Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

When All You Have Are Hammers

In the latest issue of Sojourners, editor Jim Wallis writes about U. S. foreign policy using the old Chinese proverb, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” See

That not only applies to U.S. foreign policy, but to Israel as well, as the current maelstrom of violence and counter-violence in the Middle East shows so clearly. There is a failure of moral imagination on all sides. The same, unfortunately, is often true with the peace movement, even with Christian pacifists. When one says no to war, to what can one say yes? Well, for one thing,
one can get behind the campaign for a U.S. Dept. of Peace at the cabinet level. Using 1% of the budget allocated to the Dept. of Defense, the Dept. of Peace would work proactively for peace abroad and work to solve issues of violence in homes and neighborhoods domestically. In short, the Dept. of Peace would have the job of creating alternative tools to hammers, so that we can be cured of our “nail fixation.” Over time, as this works to lessen our dependence on military might, we can redirect ever greater portions of our huge military budget to humanitarian needs at home and abroad. See http://www.thepeacealliance.org/ for the U.S. campaign for a Dept. of Peace. There are also international campaigns building in Canada, the U.K., Australia and elsewhee for similar departments or ministries.

One can also volunteer for and/or financially support organizations that do not wait for governments to get their acts together, but work for independent, third paryt, nonviolent direct action to create space for conflict resolution efforts. I have in mind the efforts of groups like Christian Peacemaker Teams (http://www.cpt.org/), Witness for Peace which concentrates on Central America (http://www.witnessforpeace.org/), Nonviolence International (http://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/ ) which trains and equips local groups around the world to initiate nonviolent direct action campaigns, and Nonviolent Peaceforce (http://www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org/) which is an attempt to create a global “nonviolent army” for third party nonviolent intervention in conflicts–as an alternative to both military intervention and armed U.N. “peacekeepers.”

Let us pray and work for new tools. The world has had enough of being hammered.


July 26, 2006 - Posted by | peacemaking

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