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.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
"...the current US–UK axis is embarked on the re-imposition of absolute sovereign impunity, through the structural dismantling of the rule of law. Torture and assassination are proclaimed as executive prerogative; international tribunals shrugged aside; habeas corpus and trial by jury revoked; personal privacy abolished. The new Hobbesian state seeks to unfetter its every movement, to intimidate and isolate its citizens—all under the rubric of ‘security’. Once upon a time, the law provided a means of defence against the excesses of power; but such a strategy depended on the state’s willingness to acknowledge its own limits. No such willingness survives." - Retort Collective.
The beating started the following day. Without no warning...(long pause as he fights tears) without no warning the interrogator came in with a cable. He asked me to open my right hand. I did open it. And he hit me strongly on my palm. It was so painful to the point that I forgot every moment I enjoyed in my life."
Forget every moment you have ever enjoyed and think of the torture that sucks all that life into its empty maw. That is what America now means to most of the world. Obsession with security to the point of torture, trampling that world, a death force that shatters individuals at random, the abstracted rage that we will not own, so it comes to own us.
"This moment is still vivid in my mind because it was the first I was ever beaten in my life. Then he asked me to open my left hand. He hit me again. And that one missed and hit my wrist. The pain from that hit lasted approximately six months. And then he would ask me questions. And I would have to answer very quickly. And then he would repeat the beating this time anywhere on my, on my body. Sometimes he would take me to a room where I could, where I was alone, I could hear other prisoners being tortured, severely tortured. I remember that I used to hear their screams. I just couldn't believe it, that human beings would do this to other human beings."
Sitting in the cell with Maher Arar was his true friend, Jesus Christ. "God is the 'great companion - the fellow suffer who understands. God experiences us. God goes with us, God suffers with us, God rejoices with us, God understands us. So our life is eternally presnt to him, remains eternally present for him." - Jurgen Moltmann, "The Coming of God"
Do you remember the first time you were beaten? Each of us lives his or her own torture, his own abandonment by humanity. Whenever we abandon the fight to free the Maher Arars of the world, we strike them on the palm with our silence, our tacit approval of the cable and blade. Human beings can do this to other human beings and human beings can chase mutely after entertainment while fellow images of God scream. Both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton now endorse torture and this endorsement raised virtually no response. Whether Democrats or Republicans control the government, more blood will be poured out and more screams sent to heaven. Which is why we must place our trust in God alone and pray with all our hearts for the coming of his reign. The horror will only cease when we cease being horrors to ourselves, when the desire for false peace no longer seals our mouths while our brothers and sisters suffer.
Monday, October 16, 2006
"We can murder hundreds of thousands, or even millions, and we remain forever pure."
What does our purity as Christians consist of? As much as lies within us, we do not deliberately sin. We love God more than we love our pleasure, our power, our righteousness. Because of our love, we seek into our inner motives to see if what lies there is as pure as it pretends to be. We do this because part of loving God is loving truth. So what is our response when we hear that our country has caused the death of 655,000 people?
Is it the response of Isaiah? "'Do you indeed speak righteousness, O you judges, do you judge the children of our people fairly?' It is an evil time when the world lets injustice happen silently, when the oppression of the poor and the wretched cries out to heaven in a loud voice and the judges and rulers of the earth keep silent about it, when the persecuted church calls to God for help in the hour of dire distress and exhorts people to do justice, and yet no mouth on earth is opened to bring justice. Do you indeed speak righteousness, O humankind on whom injustice is perpetuated? Must that always be forgotten in such times? Do you hear? Children of humankind who are creatures of God like you, who feel pain and misery like you, you who do violence to them; who have their happiness and hopes like you; who feel their honor and their shame like you; your brothers and sisters! Are you mute? Oh, no, they are not mute, their voice is heard on earth. But it is an unmerciful, a partisan word they speak. It judges not by what is right, but by a person's standing." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "Vengence and Deliverance"
Do you hear the voice of Maher Arar? Is he not the voice of the "least of these"? "He said 'life in the cell was impossible' and that he contemplated suicide as soon as he realized he was in Syria. The beatings were so painful, he said, that 'I forgot every moment I enjoyed in my life.'" This is the voice of one whom our silence condemned to a filthy grave for a year while this innocent man was tortured for our sins and for our "security".
When will we hear the voice of love? "God charms and captivates our ears with the Word of grace. God attracts us with the sweet words of love. God persuades us and subdues our hears so that we are compelled to listen to God as if spellbound and be obedient to God." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But when we seek revenge, no matter how justified, we become deaf to the words of grace, and mute to the righteousness of God.
"But whoever leaves revenge in God's hands alone has become willing to suffer and bear it patiently - without vengeance, without a tought of one's own revenge, without hate and without protest; such persons are meek, peaceable, and love their enemies. God's cause has become more important to them than their own suffering. God will win the victory in the end." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread. When evil doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out 'stop!'
When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable, the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer." --Bertolt Brecht
3,590 people were killed in July '06; 3009 in August. Altogether, 655,000 of our fellow human beings have been murdered in Iraq and our Christian leaders have nothing to say, no word of admonishment for these laughing butchers. In the words of Arthur Silber, "It does not matter how immense the pile of corpses grows: we will not surrender or even question our delusion that we are right, and that nothing we do can be profoundly, unforgivably wrong."
Yet every one of those 655,000 corpses has a name, a family, and a God who loves him or her. And one day soon we will have to confront each face our contemptuous silence has deleted. "There is one final point to be made about all this -- and that has to do with the supreme value of a single human life. In our desensitized, dehumanized age, most people have almost no appreciation for what I'm talking about, and our political establishment and media only make this grievous failing worse. Each of us is unique; not one of us can be replaced. Each of us has a family, loved ones, friends and a life that is a web of caring, interdependence, and joy. When even one of us is killed or horribly injured for no justifiable reason, the damage affects countless people in addition to the primary victim. Sometimes, the survivors are irreparably damaged as well. Even the survivors' wounds can last a lifetime."
As Christians, we must feel the enormity of this sin as deeply as possible. We must make it our own and reach out to the victims of our silence. Make these victims as real to you as your brother, friend, teacher, or parent.
I will give you a new heart
and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.