Thoughts on War, Syria, and 9/11

Today is the one-year anniversary of this website. A year ago today I wrote the first post reflecting on the significance of September 11th for me, both as a Mormon and an American.  In it, I noted that as Mormons we're inclined to consider the chronic abuse of the Mormon people when reflecting on the massacre of 9/11/1857. It complicates the situation and grants some understanding to the attackers. I also thought of how things would be if we did the same thing for the attackers of the massacre of 9/11/2001.

If we decide to do so today, would it influence our views of the unfolding global events surrounding Syria? I'm not sure how many of you have seen the video clips of the effects of the chemical weapons on children and adults in Syria. I'm not linking to them as they are quite disturbing and those interested can find them. When I saw the videos, I had a strong, visceral reaction. After the initial shock, and amid the sorrow and horror of seeing children suffering to death, I did have an impulse to see justice (or maybe just vengeance) exacted. But how would this play out? How many have died in Iraq as collateral damage from our attacks? How many people would need to die in conflict to exact vengeance for the hundreds who died from chemical weapons? If we want to use war to address this massacre, the remedy is worse than the disease.

As Mormons, we have a direct command regarding war: Renounce it.

Renounce: 1: to give up, refuse, or resign usually by formal declaration

                  2:  to refuse to follow, obey, or recognize any further : repudiate
President Joseph F. Smith said it beautifully:

It was 99 years ago, in the early part of World War I, that he made this statement of the failure to achieve peace through armed force. It is just as true today, and this century of conflicts only further proves its truth.

If you are interested in formally repudiating war, I'd encourage you to check out sign the declaration.

Just as we often view the massacre of 9/11/1853 as a reaction to earlier anti-Mormon violence, we need to recognize that our actions as a country will have repercussions. War begets war. Let us proclaim peace, not just spiritually, but also the actual cessation of war. Not only should we do this, but we are under sacred obligation, having made covenants, to do this.

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