Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Pendulum: War and ANZAC Day

Yesterday was ANZAC Day here in Australia.  It is one of my country's most special holidays.  For some who consider themselves non-religious, ANZAC Day is the day they would consider holy and sacred.

I've been doing some thinking about how I, as a Christian, feel about ANZAC Day and war.  Once again, I'm caught in the middle.  For me, ANZAC Day is a day of thankfulness, remembrance and national pride.  But I do not glorify war.

Last year, Duncan and I watched Gallipoli (a movie I have watched many times since childhood) and I found myself crying for the first time.  I was struck by the absolute horrors of war, the waste of young men's lives.  If war can be avoided, then it should be.  I just finished reading Solomon's Song by Bryce Courtenay last week which describes the Gallipoli campaign during World War I in all its drawn-out and bloody detail.  When one of the main characters, Ben, receives a medal after surviving Gallipoli, he says this to his superior:
"Your Lordship, there is nothing good about this war, except that good men are dying because of the arrogance and stupidity of the old men who lead them." (page 594)

Yes, when it comes to war it angers me that pompous leaders sit back and smoke cigars while soldiers and civilians lose their lives over something they did not start.

But I do not consider myself a pacifist.  War is sometimes a necessary evil in this fallen world.  If one country attacks another then it is right for the country being attacked to defend itself.  When it comes to living at peace with one another, we can only do we what we can.  We cannot control others' actions.  This applies to all relationships - both individually and at a national level.

Last week, my mum said, "Why do we always have to get involved in other countries' affairs?"  I agree, partly.  But then if everyone had that attitude, gross injustices would be done and conflicts not worked through.  Matthew 18:15-19 would never happen.  Sometimes we need to intervene.  But when we should and when we shouldn't, I really don't know.

War is just another reality of life after the Fall.  We live in a world that has rejected God and war is one of the symptoms of it.

Yesterday I remembered the thousands of Australian men and women who lost their lives in wars.  I am thankful for the peace and freedom we enjoy in this country.  I am thankful for their courage.  I honestly don't know how some of them manage to live their lives, despite the horrors they have seen.  They have seen things I've only seen in nightmares.  I pray for them and their families.

Lest we forget.


bettyl said...

That was a well-thought out and well-written post. I, like you, don't have the answers but I'm thankful that I have a very high-priced freedom.

Scott Parker said...

Good post Sarah. I always find ANZAC day to be more than just a day off; and when you see all the TV coverage it is apparent that it is becoming bigger and more widely embraced every year; even by the sporting codes, such as the AFL. I hope to go to Golipolli one year.