Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Objection to militarism has long been a central part of the Mennonite peace witness. From the persecution endured by Mennonites for refusing to participate in World War I, to development of conscientious objector (CO) status service during World War II, to actively speaking out against war in the Middle East, our history of opposing militarism as an act of faithfulness to Jesus is remarkable.
More recently, however, our collective voice against militarism has dimmed. A variety of factors have contributed to this. The "perpetual wars" that began in response to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, have raged so long that it becomes difficult to maintain ongoing opposition. The horrors of those wars are minimized, with government and willing media partners determined to keep the reality of war out of the news and out of our minds.
Other important peace and justice issues arise, locally and globally, that require attention. The absence of a military draft removed the urgency of speaking out against the militarism for many. Other reasons could be cited, but the result remains the same: Our collective voice against militarism is not as strong and clear as it once was.
We believe the time is here for our church to regain its ability to speak prophetically and boldly about the sin of militarism. In order to find our collective voice, we need to think strategically about how to encourage Mennonites to become engaged against the sin of war and militarism. We need to use new communication methods and platforms to educate our youth. We need to create opportunities for collective actions to express our beliefs. We need to prayerfully re-examine our entire approach to opposing militarism.
This is a great undertaking, and one that will require partnership, collaboration, and hard work. The Peace and Justice Support Network is glad to announce the formation of the Mennonites Against Militarism reference group. This reference group will help with that re-examination of our approach to opposing militarism. What type of resources should be produced to encourage opposition to militarism? What specific issues of militarism should be focused on? What type of events could help encourage opposition to militarism? These and other strategic questions are the type this group will help discern.
As we answer these questions in the months ahead, we will be producing resources for the church to learn more about the different aspects of militarism, as well as offering opportunities to speak, act and witness against militarism.
We'll keep you updated about the progress of Mennonites Against Militarism in the pages of DoveTales, and also at PJSN.org. I ask for your prayers for this group, and for our church, as we seek to boldly proclaim Jesus' way of peace, and challenge the violence and destruction of militarism.
Peace and Justice Support Network
Mennonite peace witness
By Jason Boone
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