As a fairly well decorated, honorably discharged, United States Marine Corps veteran who has studied history, seen the effects of war, and grown spiritually and intellectually throughout my fifty-six years on this planet, it is my strong belief that there are no greater heroes than conscientious objectors.
That’s right. I believe it takes far more spiritual backbone, intellectual acumen, and moral courage to say, “NO!” to military service than it does to enlist in the armed forces or submit to being drafted. If we want world peace, we must teach future generations to say, “No!” and “Hell No!”!
Read these words from the late Muhammad Ali. “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America,” he had explained two years earlier. “And shoot them for what? They never called me (the “N” word), they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. … Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”
Ali’s words ring much truer and morally sound than the words of any commercial, movie, or military recruiter that I encountered in the early ‘80s. Why should these recruiters have unfettered access to young, extremely impressionable, under-developed, and often troubled, teen-aged minds?
From birth, boys and girls are perpetually bombarded with propaganda that glorifies war and violence. There are few televised sporting events where the military-industrial-complex isn’t strongly glorifying militarism. I find it ironic and laughable when I hear people say, “Keep politics out of sports!” while they feast on gluttonous portions of politically charged nationalism and militarism before, during, and after every single televised National Football League game. The fact of the matter is, I’d much rather watch a Black guy kneel for something he truly believes during the National Anthem than listen to young people being bombarded with messages encouraging them to kill children, women, and men overseas for the sake of big oil, the military-industrial-complex, and a bunch of Congressional beta-males who benefit greatly from the blood of our sisters and brothers, at home and abroad.
When I joined the USMC, knowledge of Marine Corps “History” was a non-negotiable imperative. One of the most highly venerated Marine Corps heroes we learned about was Major General Smedley D. Butler. There’s even a base named after him in Okinawa.
Here’s a sample of what they left out about Smedley D. Butler:
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.” ― Smedley D. Butler, War is a Racket
You might say, “But, Joe, I can understand how you feel about wars like Vietnam and Iraq, but what about WWII?” That’s a great question. My answer is that those conflicts could have been avoided if greedy U.S. bankers and manufacturers hadn’t funded and supplied Hitler in the first place. As with most wars, if you follow the money and hunger for political power, you’ll see where the dam broke, allowing the forces of evil to flood the earth. You’ll also find plenty of opportunities, throughout history, where the masses could have peacefully risen in opposition and said, “NO!”. I’m deeply convinced that “NO!” is one of the most powerful words in the human vocabulary.
I’m also a follower of Jesus, not Ares, Rambo, Darth Vader, George W. Bush, Joe Biden, or Conan the Barbarian.
Vladamir Putin recently quoted John 15:13- “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Wow! Did that ever grind some people’s gears! How dare he twist the words of Jesus!
Are you angry with Putin? Sadly, Americans quoted the same passage while mourning the loss of their countrymen who slaughtered innocent Iraqis.
It’s not an Orthodox, Christian custom to attribute militarism, war, violence, apartheid, intimidation tactics, and oppression to Jesus, The PRINCE OF PEACE, but it is a mainstay of “American” culture which needs to be abolished!
If you have served in the armed forces, God Loves You, and so do I! I’m Pro-People, but Anti-War.
Many of you will have very serious questions and objections. That's understandable.
I welcome them, as I most likely shared your points of view at an earlier time in life.
I'm at a place in life where I would prefer to be killed than to kill. I also believe that there's always a "third way" which is greater and more effective than militarism and passivist inaction. Perhaps, I'll touch on that soon.
For all who are interested, I highly recommend Walter Wink's masterpiece: "Jesus and Non-Violence, A Third Way".
I plan to write much more on this topic soon. I’m also compelled to Love those who hate this brief article as much as those who will praise it. That’s the Jesus Way!
Love & Peace!
Does that sound “Pie in the Sky” to you? It would have to me, decades ago, but my theology has changed and my heart screams a resounding, “Yes, it is possible and inevitable!”.
Am I pushing this belief on everyone? No, after fifty-six years of life and over three decades of Christian ministry in the United States and abroad, I’m past that. I truly believe that world peace is inevitable, and I’m not ashamed to share that.
Do I hope that expressing my beliefs will change hearts and minds, and make the world a better place? Yes, but I also understand that my voice is but a drop in the waterfall of those who share the same hope. It is my belief that, together, by God’s Grace, a river of Peace will indeed flood the whole earth. I may not witness it in this mortal body, but I trust that I’ll eventually see it with the “great cloud of witnesses” who are unseen, yet ever-present.
How have I come to such an insanely hopeful conclusion? Jesus! Yes, Jesus!
It is my earnest belief that Peace isn’t simply a feeling of calmness or the absence of conflict.
Peace is a Person. Peace is God Incarnate. Peace upholds all things by the Word of His Power.
Peace is Jesus!
Ephesians 2:14 tells us that “He (Jesus)is our Peace”! That Greek word used for “Peace” in that passage is “Eirene”, and it means “to set at one again”! Has He already made us all one with the triune Godhead and each other? Absolutely! Has the collective, human mindset received this Truth with a corresponding Love that changes the world? Obviously not, but He’s not through with us!
Isaiah 9:6-7 tell us, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and Peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
When did this Peace take root on Earth? When Jesus (God-Incarnate) was born in Bethlehem! Has His government and Peace been fully established? Obviously not.
Will there be an end to the INCREASE of His government and Peace? The prophet Isaiah obviously didn’t believe so, and I agree with him!
There are so many passages of Scripture telling us that His Kingdom (of Love and Peace) has come, is coming, and shall come. Isn’t Jesus the one Who taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth (the visible realm) as it is in heaven (the invisible realm).”?
I simply can’t buy into any theology where “The Earth is the Lords” but hatred, division, evil, and war win! If those things are greater than Him, the prince of darkness is greater than The Prince of Peace- but he’s not!
You might say, “But, Joe, Jesus said in Matthew 24:6 that there would be “wars and rumors of wars”! That’s right! He did! However, those who don’t understand the importance of context and original audience relevance have a terrible habit of superimposing their fatalistic “War Beliefs” onto current events and future prognostications. Jesus was prophesying about wars and rumors of wars that would take place in the First Century, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and "THE END" of the Old Covenant System with its temple, Levitical priesthood, sacrifices, etc.. His Words in Matthew 24 were directed to that generation, and He proclaimed that they would be fulfilled in THAT GENERATION. See Matthew 24:34- “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” History and sane hermeneutics bear this out.
For in-depth teachings on “Matthew 24 Fulfilled”, you can access my YouTube channel and podcast on the homepage of internationalpeacenetwork.org.
I also plan to write MUCH more on this topic, because much of the church has had far too much involvement in perpetuating war, genocide, apartheid, and innumerable atrocities through their erroneous belief that “prophecy is being fulfilled” and they’ll be “raptured” before The Prince of Peace destroys the earth. I can understand such logic from disciples of Ares, but I expect much more from followers of The Prince of Peace, Who is restoring Earth for the meek to inherit.
Love & Peace!
Theologian, Peacemaker, & Lover of All God's Children