An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "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

Who Are We?

"Every generation or so an evil arises which is so monstrous, so degrading to the human spirit, so morally bankrupt that even to debate it is a sign of moral corruption. Native American genocide, slavery, totalitarianism, and Jim Crow laws are evils so unspeakable that we cannot understand today how anyone with a shred of decency could have once supported them. Today, torture, a practice far more degrading to us than to our victims, represents such an evil...Bush's demand is unprecedented. No leader in all human history, not even Hitler, Stalin, or Mao, has publicly demanded the right to torture. All others have behaved as Bush did before the amendment when he secretly tortured on a scale unseen in American history even while saying he wasn't. Forced into the open by the McCain amendment, however, Bush chose to openly demand the legal right to torture. Most experts assume he will continue to torture...Mr. Bush's statement that "we do not torture," even as he was threatening to veto the entire Defense bill because it limited his right to torture, is a dramatic example of how torture degrades the torturer even more than it does his victims. And it is a disgraceful commentary on our nation that no major church, business, or political leader, nor the fawning media personalities who interview him and his officials, has expressed outrage at this bald-faced lie. And one can barely mention an unspeakable Congress, which ignored his lying about torture after spending two years impeaching his predecessor for lying about sex...The real question for us, however, is what this says not about President Bush and our other leaders, but about ourselves. What are we, as citizens, as human beings, willing to live with? Are we willing to live with a President, Vice-President, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and Attorney-General who either engage in or rationalize torture in our names, even as they shamelessly deny they are doing so?" Fred Branfman, truthout, March 3, 2006.

The degradation that Fred is speaking of here is what we apply to the image of God when we fail to respect the image that lives within ourselves. As Jurgen Moltmann has so incisively expressed it, our likeness to God does not lie in our qualities. This would imply that the degree of our reason or our compassion would make us more or less similar to God and thereby determine our ontological status. The logic of this quickly leads to setting a few human beings in the category of "truly human" while the vast majority waste away in the outer darkness of inhumanity, to which we have relegated most of the population of the Middle East.

Our likeness to God embraces the whole family of this earth. Rather than trying to be like God in qualities, it is in our relationships that we attain true likeness, "Human beings' objective likeness to God subsists in God's relation to them. This is indestructable and can never be lost. Only God can end it. The dignity of each and every person is based on this objective likeness to God. God has a relationship to every embryo, every severely handicapped person, and every person suffeering from one of the diseases of old age, and he is honoured and glorified in them when their dignity is respected. Without the fear of God God's image will not be repected in every human being and the reverence for life will be lost, pushed out by utilitarian criteria. But in the fear of God there is no life that is worthless and unfit to live." Moltmann, God for a Secular Society, p. 84.

May we also add that our brothers and sisters in Iraq are crying out to us today to save them from a brutal and suicidal assault currently undertaken by American troops. Will you speak out or will you be one of those who said, "I didn't know that the Jews were being killed?"

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