Peace On Earth, Goodbye To Subs

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we would do well to consider his likely opinion of nuclear submarines. Since our region produces so many of these incredibly deadly weapons, we owe it to Jesus to think about what we are doing.

As U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons calls on the government to fund the building of more submarines than the Navy feels it needs, we should reflect on the wisdom and Christianity of such expenditures.

It was the prophet Isaiah who suggested beating swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks, but it was Jesus, the prince of peace, who took the idea further. He advised us to love our enemies, turn the other cheek, and do unto others as we'd have them do unto us.

It's hard to figure how Groton's weapons of mass destruction fit in with that philosophy.

Even people hell-bent on war should realize the stupidity of dedicating huge amounts of money to the building of nuclear submarines. We no longer have enemies that can be held off with the threat of mass annihilation. The submarines we had on Sept. 11, 2001, failed to protect us. More submarines won't help at all.

In fact it could be argued that the military approach to world peace isn't working. Despite our gargantuan power, and the global reach of our high-tech swords, we get into war after war after war. The current wars, in fact, seem to be caused by a reaction to our imposition of power where it isn't wanted.

The power of our submarines isn't helping us wage war in Afghanistan or Iraq. Our soldiers there aren't getting killed and mutilated for lack of submarines. They're suffering for lack of simple armor.

Too many of them are hoping to get Kevlar in their Christmas stockings. And too many other people are hoping to give them shrapnel.

Alas, in a statement as anti-Christmas as “Bah, humbug,” our secretary of Defense tells us we can't have the army we'd like to have. Even though we spend almost as much on our military as the entire rest of the world, we can't afford the basic equipment that saves lives. We can't even stand up against an impoverished, leaderless, army-less country like Iraq.

It makes you wonder where our tax dollars have gone.

One place they've gone is into submarines.

When Rep. Simmons returns to Washington after Christmas, he will take with him two conflicting interests. One is that thousands of his constituents are employed in the building of submarines. The other is that tens of thousands of his constituents have celebrated Christmas because they believe in the teachings of Christ. They believe that love works, that we're better off investing in ploughshares than in swords.

If Mr. Simmons is the good leader he claims to be, and presumably one who celebrated Christmas, perhaps he can give some thought to resolving that conflict between Christian values and employment in the weapons industry.

Maybe Jesus and Isaiah have already offered him the solution. Why don't we employ people in the building of ploughshares rather than submarines? Why don't we build machines that produce energy rather than machines that produce, at best, if we're lucky, nothing? Why don't we offer our enemies (and the rest of the world) something nice rather than something deadly?

Christmas would be a nice time to think about whether Jesus was right and to notice how poorly submarines fit under a proper Christmas tree. Our swords have not brought the world peace. We really should be thinking about building something else.

Glenn Cheney is a writer who lives in Hanover.
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