Friday, August 15, 2008

Conditions for Human Flourishing

At the end of Just War Against Terror, The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, 2003, Jean Bethke Elshtain includes an appendix entitled “What We’re Fighting For.” It begins with “five fundamental truths that pertain to all people without distinction:

  1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
  2. The basic subject of society is the human person, and the legitimate role of government is to protect and help to foster the conditions for human flourishing.
  3. Human beings naturally desire to seek the truth about life’s purpose and ultimate ends.
  4. Freedom of conscience and religious freedom are inviolable rights of the human person.
  5. Killing in the name of God is contrary to faith in God and is the greatest betrayal of the universality of religious faith.

After this she describes “American values,” religious values, and then provides a definition of “just war.” After that she provides a conclusion which assumes that our war against terror is a just war. It includes the words “we fight to defend ourselves, but we also believe that we fight to defend those universal principles of human rights and human dignity that are the best hope for humankind.” She adds, “One day, this war will end. When it does – and in some respects even before it ends – the great task of conciliation awaits us. We hope that this war, by stopping an unmitigated global evil, can increase the possibility of a world community based on justice. But we know that only the peacemakers among us in every society can ensure that this war will not have been in vane.”

Lawrence Helm

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