War is not a "political error." It is "moral guilt" on the part of a ruler! This thought from the Pope's Christmas Message was one of the thirty posters which we of the Catholic Worker, along with Peacemakers, War Resisters League and Philadelphia Fellowship of Reconciliation carried as we picketed the White House on January, 29th in protest against President Eisenhower's blank cheque for all out war.
Praise to Congressman Siler and to Senators Langer, Morse and Lehman for not following the yes attitude common to those despotic countries where no one dares oppose the ruler. Praise also to General MacArthur who asks in his speech to the American Legion, remembering perhaps that World War I did not "end war," nor World War II "make the world safe for democracy," said: "Must we fight again before we learn?...If you lose, you are annihilated. If you win, you stand only to lose."
Whether this is the old Army game of creating a scare of foreign war to build up Universal Military Training at home cannot be proven. MacArthur, who has been a leader for a score of years, should know when he says: "The leaders are the laggards. The disease of power seems to confuse and befuddle them....but never in the chancelleries of the world or the halls of the United Nations is the real problem raised. Never do they dare to state the bald truth, that the next great advance in the evolution of civilization cannot take place until war is abolished...They increase preparedness by alliances, by distributing resources throughout the world, by feverish activity in developing new and deadlier weapons, by applying conscription in time of peace---all of which is instantly matched by the prospective opponent...Actually the truth is that the relative strengths of the two change little with the years."
Spoken like a true pacifist and anarchist! The General continued: "Must we live for generations under the killing punishment of accelerating preparedness without an announced final purpose....and trifle in the meanwhile with corollary and indeterminate theses such as limitation of armament, restriction of the use of nuclear power, adoption of new legal standards as propounded at Nuremberg---all of which are but palliatives and all of which, in varying form, have been tried in the past with negligible results?"
The President and the members of Congress all have consciences but they believe in what Pope Pius XII calls: "The current political practice, while dreading war as the greatest of all catastrophes, at the same time puts all its trust in war, as if it were the only expedient for subsistence and the only means of regulating international relations." They believe in achieving good by evil means. And it seems that the great bulk of the people share that hallucination.
What then can be done? The message was given us 2000 years ago. "Love your enemy. Return good for evil." Saint Francis of Assisi visited the Sultan, started his Third Order, members of which could not be soldiers. Gandhi gained the freedom of India by this same pacifist method. Individuals who accept violence as a necessary method of overcoming evil will have to act according to that method. Nations which accept war, diplomacy and intrigue will have to fall by that same method. "They that take the sword shall perish by the sword." Before a nation can practice Christianity the individuals who compose that nation must be Christians.
Therefore our message to the President and the Congress and to the American people is one of warning that the continued production of atomic bombs can only lead to our destruction. That the continued reliance upon war and the deceit which goes with war will bring the spiritual and material destruction of our country.
We do not call upon all others to be as absolutist as we are, but we do say that inasmuch as each one can do so he should disassociate himself from the war system. We would advocate for those who can do so to refuse to register for the draft or conscription or military training and cheerfully take the alternative punishment. To refuse to pay income taxes for war, to refuse to make munitions for war and to refuse to buy war bonds. Then, as the Holy Father has advised, we should pray for peace, knowing that one (person) on the side of God is a majority.---from the February, 1955 issue of THE CATHOLIC WORKER