Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I'm sad, sad, sad about all the deaths of combatants–Iraqis, Americans, Israelis, others, about all the destruction and displacement that will certainly result from U.S. military action. Not that such sadness should determine whether we should go to war, but, as people concerned about the human dignity of every single person we should always keep this death and destruction before our eyes. I agree with those, even a Joan Chittister, for heaven's sake, who say we need to continually attempt to get to know the people under the thumb of our enemy as human beings, who experience the same joys and hopes, grief and anguish that we do. This is one of the meanings of the virtue of solidarity. Is this level of death and destruction necessary at this time to prevent even greater death and destruction now or later?

If we go to war, if we deem it just, if we deem it necessary, I will experience a profound and sustained sadness—not the joy of battle, and perhaps not even the thrill of victory. I will primarily experience the agony of defeat that those who sustain loss will experience. This is what the pope means by saying "war is always a defeat." It is always a defeat for those who suffer because of the intransigence of the enemies of goodness, and it should always be experienced as a defeat to those of us who live in solidarity with them.

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