"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Power of Prayer

"No one of us fights back when he is apprehended, nor do our people avenge themselves against your unjust violence though numerous and plentiful. Our certainty of the vengeance which is to come makes us patient. The harmless give way to the harmful; the innocent acquiesce in the punishments and tortures certain and confident that whatever we suffer will not remain unavenged, and that the greater is the injury of the persecution, the more just and serious will be the vengeance for the persecution. Long ago divine Scripture laid down and said: ‘Vengeance is mine, I shall repay, says the Lord,’ and let the Holy Spirit again warn us saying: ‘Say not: I will avenge myself on my enemy, but wait in the Lord so that He may aid you.’" - St Cyprian of Carthage, To Demetrian, Chapter 17

Report from a soldier in the Army Reserve stationed in Iraq: "Guys in my unit, particularly the younger guys, would drive by in their Humvee and shatter bottles over the heads of Iraqi civilians passing by. They'd keep a bunch of empty Coke bottles in the Humvee to break over people's heads...Mr. Delgado said he had witnessed incidents in which an Army sergeant lashed a group of children with a steel Humvee antenna, and a Marine corporal planted a vicious kick in the chest of a kid about 6 years old. There were many occasions, he said, when soldiers or marines would yell and curse and point their guns at Iraqis who had done nothing wrong...Mr. Delgado confronted a sergeant who, he said, had fired on the detainees [at Abu Ghraib]. "I asked him," said Mr. Delgado, "if he was proud that he had shot unarmed men behind barbed wire for throwing stones. He didn't get mad at all. He was, like, 'Well, I saw them bloody my buddy's nose, so I knelt down. I said a prayer. I stood up, and I shot them down.'" - "From Gook to Raghead", Bob Herbert, New York Times, May 2, 2005.

Which god answered this soldier's prayer? Without standing in judgement, which as Cyprian exhorts us, must be forever surrendered to God, it seems to be the same god that Mr. Bush consulted before committing 100,000 Iraqis to an agonizing death. The same god that proclaims the duty of torture when his victims dare to resist full spectrum dominance.

Let us begin to offer reparation for the victims of our consumerist frenzy. We are the guilty ones and we are the ones that the world is looking to for mercy from the steel whips of vengence on those even the perpetrators admit are innocent. And pray for Kevin Benderman, whose application for conscientious objector status was denied and who faces many years in prison for refusing to kill more Iraqis. And be sure to include the soldiers described above in your prayers. As Cyprian put it, "Say not: I will avenge myself on my enemy, but wait in the Lord so that He may aid you."

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