I watched a Senator the other day read from a list of weapons the US has given Ukraine. Russia’s invasion and war on Ukraine is a crime against humanity. When the Russian patriarch and Putin bring God into the discussion, it is blasphemy. But it is no virtue to claim, “we gave Ukraine the ability to shoot down aircraft carrying hundreds of Russian troops.” Something is wrong with our “aid.” The impolite question is not asked. So I will. Who is paying for the weapons?
In Guns We Trust
We love our weapons. When I hear the unmuffled sounds of helicopter or jet engines, I know it is a military craft. I go outside to see what is flying. A friend recently asked, what does that sound mean to other people? If I was a resident of Gaza, Sana’a, or Kyiv, I would not look to see what was flying. I would seek a safe place. The difference is security. I feel secure in my city. The same weapons make other people feel threatened. It is not the same as a hearing the engines of a vehicle delivering needed supplies.
We trust our weapons. The scariest time of a movie is when a gun jams during the fight with the bad guys. Otherwise, we look for the weapons to deliver us from evil. They are considered necessary tools to protect us. During the pandemic my home state decided gun shops were as great a necessity as grocery stores. Domestically, the strangest development has been the people who “open carry” their guns. Guns are easier to find in my town than pocket handkerchiefs. Men no longer carry pocket handkerchiefs. So, there are a lot of people who are able to blow another person’s head off but cannot blow their own noses. It is a strange way to be.
Weapons and Wealth
Who is paying for the aid to Ukraine? If they win, there is an assumption Ukraine will pay the bill. If the Russians succeed, the governments of the West will pay the bill. Manufacturers will not be “eating” the loss. They have already been paid. Despite everything Donald Trump did as President, his first impeachment came after he decided to withhold a weapons sale. Is this not a telling position of the then opposition?
Will Rogers observed, on the occasion of the United States officially recognizing the government of the Soviet Union, that America would recognize Hell if it thought it could sell pitchforks to the devil. It is sad to consider how much wealth is tied up in manufacturing and maintaining weapons. It has also been observed that instead of manufacturing weapons to fight wars, we manufacture wars to spend money on weapons.
The Spirit of Weapons
Priorities. A neighbor stopped by for a friendly talk. I heard a shotgun blast. It was the country. You sometimes hear them. We continued talking. A second blast caused me to look in the direction I heard it coming from. my neighbor said, “He doesn’t have a place to live. But he goes out to buy a new expensive gun.”
“Who?” I asked.
“My stepson,” He sighed.
I remembered then his stepson, the stepson’s wife, and new baby were living with him. This was not someone morally opposed to guns. He was concerned about why a grown person would decide the gun was a greater need than shelter for the family?
The self-image of the stepson was tied up in the weapon. The gun was the point. And this was the whole problem and has been for a long time now. It is the spirit of the weapon that says it gives power, confidence, and provides controlled danger. A modest house or apartment does not give a person these feelings. This is the message of most of our entertainment.
Christians were once brought into the circus to be torn apart for the amusement of the crowd. Now Christians are the crowd and the entertainment. The weapons have changed. But they are still the driving force of the drama. Weapons consume us by providing a heroic identity. Violence is the way. Swift justice is redemptive. And only the determined souls who are ready to deliver these things are worth anything. The society has become the circus.
Violent force is the method of the fearful. The circus is the opposite of a just society. And weapons are not meant to be the fulfillment of the rights of humanity. The best images to come out of the war in Ukraine is the ones of tractors towing away tanks. There is an ancient message from God being repeated there. If we will only listen to it.