Augustine on Peace through Conquest

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In an interesting meditation on Augustine’s City of God, Chilton Williamson Jr. quotes the following passage:
“[W]hen men cannot communicate their thoughts to each other, simply because of difference of language, all the similarity of their common human nature is of no avail to unite them in fellowship… I shall be told that the Imperial City has been at pains to impose on conquered peoples not only her yoke but her language also, as a bond of peace and fellowship, so that there should be no lack of interpreters but even a profusion of them. True; but think of the cost of this achievement! Consider the scale of those wars, with all that slaughter of human beings, all the human blood that was shed! (Book XIX, Chapters 6-7)” [emphasis mine]

Fortunately, we Americans are far too sophisticated to duplicate the strange Roman effort to make a universal peace by imposing a single language. Two thousand years has given us the wisdom and historical perspective to make universal peace by imposing mass democracy. Much better.

11:14 am on December 10, 2003