Blake on War, by Rod Tweedy

The Difference between Mental Fight and Corporeal War

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“War is Energy Enslaved” Blake once remarked – an observation that powerfully captures one of war’s most characteristic and toxic aspects: its ability to harness the astonishing productions of human society – our vast collective energies, intelligence, industries, and labour – and put them to profoundly destructive and degrading ends, to set humanity against itself. Blake’s observation equates war with slavery, with both mental and physical obedience and servitude – or “service” as it’s more frequently called today.

Blake witnessed first-hand the devastating impact of warfare: he lived for sixty-nine years (1757-1827) and for each one of those years, Britain was at war or in military conflict with one country or another – with India, with Portugal, with Hanover, Prussia, the Netherlands, Spain, the Dutch Republic, Austria, Germany, Ireland, America, France, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Burma …

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Jesus and Nonviolent Resistance (Mental Fight)

Love your Enemies

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You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. [Matt v: 38-48]

Commentary by Marcus J. Borg

There is a habitual conventual way of reading this chapter of sayings as commending passive acceptance of wrongdoing: don’t resist somebody who beats you; go the extra mile; don’t insist on your own rights. Colloquially, be a doormat – let people walk all over you. Moreover, it has most commonly been understood to refer to personal relationships, not to the political realm. Most Christians have not thought of this passage as prohibiting participation in war or capital punishment. Official violence is okay. But all of this is a misunderstanding of the passage whose effect is to domesticate it politically. The powers that be are pleased with the doormat reading.

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