"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.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The Hollow Comforts of Passivity
"How do we truly grasp what’s being done in our names, with our tax dollars — and, most of all, with our inordinate self-restraint that tolerates what should be intolerable?" - Norman Solomon
The rewards of passivity are hollow indeed: "Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." - MacBeth. The smell of blood pervades the pleasures of our greed and we pay handsomely in spiritual power for our state of the art distraction.
The Iraq veterans are more and more following a different path: Derek Hess, an honorable soldier, "...told his superiors 'that I would kill myself if I was sent to Iraq—so there would be no way I could used as a weapon of mass destruction for the US government.'"
Most Christians, minds benumbed by a constant focus on self-sanctification, have been taught to ignore God's will for the sanctification of the world, which is the kingdom of heaven we are called to build.
In the words of Jacques Maritain, "A Christian revolution can succeed only by the use of just those means which are beyond the ability of others to use. If Faith is able to move mountains, is it powerless to shift the mighty from their seats? If Christians, who live by Faith in their private lives, lay aside their faith when they approach the things of political and social life, they must be content to be towed like slaves in the wake of history."
And slaves in the tow of history is precisely where the powers of this world want us to stay. The power we have is far more threatening to the makers of war or those who would exploit the oppressed than the revolts of those who share the materialistic values of the oppressor. We are the bearers of tidings, which if lived, would put an end to the structures of power that doom half the world to starvation and violence. The means that we are called to use are those which are only available to those who privilege the spiritual over the material yet without neglecting what the material demands in order to be sanctified.
Another inner conquest we must make is the slavery to material success, which is the ultimate god of this world: "We believe that success, as the world determines it, is not the criterion by which a movement should be judged. We must be prepared and ready to face seeming failure. The most important thing is that we adhere to these values which transcend time and for which we will be asked a personal accounting, not as to whether they succeeded (though we hope they do), but as to whether we remained true to them even though the whole world go otherwise." - Dorothy Day.
These words should be guiding the peace movement today. With all our hearts, we want to end this anti-human war in Iraq, but not at the price of feeding the roots of war in our souls. In a time when all our efforts seem to have collapsed utterly without effect, then we must rededicate ourselves to self-cleansing and prayer, telling ourselves that this apparent failure is a call to more fully master the forces of violence in ourselves. As with Gandhi, I'm convinced that one grasper of truth who puts his whole faith in God can change the world, even though nothing appears to happen. Despite that, something has changed and that change will be part of the glory we will see one day.