He offered clemency if he abstained – he refused. Burton had come to the firm conclusion that war was anti-life and therefore an abomination, the sinful destruction of God’s holy creation.
He once told an interviewer:
“When the First World War ended, there was, for many of us, the Great Betrayal. . The disillusion was quick and complete. Victory had not brought a new world, and we saw in a flash of illumination that it never could. War is only waste and destruction, solving no problems but creating new and terrible ones. He continued It is now clear that the colony has not eliminated any of the causes of the war and that another conflagration is inevitable…
Action is imperative. The future always belongs to the prophets and the dreamers, and to those who have enough faith and vision to be fools because of the kingdom of God.’
Some of you may remember the old man with the clerical collar in the 1960s and early 1970s, perhaps seen briefly on the news, megaphone in hand at demonstrations for nuclear disarmament and against Vietnam War. Such gatherings were inevitably enlivened by his presence. Sometimes there were scuffles, or as the newspapers called it, “scuffles,” with the police. He was a hugely influential figure at that time, especially with young people. Yet he still attended ANZAC Day parades wearing his medals, marching with his former comrades. He was the conscience of the nation in matters of war and peace. Ormond Burton died in January 1974, hailed in the country’s newspapers, as he had never been in his life, as a true New Zealand hero.
So here we are 104 years after the armistice amid the clouds of war. For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis 60 years ago, there is talk of a world war, and even the possibility of a nuclear war. We can only hope and pray that the current generation of world leaders, all of whom have been spared direct experience of war, can make peace before events spiral out of control and lead to World War III. – a nuclear war that would surely end human civilization on this planet.