It’s Just War

Landscapes from Floyd County, Southwest Virginia by Fred First

For a country whose (previously) predominant Christian moral code forbids killing, the proposition of war has been a difficult matter. Many have wrestled with the conditions that must be met to call a war JUST. This very day, our children die in a war about which, as parents, neighbors, friends of those soldiers, we must ask: Is it justified? We must each decide, and speak and vote and act accordingly.

And on this day of memorial, God bless Americans who serve and die or live beyond war with its many wounds, and God bless the fallen and displaced of Iraq.

Criteria of the Just War tradition:

  • Probability of success: Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success;
  • Proportionality: The overall destruction expected from the use of force must be outweighed by the good to be achieved.[6]
  • Last resort: Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted.
  • recapturing things taken
  • punishing people who have done wrong
  • Comparative justice: While there may be rights and wrongs on all sides of a conflict, to override the presumption against the use of force, the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other;
  • Legitimate authority: Only duly constituted public authorities may use deadly force or wage war;
  • Right intention: Force may be used only in a truly just cause and solely for that purpose–correcting a suffered wrong is considered a right intention, while material gain or maintaining economies is not.
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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Well put.

    It is also fitting that we give thanks to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice that we and our families may continue to enjoy freedom.

    May we have the wisdom to ensure that their sacrifices were not made in vain.

  2. I check your blog periodically for your lovely words and photos. They always speak to me of peace and thankfulness to an awesome creator. At first I was saddened that this insane war even showed up amidst your lovely ferns and sunlight. But, I do agree with what you said. It is not just!

  3. I thought that most all wars were about resources couched in propaganda used to incite action.

  4. I wish we had a decider who had right intentions and much less greed. If so we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now.

    I hope this time voters will learn more about where the canidate stands on the ISSUES, and less about personality and appearance. Then be more careful who they vote for the next time.