On the one hand there is this: our fierce, bloody warriors. Battle paint, sacrifices, divination, blades blessed to strike true, protection marked on the skin, sacred drinks quaffed. A long, long, long history of battles and war. Calling out to our gods and goddesses and other spirits for victory, for glory. We pagans have been at this for a long time. Perhaps these days we know better than to call war glorious, but we still sometimes call it necessary. All lives being sacred, do we not have the right and duty to defend ourselves and others? Where does that right begin and end?
But then, there is also this: our people. Monks and nuns lighting themselves on fire, cities grimly packing what they can carry and leaving home before the invaders can come, shields blessed to protect, peace gifts exchanged between families. Tree sitters refusing to leave, whole movements dedicated to nonviolent change, battles marked in counting coup instead of deaths. Prayers for peace and practices to bring enlightenment. A long, long history of this, too. Can we truly say war is the only way? What does spilt blood cost us all?
I have no answers, only questions. What do you think about war and peace? What are our responsibilities? Share in the comments.