‘Of all evils of war the greatest is the purely spiritual evil: the hatred, the injustice, the repudiation of truth, the artificial conflict.’
Bertrand Russell, Justice in War-Time, 1916, p. 27.
In these extraordinary times the question of religion and how faith affects human values is central.
How is it that certain communities or individuals claim religion as justification for war, violence and emnity?
Particularly, where nearly all religions are apparently grounded in spiritual values that expressly forbid such actions?
To someone with spiritual values who does not follow a religion, it’s easy to recognise how often religion is used to support ancient, medieval and sometimes barbaric practices of violence, persecution and blame.
In an interesting example, a Prime Minister of my own state, Great Britain, went to war in 2003, claiming to have checked with ‘God‘ that his concience was clear.
This is a clear displacement of life values that connect us all. Inserting instead the wholly arbitrary values of an unknown creator.
No rational human being can check with their god, before murdering others, especially in their millions as part of some war-machine.
No, the problem is wider and probably stems from how religions have been used over ages to inculcate certain values by first tribal, then political elites.
The ‘God and Country’ trope is fashioned in this way. It actually hides traditions of political and human violence behind a fascade of more acceptable cultural values.
If people can be taught to love their country and believe in its religious traditions, their human values can be displaced, and they persuaded to murder others, not for the sake of god, but for the sake of their rulers.
Just War theory, or doctrine, attempts to bridge this gap, but fails, because, while violence is always immoral, self-defence is not.
In this case the international community should police inter-state violence, to the same degree that each nation-state polices individual violence or murder, without any compunction.
The great crime is aggression, which can be protected against, as long as international governance is minded to achieve this end.
If not, we are all lost, because violence can always be justified by elites.
They control politics and the media, business and cultural institutions. Each of which can be suborned, against the interests of world citizens.
Our institutions need an ‘Auguean Cleaning‘ a clear-out via the participation of multiple citizen assemblies and all citizens, practising an open ethics of communication.