Of Conflict and Poverty

Could we still fight for peace if our army did not exist?

Ed Newman
4 min readJan 13, 2020


I woke with this thought today. Could we still fight for peace if our army did not exist?

It was from the dream I was having, which evaporated without a trace while the thought lingered.

Public domain.

Will we ever have peace in this lifetime? Like poverty, the underlying forces (or is it over-girding structures?) creating conflict are usually neglected.

The irony is that instead of working for peace, many just accept conflict as a given so why fight it? This is essentially a fatalistic acceptance of Necessity as a final value. That is, what is is, and we must resign ourselves to it.

But when we turn to hunger and poverty, do we just accept it as a given? Is Necessity right? Jesus said “the poor you will always have with you” so do we just let it be?

According to historian Simon Scharma, that is exactly what the British did on two significant occasions. During the Irish potato famine, there were some in the Parliament who argued that the government should not intervene, that when God had accomplished His will He would bring an end to the famine. (A million people died from starvation and famine related diseases.)

A few decades later the identical argument was used to remain at arm’s length during mass starvation in colonial India.

What madness.

One of the influential writers of the century now passed was Jacques Ellul, a French lawyer, pastor and author of more than forty books. Ellul had studied Marx before his conversion to Christianity. He had seen his father imprisoned and die at the hands of the Nazis. He experienced first hand injustice and saw much that we in America only read about in World War II France. His own strongest personal influences were Luther, Kierkegaard and Karl Barth, whose dialectical approach led him to abandon Calvinism.

Here are a pair of passages from an essay called A Synopsis and Analysis of the Thought and Writing of Jacques Ellul by James…



Ed Newman

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon