Fighting for Peace
In October 1941, in the midst of World War II, Winston Churchill famously advised students in Harrow, England: “Never give in—never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”1
The previous year, in June 1940, Churchill had rallied his people in a radio broadcast: “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” Then he added a postscript, heard only by the aide to whom he whispered it: “And we shall fight with the butt end of broken beer bottles because that’s bloody well all we’ve got.”
Fortunately for England and the world, the great tide of evil was pushed back, the Germans were defeated, and peace was restored. Had Churchill and others not stood in the breach and refused to give up despite the odds, much of the world would have fallen to Nazi domination.
Oddly, peace is something you can’t have without a willingness to fight for it. That’s true whether we are fighting through obstacles that keep us from experiencing God’s peace, or whether we are defending the rights of others. Trying to maintain the peace by avoiding conflict at all costs will only erode it. We need to value peace enough to be willing to defend it when necessary. How do we do that? One important way is by heeding the words of the prophet Micah: “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8, niv).
1 Winston Churchill, (speech, given at Harrow School, Harrow, England, October 29, 1941), quoted in Churchill by Himself (New York: Public Affairs, 2008), 23.