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.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Burying the Ration of Hope


"Then something happened that haunts my dreams to this day. All the women were led back inside the house and our entire platoon was ordered to stand guard outside it. Four U.S. military men entered the house with the women. They closed the doors. We couldn't see anything through the windows. I don't know who the military men were, or what unit they were from, but I can only conclude that they outranked us and were at least at the level of first lieutenant or above. That's because our own second lieutenant Joyce was there, and his presence did not deter them.

Normally, when we conducted a raid, we were in and out in 30 minutes or less. You never wanted to stay in one place for too long for fear of exposing yourself to mortar attacks. But our platoon was made to stand guard outside that house for about an hour. The women started shouting and screaming. The men stayed in there with them, behind closed doors. It went on and on and on.

Finally, the men came out and told us to get the hell out of there.

It struck me then that we, the American soldiers, were the terrorists. We were terrorizing Iraqis. Intimidating them. Beating them. Destroying their homes. Probably raping them. The ones we didn't kill had all the reasons in the world to become terrorists themselves. Given what we were doing to them, who could blame them for wanting to kill us, and all Americans? A sick realization lodged like a cancer in my gut. It grew and festered, and troubled me more with every passing day. We, the Americans, had become the terrorists in Iraq."

In order to kill, we must first dry up the stream of charity that wells so naturally in our native hearts. Deliberate conditioning is necessary to destroy these impulse, which will well up and overthrow the deepest self protection, as long as it is not staunched. In Iraq, the heart is made to dry in the Iraqi sun: "Former Marine Cpl. Matt Howard provided a harsh picture of the US effort in Iraq. He explained that when he attempted to give out humanitarian rations to impoverished Iraqi children, “The First Sergeant in my unit put an M-16 in my face and said, ‘I dare you to give out those rations.’ They later ordered us to bury all our humanitarian rations.” Of course, soon we will find that those rations feed our own starved souls. The consequences of violence devastate the perpetrator far more than their victims. One day we will beg forgiveness from those whose lives we have deprived of the rations that we threw away. "I also oppose war," Aguayo added, "because I have seen first-hand the direct result of deployments to war zones. As a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom II, I have seen many veterans whose lives have been shattered. Many men came back with missing parts, and countless physical and emotional scars, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have personally seen my comrades come back to commit suicide, drink themselves to death, and develop a strong addiction to drugs. It is obvious to me that these men's lives were destroyed by war. What participation in war does to our own soldiers is another reason why war is fundamentally immoral and wrong."

Show the world what a Christian conscience looks like this Lenten season. For more information on Aguayo's case, see http://www.aguayodefense.org/. Every conscience you bring alive strikes a blow in the only true battle - and, yes, it's a slow one, but it's the only one we are destined to win.

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