Edwin Starr

what is is good for? absolutely nothing

This song has a personal resonance because it is part of the sound track of my youth – I was 16 when this was in the charts and the TV images of Vietnam were on the news all the time. There is such a powerful message for today – to question and challenge the organised and mechanised cruelty.

There are several video versions on YouTube which I could have chosen, but I picked this one for the stunning, grievous images of warfare at the time of the song. It is a time capsule of the period, showing American intervention in Vietnam, African wars and terrorist bombs, villages destroyed and innocent children suffering. All the weaponry looks tragically familiar today, even 50 years later: aircraft carriers, helicopter gunships, protest, teargas, bayonets and burning buses.

This theme of war is so large that I will have to come back to it, probably several times. There is certainly no shortage of war and conflict in the Bible, but from that experience some writers talk of the hope for the end to conflict, even a promise from God. Here’s a message of peace in Isaiah 2:1-4. The words of verse 4 are written on a wall at the United Nations building in New York.

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”