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.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Now that She is Dead, I Love Her More



"Afrah Sattar , 27, was on a bus approaching the square when she saw the guards fire on the white car. She and her mother, Ghania Hussein , were headed to the Certificate of Identification Office in Baghdad to pick up proof of Sattar's Iraqi citizenship for an upcoming trip to a religious shrine in Iran.

When she saw the gunmen turn toward the bus, Sattar looked at her mother in fear. "They're going to shoot at us, Mama," she said. Her mother hugged her close. Moments later, a bullet pierced her mother's skull and another struck her shoulder, Sattar recalled.

As her mother's body went limp, blood dripped onto Sattar's head, still cradled in her mother's arms.

"Mother, mother," she called out. No answer. She hugged her mother's body and kissed her lips and began to pray, "We belong to God and we return to God." The bus emptied, and Sattar sat alone at the back, with her mother's bleeding body.

"I'm lost now, I'm lost," she said days later in her simple two-bedroom home. Ten people lived there; now there are nine.

"They are killers," she said of the Blackwater guards. "I swear to God, not one bullet was shot at them. Why did they shoot us? My mother didn't carry a weapon."

Downstairs, her father, Sattar Ghafil Slom al Kaabi, 67, sat beneath a smiling picture of his wife and recalled their 40-year love story and how they raised eight children together. On the way to the holy city of Najaf to bury her, he'd stopped his car, with her coffin strapped to the top. He got out and stood beside the coffin. He wanted to be with her a little longer.

"I loved her more than anything," he said, his voice wavering. "Now that she is dead, I love her more."

"Hussein, who was on the opposite side of the street from the construction site, fell to the ground, shot in the leg. As she struggled to her feet and took a step, eyewitnesses said, a Blackwater security guard trained his weapon on her and shot her multiple times. She died on the spot, and the customs documents she'd held in her arms fluttered down the street."

Without the mercenary guns for hire, the political and financial elites would be forced to abandon their illegal occupation. Their crime can only be sustained through a massive reallocation of taxpayer money to hire killers to terrorize the Iraqi population whose resources they intend to control. They can't depend on volunteers, who are refusing to fight in ever-greater numbers, but must hire professional murderers. This is not strength, but weakness, and one that the anti-war must focus on in order to break this will to hatred.

Witness the case of Joshua Gaines, who served a tour in Iraq in 2004 to 2005 with the Army Reserve, and has decided he no longer needs the awards given to him by the masters of war. He has "returned his Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today by mail as dozens of supporters look on." - Courage to Resist.

We do not need the awards of those who do not understand love. They reward those who justify the violence that lives in their hearts. To honor Christ, we must return all the medals awarded us by the powers that rule this world. Only when we are free from the thanks of those who murder to satisfy their greed can we begin to live according to the Gospel. The witness of the monks in Burma points the way to freedom.

In Burma, Richard Deats of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, "went to lead a series of secret trainings on nonviolence. The junta forbids gatherings of more than five, so Richard hustled from living room to out of the way restaurant. And along with seething unrest, he found broad interest in the way of nonviolence. They were especially eager to hear the story of the People Power movement in the Philippines, and how it nonviolently toppled the Marcos regime..."

"But in all their travail, the monks and Burmese marchers teach us a thing or two about how to resist tyranny, what the spiritual life looks like, and for Christians, how to follow the nonviolent Jesus." - John Dear.

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