by Jim Powers
These days we use the words moral and ethical interchangeably, meaning a system to determine whether an action is right or wrong.
Many think about morality as a religious construct, and ethics as playing out in the secular arena, such as in business or community. Morality as personal, or defined by God, and absolute. Ethics as communal, changing over time with the evolution in thinking of a community or society.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian best known for his book, “The Cost of Discipleship.” He was openly anti-Nazi during WWII, an extremely dangerous position to advocate at that time in Germany.
Bonhoeffer believed that Christians should not hide away from society in their churches, but act within it. That acting against evil, regardless of the cost to the Christian, is the very definition of faith.
Bonhoeffer wrote “The Cost of Discipleship” in a Nazi prison camp, where he died in 1945 because of his unwillingness to compromise his morality to save his life.
This country’s failure to intervene militarily in Ukraine to stop the unprovoked invasion, destruction, and loss of life there is immoral. To allow this evil to continue when we have the power to stop it is immoral. And because we refuse to act in fear of the consequences, it is cowardly. We may cause Russia economic pain because of the actions we have taken, but Ukraine will still have been destroyed and innocent people slaughtered.
Our leaders justify this military inaction by pointing out that Russia has 6,000 nuclear weapons and that attacking the Russian military directly would likely lead to WWIII. They are correct in the risk they point out. But having succeeded in scaring the only other superpower in the world into inaction, why would Putin stop with Ukraine?
Like Bonhoeffer, we are at an inflection point. So far, the concept of the U.S. as a shining city on a hill in defense of freedom and democracy is taking a pretty bad beating.