27 Jan 2020

Money: Alexander Campbell on Money for War or Human Development

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Alexander Campbell, American Empire, Contemporary Ethics, Politics, Restoration History, War -Peace

Words from The Prophets

Many Americans are stunned by how much of the USA was once part of Mexico. This map, remarkable as it is, still does not tell the whole story. This is only the territory surrendered after the US invasion in 1848. All of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming was also once part of Mexico. Mexico lost about 50% of its territory.

He [Yahweh] shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore
(Isaiah 2.4)

He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore

(Micah 4.3)

Crises of 1846-1848

It is a great loss that Campbell is hardly known by his spiritual descendants. He was a man of great vision and liberality. A child of his times in many ways (as we all are) but burst beyond them in astonishing ways. A huge supporter of education, he even advocated education for women. He was one of the few to protest Andrew Jackson’s “barbaric” removal of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creeks and Seminoles from their lands in the southeast in what has become known as the “Trail of Tears.” As much as Campbell, a immigrant from northern Ireland, loved his adopted homeland, he did not live by the philosophy “my country right or wrong.” Loyalty to Christianity trumped allegiance to any human nation. But, like us all, Campbell had blind spots, some glaring.

He was also a man consumed with a biblical vision of God’s kingdom of peace. Occasionally, he even took up a nearly prophetic mantle in its pursuit. He did this in 1848 in his Address on War. In 1846 the United States invaded Mexico. Alexander Campbell, with stunned alarm, viewed this invasion as nothing but naked American aggression and a thinly veiled land grab for the sake of expanding slavery. Campbell was appalled. He dared to sound “anti-American” in his opposition to the war.

So, Campbell addressed the Congress of the United States on the subject of war (and he delivered it in other places as well). It is a remarkable speech. He denounced the war with Mexico. He decried war as an entity. In an astonishing move, he called for the creation of an international court to arbitrate disputes among nations to avoid wars. “Why not have a by-law-established Umpire? … a Congress of Nations and a High Court of Nations for adjudicating … all international misunderstandings and complaints?” A United Nations, a century before there was a UN.

Campbell lamented how much money nations dedicate to the evils of war. You can read the entire text of Campbell’s Address on War (follow the link). Near the end of this (by today’s standards) long speech he waxes eloquently what he would do if he was given control of the money nations use to make war upon one another. I quote,

Give me the money that has been spent in wars, and I will clear up every acre of land in the world that ought to be cleared–drain every marsh–subdue every desert–fertilize every mountain and hill–and convert the whole earth into a continuous series of fruitful fields, verdant meadows, beautiful villas, hamlets, towns, cities, standing along smooth and comfortable highways and canals, or in the midst of luxuriant and fruitful orchards, vineyards and gardens, full of fruits and flowers, redolent with all that pleases the eye and regales the senses of man. I would found, furnish, and endow as many schools, academies and colleges, as would educate the whole human race, — would build meeting-houses, public halls, lyceums, and furnish them with libraries adequate to the wants of a thousand millions of human beings … [if such monies were used in literature, science and art] What would be wanting on the part of man to ‘make the wilderness and solitary place glad,’ and to cause ‘the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose.”

A drone can cost 28 million dollars. That same drone can cost over 3,600+ dollars per hour to operate. That drone is armed with a Hellfire missile that cost 115,000 dollars (the meme to the right is out of date).

The money used on the planning, the carrying out, and paying for previous wars from a single year, could permanently change the world. Campbell found it remarkable that Christians do not hesitate in defending billions (and trillions) on the war machine but balk loudly at spending trifles, by comparison, on human development. But Campbell argued that spending money on human advancement is not only more cost effective but also more biblical. Campbell’s vision is breathtaking.

Given the fact that what was spent on war in 1848 was “peanuts” compared to today I can only imagine what Campbell would say. (For example the war in Iraq has cost the United States trillions of dollars. Study The Cost of the Iraq War: It’s Timeline and Economic Impact.

Sometimes our forefathers and mothers give us reason to stop, ponder and smell the roses of a better world.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (Jesus the Nazarene).

2 Responses to “Money: Alexander Campbell on Money for War or Human Development”

  1. john acuff Says:

    I did not know this would he be welcomed today in the Churches of Christ

  2. Dr Al Huba Says:

    Keep up the good work Bobby. Enjoy your articles very much as being Torah observant. Shalom

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