Without the Recovery of Reason, Little Wars = III World War: Now
"War is caused not only by those who wage it directly but also by those who do not do everything in their power to avoid it."—St. John Paul II, 1979
Has "World War III" already begun, without any formal declaration?
Perhaps... if Pope Francis is right.
This morning, Francis visited a cemetery in northern Italy, near Venice.
He went to the cemetery to commemorate soldiers who died in World War I, which began exactly 100 years ago, and continued for more than 4 years (Summer 1914-Autumn 1918).
In his reflection, Francis suggested that all of the "little wars" now occurring around the world -- especially in the Middle East and in Ukraine -- actually make up "World War III" which has already begun.
The devastation that a "World War III" is bringing and will bring, the suffering for all of us, means that those of us (even ordinary journalists) who would like to protect our families, our children, our parents, our friends, from harm, must do what we can to prevent the outbreak of such a tragedy.
Or, if the tragedy has already begun to unfold, we must do what we can to prevent it from unfolding completely -- to stop it before it grows wider.
And that is a fundamental purpose of these letters (and why they are sometimes so long).
The Pope's message today was essentially this: "No more war."
Resolve disputes by peaceful means, by negotiation, by the use of reason, not by maiming and killing, Francis is saying.
And, like several of the Middle Eastern Christian Patriarchs who were in Washington D.C. this week to draw attention to the sad plight of the region's Christians, who are fleeing the region due to civil war, the Pope denounced the global armaments industry which provides weapons to all sides in these conflicts.
The mysterious army of ISIS (the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria"), for example, has no technological infrastructure, no modern weapons' factories, to produce the up-to-date weapons it is using. Who do they get them from?
Essentially, the Pope, and the Patriarchs, are saying this: the world's manufacturers of arms, and the merchants who sell those arms, have a real share in the responsibility for the death and destruction that follows the production and distribution of these weapons.
Francis and the Patriarchs are calling on all of us to "beat swords into plowshares" -- to put the astonishing technological capacities of mankind at the service of human welfare, of the common good of all, of providing food, shelter, clothing, running water, for all, rather than to expend and explode our limited resources in the service of military agendas, costing countless lives.
To become effective good stewards of this fragile earth would take all of our energy and daring. All of our time and money. That would be a "battle" requiring commitment and courage.
But we are far from committing ourselves to such a noble "war."
The words of Pope Francis and of the patriarchs are falling on deaf ears, and the relatively small global conflicts now occurring continue to widen and grow more numerous.
We must find a better way.
We are faced, in fact, with a spiritual battle, a battle for the soul of the West -- and for the soul of Russia.
The West should return to its ancient Christian faith, and in that faith find a basis for friendship, collaboration, and the building globally of a just peace.
And Russia should do the same.
We should not be witnesses to a tragic Third World War.
The desired end is rather mutual conversion, truth-telling about our past, and then, a strong, mutually respectful America-Russia alliance — not a Third World War.