What is it about war?

Photo by Austrian National Library on Unsplash


In an attempt to make sense of the ongoing and horrific conflict in the Middle East, I turned to Swedenborg and to the small booklet, Peace and War (The Swedenborg Society, 1977), which is a selected series of quotations drawn from some of his works.  While I understand that war and the devastation and loss of life it creates is motivated and driven by human beings for many reasons, I wanted to understand what was occurring from a spiritual perspective.   Perhaps I was trying to find a sense of meaning behind the horror and brutality of it, a pathway of sorts through the terror and confusion in my own mind as well as a means of coming to terms with the gross and constant misappropriation and distortion of the truth playing out in the global media and social domain.

Swedenborg tells us that wars occur because a man’s life’s love has “become such as to desire to rule over others, and at length over all, and to possess the wealth of the world, and at length all wealth”.  He then tells us something else, that unless these evils broke out, “man would not see them and therefore would not acknowledge them, and thus could not be induced to resist them.”  The fortunes of war, when victories occur, are brought about by the working of divine providence flowing into the minds of men and women from heaven who seek to oppose and overcome the threat.  And the ugly sickening brutality, the cruelty and inhumanity of war and the actions thereof, flow from hell into the minds of the men and women who perpetrate such deeds.

We are a violent and despite our technical prowess, uncivilised race.  We have always sought to dominate one another, to take from one another, to kill one another, to harm one another.  And women and children have borne the brunt of much brutality and marginalisation because of it.  But, and there is a big ‘but’, there have always been those who have fought against injustice with shared values, and there will always be those who will rise up after those who stood before them have died.  There is something in us, I’ve always felt it, that can transcend the darkness, that is capable of change, and which is worthy of life in all its sacredness.

I think back to my Judeo-Christian roots and to the presence of Christ in the world.  Why here?  Why us?  What did the Divine-made-manifest see in us that was worthy of such sacrifice, that was worthy of living among us?  And that is what gives me hope, that is what helps me find a sense of meaning in the horror of our humanity.



Michele T Knight Written by:

Dr Michele Knight is a Social Worker, Social Scientist, researcher and independent scholar. Her interest and research in the end-of-life has its origin in the lived experiences of her own bereavements, her near-death and shared-death events, the returning deceased and attitudinal responses to those experiences. Since 2006, she has been extensively involved in community development, support and advocacy in both a professional and community services/voluntary capacity in the areas of bereavement and grief, hospital pastoral care, and academic lecturing/tutoring. Her PhD, Ways of Being: The alchemy of bereavement and communique, explores the lived experience of bereavement, grief, spirituality and unsought encounters with the returning deceased.

Comments are closed.