"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.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Death of Moral Imagination

"The Iraq War is a pure war, a war for the sake of war. Congress is debating whether to spend another fortune on it, another fortune that could completely remake this nation if spent on useful projects, and Congress has no reason for the war. The reason is purely that the media won't like you if you vote against a war, but there's no actual reason for the war - not the weapons of mass destruction that Bush always knew weren't there, not the ties to 9-11 that Bush always knew did not exist on behalf of a ruler who, anyway, is no longer in power, not reducing terrorism which has been increased by this war, not improving global relations when this war has driven global opinion of the US to a record low, not preventing a civil war which the US attack and occupation have created, not supporting the troops when most of the troops want to come home - and almost half of them openly admit to pollsters that they don't know why they're there." - David Swanson, Iraq: Pure War, Pure Crime, truthout, March 3, 2006.

Those of us who have watched the sickness grow for most of our lives know that its roots lie far deeper than fear of the media, those puppets of power. Still, we need to repeat the phrase until it takes root in the healthy soil of our defiance - this is a war without a reason. The Fathers of the Church often saw the essence of evil in its emptiness, the howling void in which it pretends to see its triumph. They don't know why they are there, and we don't know why we are so silent and complacent. We seem unable to peer into the emptiness that lies at the heart of our defection.

Let us listen to the words of Jurgen Moltman and laugh at the absurdity of evil, "Non-resistance to evil shows up the absurdity of evil. Evil's strength is violence. Evil's weakness is its wrongness. Counter-violence supplies evil with its supposed justification, and often enough stabilizes it. It is only the non-violent reaction which robs evil of every legitimation and puts the perpetrator of violence in the wrong, 'heaping burning coals on his head' (Rom. 12:20)." Jurgen Moltman, The Way of Jesus Christ. This is the love that will ultimately defeat evil, not by killing the evildoers, not by taking on their slavery ourselves, but by destroying the sin which has made all of us slaves.

William Sloan Coffin has provided a sound diagnosis: "People in every generation have striven for power, the only difference being that ours has achieved it. This is 'the century of total war' because this is the 'the age of omnipotence.' What has happened is curious. You know the expression 'A man's reach should exceed his grasp.' That means our moral imagination should stretch beyond what we are able to do. Now the situation is reversed: what we are able to do is beyond the reach of our moral imagination. Our capacity to destroy is virtually unlimited. But our capacity to imagine, to feel, to respond, is, as always, limited. Thus we are able to do physically what we cannot grasp morally. We are living beyond our moral means. This is the heart of our problem."

To flee our own emptiness we have created a war to cling to. We have voluntarily surrendered our rights because we did not have the moral capacity to grasp the duties of our freedom. Let us embrace our emptiness and ask for forgiveness.

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