and over 80% of diseases are water born in these countries. With less than 10 billion dollars we could give them all water.
Now that would place us in good standing around the world, no one can be mad at you for a while after you pull off a feat like that. America will once again be known as the great provider, the generous neighbor to all countries.

Or we can just keep going around supporting dictators and thieves that happen to be willing to support our financial interests and bids for power, so long as they get theirs, and be surprised every time some other country "hates us for our freedom".
hudson said…
In a less than perfect world, a world after the fall, man will always wage wars. All we can do is live a life of example and hope to change the world one person at a time.
JmsMr27 said…
Stephen, I one hundred percent respect your thoughts. But no matter how much we invest in America, it will not make a better world. There will always been dictators and rulers who will not negotiate. Action is a necessary tool to start making this world a better place.

Had we not invaded Iraq, their country would still be in much worse shape than it will be when we're finished. Is it not worth it? I think it is. We're changing the world for so many people. We're giving kids the chance at an education. We're giving them the opportunity to rise and help us change the world. We're in a position of great influence, but we are not able to do it alone. I believe we're showing countries the right way, and helping them set their tracks on the right path.
Luukke777 said…
Stephen,

I really appreciate your views regarding this issue, and that you are willing to look at the positive as well as the negative. I am a first year theology student, but before I started studying the Bible I was back and forth between a pacifist point of view and a pro-war point of view. My thoughts on the war are still hazy as well, but what you have said regarding education really hits home, especially after looking at the numbers. My only real objection with the war is that we are not even offering military intervention in places such as Darfur, or Uganda, yet we continue in Iraq under the cover of bringing freedom. I was wondering what your thoughts on this might be...
guard my dreams said…
it is nice to have someone point out the progress that war can sometimes bring, though whether these positives are worth the ultimate price that those dead have now paid is very debatable. as childish as it may sound, i am forced to wonder: is is really so difficult for everyone to just get along? i realize that this is truly an impossible dream to have, as we are a fallen race who are innately selfish and tend to look only to bring ourselves up and to push others down. on the topic of war, however, i seem to take the same stance and many who have commented here before me and neither oppose nor support the war. what happens happens and if those in power over me feel that the positives that come from war are worth the death and destruction that it brings, then so be it. whether it be a good ro bad decision, it is their their call to make, and i seem to think that they probably have more information on the topic than the general public sees anyway. war is never good, but can it sometimes be worth the consequences? that is the question. are those men and women who give up their lives for this war willing to give up everything to further these positives that come from war? if they are, then to me that makes them all the more heroic.
Christopher said…
I agree, Stephen. I do believe that war should be a last resort. When Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, I don't think he wanted us to seem "weak" in the sense of allowing another nation to completely run us over, or hurt us or another nation. Instead, I believe he meant he wanted us to turn the other cheek to show love towards those who may not love us, in order to somehow show them the love of God--if any of that makes sense.
guard my dreams said…
many of the people who have commented before me have talked about education. in response to that topic, it does tend to make sense to spend more money on education than on wars and such. shouldnt education be more important? or is it? i think it is, although the money spent on the war does help to keep us safe, which is important. but it is also important to make it easier to go to college. because i know many college students who have been forced to make a very tough decision between either accepting that they will come out of college in great debt or choosing to attend a second-rate college for less money. which is worse? less of an education or less debt? although it is possible for a student to work hard enough to obtain many scholarships to help out money-wise. but i would rather not think about the costs of college right now. i'll save that for next year when i go through the ordeal of finding money for college.
Anonymous said…
Guard My Dreams - trust me on this one - don't chose your college based on your financial situation. I chose a second rate school because it was cheaper and my girlfriend was going there, but when we broke up, i realized it wasn't for me at all. i ended up going to a school that cost over seven times what the other did, and i don't regret it at all.
sakcak said…
Lets look at war through out the Bible. In the OT God used war to punish nations that were clearly immoral or idolatrous. For example Egypt (Exodus 14-15); Arad, Shihon and Og (Num 21); Midian (Num. 31); Jericho (Joshua 6); and the Philistines (Judges 16). For Israel to have there identity as a nation it required a military force.
Israel was part of the Larger Kingdom of God, which followed the commands of the Sinai covenant (Exodus 23:20-33)
Now in the NT things change. We as Christians are told to respond in two different ways toward soldiering and nations expression of power. First, We as Christians should work towards peace. (Matt 5:9,38-48; Luke 22:24-27; 1 Tim. 2:1-2; 1 Peter 2:16-17), Second we must respect regional and national governments as God's tools for bringing order to societies that are stressed by sinful human tendencies. (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-15).

Now the NT also talks about how we as Christians are in a SPIRITUAL war (cf. Eph 6:10-18)the primary conflict for Christians is not battles between nations as much as it is battles within culture, relationships involving ideas, values, and truth were evil is especially cunning and complex.
Raechel said…
I too have always tried to see the "positives" of this war and I have come up with a few; it's encouraging to find even more in your list. Like you are, I'm not saying war is a fantastic tool, but there's a reason why we wage war, and these "positives" are it.

One aspect that I don't quite agree with however is pouring money into the (grade) school system; in my area so many of the regular public schools outdo the richer public schools in that they turn out more educated, and compassionate students because of the PARENTS behind the educational programs.

[I think universities and colleges are a fairly different situation. Maybe I'm biased, being a college student myself, but making college more affordable would be so much more beneficial; tuition is through the roof and I've had so many fellow classmates in high school that could have gone to college if they could afford it. In a sense, "public universities" are no longer public anymore. College provides a different kind of nurturing from grade school and I do think that this is a problem that can be partly solved by money.]

I've gone back to my elementary school, middle school and high school for volunteer work and I've seen the unbelievably DRASTIC difference between the conditions in schools w/ dedicated parents and the schools without it. Some richer schools (generally with richer families) lack quality parent involvement (on and/or off campus) because the parents are working ALL THE TIME (which, I suppose, is why they're rich). The kids get no attention from their folks, and I don't mean to generalize, but so many of them don't get the guidance they need and turn down darker paths.

On the other hand, it seems that schools/communities that have stronger parent support, regardless of how rich or poor they are, tend to turn out students that are more prepared for college and the real world, so to speak. As for educational aid, I've seen groups of parents rally for better supplies, better textbooks or better teachers, and with enough support they've gotten what their kids need. Parent support can't be replaced by dollars. Whether parent support can be increased by some help of money is a subject of some curiosity to me. In fact, I'm curious what you have to say about that. :)
Book of James said…
Stephen, thanks for talking about this subject in an open and non judgmental way.

I am likely much older than the majority of your blog readers having grown up during the Vietnam War. As a child of 10 in 1969, I often wondered when the war would come to an end. Every night they would report the war casualties, it was such a messy thing. I remember looking in the paper and seeing the draft lottery printed with all the birthdays and their assigned position, 1A. You never wanted to see 1A.

So kids were forced into service in a much hated and heavily protested war. They died and were injured in huge numbers. When they returned to the US they were met without compassion for what they had been through, without appreciation for what they were forced to endure and inflict on others. They came back and just tried to blend back into society as best you could.

There were so many protest songs including the two mentioned in this blog .

Country Joe and the Fish: “I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag”

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn
Next stop is Vietnam.

And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

From my first vinyl album, Black Sabbath “Paranoid”. The original name of the album was supposed to be War Pigs, but it was changed due to perceived hostility the album might have had due to the Vietnam War. But the song war Pigs was included in the album.

War Pigs
Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death's construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh Lord yeah


Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young “Find the Cost of Freedom”
Punctuates the obvious in simplicity and grace.

Find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground.
Mother earth will swallow you
Lay your body down.

From the 1971 Lord of the Rings inspired Led Zepplin song “The Battle of Evermore”
“The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath.”

You can’t change what is, you can only look for the positives and learn from the mistakes of the past as you move forward.

Merry Christmas!!
N8 said…
its an interesting perspective that ive never really looked at. i like the positivity. that is definitely missing from this world. all the media coverage seems to convey the war in a very negative way. its always good to see the other side of things.

and yes! education! thank you! i strongly agree with you on your thoughts about education. strongly agree.
K. Lindsey said…
I wonder how this war will look 50 years down the road when people will be studying it.

I also wonder what it was like to live during the time of the Civil War, WWI, and WWII and what exactly people were thinking during those times, rather than us looking back on it.

"War is not the answer, it is a tragic necessity." I believe this is from the philosophy of St. Augustine and he nailed it on the head. War seems to be truly a tragic necessity
Jenny said…
In answer to your questions...

"but where do you see the line?"

In terms of war, there really is no discernable "line" that can be drawn. There will always be the positives and negatives of every situation, especially in terms of war. It should depend on whether the good outweighs the bad but who has the right to decide?
War is based on opinions & the ability of the human mind to choose. In short, free will.

"what is a just war? and when is using a powerful military a just cause?"

A "just" war cannot exist. The thing about war is, someone has to lose. It could be anyone that wins but each side is fighting for what they believe in. Some opinions are easy to dismiss as "radical" or just plain "insane" but other arguments for the lesser publiscised side (ie, not the one "western civilisation" is backing) may have extremely valid reasons for opposing the "other" side. It is hard to see what is "right" even with all sides of the story but when the majority of information has been veiled, how can anyone form opinions on something the powers that be are trying their hardest to shroud?

"who should decide to use the military; the government or its people?"

The majority of people lack the knowledge & wisdom to make decisions for their country, hence why there are politicians. Politicians, the people we choose to make our country's decisons for us because they are supposed to be the informed intelligence needed to prevent the world from falling into disrepair.
They do make bad decisions and yes they often suffer greatly because of this but on the bright side, at least we still have a democratic society. They have also kept the country ticking over without great consequence.

"what is the point where ethnocentrism and military conquests collide?"

All the super-power countries in this world are so full of conviction of their own cultural superiority that they couldn't possibly be wrong... Yeah... Umm... Anyone remember Hitler? Hitler was a short, blue eyed, brown haired malicious little person who was drunk on power but couldn't that be said for many of today's world leaders?
Ok, today's world leaders are not attempting to very wrongly kill & discriminate against people but still, it has to be admitted that some of them are downright selfish & are of the impression their opinions are always right.
Many people were of the opinion both Bush presidents have been accused of "war mongering" but really, at the risk of sounding like a walking cliche, someone has to cast the first stone.
The two aforementioned terms in my opinion never collide. In terms of war, they just plain tend to be the same thing.

(N.B. Who decided that "right" should carry the same meaning as "correct"? If a decision or opinion is correct, should it not be central to the belief system in question? So should decisions be centered? Or possibly just half left?)

Tangent, I appologise. I have many opinions about war but I don't think I know enough to draw any real conclusions to your questions other than what I deem to be a form of idealistic common sense. I could blame the UK educational system for my uninformed state but really, at 19 there is only so much wisdom to be had.

Jpxxx
BRS7 said…
I find myself standing in between the pro's and con's of war. To me, there seem to be more con's. In my American studies class we were mainly jsut learning about war for the past few weeks.

We grow up learning killing is wrong. On the news we hear stories about seriell killers. We even know that killing ourself is wrong. But on a video I was watching in American Studies, they were interviewing men who participated in war. One of htem gave a story about the first time he killed someone in war, he said that despite the fact that we grow up knowing killing is wrong, he found a "sick pleasure" in killing someone.

War shows how two faced our country is...
Chris DiDonna said…
A blogger said, "People shouldn't have to die in order to earn these freedoms for themselves or others." It's a sad truth. It sucks. People have to die for freedom sometimes. If we never wanted to go to war and send roses to the enemy I'm 99% sure we would be speaking German right now. Churchill would have sent Hitler a bouquet and we would have been the last English speaking power left to fight the Nazis alone. I'm not at all justifying the Iraq war. I just feel that citizens get frustrated with this war and then begin to say things out of temporary emotion. Believe me, most anti-war protestors in a place such as Miami would be more than happy to go to war if bombs began to bombard their neighborhood from the south.
Jeremy said…
War is over, if you want it.....
Jaci said…
Wow. I would love it if the gov't paid my way through school. A country where student loans didn't exist? Now we're talking!
Anonymous said…
you stated that this war has its positives. i understand that this war has its positives first-hand. i am an american soldier. but i state that these positives will never amount to the loss we have suffered from not only our soldiers, but their innocent people. i know people that have died in iraq. the sound of the name makes me cringe. i want to say we cannot fight this war anymore but i cant. i cant stand to sit here and say that the people that i have served with died for no reason. but i cant say we need to stay either. because if i do, more of my brothers and sisters will die and i dont want that on me. this is much more than politics for those on the front line. it is much more than fighting. there is no words that can express what one feels about this war when you live it first-hand. i am sorry i cannot give my identity because i a actually under the "uniformed code of military justice" not allowed to express my feelining on this. thank you..
Scooby said…
Just a comment about funneling money into the US education system: Sure, money is great, but Americans have grown lazy. Many school-age children, by the time they reach middle or high school, have no desire to learn due to poor teaching, or poor examples set by parents. More than money, there needs to be a turn around in the attitude of the education system before we will see real change.
Stephanie said…
Sometimes, I don't think it is a question of whether or not war is just or fair. My mind leans toward the idea of there being no such thing as a holy war, or a just war, or a fair war. War is war. It is ugly, it is hard, it is expensive. Still, it is difficult for me to say that war is bad. I serve a God who mandated war. There is no way around this. I believe that physical war should not be the Christian's way of life, but it is something God has ordained to protect His people, to showcase His power, and to chastise His children when they run astray.

We can not question whether or not we should have gone to war. I believe in our rights as Americans to free speech, but what trumps this is what the bible says about the rulers of the land. " The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD;
he turns it wherever he will."
Proverbs 21:1-3

I am a Calvinist. So to say to me that the war just happened and God has now been trying to fix our blunder and was at all unaware of it before it happened would be borderline blasphemy. God is sovereign above all things and this war He foresaw. For better or for worse, this war is where we find ourselves. I cannot question whether or not this war was just. comparing education to freedom is like apples and shoes. What will a better education bring us if there are oppressed people living in this world? Will it not further seperate us from reality, from suffering? We are called to suffer. We have drugs for headaches and remotes for tvs. We can speak our mind and openly discuss religion. Turning a deaf ear to the suffering around the world and attempting to rectify this with education will only further seperate us from the realities of this world. Of what value is education when there are those who are being murdered by the thousands, do not the educated die with the rest? It may sound as if I am trying to prove that this war is just, but I am trying to say that it is neither, but just war. What is unjust is the idea of education over freedom.

I think the problem with the way Christians view war is that we forget. We see war as this terrible, unworthy thing that we should not fight, but we are surrounded by it daily. I believe one of the biggest victories the enemy has had is by tricking Americans into forgetting about him. We forget that we are to do battle everyday of our lives and instead waste our time with other things. I am so guilty of this I reek of hypocrisies. So many times we want to put our own spin on the word of God, or read only what agrees with our thought process, but this is not what we have been called to do. We should think critically. A movement cannot be all bad or all good.

How limited are our minds that we can not see what God is doing with this war?

There is a man I've heard speak several times that helps train pastors and then sends them to middle eastern countries. I pray one day soon he will be training Iraqis as well. I have a friend who has been waiting for over a year to board a plane to go do life with Iraqis and help show them Christ. These liberties and thoughts were unattainable 5 years ago. this war has brought light back into the darkness.
When i think of the War in Iraq a great quote from Thomas Jefferson comes to mind which says


"I would rather be exposed to the inconvieniences attending to much liberty than to those attending to a small degree of it" - Thomas Jefferson

Our policing the world directly contradicts the principles this country was founded on Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness.

John Locke says in his Treatises on government that citizens abandon complete freedom and form a government when they feel that their liberty is being threatened.
This War in Iraq can be nothing but selfish manuever by the government in order to gain more power not to give freedom to the Iraqi people
Blessed are the peace makers said…
I've read through some of the comments on this topic and i want to tell you something that my pastor has been teaching about these past couple of weeks. Some people say that the war is useless that it is causing more problems but i totally disagree. We are called to be peacemakers not peacekeepers. By us staying in our homes & doing nothing is solving nothing. On 9/11 when we were attacked were we supposed to sit back and keep the peace? To gain freedom our founders did not sit back and do nothing they fought for freedom. peacekeepers accomplish nothing! "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God." -matthew 5:9
but in the Bible it says "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,- Matthew 5:44 . We had been bombing Iraq for ten years . Thats the reason why they came and attacked us. I met a man from Pakistan who said its not because of our wealth they hate us but of our trying to control their lands which we constanly try to do
Court of Lions said…
I believe that the answers to many of the problems of our day will not come from men and politics but from God himself.

Love.

If Iraq is our neighbor than shouldn't we love them as ourself?

Isn't creating schools, or should I say giving another child a chance an act of love?

Isn't letting a man feed his family an act of love?

Isn't laying your spirit and body on the line simply for anothers life and act of love? Did Jesus not also die for us?

Can't we help the problems in our nation as well as abroad by simple acts of love? Since when did that cost anything?

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