Of War Horses, War Donkeys, a Just Society, and Just War


Donkey Jenny and foulHow many of you readers have ever heard of a war donkey? One site on the topic wrote, “When a donkey senses danger, his reaction is to freeze in place and assess the situation. In most cases, he will not move a step until he figures out the safest action. His habit of stopping and thinking, rather than running, is one of his survival means. This is what makes a donkey a trustworthy mount, especially on precarious trails. A tumbling rock or skittering snake makes him stop and think. The warhorse will bolt. ‘Better an ass rode than from a horse thrown.”

SupertrampThe donkey is stupid because it comes to different conclusions from the crowd. The donkey does not know the importance behind yellow stones. How many humans have died fighting over yellow stones. Are people really stupid because they do not think the same as we do? Numbers 22:22-40 has Balaam’s talking donkey. After Balaam beats his donkey three times he learns the donkey was right, not him. Is it wrong to learn from those we think are stupid? Sometimes they are the smart ones.

Donkeys and horsesDonkey’s and horses are peaceful animals. The horse will charge when commanded. The donkey will say, “No thanks! They have spears and stuff over there. You can go if you want, but I think I will sit this one out.” The horse, blindly follows the herd. The donkey thinks. The donkey therefore makes a terrible war animal.

In his City of God, Book 4, Chapter 15 St. Augustine asks if it is proper to wish to have a large kingdom/nation. His answer is, “No!” He reasons from the just war doctrine. The first criteria for a just war is damage inflicted by an aggressor on the nation or community of nations that is lasting, grave, and certain. How evil must a nati0n be, he argues, to wish our neighbors to do such a thing. It is far better to trust pack animals such as the donkey, than animals domesticated mainly for war. Then comes this wisdom, “If you have something against your brother, rest assured, he has something against you.” A just society does not wish for its neighbors to become evil. A just society is a penitential society always looking at itself, trying to see what its neighbors might have against it.

War horseIn Mark’s Triumphal Entry account, verse 10 continues, “He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, the horse from Jerusalem; the warrior’s bow he will banish, and proclaim peace to the nations.” When all people serve the One True God, putting him first, then strive to see the points of view of each other, war and violence will depart, but not before then.

war donkeyJesus chooses a donkey. He does not choose the proud warhorse, a creature following the herd, even to death. When a donkey senses danger, it thinks first. It refuses to move until it is sure if there is danger, where it is, and how to avoid it. If you want to get into the kingdom, you will be a person who thinks for yourself, and not follow the crowd. You will also be a person of peace, humbling yourself as the donkey, looking for the wooden beam in your own eye before seeing splinter in your neighbor’s. Do you want to be a person Jesus wants to choose? Do you want glory now, or glory later?

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