Wendell Berry, in Citizenship Papers — a volume that is not afraid to disagree with government, has a chp called “The Failure of War.” Here is his essential point: “Militarization in defense of freedom reduces the freedom of the defenders.”
I hope you can read this whole post to consider the questions at the bottom; I think they are good ones. I hope you agree and want to converse about it.
Now I’m not sure this is much of a claim, but I don’t want to deal with that part of his chp in this post. But, let me say this: whatever one thinks of war (just way, etc), and I’ve made it clear that I think the pacifist is the most consistent Christian position, apart from some other theoretical basis, Berry’s observation doesn’t hold water. Those who believe that a government has the right to call its citizens into the military, also believe that war may involve restriction of freedoms. Individuals “cede” (that’s a legal word) rights to the State/Feds in such cases.
What I’m more concerned with today is that Berry finds a brutal hypocrisy with abortion. Listen to this claim by Wendell Berry:
If you so devalue human life that the accidentally conceived unborn may be permissibly killed [abortion], how do you keep that permission from being assumed by someone who has made the same judgment against the born?
Abortion-as-birth-control, he says, is justified as a “right,” which can establish itself only by denying all the rights of another person [the baby], which is the most primitive intent of warfare.Â
If the creature in a womb is a living human being, and so far also an innocent one, then it is wrong to treat it as an enemy.
As for the “right to control one’s own body,” I am all for that. But implicit in that right is the responsibility to control one’s body in such a way as to avoid dealing irresponsibly or violently or murderously with other bodies. Women and men generally have understood that when they have conceived a child they have relinquished a significant measure of their independence, and that henceforth they must control their bodies in the interest of the child.
Here’s the question: Is it a moral hypocrisy to believe in war and against abortion, or to be against war and for abortion?