Pence’s Mission of Malice at Olympics Didn’t Derail Moon Jae-in’s Mission of Mercy-For Now
By Dallas Darling
Submitted by Author
Monday, Feb 12, 2018
|“We must repudiate one of the two, either Christianity with its love of God and one’s neighbor, or the state and its armies and wars.”
- Leo Tolstoy,
Address to the Swedish Peace Conference, 1909
Far from turning the other cheek at the Winter Olympics or, at least, being a peacemaker as Jesus taught, Vice President Mike Pence, a forthright Evangelical Christian, decided to fulfill a mission of malice. Consequently, his actions must be understood in light of three conversions: Americanized Christianity, the GOP’s vision of an American peace based on unquestioned U.S. military preeminence, and a faith in operatives working covertly for a myriad of big business interests and government entities, including intelligence, security and surveillance, and a massive weapons industry that wants to ignite a new arms race.
President Moon Jae-in, meanwhile, acted upon Jesus’ example of humility and service and to love one’s enemies-whom he actually sees as his Korean brothers and sisters. His actions were due to his Catholic faith, Pope Francis’ renewed call to be peacemakers and not just peace lovers, and South Korean peace groups such as the Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea (SPARK), the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM) which wants to abolish nuclear weapons, and a host of active women’s groups that believe terrorism is when you know your actions will kill innocent noncombatants.
Tale of Two Faiths
Taking Pope Francis’s challenge that there are right and wrong ways to settle conflicts, mainly by prioritizing dialogue and physical meetings between opposing parties to promote mutual knowledge, trust, and the common good, President Moon Jae-in helped initiate the idea that the two Koreas should compete under the same flag, even fielding a joint women’s ice hockey team. President Moon and North Korea’s Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, moreover warmly shook hands and took their place among dignitaries during the opening ceremonies at the Olympic Stadium.
As for Vice President Pence, he refused to shake hands with or speak to Kim Yo Jong. Earlier at a dinner reception, he did the same, even walking out. Evidently, a desert was served which portrayed a blue chocolate map of the Koreas divide by a dark chocolate piece of barbed wire. When guests were encouraged to pour white chocolate on top to dissolve the barbed wire-a sign of peace, he abruptly left the dinner. To be sure, only the U.S. and the U.S. alone is able to provide the moral framework to lead the world-let alone ridding the world of what his nationalistic religions deems to be evil.
In addition to converting to Americanized Christianity, the former conservative radio pundit and political candidate soon realized another conversion was needed. Big money Republicans, like the Koch Brothers, were actually responsible for his political rise to stardom. They were responsible too for his war against the poor and working classes while corporations received massive tax cuts. Meanwhile, his belief his divine mission to restore the U.S. and right the wrongs of the world fits nicely with America’s economic and military elites who ferment perpetual fear through ongoing and future wars.
Not so for President Moon. He wants the same goals as SPARK, KFEM, and women peace activists. Not only do they want to peacefully resolve North Korea’s nuclear issue and abolish an unjust military partnership with the U.S., but with the Justice and Peace committees of four Catholic dioceses he’s determined to demilitarize and de-nuclearize the Korean Peninsula to prevent another nuclear war or Fukushima. Sources also claim he was sympathetic with the women who recently crossed the 2-mile wide De-Militarized Zone that separates millions of Korean families as a symbolic act of peace.
Backward Christian Soldiers
Upon his return to the U.S., and after trying to sabotage peace talks and reunification, Vice President Pence declared the Trump Administration will take “whatever action is necessary against North Korea” in reference to a possible nuclear standoff. Nor was there any room for daylight between the two nations, let alone compromise. Make no mistake, he’s the type of leader who not only believes the U.S. is fulfilling a God-given and righteous mission, but his is a Far-Right Christianity where American foreign policy is connected to a religiously inspired mission of militarism in stead of mercy.
To be sure, to project raw dominance in the world is one thing. But to suggest, as the vice president does, that the success of American military and foreign policy is connected to a religiously inspired mission of foreign militarism-which includes himself and Donald Trump-is entirely something else. In fact, confusing the roles of God and the church with his own mission and the Trump Administration and U.S. borders on blasphemy. Consequently, Christians should always be uneasy living within an empire, specifically since it was an empire much like the U.S. which tortured and executed Jesus.
This is not to say that Vice President Pence’s faith isn’t sincere. It’s hard to deny, however, that its content and meaning and how it impacts the world is unsettling. In addition to appearing as an imperial theology used to merely bolster an ideology of the U.S.’s moral supremacy, it seems to be the newest incarnation of American nationalism which is updated form the era of Manifest Destiny. Meanwhile, theology is never about dominance and power but self-critical reflection, repentance, compassion and mercy. It’s also about loving others and doing good to even those who despise you.
For now, the vice president’s mission of malice at the Winter Olympics-of all places- didn’t derail President’s Moon mission of mercy. In fact, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has offered more talks of peace and reconciliation to follow. But given the view of human nature and its mistaken qualities, including how easily it’s corrupted by power-too often succumbing to repression and defending it, we how domination backed by militarism can make good people do bad things. Hopefully, the U.S. won’t pursue the same course as it did in Vietnam or say Iran, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua just to name a few.
Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John’s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.WN.com. You can read more of Dallas’ writings at www.beverlydarling.com and www.WN.com//dallasdarling.
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