Ukraine War – Volker Schunck

Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (or: Kyiv Monastery of the Caves) (pixabay.com)

What is happening in Ukraine right now breaks my heart! I can hardly find words to express how deeply I am touched by Russia’s attack on Ukraine, who fights tooth and nail our European values of “democracy” and “freedom”. Old women who make Molotov cocktails, children who build weapons out of Lego bricks, fathers who defend their homeland and their families with the courage of desperation and die for them. Traumatized women and children wandering by the hundreds of thousands through a hostile land that was once their home.

The UN expects up to 1.5 million refugees, the largest wave of refugees since the end of World War II. On the other hand, there is an unscrupulous dictator who tramples on all international law and plays with the West as he pleases. He offers refugee corridors that aren’t, because they’re mined and shelled, while at the same time pretending in diplomatic talks that he’s interested in a peace solution.

By attacking a democratic country in Europe, Europe has long been part of the war, even if it doesn’t officially want to admit it. What does it matter whether Ukraine is part of NATO or the EU under international law when innocent people are slaughtered, when cultural assets are irretrievably destroyed and a nuclear catastrophe threatens, when nuclear power plants are shelled without considering the unforeseen consequences?

When I see a woman being harassed by a man on the tram, her nationality is not a criterion for whether I will help her or not. It’s a matter of humanity that I help her. But if the attacker pulls a pistol, the situation looks different. There are other passengers who are also threatened. Since the attacker is ruthless and beyond reason, it’s up to me to act wisely and with a cool head. During the conversation, I can try to dissuade him from doing something rash. I can get backup from other passengers, ask someone to call the police, and I can pull the emergency brake, which use can cause chaos and threaten to spiral the whole situation out of control. Or I can play for time, try to show the armed attacker that his actions are hopeless, since the other passengers are also armed and will stop at nothing. There is, of course, the almost unlikely possibility that the attacker will get a call from his mother trying to bring him back to his senses, or that he will have a heart attack.

As in the situation I have constructed, NATO is currently playing for time. It cannot act as humanity dictates in a simple emergency situation, but tries with all means of diplomacy and sanctions to dissuade Putin from his war. He may be overthrown or killed by influential oligarchs and the military, but there is little hope of that in the short term. Meanwhile, thousands of innocent people are dying. That is bitter!

How does Christian ethics fit into this? How do “Love your neighbor” (Mt 22:39) and “If someone strikes you on the left cheek, turn the other to him” (Mt 5:39) fit in there? Not at all. At least not if we want to live. We know where Jesus’ non-violence led: to the cross. This is not only highly human, but it is the unfolding of divine love in a world of hate and lust for power. But we are not Jesus. We are placed in a community of people and responsible for one another.

Jesus’ commandment to love is perverted by the passivity of a father who sees the gun on his child’s head and does nothing, although he could shoot the attacker for the sake of his child, but does not. In my opinion, that is cowardice and weakness and has nothing to do with Jesus’ commandment to love.

The failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler by Claus Stauffenberg on July 20, 1944 can also be seen in this horizon. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, part of the Confessing Church and part of the resistance against National Socialism, knew about it.

It is naïve, like the peace movement with its slogan “swords into ploughshares”, which comes from Micah and is a vision of the future kingdom of God, to want to do world politics. Although the kingdom of God has dawned in Jesus, it has not yet been fulfilled and will not be realized through the one-sided disarmament of a nation.

1 But in the latter days, it will happen that the mountain of Adonaj’s temple will be established on the top of the mountains, and it will be exalted above the hills;  and peoples will stream to it.

2 Many nations will go and say, “Come! Let’s go up to the mountain of Adonaj, and to the house of the God of Jacob;  and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the law will go out of Zion, and Adonaj’s word from Jerusalem;

3 and he will judge between many peoples, and will decide concerning strong nations afar off. They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war any more.

4 But they will sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and no one will make them afraid: For the mouth of Adonaj of Armies has spoken. (Micha 4:1-4)

Summary:
It doesn’t matter whether Ukraine is part of NATO or the EU when it comes to giving her our full support against Russian aggression.

NATO cannot act as humanly required because it has to look at the overall situation and take care that the war does not end in a nuclear catastrophe.

We as states cannot act like the individual Jesus, who embodied the love of God with his non-violence and paid for it with his death on the cross.

It is naïve to realize the peace movement’s dream of God’s kingdom of peace through unilateral disarmament. God’s kingdom on earth has dawned in Jesus but has not yet been fulfilled. Whether this paradisaical condition will be fulfilled in this world, as the prophet says, or only in the hereafter, remains an open question. (Volker Schunck)

Volker

I am Volker Schunck and live in Dresden, Germany. First I was an industrial clerk, then I studied theology. Through my engagement with Zen, I became aware of the Christian mysticism. Meanwhile, I go my own way. For me, faith is not a world-view but a being. It is important to me, not to live lost in thought but aware and intensely. For me, this also includes careful handling of other people. The NVC (Nonviolent Communication), which I learned during my training as a mediator, helps me with this.

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