Power Parade

President Trump’s desire to have a big, ugly military parade is wrong on so many fronts. The first is money. When we can’t afford to rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges, when public education is being starved to death (perhaps intentionally) for lack of funds and when the latest budget proposal feeds the already bloated national debt by increasing military spending it is insane to spend millions of dollars to rattle our rockets and roll our tanks down Pennsylvania Avenue. Secondly, what message does such a display of military prowess send to the rest of the world about our national priorities and values? It demeans us to look like Russia and North Korea to a world starving for peace not more war.

Third, beating our pruning hooks and plows into spears and swords only serves to give terrorists around the world more propaganda that the United States is a bully that threatens them and justifies their own murder and mayhem. But most important to me is the theological argument against militarism. There are many passages in the Bible that advocate for peace and portray God’s will for creation to live in a peace and Christ as love incarnate. But the one that this pompous parade idea brought first to my mind is this:

“Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,
but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.
They will collapse and fall,
but we shall rise and stand upright.” (Psalms 20:7-8)

If we want peace in the world and not just an excuse to pour more money into the military-industrial complex the answer is not more weapons. Ask Pharaoh how well his horses and chariots did against unarmed refugees at the Red Sea. (Exodus 14) Peace will not come by unpeaceful means. Life will not flourish by weapons of mass destruction.

This is not a new problem of course. I found these words I wrote in this blog 2.5 years ago: “The answer is not more horses and chariots or bigger bombs. The answer is not more guns. The answer is to examine our fears that drive us to build gated communities, to propose building walls on our borders to keep others out. Instead of repairing roads, educating our children, alleviating poverty, and addressing social injustice, we spend obscene amounts of money and resources on defense because we are afraid. The gun lobby sells more and more automatic weapons that have no purpose but to kill other people because we are afraid. Wealthy lobbies buy more and more congressional votes because our legislators are afraid to take courageous stands that will cost them their office and lifetime benefits. The church is silent about being peacemakers and turning the other cheek because we are afraid those unpopular views will cost us members and contributions.” (Aug 6 2015, Blowing in the Wind: Hiroshima and Our Addiction to Violence)

Our money says “In God We Trust” but Trump’s parade would proclaim loud and clear that is not true. For too long we have put our trust in more and bigger horses and chariots, and if we continue to do that the United States will go the way of every other empire in human history, just as the Psalmist says: “They will collapse and fall.”

Perhaps this is best captured in the words to a contemporary rock song by that very name, “Horses and Chariots:”

“Horses and chariots, churches and states
Devotion turns dangerous when armed with rules of faith
Prisoners and patriots, angels and saints
If minds are persuaded enough compassion turns to hate

So when the tide comes to bury us, together we must stay
Don’t let their horses and chariots drag our love away
No!

Borders and boundary signs drawn by red tape
Those who color outside of the lines define the human race
Warlords and suffering eyes, soldiers and slaves
The side of the fence that we climb determines who’s afraid

So when the tide comes to bury us, together we must stay
Don’t let their horses and chariots drag our love away
Until we swallow our pride our hearts will collide.” (Billy Talent, 2016)

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