The topic of war in a recent post here ignited all kinds of sparks, spewing over into at least one other blog (Mendacious Mouse) and creating lots of comments on both sides. It led to nine comments on a blog labeled "Mouse World One" and then a follow-up "Mouse World Two" post. The posts both dealt with the question of why God allows bad things to happen, which is to say, if wars are bad, why does God let us fight wars?
This is, like all "Why?" questions to me, acceptable coming from a three-year-old, but puzzling when grappled with by grown men. Yes, we must be patient with the three-year-old and give him a reasonable answer, perhaps so that he will not still be asking "Why?" about everything when he is in his 60s and 70s.
The reader who characterizes himself as "Officious Oaf" has, in spite of his vow to go on the wagon from an incipient blog addiction, weighed in on the subject. Therefore I'll fold one from his list of questions to me from a few months ago as he sought to help me build readership by being more hard-nosed.
Why is killing justified and murder isn’t?
This is one of those “When-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife” questions. In answering it I am forced to defend killing. But I can’t, so I’ll try to answer the question in the spirit in which it was intended, which I hope was sincere. The questioner must believe that killing is justified, but seems not to know what he means by that. I will take the position that "killing" means "as in war" and "murder" means "premeditated with malice aforethought."
Killing in war is good because it is deemed necessary by society. If our soldiers went into battle with instructions not to kill, we wouldn't have much of an army. What's more, we wouldn't have much of a battle. Therefore, we wouldn't have much of a war at all. And since war is good and necessary, killing is good too.
You may gather from my tone that I am not of this conviction. But I said that at the outset. I cannot seriously defend killing under any circumstances -- here it comes -- not even capital punishment. Now I've moved into tricky territory for myself because I do not oppose capital punishment, as long as it is the right people who are getting it. Pacifist that I am, I would still like to see certain people dead. This does not make me warlike, or a murderer. I am not seeking a hit man. Actually I'd like to see hit men and their ilk eliminated, which means capital punishment to them. This is getting so convoluted even I'm not sure where I stand.
I have malice toward those to whom putting a bullet in a human being's brain is a good gig. For whatever reason -- a lousy childhood, a stray gene, something -- professional (and amateur) killers are not needed in society. Why did God make them? Not for any reason I can understand. But I suspect that it is the machinery of man that created evil, and not God.
The topic is interesting. It is not my area of expertise, yet I keep coming back to it. You should read some of the comments that came out of me on the Mendacious Mouse blog. I have attracted a coterie which is enamored of the subject, and I am compelled to respond. I think open discussions, which may not reach any conclusion, but by virtue of the possibility that a mind might actually change, are our only hope of getting out of the quagmire of stagnant positions.
I said "only hope," but even that is barely a fair hope. Let's just be even-handed here.