, , , , , , , , , , ,

Ukrainian soldiers play chess with Molotov cocktails, Kyiv, Ukraine, March 2022. Selected as one of the top 14 “most striking images of 2022″. Credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

“Two weeks after Russian forces illegally invaded Ukraine, photos of a game of chess played by members of the Territorial Defence unit, charged with guarding a barricade on the outskirts of eastern Kyiv after curfew, went viral. What was so compelling about the midnight match, apart from the outsized board on which the game was being played on a patch of dirt in the freezing cold? The pieces had been fashioned not from wood, ivory, resin, or plastic as is typical, but lethal Molotov cocktails – pointedly typifying the huge and incendiary stakes of the new war.”

Kelly Grovier, BBC

To mark Ash Wednesday, we are reminded that the full-on invasion of Ukraine by Russia started last year February 24. It is no coincidence that Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of 40 days of contemplation of Christ’s passion for His creation as pacifism is confronted head on with violence. Or should I say, as assertive pacifism is confronted with aggressive violence – for Christ did not turn way from conflict when He told His followers to turn the other cheek.

In theory I believe in nonviolent noncooperation; I admit it’s theory, because I’ve never been tested… greatly. This kind of activist pacifism gets a short treatment by most. It feels incoherent in the face of violence – especially in the face of the kind of evil violence visited upon the Ukraine.

I am challenged on how to believe this; some suggest I am idealistic, naive, and silly.

All I can say is: Guilty on all counts!

(To learn more go to Thoughts on War and Peace).

Violence begets Violence

But I am convinced that violence just keeps on begetting violence. It has to stop, but it won’t stop based on who has the last most violent maneuver. It stops with me: I may absorb the violence with my own life – with my own death – because the One who lived and died and now lives for me – taught and modelled and empowered His early followers, and beckons His current followers to take up their cross all the way to death:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me…

He who said if “someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” was not talking metaphorically. He had to eat those words and get Himself crucified!

Who does that?

No one but the Lord of Life. No one but the One whose love for you is greater than His love for His own life.

Neither you nor I can do this unless we recognize that death is not the worst thing for us. Our death is the worst thing for our enemy for they lose the value and influence of our peace loving lives.

(To learn more go to Thoughts on War and Peace).

Nonviolence not an Academic Question

“For the first time, [nonviolence] was not an academic question. The enemy was at the gate” said Johann Matthies, regional team leader for Europe and Central Asia for Multiply – the mission agency for the Mennonite Brethren (a denomination known for its pacifism dedicated to return to the lands from which they once fled famine).

The Donbas made the difference.

In 2014 they said, ‘If we don’t defend our country, who will? That’s when pacifism began to crumble… Soon we will become a society full of angry, traumatized people. As salt and light in the community, we have to help them forgive their enemies.'” (Roman Rakhuba, conference moderator of the Association of Mennonite Brethren Churches of Ukraine).

For full article go to “Parsing Pacifism“.

“Sometimes you can’t reason with a bully

In an end of the year interview Canada’s Ambassador to the U.N., Bob Rae stated, “the notion somehow that diplomacy is dead is not correct,” even though the world has not been able to stop Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

“What is true is that when you’re dealing with a really aggressive country — like Russia at the moment — it’s really difficult to deal with that without resisting forcefully their aggression,” Rae told The Current.

“When somebody is an aggressor, like when somebody is a bully in a schoolyard, you have to respond. You can’t just say, ‘I want to make peace with the bully, so I’m going to give in to the bully. That kind of accommodation or appeasement doesn’t work’.

… Ukraine does not intend to surrender, and Russia’s actions so far would cast doubt that even a temporary truce is not just ‘a build up for the next attack.

President Putin has said so clearly on so many occasions that he does not believe in the separateness, in the otherness, in the distinctive identity of Ukraine.

As long as he maintains the position that he has a right to do what he’s doing and that nobody can stop him … there won’t be a really secure peace.”

For full article go to “Diplomacy isn’t dead, but sometimes you can’t reason with a bully.”

Playing with Molotov Cocktails?

The lack of synchronicity between nature and man caused the lack of synchronicity between body and soul. When the nightingale isn’t heard, the Molotov cocktail is.”

Odysseas Elytis

We want the calls for peace to be heard. But when no one is listening for peace, the Molotov cocktail is a shortcut to nowhere.

What would you do with an enemy at the gate?

What is the most Christ-like action when you have an intractable enemy that will not stop?

How does nonviolence work in a war?

I am not sure how to answer these questions.

But I am sure of this mystery – and it’s just in time for Lent:

I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering becoming like Him in His death.