Friday, November 7, 2014

Hunting down the ‘Radicalized ‘

I am feeling anxious.

The events leading up to Remembrance Day in Canada this year are particularly troubling. The killings of two military personnel in our nation’s capital city have created a deep level of mourning across the country. I join in this mourning.

Whenever a life is lost in violent encounter there is cause to mourn. It isn’t meant to be. It should not have happened.

I have been disturbed by the official rhetoric following these regrettable events. Numerous political leaders have defined the individuals responsible for the killings as persons who have been ‘radicalized’. In the global context and history of terrorism, this is a new term. The term will continue to be shaped and defined by official and popular usage. The introduction of the term is surrounded by negative sentiments. It is a way of targeting those who need to be stopped; whose activities need to be thwarted. The ‘radicalized’ need to hunted down and eradicated.

Today’s use of the term ‘radicalized’ does no favours to the values of the Radical Reformation movement of my spiritual heritage.  The 16th century Anabaptists were labeled radical reformers in large part because they refused to participate in war or to take the life of another. I pray that this kind of spiritual radicalization will continue.

I am not sure how to respond. I do not support the encouragement of people to sacrifice their lives in the killing of others. I am saddened that global systems seem to require people to take drastic actions.

It feels difficult to express my opposition to war without appearing disrespectful and uncaring for the two military personnel who have had their lives taken from them. The loss of their lives disturbs me deeply. It does require action. But it does not justify war.

On this Remembrance Day I want to join those mourning the loss of innocent lives. I want to support the notion that serious action is required. I want terrorism to stop. I want hatred to be disempowered.

So I will look to the One who is able to transform hearts, the One who can turn people from hatred and greed to the pursuit of health and wealth for all people. I will ask God to heal the world so that war and violence will cease – and the love of God and neighbour will rule the land.

Ed. note: For inspiring stories of peacebuilding in recent times as well as more distant history, visit

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