War A Hyper-Condensed History with a Possible Escape Hatch


War and the threat of war affect everyone. No exceptions. Even in peace, we cannot escape its impact. One that goes far beyond taxes.

Perniciously it requires a paradigm of “We vs. Them,” that gets in the way of human progress.

War is our universal inheritance as humans whether we like it or not.

However, since war is human-produced it must also be within human means to control, perhaps even irradicate.

This issue of war affects everyone, worldwide. Including all of those on the other side of … we.

I postulate that there are two types of wars.

Territorial & Ideological, which includes religious.

The granddaddy of religious wars — The Crusades started in the 1100s and ran in surges over 250 years.

During these wars, if not sooner, the alliance between church and state was forged.

The Church anointed Royalty as Kings, recognizing their aristocracy while giving the peasants an opportunity to escape their subsistence lifestyles, seek adventure and die for God winning a one-way ticket to Heaven.

I understand the guys on the other side were promised 7 vestal virgins, but it was the same thing.

The Kings in return became the sword of the Church and insured domestic religious homogeneity as Defender of the Faith at home as well as abroad.

Despite their failures during the Crusades, the more successful kings applied the lessons of war in the following centuries by consolidating their neighborhoods in territorial wars. An ongoing European tradition that continues to this day. Most recently with the taking of Crimea by Russia.

Punctuating this post crusade period was the second set of religious wars.

Starting in the 1500s, the Reformation undercut papal authority and let loose a flood of new “heresies” — and a multitude of new ideas — all seeking the truth.

Wars followed.

Both religious and hybrid quasi-religious wars for around 150 years, here and there.

Among the worst: the 30 Years War. It left 1 in 3 people in Germany dead.

1 in 3 over 30 years. Devastating.

Many other religious wars followed resulting in massive persecution, turmoil, and exodus to the new world.

Today millions of German Catholics and German Lutherans owe their current faith to those long-ago battles and which side of the lines their ancestors lived. They are not alone.

With the blossoming of new religions came the blossoming of new ideas, in what has come to be known as the Age of Enlightenment.

With Papal authority broken, the legitimacy of the Monarchy came into question. Grist for the mill of the Enlightenment’s best minds.

Among the fruit of those new ideas was the Democracy we call the United States.

That Democracy in turn captured the quintessential truth of the era, that religious wars made no sense and that there was but one possible solution. Freedom of Religion. They then enshrined that remarkable concept in the Constitution of the United States.

It is our democracy and our commitment to Freedom of Religion that makes our nation the shining beacon on the hill. Not our geography, — our principles. The separation of church from state, with power flowing up from the people rather than down from above.

There is no other solution in the final analysis to avoiding religious wars than to build a world in which religious freedom is universal, it should be so here at home and abroad. It is in our human interest that our nation export that idea worldwide as an essential part of our foreign policy.

This is what good governments do.

Originally published at http://midwestmoderate.com on February 18, 2021.

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