If the Ukrainian invasion by Mr. Putin has meant anything, it has meant bringing into our living rooms a live show daily about humanity’s capacity for Evil. 

Belkis Wille, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, talks about the hardships facing the poor, elderly, and infirm trapped in Mariupol as Putin’s forces bomb it to rubble and life-sustaining resources run out. Video by MSNBC.

The bombardment of apartments and living places, of buildings housing small businesses and government offices, of theaters, schools, hospitals, universities and parks, the utter destruction of people’s lives and society’s necessary places of gathering, are all being live streamed to homes round the world.  And 10 million people either displaced from their homes or exiled to other countries.

It is a living theater of the evils of war. And it is very painful to watch and bear witness to.  And far more painful to live through.  Or to protest against if you are a Russian citizen.

My hope is that it culminates in a new commitment to put an end to war and for humanity to grow up and out of patriarchal, empire-building, terror-rendering consciousness.

I am reminded of the question the mystic and second secretary General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld asked, “Do you create or do you destroy?”

Creativity devoted to destruction: US officials confirm that Russia is the first country to use hypersonic missiles ever in combat. Report by CNN.

We know the answer that Evil offers.  And that Mr. Putin is putting forward today. 

We all have to answer this question our whole lives long—of ourselves but also of our governments and our societies and of one another: “Do we create or do we destroy?”  What use do we put our creativity to? 

This is also the bottom line regarding climate change and our own extinction that we face today.  And the extinction of so many other species with whom we share this special but imperiled planet.

When we go to bed at night we should ask ourselves, “Have I contributed to creating…or to destroying this day?”

Another statement that echoes in my mind as we watch the increasing brutalities unfolding in Ukraine is this utterance from Pope Paul VI when he visited the United Nations in 1965, the first pope ever to do so.  “Jamais la guerre, jamais encore la guerre.”  “Never war, never again war.” 

Earth on our Hands” by Cristian I.S. is marked with CC BY 2.0.

This was the goal of the UN rising from the ashes of World War II after all–to prevent future world wars.  Hopefully, the awakening of Ukraine and the rest of Europe and the world including the US is up to the task.

But here we are, 57 years after Pope Paul’s visit and 83 years after WWII, with war playing out in our living rooms from Europe once again. 

It is a sobering time, a time for learning and going deep and a time for taking care of self and others.

See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: The remains of a private home in Mariupol, Ukraine, after shelling by Russian forces. Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

How do you see Hammarskjold’s question playing out today—Do we create or do we destroy?  And Pope Paul’s?  Can our species grow up and move beyond war?  Can we move beyond our war against Mother Earth?  Beyond Patriarchy?

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17 thoughts on “The Evil of War 2.0”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Before I answer today’s questions I want to make a point that you made in the video, and that is, that creativity can be good or evil. The creativity that went into making the atomic bomb was amazing, but was it a good thing? Robert Oppenheimer, when he finally saw the bomb go explode, he quoted a Hindu scriptures that said, “I have become the destroyer of worlds.” Often times scientific creativity creates things that are evil, and do evil things. And that is because science operates without any moral values, other than the quest to learn more–even that which destroys. And think of The science of weaponry, and the proliferation of weapons both great and small (like hand guns). The problem is Putin doesn’t care what the right thing is, he just wants, what he wants and will do anything to get it–even threatening nuclear war.
    1. “And so in answer to our first question (How do you see Hammarskjold’s question playing out today—Do we create or do we destroy?” We, (meaning human beings) are destroying Ukraine, but we are also in the mean time destroying places all over the world–its just not all reported.
    2. “And Pope Paul’s? Can our species grow up and move beyond war?” I certainly hope so!
    3. “Can we move beyond our war against Mother Earth? Beyond Patriarchy?” Once again, I certainly hope so!
    And you say: “My hope is that (what the world is going through) culminates in a new commitment to put an end to war and for humanity to grow up and out of patriarchal, empire-building, terror-rendering consciousness.” AMEN !!!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jean, It seems that we are helpless, but I believe that ultimately we’re not. When Hitler took power he tried to take one country after another–and he was successful up to a point but then the Allied Forces came on the picture and then he was over. What are we being asked to “Let go” of in this situation? We must let go of fear and hopelessness and trust “the Good” as Iris Murdock would say. Or said in another way, “Let go and Let God.”

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    One thing that has come up for me the past couple of days, is something that Stoicism teaches… which is about learning to identify and accept that which is within your control to change, and that which is not. Mathew, within todays DM, gives us a glimpse as to one thing that is within our control… that being our gift of creativity… of being able to create that which gives life, contributing to the greater good of the whole, or that which brings destruction, death and evil. This powerful gift comes with personal responsibility and accountability… to ourselves, each other and the all and the everything of creation. I can choose to learn to be more consciously awake and aware as to how and in what ways I create and what manifests through this… this is within my control.

    The morals, values, ethics, virtues, qualities, characteristics and nature of the incarnate presence and essence of the Spirit of God… whom is the ultimate master of creativity… whom has created the all and the everything that exists… whom continuously reveals this inherent goodness within all… whom eternally creates out of Divine Love… is whom I seek to be my personal guide and teacher, in my learning to partner and co-create with, for and through. Engaging in this co-creative relationship, and the spiritual reality of this, is also within my control to choose, acknowledge and respond to daily, again and again. This is the something that I can do… in the midst of the absurdity of other people’s creative choices that bring nothing but death, destruction and evil.

    I know at times this seems to be something so very small in the midst of everything that humanity is facing at this time in the world… however, it is a small thing that really matters. The mystic Julian of Norwhich reminds us all, that something as small as a little hazelnut, carries within itself the potential to unfold, evolve, and emerge into something so much more than we ever could have creatively imagined in and of ourself.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Thank you for your comment today. I especially like how you end your comment with this reference to Julian of Norwich: “The mystic Julian of Norwich reminds us all, that something as small as a little hazelnut, carries within itself the potential to unfold, evolve, and emerge into something so much more than we ever could have creatively imagined in and of ourself.” Thank you for this glimmer of hope !!!

  3. Avatar

    Matthew ,
    Every morning I listen to your daily meditation. I want to thank you for the creativity you and your staff use to build up and help sustain hope and nourish the common good human beings are capable of doing. I was born three weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My dad served in the Army infantry in France and Germany. He survived the war physically but not emotionally. Your “Good Morning” and “See you tomorrow” and everything in between is pure blessing coming from the essence of Christ within you.
    In appreciation and gratitude,
    Emily Bell
    St Pete Beach, Florida

  4. Avatar

    The issue here, as others have addressed, is the human creative powers being used is not ‘create or destroy’ but rather, in many instances, to ‘create to destroy’. It seems that war emboldens there ‘create to destroy’ juices. In earlier times, wars were fought between armies, now they are fought between countries and civilian populations and are part of the invasion resistance.
    Secondly not quite sure why we have to keep throwing ‘ Patriarchy’ into the mix. Even in recent times, women have been known to start wars. It seems ‘dictatorship’ is the real problem, where ‘total power corrupts totally’.
    These people are the ‘destroyers’.

    1. Avatar

      Matthew has a specific definition for Patriarchy which is a genderless way. Men and women can promote or cooperate with Patriarchy. It is a very big topic and worth studying.

    2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Peter, Thank you for your comment. As you point out, wars have gone from local to nations, but even that has been going on for hundreds of years. The problem today is, as you note dictators–the problem of patriarchy is that it is a system where men rule. Putin is a man. Biden is a man. And most of the other world leaders who are involved in this are also men. Every since the Neolithic period, men have ruled the world. And every since men have ruled the world there have been wars. Not only this but in the religious world–how many women have founded religions or have the leadership of the religions. And on a local level, to this day most denominations still will not ordain women as ministers or priests. That’s why Matthew keeps throwing patriarchy in, because it is a system that must be dismantled!

  5. Avatar

    Matthew’s third question: Can we move beyond our war against Mother Earth? Beyond Patriarchy?

    Matthew occasionally speaks of a serendipitous event he has experienced. A serendipity occurred for me re this question. Yesterday when I randomly opened a book from my 1980’s library – The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott – I found myself at Chapter 18: The Divine Milieu. Mollenkott begins the chapter with Mary Daly’s detailed description of the ‘eternal masculine principle’ which includes “the tendency to construct boundaries between the self and ‘the Other’. Mollenkott expands when she adds: “Women have for centuries been defined as ‘the Other’. So have the nonwhite races and the natural environment. It is no accident that the most compelling book concerning nuclear warfare is called THE FATE OF THE EARTH. In it Jonathan Schell tries to shock us into realizing that our technology has brought us to the point where we may destroy Mother Earth and all her children in one devastating holocaust. Where weaponry is as all-encompassing as nuclear warheads, there is no ‘Other’….[T]he natural environment has been dominated and oppressed, manipulated and abused in ways analogous to the patriarchal use and abuse of women…”

    As I write this comment I hear a news report from Afghanistan: the Taliban have just closed all high schools for girls. There are Afghani teenage girls weeping in the street. Of course the Taliban’s power over Afghanistan is bereft of any morality or ‘commons’ sense; it is simply the power of their weaponry. Without guns and bombs they would be completely emasculated and have to finally grow up….

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      I’m right there with you Gwen. I hear and agree with what you have said, and you bring up the very reason why patriarchy has to come to and end when you write: “the Taliban have just closed all high schools for girls. There are Afghani teenage girls weeping in the street. Of course the Taliban’s power over Afghanistan is bereft of any morality or ‘commons’ sense; it is simply the power of their weaponry. Without guns and bombs they would be completely emasculated and have to finally grow up….” “Without guns and bombs”–without unscrupulous arms dealers who sell weapons to any side of any war–they should all be considered treasonous war criminals !!!

  6. Avatar

    Let’s all continue praying/acting in our inner and outer lives with one another for:

    Faith~Hope~ Love…
    Loving Compassionate Oneness Wisdom~Peace~Justice~Healing~Creativity~Beauty~Sadness~Joy

    in the Sacred Process of the Eternal Present Moment…

    We are still consciously evolving as a human species, multi-dimensional beings, and as co-Creators with-in our Loving Mother~Father Creator/Creative Spirit….


  7. Avatar
    Bernardine Abbott

    I wonder about & struggle with the morality of sitting in our living rooms “watching the war” in Ukraine. Something seems so wrong about war as “entertainment”. I understand & appreciate freedom of press & mission of sincere journalists, but I struggle with dilemma of sitting with coffee in hand watching cities turned to ashes & bodies being dumped in mass graves. Do we become inured in some way to the evil of war simply by being a daily spectator of war? Being informed vs building tolerance? Is there a line crossed somewhere televising war?

  8. Avatar

    We need to hear “Never again war” on the hour, every hour of every day. Today I received an email from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. The email contained information on what would happen were nuclear war to occur anywhere on earth now. It is not a pretty picture and downright scary. The article makes clear that there is no “winning” a nuclear war, no matter where it occurs. I urge you to address peace issues at least every week in your daily meditations. Humanity is in peril, the planet is in peril. Thank you for everything you do in fostering peace and love for human beings and other sentient beings.

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