Why Pacifism?

Ted Grimsrud—June 21, 2011

In many Mennonite churches, the first Sunday in July is designated Peace Sunday. In recognition of that important upcoming “church holiday” (more important to me than about any other), I am posting some appropriate reflections.

As I think about pacifism these days, often my dad comes to mind.  At one point in his life, my dad was a warrior.  In 1940, more than a year before Pearl Harbor, he chose to enlist in the Army.  He certainly wasn’t a warmonger, but he felt a strong sense of loyalty to his country.

My dad spent four years fighting against the Japanese.  He was wounded, contracted malaria, and saw his best friend (whose name was Ted) killed before his eyes.  And he was proud of his service.

Only one time did he speak of the war to me, when I was 17 and facing the likelihood of being drafted myself.  My dad told me his Army experience had been good; he encouraged me to attend a military academy so I could go in as an officer.  I wasn’t tempted, he didn’t push me, and we never talked about it again.

As I reflect on this now, I find it interesting that my father grew up in a good Christian home—his father and one of his grandfathers were pastors.  Apparently, my father never saw a tension between being a warrior and being a Christian.  I think it never occurred to him that God and Caesar might be competitors for his allegiance….I wish it had. Continue reading “Why Pacifism?”