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, June 09, 2007
Faces of Integrity
"An Iraq War veteran – who insists on remaining anonymous as "only a representative" of his fallen comrades – began walking laps around the state capitol building Memorial Day morning at 8:00 am. Fifty-eight hours later, he was still walking. Although some on the scene summed up his condition as a “health crisis” due in large part to weather extremes, he told supporters he will not rest until he has finished walking laps for every U.S. service person killed in Iraq." - Courage to Resist.
What has the blood of 700,000 Iraqis and Americans bought? "In Iraq, the new 'Hydrocarbon Law', if it passes the puppet parliament, is a shameless scheme to rape and plunder the country's oil treasure. It's a blueprint for privatization giving foreign investors (meaning US and UK mainly) a bonanza of resources, leaving Iraqis a sliver for themselves. Its complex provisions give the Iraqi National Oil Company exclusive control of just 17 of the country's 80 known oil fields with all yet-to-be-discovered deposits set aside for foreign investors. It's even worse with Big Oil free to expropriate all earnings with no obligation to invest anything in Iraq's economy, partner with Iraqi companies, hire local workers, respect union rights, or share new technologies. Foreign investors would be granted long-term contracts up to 35 years, dispossessing Iraq of its own resources in a scheme to steal them." - Stephen Lendman, Jun 7, 2007.
Christians must not be satisfied with vague wishes for an improvement in the political climate. We must use the best tools available to analyze and understand the relationships of power, not so that we might seize power, but so that we can aid and comfort the victims of power effectively and realistically. Clearly, the current level of analysis is inadequate. Where are profound insights of Dom Helder Camara? He saw that it is not enough merely to help the poor, but we must, as Christians, press farther and see why there are so many poor people that need our help in a world that could feed, clothe, educate, and care for every man, woman and child on this earth. We must address root causes.
We must believe in our own power of understanding. We cannot hide behind "mystery" when the lives of our brothers and sisters - for instance, our Iraqi brothers and sisters - are being carelessly pitched into Sheol by the hundreds of thousands. To fail to see the power relationships that have led to this butchery is not intellectual humility, but willful blindness.
So let's take it a step further and admit (confess) that we benefit from the conquests of the empire that we are members of. We are 5% of the world's population and we control 25% of the resources, resources that could save the lives of hundreds of thousands each day. Our military control dispenses benefits to us directly and we are addicted to those benefits. The only way we can retain our life-sapping luxeries is through continued military dominance and, sadly, most of us are more than willing to pay the price, and we pay large advances to those who can cleanse this decision of its moral consequences.
Nor do we really mind war and killing all that much. We are encased in a mythological defense structure known as redemptive violence, which justifies killing as a static feature in a world without alternatives, where the conquerers and the conquered must wrestle eternally until the Lord comes again. But the Lord I know died as the sacrificial victim of that same empire, which clearly understood the love he brought as the greatest threat it had ever faced. War makes us feel alive, it gives our lives meaning, it makes us feel much greater than the pathetic slaves of consumption that we have become.
We are controlled by the levers of success. Success projects its idol dreams into a future that will only take place in our well-tuned imaginations. Blaspheming this false god can free us to connect to others, to form alternative networks of alternative power that destabilize the empire at its core. We have a duty as Christians to become disobedient to the idol when obedience means the starvation and impoverishment of hundreds of millions of our fellow creatures of God.
If our religion becomes a solipsistic luxury then it ceases to be Christian. If we see only ourselves and our friends, then we are cut off from the great body that we are part of and kill off that part of ourselves. We belong to a different Body than the one that requires wars in order to survive.