Why peace is hard

Yes, peace would be nice, as most of the belligerents in Ukraine (and elsewhere) would agree, although they would like to add other desiderata: for instance, a nation enslaved, or a conquerer triumphant, as the condition of peace. Mr Putin, whose name is lately used with admiration in his own circle, or contempt outside it, but apparently nowhere with indifference, is the man who has been setting conditions; but he is one of history’s long chain. Such characters will always find succour among faithless friends, for the time of their success. They will be feared a while. Those who imagine they can rise, ride in his ascending chariot, and will be in it when it plunges.

The wisdom of the Church was never peacenik. It has always recognized that “things are as they are,” and must be, in this vale of tears. Sinful men and women will be violent, but worse, create the conditions for violence beyond their own persons. Great numbers will be organized to their service by lies, and the constant repetition of these lies by “true believers.”

How does one detect that one has joined the wrong side? Surely this will be discovered when it is debated, one suspects; though in fact truth is only a by-product of debates, which were usually begun for quite another purpose. Instead, the lover of truth (in all the embarrassment that may accompany it) will only detect the truthful tone, as one person who is listening apart, among a crowd of the undiscerning. He will be alert to the contrary tone of glibness when the false is revealed, watching for the accretion of irrelevance, almost feeling for the little incidents of deceit, that tell him to beware. How often I have monitored an argument that could have been resolved by a single hard fact, had it ever been spoken, and then admitted. But it was too tasteless to bring up, and so was buried in the blather.

For courage is also necessary, to the truth. It will cost, to speak it. And the one who knows the lies are untrue, may be flinching from prospective pain. He knows, or rather thinks he knows, that he does not have the strength to stand against a falsehood, that is everywhere accepted. He does not have the power to lean, alone, into the gale.

He will let it pass. He is not a great hero; he is not Christ.

Christ can save us. To serve God is to serve the truth, and it is to call upon the divine for assistance, in the moment of insecurity. With men this is impossible, “but with God all things are possible.”