Tuesday, February 08, 2005

THE NEXT GREAT MORAL STRUGGLE will be war. The first one was slavery. Both are, if not condoned, fully accepted in the Bible. An Internet acquaintance once said to me, "I take comfort in the fact that the Bible allows war." She felt that, since the Bible allows war, God must not be opposed to it. Well, the Bible allows slavery, too. (Although I didn't think of that reply at the time.) The Bible allows slavery, and for centuries the Bible was used to justify slavery. But slavery was abolished, at least in the West. First the slave trade was ended, and then slavery itself was ended. Yes, slavery still exists in this world. It has not been wiped off the face of the earth. But it HAS been discredited, to say the least. Slavery is now understood to be an evil, immoral institution that civilized societies do not countenance.

One day, perhaps, we will be able to say the same thing about war. Certainly, the premise of Adam Hochschild's new book, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves -- that "a committed minority can persuade a majority to see what at first they cannot or do not want to see" -- gives me hope that those who still say war is a part of human existence that can never be eliminated will yet be proved wrong.

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