While reading a biography of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, I was struck by the words of his “Chance for Peace” speech delivered in 1953. Eisenhower grasped that the necessity for nations to spend money and resources on arms necessarily deprives citizens of the world of the things that would improve life for all people. Eisenhower was not an unrealistic pacifist. He understood that militaries were required for the safety of the nation and the world. But he rightly recognized that we should, as a race, long for peace and its benefits.
As a believer, I find Eisenhower’s words as an interesting secular spur toward praying for the coming of the kingdom of the Lord in full. Only when Christ reigns without opposition will we truly see a world at peace that will reap the benefits of peace for all. Of course, this is a conquest of the world which must come without military means. This is a conquest of the world that must happen as the Lord turns the hearts of men to himself as his servants take the gospel to the nations.
Eisenhower spoke of the chance for peace. I can speak of the certain hope of future peace. Jesus will reign. The Lord’s kingdom will be consummated. May we, the people of God, be about taking the gospel of Christ to the nations and giving our all to this cause until that glorious Day when Christ is hailed as Lord by all to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10-11).
The following is from Eisenhower’s speech:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point to the hope that comes with this spring of 1953.
. . .
The peace we seek, founded upon decent trust and cooperative effort among nations, can be fortified, not by weapons of war but by wheat and by cotton, by milk and by wool, by meat and by timber and by rice. These are words that translate into every language on earth. These are needs that challenge this world in arms.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace,” speech delivered to the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 16, 1953 (Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission) [on-line]; accessed 5 Mar 2010; available from http://www.eisenhowermemorial.org/speeches/19530416%20Chance%20for%20Peace.htm; Internet.