wendell berry on peace

Peace assuredly would pay even larger dividends [than war], but to the wrong people. It is not at all clear how you could make a billion dollars by being peaceable. And so we don’t consider or study the means of peace, or make them available to our leaders. We speak well of peace, we say we want it, we have paid the lives of innumerable other people and unaccountable wealth supposedly to get it, but we seem not to mind, we seem not to notice, that all we have got for so much loss, for so long, is more war….

Of course Christians want to kill the enemies of Christians. How could this not be so when Christians have so often and so happily killed other Christians? But it is remarkable and disturbing that Christians were pointedly instructed by Christ not to do this. In most of historical and institutional Christianity there appears to be a void where should have appeared Christ’s requirement that we should love, bless, do good to, and pray for our enemies, and forgive those who offend us. In order to end war, somebody, some nation, would have to stop fighting. In order to stop fighting there would need to be an alternative, something to do instead. After 2,000 years all Christian nations and most churches have found nothing preferable to war.

Only a few marginal Christians have dared to think that Christianity calls for the radical neighborhood, servanthood, love, and forgiveness that Christ taught. I agree with them, and much against my nature I have tried to make my thoughts consent.

– Wendell Berry, from an interview in The American Conservative

2 thoughts on “wendell berry on peace”

  1. “I agree with them, and much against my nature I have tried to make my thoughts consent.”
    It is so true that as much as I may desire to think and do as Christ did, it is a daily choice, conversion even, to first THINK love and peace, think servanthood, think humility and forgiveness, let alone DO those things.

  2. Thanks for the Wendell Berry post. He is provocative and persuasive. I especially appreciated his words:

    “Why have I distanced myself from any particular denomination? If I were to apply on the condition that I would attend only in bad weather, and that I have founded my faith on some passages of the Bible selected by me, I think I should be refused.

    The core tenets [of Christianity], I think, are an undiscriminating neighborliness, help to “the least of these my brethren,” love in response to hate, mindfulness of the present rather than the future, peaceability, forgiveness, justice, and above justice mercy.”

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