Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

double down on Failure



Whenever the world witnesses a monstrous atrocity like the chemical attack in Syria, we hear someone proclaim that we need to heed the lessons of history in our response. That normally means that we need to engage in retributive violence in order to prevent a reoccurrence. The perpetrators must be punished so they hesitate to repeat their atrocity. The classic example of this type of historical lesson is said to be Hitler and how the world mistakenly reacted to his rise to power and initial militarism. This lesson purportedly teaches the necessity to meet violence with overpowering violence in return, sooner rather than later. 


This type reasoning, quickly leads a step further to the insistence that we need to engage in violence in order to eliminate a perceived threat of violence, instead of waiting until violence actually occurs. According to this reasoning, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is the guiding principle when it comes to utilizing our military power.


No one seems to question the logical end of assuming the right to kill people because of what they might do.  Once we accept  pre-emptive violence, there is no end to the atrocities in which we may engage as a result. Despite that, we frequently hear proponents of such military action in our political and social dialogue.


The prevailing perception that we are wise enough to know who should be killed in order to achieve the greater good is not born out by history, as far as I can see. I fully understand the feeling of needing to recognize and confront evil. However, when that confrontation involves killing, I suspect I should have god-like wisdom, which I don't.

Some can claim that necessary wisdom based on a sacred book but must ignore history in doing so. Manifold atrocities have been and still are perpetrated in the name of sacred books, worldwide. The War on Terror is a classic example. The issue is not whose book is real; it is who will "get real".


The actual lesson of history is that when we double down on failure, all we can expect is to keep on failing. If the use of violence ever did more than temporarily divert violence, I don't see the confirming evidence. Maybe that is the reason Jesus told Peter that they who live by the sword die by the sword. Instead of heeding those who draw ill-founded lessons from history, maybe we should listen to the Prince of Peace.