In an impassioned appeal for a halt to the war in Ukraine last Sunday, reported in detail by the Catholic Standard this week, Pope Francis cried out «War is madness! Stop, please! Look at the cruelty.»
By Mike James
His call underlined by the photos and videos of suffering and death on both sides of this most recent senseless war, reflects the increasingly firm position by the Church in following the words and example of Jesus, that war and violence, even in supposedly “just reasons” is never justifiable. There are always better, more humane and peaceful solutions to differences between persons, communities, races and nations than by recourse to arms and violence.
Ukrainians staunchly defend their right to peaceful self-determination since their own break away from the Soviet Union in the 1990s and seek with Western encouragement to join the anti-Russian nuclear alliance NATO to guarantee that right. Russians, a people among those who have lost more of their population than most others in wars of invasion, from Napoleon (200,000’) to Hitler (20 million +), want guarantees never again to suffer similar massive losses of life through invasions from the West.
The tragic contradiction is that both sides have been prepared to go to and sustain an increasingly destructive war in order to achieve their own peaceful existence and self-determination. A further grotesque contradiction is that the reason for the existence of the Western military alliance NATO was to combat and Eastern Communism, while the Warsaw Pact aimed at destroying Western Capitalism. Today Russia and the West both pursue Capitalist goals. Justifying risking nuclear war between the West and Russia because “Communism is Evil and Godless” or “Capitalism is the worst form of human exploitation” is not an easy task for Media, intellectuals and politicians on both sides urging a fight to the bitter end.
On 2 March the Italian News Agency reported “A course on Russian literary giant Fyodor Dostoevsky which had been cancelled at a Milan university due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will now go ahead as scheduled, the university said Wednesday.
Writer and lecturer Paolo Nori had said the matter at the Milano-Bicocca University was a case of unwarranted censorship and that literature should not be punished due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions.
«Not only is it a fault to be a living Russian in Italy today, but also to be a dead Russian,» said Nori, adding that Dostoevsky, author of Crime and Punishment, the Brothers Karamazov and other classics, had been condemned to death himself in 1849 «because he had read something that was prohibited«.
Euronews funded by the European Union reported that on the Polish border with Ukraine as border queues continue to grow disturbing testimony and videos are emerging of black and brown people being systematically stopped and – in some cases – turned away completely from neighbouring nations.
«We went to the border of Ukraine and Poland, but we African foreigners had problems crossing,” says Jean-Jacques Kabea, a Congolese pharmacy student living in the Ukrainian city of Lviv who was forced to return from the border
«The soldiers there, they tell you: ‘you are going to stay here, you are fleeing the war, stay here, you are going to fight with us, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO LEAVE, ESPECIALLY YOU BLACK PEOPLE’.”
. «The first casualty when war comes is truth,» was coined by Hiram Johnson a Republican politician from California who served in the United States Senate for nearly 30 years, beginning in the midst of World War I and concluding with his death in 1945–as it happens, on the same day the U.S. dropped its first atomic bomb on Hiroshima…No, the solution to the War in Ukraine is not to increasingly arm the combatants to kill each other more efficiently. Pope Francis and Mahatma Gandhi are right, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the Way.” Pray and work for peace.