What is War?

What is War? February 21, 2017


This is what war is.


Don’t skip that video. It’s less than a minute long. Watch the whole thing from beginning to end. Watch the part where they can hear the screaming but can’t find the little girl. Watch them tearing through the sand and rubble with their hands, trying to find her. Watch them knock pebbles out of her mouth when they get her face uncovered. See how she can’t move except to scream. Don’t look away.

Don’t say anything about politics for a minute. Don’t worry about what country this happened in and whose fault it was, what somebody else should have done differently.  Just watch the video, and know that this is what war is. This is something that could happen anywhere.

Imagine if it was your daughter, niece, grandchild, someone you loved, buried alive. Screaming. Suffocating. Trapped and unable to move.

That’s what war is.

Beneath the chants, the patriotic songs, the manly marching youths in their uniforms, there are children just like this one, buried alive.

Whenever we go to war– whenever one nation takes up arms against another, no matter how just the cause– there is going to be suffering exactly like this.

Innocent children are going to be in agony, and they’re not going to know why. They won’t understand about justice or rule of law, or being tough on our enemies.  They’re not going to appreciate the manliness of soldiers in uniform. They are going to scream for their parents and their parents are not going to be able to comfort them. Some, like this one, will be rescued and left to live with the trauma until the end of their days. Many will die. And they will die alone.

The Father who hears the cry of the poor will gather them to Himself and make it well for them, somehow. But He will also remember His children who cheered for war, who praised toughness and military strength. He will remember all the people who thought that the epitome of manliness was not the Son of Man on the Cross but a soldier with a gun.

In war we see glory, toughness, masculinity and excitement, history being made, but our Father sees a child suffocating under a pile of rubble and dust.

Are there times when it is just to go to war? Yes, tragically, there are. But not unless we admit exactly what war is. War is hell, and Christians can never embrace or glorify hell. Sometimes, on our via dolorosa, we find ourselves walking through hell, and then we have to persevere as heroically as we can. But war is not heroic. War is hell, and hell rejoices in children buried alive, dying in the dark.

Hell would have us all buried alive– some under a bombed-out building and the rest under our pride. Hell would have us all die in the dark, some with sand in our eyes and the rest of us blinded by nationalism or any other idol. Hell would have the innocent children it can’t claim die in agony, at the hands of grown-ups with childish ideas of toughness.

This is what war is.


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