There’s some interesting talk stirring about how it may be necessary to cut defense expenditures to decrease the deficit. Even though the $533 billion budget is the elephant in the room and the $200, 000 spent every minute on the endless war on terror is the gushing, bleeding wound of America, this has been the taboo secret, the idolatrous sacred cow. But folks are beginning to whisper.
Maybe people have grown tired of militarism and war. After all, war hasn’t gotten the best press over the past few years. Maybe the recession has created a desperation that has led us to rethink the status quo, where nearly half of every tax dollar goes to militarism. Maybe we are starting to realize if we don’t stop spending all our money on a defense shield soon we won’t have much left to need to defend. Or maybe it’s all the above, the perfect storm for peace.
As a Christian, I am convinced in the power of non-violence by the greatest nonviolent act in human history: Jesus dying on the cross, even for his enemies. You’d think we Christians would be the hardest folks in the world to convince that violence is necessary, but that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, much of the world seems confused by Christians who are so quick to abandon the cross of Christ and pick up the sword of Rome.
I’m reminded of a dinner conversation I had recently with Ben Cohen, founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, who has become a friend I deeply admire (and not just because he makes good ice cream). We talked about how this moment in history may very well be perfectly poised for Christians and non-Christians to work together for peace, and to eat some ice cream together with the money we may have spent on guns. And it is Ben who put together one of the coolest demos about the federal budget, using cookies as measuring units to show us how the dollars stack up. Check it out:
Martin Luther King said more than 40 years ago that every time a bomb goes off overseas, we can feel the second impact of that bomb as we watch our schools crumble and our health care system go up in flames. As Dr. King said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
So let us hold up our glasses of milk and toast to another world — Christians and non-Christians, Muslims and Jews, all who would rather see ice cream dropped from planes than bombs — and let us put our hands together and build a world where the schools have enough money and the militaries have to sell cookies for their uniforms.
Shane Claiborne is a prominent author, speaker, activist, and founding member of the Simple Way. He is one of the compilers of Common Prayer, a new resource to unite people in prayer and action. Shane is also helping develop a network called Friends Without Borders which creates opportunities for folks to come together and work together for justice from around the world.