|Selection of Dick Sheppards writing
|if another war comes what will you do?
|'It is extraordinary,' writes one of our leading statesmen, 'how rarely in history have victors been capable of turning in a flash to all those absolutely different processes of action, to that utterly different mood which alone can secure by generosity what they have gained by force.'
Fine and true as that sounds, there is nothing much to it. It is neither extraordinary nor surprising that men should be unable to walk straight out of war into peace. It is only natural.
When millions who have been permitted and encouraged to hate, then proceed with every devilish device at their disposal to work out that hatred on their fellows of another breed, we can hardly expect them to emerge from their hell as young angels of love and light.
If men prepare for war there is bound to be an unholy row.
The happenings of 1914-1918 were a mere bagatelle to what would happen next time; but on this subject I would say nothing, for I detest the method - too often employed - that tries to make peace by putting the fear, not of God, but of man, into the hearts of timid people.
It is only very brave men that can make and keep peace; passionate, strong, healthy, laughing warriors - the sort that come into our mind each November 11th in the eleven o'clock Silence; the sort that hated killing, but had to kill, and came back, sometimes, to wish they, too, were dead.
You may answer: 'Stop all these platitudes. Who wants war?'
No one, thank God! Yet listen.
It has been declared that among the countless million citizens of all the enlightened nations of the world there would not be found as many hundreds to declare in favour of modern war as a reasonable means of settling disputes between nations.
Yet the same responsible millions, ever since the disaster that converted them to this view, have been consistently overtaking themselves in preparation for a more outrageously modern war still.
That is where we are many years after we cried aloud to God, and to those who gave all they had to give to end war: 'It is finished; never again, this we swear.'
If the Unknown Warrior died in vain, his the glory, ours the shame.
If he trusted that we would complete his work, and now we only serenade him with a posthumous eruption of gratitude once a year, how greatly pathetic is he, how blasphemous our GHQ Community orders each November 11th!
Politicians, in their moments of insight, tell us that peace will only come when the hearts of men are changed.
After that they have nothing to say. Christians though most of them be, it would not be good form to add anything more. It is simply 'not done'. Has anybody else anything to suggest? Forgive my impertinence - I have.
Let Christ be called in, at great cost, to expel the clouds of fear and suspicion that still haunt the human heart, and make it impossible for us 'to turn in a flash to all those absolutely different processes of action, to that utterly different mood' by which the peace of God may be won.
And, lastly, let those who long for the will of God to prevail go pacifist out and out, through and through, since Jesus and Jehovah cannot walk in step.
Speaking only for myself, I maintain, with my whole soul, that the Church of Christ is not worthy to represent its Lord today unless it declares, without any equivocation or delay, that no leader or ranker under its banner may kill his fellow, his brother. Why? One answer will suffice: Christ would not permit it.
I will not fight
let us know
© Peace Pledge Union
I was not a pacifist in the first year of War: as a professing Christian I ought to have been.