Prayers for ev­ery­one

The Hutt News - - YOUR VIEWS -

I am re­spond­ing to a let­ter by Max Shier­law re­lat­ing to the An­zac Day ser­vices. Max was con­cerned that I would pay trib­ute to con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors at an An­zac ser­vice.

I did not in fact pay trib­ute to them, but I did in­clude them in my prayers.

On An­zac Day we re­mem­ber par­tic­u­larly the sac­ri­fices of those who went to war and who died, or who were wounded or trau­ma­tised by this ex­pe­ri­ence.

We also re­mem­ber those who lost loved ones, or who found them per­ma­nently changed be­cause of the trauma of war.

It seems to me, though, that the suf­fer­ing doesn’t end there. His­tory shows that war can cre­ate injustice as well as al­le­vi­ate it. War is a last re­sort and, if as a na­tion we en­ter into it, we need to do all we can to en­sure that we main­tain our hu­man­ity and com­pas­sion in the process.

If we don’t do that, we ac­tu­ally dam­age and di­min­ish our so­ci­ety and the val­ues we are fight­ing to up­hold.

Among the New Zealan­ders harmed by war were con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors.

Un­til war broke out th­ese peo­ple were con­sid­ered by many to be friends and good neigh­bours, and were con­tribut­ing to our so­ci­ety in all sorts of pos­i­tive ways.

How­ever, as a re­sult of their moral con­vic­tions, they were typ­i­cally im­pris­oned and were of­ten abused and treated by oth­ers as cow­ards who were dis­loyal to the na­tion.

Be­cause of this mis­treat­ment, es­pe­cially dur­ing the First World War, many con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors suf­fered se­ri­ous harm.

That is why I also prayed for ‘‘those who did not go to war and who suf­fered as pris­on­ers of con­science’’.

It was war and the way our so­ci­ety re­sponded to it that caused them this suf­fer­ing.

In my prayer I said, ‘‘Have mercy on us, God, for all the dam­age done by peo­ple to peo­ple in war.’’

If our nar­ra­tive of war only fo­cuses on noble self-sac­ri­fice on the bat­tle­field, we will end up deny­ing the range of dam­age that war ac­tu­ally does.

It is both re­al­is­tic and ap­pro­pri­ate on AN­ZAC Day to re­mem­ber all who have suf­fered dur­ing the wars our na­tion has fought. house­holds across this city and coun­cil takes any con­sid­er­a­tion of rates in­creases very se­ri­ously.

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