This is the prepared form of a little talk I gave on Oct. 5th at the World Can’t Wait rally in Honolulu’s Thomas Square.
I have a confession to make – I, SGT Logan Laituri, am a simple COWARD. It’s true. I came upon this realization last June when I was in Washington DC lobbying my senators to incorporate plans into their political agendas for the abolition of poverty and international violence. I was sitting in the National City Christian Church when I was struck by my COWARDliness. You see, two weeks prior I had submitted my request for status as a Noncombatant Conscientious Objector. It had been received without much contempt or scorn; that was to come later. Anyway, in the church, as I had this epiphany, I scribbled down the letters – C O W A R D. In the army, we have a lot of acronyms, which is probably why I instinctively wrote the word vertically. Beside each individual letter, I began a new word. From COWARD, I slowly produced Conscientious Objector Willfully Against Rendering Death. I am not a pacifist; because passivity is not my calling. I am a crucifist. In my application, I sought to return to Iraq without a weapon so that I could do exactly what I am doing right now; providing a strong witness for peace based on my deep love for Jesus Christ, who died so that others may live.
I only found Jesus a few months ago. He was on the bus with my infantry company on the way to HNL to fly to a training event in California. On April 20th, he wrecked my life in the most amazing, unimaginable way. Every waking moment since that day has been professionally, spiritually, emotionally and physically demanding, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The Bible has taught me awesome things about peace that have impacted me to the core of my being. I have also learned much about war and what it brings. I was deployed with Joshua from January 2004 to February 2005. I reconnected with him by chance when he answered the GI Rights hotline back in late May, when I was beginning to understand who I was being shaped into. He and I both experienced first hand what war does to innocent families and their very livelihood. War morally destroys the aggressors as it physically destroys it victims. I believe global war is never justifiable from a religious standpoint. Morally and ethically it fails as well; in no historical instance has it produced the ends it ultimately sought to achieve. I worry that our current foreign policy is counterproductive to global peacemaking. I fear our weakness is in not admitting our own national responsibility for the events that began unfolding when zealous, mislead, spiritually and ethnically offended extremists began their campaign against the western world with the USS Cole and embassy bombings in Africa. Did we ever ask ourselves what we, as an international presence, effectively did to inspire such hatred and fanaticism? What did we, as a nation, do to correct these misconceptions before we decided on all out war on a single, suspiciously ambiguous word? We cannot change the past, but we can begin to take action to change our current course.
Allow me to reveal my plan to effect change, to alter world history. Humble, fervent prayer coupled with a willingness act on my convictions. I firmly believe that prayer destroys enemies and demolishes hatred; it reminds us of our shared humanity and dependence on both the Creator and each other. It is a gentle reminder of the power of love to drive out fear, which is at the root of all war. When I came to fully trust in Jesus, I was able to see terrorists as the confused, deceived, hurting HUMAN BEINGS that they are. I want to close with a quote from a monk who lived through the cold war and nuclear arms race, and who knew much about what inspires war, his name is Thomas Merton:. (Edited slightly for current application)
If [we] can trust and love God, Who is infinitely wise and Who rules the lives of men, permitting them to use their freedom even to the point of almost incredible abuse, they can love men who are evil. [We] can learn to love them even in their sin, as God has loved them. If we love the men we cannot trust… and if we can to some extent share the burden of their sin by identifying ourselves with them, then perhaps there is some hope of a kind of peace on earth, based not on the wisdom and the manipulations of men but on the inscrutable mercy of God. For only love –which means humility– can exorcise the fear which is at the root of war…
When I pray for peace I pray not only for the [terrorists] but above all my own nation and myself. When I pray for peace I pray to be protected not only from the [terrorists], but also from the folly and blindness of my own country. When I pray for peace, I pray not only that the enemies of my country may cease to want war, but above all that my own country will cease to do things that make war inevitable. In other words, when I pray for peace I am not just praying that the [terrorists] will give up without a struggle and let us have our own way. I am praying that both we and the [terrorists] may somehow be restored to sanity and learn how to work out our problems, as best we can, together, instead of preparing for global suicide…
I hope I have inspired some of you to introspection and contemplation. If you would like to learn with me what it is to wage peace, I will make myself available to anyone who feels compelled to explore Biblical -and practical- Peace a little further.