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, May 15, 2007
The Infrastructure of Applied Agony
"The most painful thing for the inmates there were the cries of the people being tortured. One day, they brought sheets to cover the cell in order for no one to see anything. They began torturing one of them, and we could hear what was happening. We listened as his soul cracked." - Former inmate of Abu Ghraib It is not only "their" souls that crack. The failure of our souls to crack in sympathy with those we torture, or allow to be tortured in our names, causes a still deeper rent in the fabric of our being.
"The schools were in an appalling state, but nothing could prepare her for the squatter camps, crammed full of displaced families. They weren’t classed as refugees because they were still in their own country and they did not receive aid. In one camp, 125 families were living without adequate food and water, shelter and medical care. There was no sewerage system. A two-month-old girl died because of the cold and a four-year-old boy had his legs badly burned from the open paraffin stove his family used in their shack built of breezeblocks and canvas; with no medical care, he lay there with his legs oozing pus and blood and riddled with infections. A young man had his fingers blown off because he would take bullets apart to sell the tiny bits of scrap metal.
“I was angry that there was all this money - the planes, bombs, guns, the contracts that were given to Halliburton - going to people who didn’t need it. There were these children dying for lack of blankets and basic medicine and shelter,” says Wilding, her voice rising with fury. “They were living around open sewers, without anything. How could you not be angry? They was always so much need and so little you could do that I was never thinking, ‘I’m so clever, look what I’ve done.’ It was always, ‘Is that all you did?’ People were always asking me to help on a more material level, for cooling fans, money for operations, all sorts of things. A woman at the camp asked for clean knickers and sanitary towels.” Even with the £10,000 Wilding had raised for the trip, she could not meet every need, although she did help pay for the installation of drains and pipes in the camp." - Iraq: Send in the Clown, Guardian UK, May 17, 2007.
One day, we will stand before Jesus and he will ask us what we did when his brothers and sisters were suffering and dying in the deserts of Iraq. We will reply that we were watching CNN or Fox News and pretending to believe what we heard. And he will ask again. And we will say, "Am I my brother's keeper?" And he will ask again. And we will say, "I didn't know them." And he will say, "Neither do I know you."