Our news media is right now filled with reports and speculations concerning what the army calls “foreign underwater activity” in the Stockholm archipelago. Foreign media like the Guardian and ABC News have also reported on the story, making comparisions with how the Swedish navy were constantly looking for Soviet submarines during the Cold War (and, from time to time, found some). The Swedish military has not conformed that the underwater activity is either a submarine or Russian, but this is what most analysts seem to believe, and several military experts fear that Russia is either spying on Sweden’s defense capacity, or even preparing for war.
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” (Mt 24:6)
Just two months ago, Sweden celebrated 200 years of peace. While we do have sent troops to Afghanistan and other places under UN flag, and while we are one of the world’s primary weapon exporters, there has not been a war on Swedish soil for two centuries (it should also be mentioned that Sweden sold iron to Hitler during World War Two to avoid Germany to hit us).
War is not part of the ordinary Swede’s paradigm – we go on with our luxury lifestyle expecting to die peacefully as seniors – and yet the Swedish military has constantly described Russia as a threat, even when things were much calmer than they are today. Naturally, the military needs an enemy, and I think that the relationship between Sweden and Russia has unnecessarily portraied each other as enemies, which is now producing painful consequences.
Today, we read Luke 6 – one of my favourite Bible passages – in my house church: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:27-31). Oh how I love these words!
Jesus’ pacifism isn’t just about non-violence per se, but about attitude. People tend to be suspicious, frightened and aggressive towards their enemies, but Jesus encourages passionate love and care. No matter if there is a Russian submarine hiding in the archipelago or a Finnish whale, Sweden and Russia immediately need increased diplomatic relations and dialogue. It’s a myth that some nations or parties are impossible to talk to – in fact that’s the myth that large portions of the arms industry benefit from. They are the only winners in war, if they manage to kill their God’given conscience.