As one result of the earthquake in Haiti, much USA and world military energy is being transformed and directed toward humanitarian aid. An aircraft carrier outfitted for war will bring fresh water and medicines to the citizens of Port-au-Prince. Helicopters designed to convey soldiers to the battlefield will be used to carry food and medicines. Communications systems, intended to coordinate battlefield logistics, will assist in coordinating rescue operations for trapped Haitians and in directing aircraft in and out of the one airport. Military personnel trained for combat will assist in the rescue operations and in maintaining peace and security on the streets of Port-au-Prince. In a way we are seeing the beautiful verse from Scripture come to life: “They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (Is 4:2).
How much of the national budget, how much manpower and technical expertise goes into the preparation of the war machines! The strength and mobility of our military might shows what can be done when we put our heads together in a concerted effort. Now, facing the tragedy in Haiti, the challenge is to transform part of our military might into means for saving and rebuilding a devastated city and nation.
To be more faithful to Scripture, we should read the rest of Isaiah 4:2: “Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” While we see the first part of the verse, turning swords into plowshares becoming actualized in Haiti, we know that we have a long way to go before the second part of the verse is actualized. Yet we can still hope that our efforts in Haiti are a small beginning.
Peter Schineller, S.J.