"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, February 09, 2007

Becoming Free

"Watada also provides a living example of what it means to step up to personal responsibilities. 'There was a long time when I went through depression because I told myself I didn't have a choice,' he told New America Media. 'That I joined the military and I had only one duty and that was to obey what I was told, regardless of how I felt inside. It really hurt me for a long time because I imprisoned myself by telling myself I didn't have a choice. It didn't matter that I might be sent to prison. I was already in prison, my freedom was already gone.

"When I told myself that I do have a choice, I have a choice to do what is morally right, what is in my conscience, and what I can live with for the rest of my life--even though that comes with consequences, I do have that choice. When I realized that, and when I chose what was right for me, I became free again. And I think everybody has to remember that and to realize that is what is important in life."

Instead, we behave thus: "Despite my best efforts, I cannot ignore the mistakes I made at the interrogation facility in Fallujah. I failed to disobey a meritless order, I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency. Instead, I intimidated, degraded and humiliated a man who could not defend himself. I compromised my values. I will never forgive myself." - from a soldier currently stationed in Iraq.

What this leads to, beyond the moral catastrophe, are massacres such as the murder of 260 people near Najaf in southern Iraq on January 29 which was first portrayed as a highly successful U.S.-Iraqi joint military action, but has now been revealed as another uncaring blunder by those living in the necessary unreality engendered by the deceptions inherent to the occupation. The roads are filled with pilgrims walking on foot toward Najaf, the holy city of the Shiites. It was the festival of Ashura and the tribes were gathered and on the march to show honor to Hussein, Mohammed's son in law. But fear, nourished through the colonial brutality needed to dominate by division, rules the Iraqi army. When the time for a minor strike on a religious party came, there were various other people in the area--notably the al-Hawatim tribe. The rest of the story is best told from Patrick Cockburn's account: "The incident reportedly began when a procession of 200 pilgrims was on its way, on foot, to celebrate Ashura in Najaf. They came from the Hawatim tribe, which lives between Najaf and Diwaniyah to the south, and arrived in the Zarga area, one mile from Najaf at about 6am on Sunday. Heading the procession was the chief of the tribe, Hajj Sa'ad Sa'ad Nayif al-Hatemi, and his wife driving in their 1982 Super Toyota sedan because they could not walk. When they reached an Iraqi army checkpoint it opened fire, killing Mr Hatemi, his wife and his driver, Jabar Ridha al-Hatemi. The tribe, fully armed because they were travelling at night, then assaulted the checkpoint to avenge their fallen chief." - Patrick Cockburn, The Waco of Iraq? US "Victory" Against Cult Leader was a Massacre, CounterPunch, January 31, 2007.

Why was he killed? In an act of remarkable courage, the Hawatim had declared themselves opposed to the occupation-induced war between Sunni and Shiite. Far from being the mythical centuries-old struggle portrayed by the corporate media, the Shiite-Sunni civil war of today is primarily a consequence of the American occupation. The one unforgiveable crime in the current Iraq is to cry out for peace.

"Members of another tribe called Khaza'il living in Zarga tried to stop the fighting but they themselves came under fire. Meanwhile, the soldiers and police at the checkpoint called up their commanders saying they were under attack from al-Qai'da with advanced weapons. Reinforcements poured into the area and surrounded the Hawatim tribe in the nearby orchards. The tribesmen tried - in vain - to get their attackers to cease fire.

American helicopters then arrived and dropped leaflets saying: 'To the terrorists, surrender before we bomb the area.' The tribesmen went on firing and a US helicopter was hit and crashed killing two crewmen. The tribesmen say they do not know if they hit it or if it was brought down by friendly fire. The US aircraft launched an intense aerial bombardment in which 120 tribesmen and local residents were killed by 4am on Monday." - Patrick Cockburn, ibid.

The final count was 263 dead, plus a lie swallowed whole by the corporate media. Do we have a choice? Do we want to be free again?

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