According to an email that I received this morning about the American Friends Service Committee, the United States government spends more than $30,000 a second on war. And with total funding equal to just 46 seconds of the U.S. military budget, the AFSC ran these programs last year:
“Peace gardens” in Bosnia, where poor people grow food, heal from the traumas of the war and make friends with former enemies ($330,000);
Bringing communities together in Indonesia, in an area ravaged by the tsunami and civil war ($835,000);
Providing prosthetic limbs for Iraqi refugees ($300,000).
Contemplating this information, I wondered about the missionaries who work so tirelessly – often thanklessly – around the world, spreading love and brotherhood, sometimes risking their lives, and asking for so little in return. I thought about Esther, the best friend of my wife’s Aunt Tina, who left her home in Michigan to travel thousands of miles as a missionary for the Salvation Army. She even spent some time teaching in a former Soviet country, whose name I cannot pronounce let alone spell. No one could be more modest than Esther. She shies away from praise, and never mentions the sacrifices and danger that I am sure were a necessary part of her work.
And I thought about the secular organizations that try to save the world’s children – one child at a time. I am not so naive as to believe that all of these organizations are legitimate. I am aware that some unscrupulous grifters use “charitable” organizations to bilk the gullible. But I am confident than many are legitimate, and deserve support.
And then I thought about the “drones” and guided missiles that kill and maim so many innocent civilians in the name of peace (see photo at right). How much would one strike cost? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? Suppose the United States spent that money doing good, helping instead of hurting, winning hearts and minds instead of taking (and losing) lives?
Is the killing really necessary? Must America endlessly exact revenge for the 9/11 deaths? I wonder at the blood lust and the waste. And I thank God for the missionaries and the secular “do-gooders” who devote their lives to picking up the pieces after the carnage.