Today is St. Patrick’s Day and as an American descended from Irish roots it has been a day for the wearing of the green. I began my day with Mass at our local church. I reflected that this will be Fr. Mike O’Hara’s last St. Patrick’s day at the head of the St. Philomena Parish. He’s been the shepherd here for over twenty years. Parish priests and local ministers never get the appreciation that they deserve. I’m sure he loves his vocation but it must be debilitating at times.

This weekend will be also mark the third anniversary of the Iraq War, so it will also be a sad or uncertain time for many families who have either lost a loved one or have a relative serving in the war zone. I work everyday with a young lady whose husband is a U.S. Marine serving there. Whenever I see her I marvel at her cheerful demeanor in spite of her nearly constant concern for her mate. I’m torn many ways by this war. I’m sensitive to those who have loved ones serving in the war, but I’m also frustrated at our inability to have a rational dialogue that can bring peace. It’s obvious that war only produces more hatred and hence more war.

There is a movie recently released entitled “Why We Fight”. Those on the right wing of course continue their ad hominem attacks, but there is real truth in what I’ve seen and read. We’ve become a nation that can’t survive without war. Much of our economy is dependent of defense department expenditures. Nearly every state has some piece of the pie and lawmakers are hesitant to veto military spending for fear of being seen as soft on defense or more importantly anti-American. It’s really a false debate and a false choice.
We in the richest country on this planet also have some of the best and brightest scientists and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine that we could re-tool our defense industries for peaceful purposes and begin spreading peace and freedom in the only effective way to do it by helping our fellow inhabitants of the planet. Spreading peace and prosperity would be good for everyone and it would stimulate trade. Call me an idealist but it’s an idea whose time has come. Continuing to bomb, maim and kill our opponents is only productive for the arms manufacturers. We won’t have to post the Ten Commandments in court houses or state houses because we’ll be preaching the gospel with our lives and our policies. That would be very Franciscan. Peace.