The Moravians became pacifists in the 1460’s. Having fought years of religious and civil wars, they knew the pain and destruction of violence. They were not the first people to eschew violence.
We have buried the value of non-violence. Our foremothers and forefathers chose pacifism as a theological choice. In some cases, they were persecuted for their beliefs. In some cases, they abandoned mission fields for their beliefs. In some cases, they were massacred for their unwillingness to fight back.
As an heir of this stubborn pacifism, I struggle with days like today. Memorial Day remembers those who have lost their lives in military service. We need and should stop and remember the fallen. But, remembering isn’t getting us anywhere. Remembering the fallen has not stopped us from making more dead, making more wounded, making more widows and widowers. We still kill. We still provoke. We still build armies and war machines. We still choose violence in our homes, in our communities, in our nations.
Parker Palmer wrote today, “WWI was billed as “the war to end all wars,” Instead, it ended 20,000,000 lives. WWII ended Hitler, but Hitlerism is alive and well today. The refusal to romanticize war is part of what we owe the dead.” We owe the dead the determination to do better. We owe the dead the promise that they did not die for nothing, that we can learn from our mistakes, that we can choose a better way.
In the Moravian Covenant for Christian Living statement of faith (marvelously Moravian in its understatement), paragraph 29 calls us, “We will not hate, despise, slander, or otherwise injure anyone. WE WILL EVER STRIVE TO MANIFEST LOVE TOWARDS ALL PEOPLE.” We owe the dead, more than anything else, a day when we do not hate, a day when we do not despise, a day when we do not slander, a day when we do not injure another human being.
One day would be a great start to manifesting love towards all people.
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.
Ps. Craig Atwood has a great primer on Moravian pacifism—both how it developed and how it eroded in North American in the 19th and 20th centuries. https://www.moravianseminary.edu/center-moravian-studies/online-resources