Part 2 in the ongoing series New Kid on the Mennonite Block, in which I discuss my entrance and education into the Mennonite community. Read Part 1 Here.
This is a short one. Mostly questions.
The other week, before Thanksgiving, our pastor discussed the things we say thank you for. He mentioned watching football games and the common mention of the troops. The broadcast often cuts to soldiers watching via satellite, or to troops in the stands. Halftime games often include a salute and jets fly overhear more often than not. “We are thankful for our troops,” is a common phrase?
But what we thankful for? What are we endorsing? Is there a way we can, as Christians and Mennonites (I am not sure if I am a Mennonite yet) support the troops with love and compassion and prayer while not supporting them (in the whole death thing)? Can we separate man from action? Can we endorse one without the other?
I asked the pastor,
The most intriguing part, while I agree, came with the question about supporting and thanking the troops? Can we support troops and nor support a war or policy? Are we able to separate the act from those who act? Can we support troops as humans while asking them to end the violence? What are the Mennonite thoughts here? How do we love all people, including soldiers, while also trying to love all people (through peace)? ” Apologies to him for the bombardment but I can claim ignorance.
He responded shortly but promised to expand soon (I sent the emails the day before Thanksgiving, my bad),
About the question of supporting troops – to be honest, we’ve often just turned away. As a pacifist, I can’t support what the military does. I do, however, want to be respectful of the decisions other people have made. And we do need to find ways to authentically love others. On the Sunday before Veteran’s Day we prayed for vets who’ve suffered injury and/or who’ve had a hard time returning to civilian life (e.g. PTSD). That’s a small gesture, I realize, but sometimes the first step is just noticing others.
I really like his response. It is possible to love to the person ( I am expanding the use of the term “man” as more than men or soldiers) and not the act. We are called to do that every day. The struggle comes from finding ways to do so in the face of their continuing action. And this should not be strange to Christians at all because this is the continuing act of love in the face of sin. We are called to love in the face of evil, we are called to have compassion for those who act against us and our beliefs (the Mennonites have a long history of this). We are not just called to love our enemy, but also our brother and sister. This may be the tougher battle, when the person we disagree with is one of us.
More to come as I chew on this.