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, October 13, 2007

Head Bloody but Unbowed



"Chevron, Total and other oil companies have poured billions in Myanmar's booming natural gas industry in recent years. Natural gas projects generated $2.16 billion in revenue for Myanmar's military regime in 2006, according to Human Rights Watch. Human rights groups say the revenue from taxes and fees on the gas pipelines have become the largest source of cash for Myanmar's generals and have helped to prop them up." - Avni Patel, "Amid Deaths, Censorship, Oil Companies Continue Myanmar Operations"

The agony in Burma must draw a larger picture in our hearts than that of monks laying dead in pools. What put them there is an economic system that turns human beings into commodities. The economic exploitation by Chevron and other oil companies lies at the root of the military dictatorship's power. Until the Christian conscience is roused to action by slave labor and the conditions that foster it, the agony will continue. At the root of this economic system is "the pitiless selfishness of competition, the turning of man into a thing and of his work into a commercial commodity", which is "intolerable to the Christian conscience." - Nicolai Berdyaev.

"Christianity has to condemn the exploitation of man by man and of class by class from a religious and moral point of view, and she has to protect the worker and the exploited, for the Christian faith attaches a value beyond price to personality and to the human soul. There it is impossible for her to refrain from condemning also that regime under which this personality and this soul are turned into a means towards the unhuman economic process." - Berdyaev.

The reduction of human beings to slaves of a Burmese pipeline sets the stage for the slaughter which has taken place over the last few weeks. Once again, an economic abstraction has been given mastery over the needs of human beings. To help support globalized oligarchy, the corporate media has been busily promoting a degenerate form of Christianity in which economic success is the sign of God's favor, thus deadening the religious conscience. The truth lies elsewhere: "There is nothing more inconsistent with Christianity than the optimistic idea that the economically strongest and most successful are of necessity the best, that wealth is a favor granted to man as a reward for his virtues." - Berdyaev.

In fact, the gospel of success belongs to the same atheistic creed to which the Burmese dictators subscribe: "A few days earlier, on October 5, a message was left at the entrance of the North Okkalapa Mae Lamu Pagoda in Rangoon which said '[Even] I myself, Lord Buddha, am under house arrest.' And later that day, a wreath was found hanging on the banyan tree in front of State High School No. 3 in Tamwe Township with a portrait of Than Shwe and the words "Military Dictator Than Shwe, the Atheist."

We should think deeply about the meaning of this atheism. It is the denial of the divinity that lives within each human heart. This atheism raises an impersonal good, economic achievement, over all other values, including those of the spirit. This is the atheism that crowds out all values except material ones and lets the stone hearts rule. The fantasy world of savage capitalism obscures the way of God in us: "They have nothing to hold on to, they cannot stop themselves: their spirit fails, for they no longer contemplate divine things." - Berdyaev.

The voice of humanity calls out in this pamphlet circulating anonymously in Burma:

"Afflicted by military dictator and lackeys
Shootings and beatings
My head is bloody
But unbowed"

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