Hunger and War

It's inconsistent to seek to end poverty without seeking to end war. The amount of money that governments spend on militarism is more than enough to feed every hungry stomach. We're not just killing each other, we're killing the poorest of the poor, the least of these--our "defense" is killing Jesus. Therefore, nonviolence is indeed, as Martin Luther King Jr once said, "the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time," the greatest of which is global poverty. If we put the same energy into ending wars, into disarming nuclear weapons, and into peacemaking as we do into missions and helping the poor, we might just kill two birds with one stone.

Back in 1994 (and I am sure the proportions have only grown since then),
"the United Nations reported that 12 percent of the $125 billion developing countries spend on the military each year could provide health care for all their citizens, including immunization of all children, elimination of severe malnutrition, reduction of moderate malnutrition by half, and provision of safe drinking water for all" (Ronald J. Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, page 14)
If a mere 12% can do all of this, just think what 100% could do. If wars ended then poverty would most surely end. Words are not nearly as financially costly as bullets and bombs. Diplomacy, a step which too many are eager to skip, must come before combat. Our imagination has been taken captive if within it we do not hold the poor as precious. How imaginative is it to "bomb them back" and to trade and eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? Not very imaginative at all. But to imagine the possibility of peace, to imagine sitting down at a common table with your enemies, to imagine putting in the hard work of mutuality... now that's a step closer toward God's imagination. We all share the same Father, we all share the same poor neighbors and so whether Jew or Greek, Arab or America, we all share in mutuality. Jesus identified with the least of these and Paul says we're all one in Christ, perhaps the fact that the poor are among us brings us together in our obligation towards them as we are brought together in Christ's body (another hint as to why the Eucharist is so central to the Christian faith and practice). We are obligated to end war because of our mutuality and our mutual obligation to our 1 billion severely poor neighbors.

It is the realization that peacemaking leads to poverty ending which has led so many into the struggle against militarism. It is the imagination which has not been taken captive by cynicism that asks the question, "What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war?" ( Don't give in to cynicism but "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2) that you may hope for a better world, that you may pray that God's kingdom would come and his will would "be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10) where none shall go hungry and none shall be killed in the name of defense... these two things, hunger and war, are eternally intertwined.

"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." (Psalm 23:5)