The price paid for armed violence

As a child I knew Poppa had not been well for a long time. Looking back I think it is likely that my grandfather had suffered the effects of PTSD all his life after his time at the Somme in the first world war. I also think some generational trauma was handed on to my father, leaving its mark on the experiences of our family. The human cost of armed conflict is unbearably high and its effects have a long and terrible reach. June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month, an opportunity to highlight and recognise the personal pain and human and relational cost of the condition which is particularly related to experiences of violent conflict. While PTSD can occur whenever anyone experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, 17.7% of those transitioned from the military in Australia have been identified as experiencing symptoms of the disorder. Male veterans under 30 have a suicide rate twice the national average for men the same age. How well are we as a society supporting those who are living with traumatic cost of witnessing or experiencing of violence?
 
This week Brisbane hosted the Land Forces Expo, a market for selling weaponry. I believe we need more public conversations about our role in creating and financially benefitting from the arms trade. Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and our scripture is full of calls to nonviolence and reconciliation. This Sunday’s reading the elders of Israel approach the prophet Samuel saying, “we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” Samuel appeals to the Lord for help and then offers this counsel, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots…” Israel was given its king and did go on to pay the price of aligning itself with the surrounding culture of war and conquest.
 
As we reflect on the price paid for armed conflict, we might consider what part the church should play in supporting those whose military service has left a legacy of pain. Further, maybe Samuel might prompt us to recover our prophetic voice, questioning our involvement in the industry and an unthinking alignment with the dominant culture. We might consider how we might reclaim our prophetic voice to cry out for peace and bring to the public attention our involvement in the machinery of war across the globe.   
Something to ponder.
 
Grace and peace,
Sue+

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