Marianne Williamson on War in Modern Times

Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson

Ray Hemachandra: Marianne, are there times when moral imperatives call for war? Must certain evils — evils that peace may not correct — be confronted militarily?

I would not suggest nation-states have shown themselves adept at identifying or acting upon such evils, or that such identifications don’t have a largely subjective component. Obviously they do. But if the nation-state is ever to be engaged in questions of right and wrong, sometimes war may be necessary to fight for what is right and just. Think Nazi Germany certainly. Think Darfur possibly.

Marianne Williamson: I don’t disagree with that, Ray.

Ray: So, are there fights worth fighting? What are the proper uses of war, and how can a peace movement account for them?

Marianne: Every person has to decide the answer to the first question for himself. I personally am not a total pacifist. I do believe there is such a thing as a just war. I believe, for instance, the effort to destroy the Nazi regime militarily was justified military action.

I think the vast majority of Americans would have supported military action to stop the second plane from hitting the World Trade Center, if that had been possible. I would have been among them.

So, are there proper uses of war? The answer comes from every person’s conscience.

But I know this: Albert Einstein said, “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

I think the question at this point is beyond whether or not war is ever justified. I think we must face a larger moral question now: Is the continuance of war on Earth, given the current state of technology used to perpetrate it, survivable? Is war itself survivable in the long-term for the human race?

These are spiritual questions as much as political ones, because something happens inside human consciousness when we consider the possibility there might be another way. Given how deeply the ways of war have penetrated our collective consciousness, it will take spiritual power to turn the issue around.

The human race is almost addicted to war. It’s like we just can’t stop. Yet we rarely confront the larger issue. We know on some level things can’t continue the way they are forever. Generation after generation can’t just be loaded with more and more nuclear weapons and not ultimately dance to that music. But unless you believe in a transcendent force from which all hope stems, how do you summon up the real faith that we can turn this around?

The reason we don’t often confront the larger question of whether or not war is survivable is because of a failure of imagination. We honestly cannot imagine having reached a state in our own evolution in which we do not fight. Instead, we stay within the conversation in which war is a given, asking only about a particular war’s moral justification.

Decades ago, perhaps we had the luxury of that limited conversation. But today we do not. We must carry the conversation further. The issue isn’t whether military action might be morally defensible or philosophically justifiable. So what if it is?

If military action begets a nuclear confrontation, then in what sense can it possibly be morally justifiable, given that the action could lead to the destruction of a majority of the human race?

Ray: Are the problems and turmoil on the national and world stages being mirrored in people’s inner beings — in their souls?

People seem to be confused and uncertain. At a time when the world is in chaos, is it possible to remain peaceful? And, Marianne, is it even desirable — or does being peaceful disconnect you from what’s happening out there in the world?

Marianne: Some people say it’s a holographic universe: Each piece contains the whole. You can sure see evidence of this phenomenon now. People are wrestling with their own microcosms of the larger spiritual battlefield.

Individuals seem to have reached their walls and so has the entire human race. Whatever isn’t working, isn’t life-producing, isn’t producing love for ourselves or others, is going to have to go now. Or, literally, there will be hell to pay.

The forces of darkness are intensifying, but so is the light. The only antidote to chaos is peace itself.

The goal of the spiritual activist is to find inner peace even in externally chaotic circumstances. And that’s how we ultimately transform chaos: by reaching a level of consciousness in which whatever ideas we need, whatever guidance we seek, will emerge to illumine the way.

I think the violence in the world right now is being reflected inside people. And I also believe the violence inside people is being reflected in the world.

From a pure metaphysical perspective, there is no world outside ourselves. So, at the deepest level, the state of the planet is more a reflection of the consciousness of mankind than the consciousness of mankind is a reflection of world events.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, they say every problem comes bearing its own solution. The evolution of personal consciousness necessary to find peace internally even in the midst of war is the same state of consciousness that actually will bring about the end to war.

Humanity’s mission is to find a peace that lies beyond the veil — a peace that is not of this world. The peace that is not of this world is not dependent on human circumstances. But that doesn’t mean we ignore human circumstances. There is a difference between transcendence and denial.

Genuine transcendence doesn’t just look away from human suffering and say, “I am at peace, so I’m at the mountaintop.”

Genuine transcendence looks human suffering in the eye and attains peace because of a faith in things unseen. Imbued with that faith, you do not look away from the darkness — you look through it to a light beyond.

The Bible says, “Blessed are those who have faith who cannot see.” You don’t see the light, but you know it’s there — just as an airplane pilot, when the visibility is poor, can’t see the horizon but still knows the Earth is down there.

That power to be at peace — not because of anything your physical senses perceive, and sometimes in spite of what your physical senses perceive — is the power to help heal this world miraculously.

You can visit Marianne Williamson’s website here or join her Facebook community here.

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