Aims of war and what to do after war

Why is Russia fighting Ukraine? One will ask. Nations at war are usually called upon for a definition of their war aims. In our own life what are we fighting for? To which the answer will be; we are fighting for freedom, for peace and security, for the rights of men and women everywhere.

These are good words, it is true, and they have deep meaning for each of us; but certainly they don’t mean the same thing to all people. Russia claims to fight for its security and so is Ukraine at this very moment.

Pen and ink sketchy hand drawing of modern city street destroyed by war. Road is blocked by roadblock with danger war zone sign..

And they have been so carelessly used that sometimes, and in some places, they may have stood in danger of becoming mere words. And so, suppose for a moment we try to simplify the answer, the answer to the question “What are we fighting against and what are we fighting for?” To reduce it to its simplest terms, there is only one enemy in the world that any man has, and that enemy is evil. Evil plays many roles and assumes many disguises and makes its way sometimes into the most unexpected places. It isn’t always an easy thing to put your finger on it, because sometimes evil appears to be so utterly respectable.

Perhaps this isn’t, simplifying the question at all. Perhaps it is complicating it, but the fact remains that our fight must be against evil, and for a world and a way of life that will be free from evil, the evil that opposes truth; the evil that causes a man or a nation to covet what another has; the evil that beckons to indulgence in forbidden things; the evil that causes a nation or a people to forget its principles and ideals, and to disregard the commandments of God.

Global war, so called, is even more global than we suspect, for, while there are objectives to be won in well-defined geographic areas, evil is no respecter of geography, no respecter of boundaries.

It recognises no neutrality. It is the same evil that the world has always had to fight, since the beginning of time, and before, the evil that has written on the pages of history concerning nations that could win a war on a distant front and lose it in their own hearts, in their own lives, and in their own homes. And so, in answer to the question “What are we fighting for?” We are fighting for the destruction of evil. Wherever we find it, and we must no longer tolerate it among ourselves than we do among our enemies.

In the observance of war’s end, feelings long pent-up have broken loose, with some relief, with some satisfaction, and with many varieties of expression, both thoughtful and hilarious. And now, we have been called to prayer and to thanksgiving, with sober reflection upon all the causes that took us where we were, that brought us where we are, and that may keep us going where we ought to go. After a war has started it seems to be much too late, for a time at least, to think how it might have been prevented.

The immediate fact of force must be met by force. But now we may well profit by looking both backward and forward, and we may well remember that essentially we are still the same people we were yesterday — even if somewhat sobered; and, being the same people, if we are forgetful, we may lapse into the same ways that twice in one generation have led us where we didn’t want to go. We have been prayerful at war.

We have sought the Lord God for His help, for the protection of our loved ones, for their safe return, for the favour of our cause, for deliverance from death and danger. War often drives men to extremes, in prayer and in other things and some of our prayers came by fear and dire need and of such the Lord God has given us pointed reminder: “In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.”It is not so difficult to be humble in trouble, but it is exceedingly difficult to be humble in triumph. And this we need to be. Mercifully, the Lord has answered the prayers of our extremity; He has helped us to achieve the moral and the material strength to do what has been done. As a people we have been granted deliverance as real as any recorded anciently in Holy Writ. Now, the opportunity is ours to fulfil in peace some of the promises we have made to ourselves and to our God while war was breathing upon us the hot breath of necessity.

War destroys many things, but it does not destroy its own basic causes; but it multiplies the problems of peace, which were great beyond measure even before war added to them. And only by the help of God and in conformance with His ways can we hope to solve the problems and avoid the pitfalls of the future. And so with full hearts we remember before God those who have given their lives, and to dedicate ourselves “to follow in His ways,” praying that God “will support and guide us into the paths of peace.” It is so easy to forget, but so costly and so stupid. Our Father who are in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name: May we in peace have the prayerful humility that will be deserving of the deliverance thou hast again given us.

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