Christianity, Islam, & Just War

(Editor’s Note: This is an essay written for a college sociology class in or around 2006.  While it oversimplifies the War on Terror and does not account for secular decisions, nationalism, or sectarian conflict, I think the Just War Doctrine comparison is worthy of publishing.)

While the conflict between Christianity and Islam long predates Charles Martel, Saladin, and King Richard I, the methods of warfare have changed much since then.  The 9/11 Attacks have brought a level of animosity between the United States and Muslims not seen since Thomas Jefferson, Stephen Decatur, and the Barbary pirates.  Radical Muslims have launched attacks on both U.S. military targets (Beirut in 1983, USS Cole in 2000) and civilian targets (Kenyan and Tanzanian Embassies in 1998, World Trade Center in 2001) (US Army).  In response to these attacks, the United States invaded and occupied the terrorist haven of Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, suspected of aiding Al-Qaeda. Neither the “Christian” nation of America nor fundamentalist Muslims understands the Just War Theories of their religions they profess to follow. As a result, the casualties of the War on Terror could one day belittle the Crusades.

While it would be a grievous error to characterize America as a Christian nation, its military thinking is clearly rooted in Christian Just War Doctrine. In the Bible, Jesus tells his apostles, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9).  Yet, he says, “and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36).  In the Old Testament, we are told, “There is an appointed time for everything,” including, “a time to kill” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 3).

A Disorderly Revolution

(Editor’s Note: This is a pretty solid college essay I finished in 2006. It is an answer to the question “Was the French Revolution orderly?” I hope you get something from it.)

The French Revolution poses an interesting question:  How can an idea based on freedom and scientific reasoning lead to such tremendous chaos?  After witnessing what could be described as a model revolution in the Americas, middle-class French yearned for more personal freedom and political power.  With the ideas of the Enlightenment in their minds and money being stripped from their pockets as a solution to the financial crisis, the middle-class saw their opportunity to throw off what they considered the yoke of the oppressing nobles. Although the French Revolution began as noble and orderly, the revolutionaries became divided, leading to The Terror, which forever left a stain of chaos and disorder on the Revolution.

The Causes and Conduct of The Flight of the Nez Perce

(Editor’s Note: This is a college essay I finished in 2006. It’s one of the best papers I’ve ever written and it’s about one of my favorite figures in  American History. I hope you get something from it.)

In September of 1805, several Nez Perce children were approached by mysterious creatures riding on horseback.  The Nez Perce noted the hair on their faces, thinking that perhaps they were descendents of some sort of canine (Nerburn, 4).­­­  The Nez Perce took in the disheveled travelers and helped them restore the strength they had lost during their long journey.  The Nez Perce provided the weary voyagers with food and a place to rest while the Dog Men generously gave gifts to the Nez Perce and amazed them with guns and modern medicine.

This was “first contact” between the Nez Perce and America.  The “Dog Men” were none other than Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and the Corps of Discovery.  Lewis and Clark parted on amiable terms with the Nez Perce; so much so that when they returned, they saw a Nez Perce chief flying the American flag they had given him (Nerburn, 6).

Unfortunately, the Nez Perce, like many Native American tribes and nations before them, would become a proud people nearly destroyed by the avarice of the Whites.  Despite their early friendship, the relationship between the Nez Perce and the Whites would soon sour due to the hypocrisy of early missionaries and settlers and a basic misunderstanding of Nez Perce culture by the Federal Government. These factors would produce the grievances that would culminate in the epic “Flight” of the Nez Perce.

Thoreau: Justice by Any Means

(Editor’s Note: This is a college essay I finished in 2005. It’s one of the best papers I’ve ever written and it’s about one of my favorite figures in  American History. I hope you get something from it.)

In many ways, Henry David Thoreau has been seen as the darling of American pacifists and peace activists.  Thoreau has certainly given contemporary nonviolence activists reason to praise him.  After all, he did write “Civil Disobedience,” the clearest articulation of the purpose of and logic behind nonviolent resistance.  Although an American classic, “Civil Disobedience” is perhaps more famous for being Gandhi’s guide to nonviolent resistance.1  Despite the laurels bestowed upon him by non-violent resisters, Thoreau was much more concerned with establishing a truly just government than limiting the means by which he was willing to achieve that end.

Nathanael Greene & the Formation of the American Republic

(Editor’s Note: This is a college essay I finished on 11/10/05. It’s one of the best papers I’ve ever written and it’s about one of the most unappreciated and underrated figures in American History. I hope you get something from it.)

At first glance, Nathanael Greene appears to be a most unlikely candidate for savior of a fledgling nation.  His father scorned formal education.  He walked with a limp and had problems with one eye.  He was also given to asthma attacks that would keep him awake all night. Most damning of all was his Quaker background. In spite of all these perceived defects, Nathanael Greene was the man who the embryonic United States needed to secure its liberties and guarantee independence.  Without General Greene, the ideas advanced by more intellectually perceptive patriots would not have had a country in which to take root.  Nathanael Greene’s ideology leading up to, and role during, the American Revolution created an ardent patriot who led with action rather than prose and a nationalist who was bound to be discouraged by some of the conditions following the war.