Gebre, I am actually substantially in agreement with what you say in this post, but the judgmental tone of a lot of it kind of puts me off from agreeing with you totally.
It is clear who the peacemakers on this thread are.
^ Stuff like this.
It is very sad that some people here would use this tragic situation as an excuse to politic for their rationalizations of violence.
And where is this going on? In this thread? The context we are talking about is a civil war, which is inherently political. Nobody really gets to sit it out, even if they never touch a gun. Why? The militias (of all sides) know who is who, and know what they want. It's no different than what we always get in these situations: So and so is with so and so, and against so and so, and if you don't come down somewhere, then you're prey for all factions anyway. So what do you do? Often the choice has been to flee, die, or fight. None of those are to be undertaken lightly, and I haven't seen where anyone in this thread advocated such for political (or other) reasons.
Human lives and human freedoms are at stake, and war and bloodshed are not mere hypotheticals for philosophical speculation.
Indeed. The Christians in Syria, whether they pick up guns or not, know this much better than you or I. Are you sure you want to judge them for their decision, just because it doesn't match with your viewpoints expressed from thousands of miles away?
As Habte alluded to earlier, violent conflict is not a sport that Christians should cheer on from the sidelines in partisan fashion.
This would ring a lot less hollow if you didn't just judge a whole bunch of people you don't know for coming to a different conclusion and action than you think you would, when they're the ones who have to deal with the consequences and the violence no matter what they choose or what you think about it. Last time I checked, judging people was a partisan activity.
Apparently there are some members of this forum who are indeed holy enough to violently kill without hatred or animosity. In fact, they are so holy that they can bear the very sword that Our Lord condemned. But I confess that I am not such a holy man. I have too much of my own salvation to work out without wasting time trying to kill my neighbor. But for those who have attained such a profound theosis that they feel holy enough to slay their brethren, then who am I to condemn them? God is the Judge, and may He be merciful to me a sinner. And if I beseech His mercy, then why would I not extend mercy even to my enemies? (Forgive me for my “false piety” here, of which some have accused me from time to time. I trust that God knows my heart, and I am confident that He will correct it.)
Okay, then I won't say "false piety", but...I have no way to finish this sentence...
Suffice it to say that it is not a "waste of time" to defend your family from marauders in Syria, whether it comes down to taking a life (Lord have mercy) or not. These people are not picking up guns because they're out of other things they could be doing, but because they've done everything else to avoid
having to do that and it has not worked. It is indeed a terrible, and rapidly degenerating, situation. Please do not turn it into another show of how other people must be in order to be able to do this or that. None of us have any way of knowing what is in anyone else's heart, whether in a war zone or not.
Now, shame on those of you who call the practitioners of nonviolence "cowards."
The presentation of a good idea in a perhaps less-than-relatable way leads often to this kind of reaction. It is not cowardly to be non-violent, but just the same it is not advisable to hold to absolutes in a situation that does not directly affect you. I pray that none of us would ever take a life or experience what it is to lose someone, but unless or until you're there, all the platitudes about who is further along in Theosis to be doing this or that or whatever leave a bad taste in my mouth. I don't think you're cowardly, but I don't think you're appreciating the gravity of the situation in the first place, either, because you're not there so you can't (just like the rest of us).
For in condemning nonviolence, you condemn Christ Himself.
I'm not condemning nonviolence. I'm condemning making other peoples' struggle to live into a soapbox from which to preach the moral superiority of your long-distance certitude, whether you are for or against violence as an option when faced with conflict. My grandfathers fought the Nazis all the way across Europe and they didn't do it by dropping reminders of why violence is bad on the Germans. On the other hand, my father didn't
fight the Vietnamese, but it wasn't really based on any higher principle (he just didn't want to go there and possibly die in a stupid war he didn't believe in). The world is complicated...I think Christ knows that.
So I don't condemn any of them. I'm proud, in fact, that some in my family actually put their money where their mouths were and did their small part to beat the fascists and stop the spread of their genocidal evil. It's more than I've ever done with my dumb opinions on the internet, that's for darn sure. (One of them, by the way, was a field medic...a more peaceful, Christlike profession you'd be hard-pressed to find in a war zone.)
If peacemaking is wrong, if nonviolence is the sin of cowardice, if forgiveness and love for our enemies is indeed a violation of the Christian gospel, then bring forth evidence from the entirety of the New Testament, submit clear confirmation from the Lives of the Saints, and let a tome of attestations from our holy Church fathers emerge.
Are all of these things necessarily equivalent? Is peacemaking by necessity nonviolent, or violence necessarily the absence of forgiveness and love for our enemies? To put it another way: If you break into my residence and try to kill me, I'm going to fight back, but not because I hate you, or do not wish peace for you, or would not forgive you if possible.
Persuade me that Our Lord - in offering His own life on the Cross - was the epitome of cowardice and naïveté. Persuade me that it is more honorable to kill than to forgive. Persuade me, etc., etc., etc.
Why should anyone here have to persuade you of anything that no one has claimed? You've created these ideas yourself by assuming that those who differ from your opinion on this matter are convinced that such binary/black & white dichotomies actually exist. Reality, my friend, is very rarely so clear cut. I would hope that you would know that, and not turn Christianity into demagoguery for the sake of appearing pious in the face of challenges that, after all, you yourself are not facing.
I posted this story from the desert fathers originally in another thread, but I think it fits here, too:
One day Abba Isaac went to a monastery. He saw a brother committing a sin and he condemned him. When he returned to the desert, an angel of the Lord came and stood in front of the door of his cell, and said, 'I will not let you enter.' But he persisted saying, 'What is the matter?' and the angel replied, 'God has sent me to ask you where you want to throw the guilty brother whom you have condemned.' Immediately he repented and said, 'I have sinned, forgive me.' Then the angel said, "Get up, God has forgiven you. But from now on, be careful not to judge someone before God has done so.'