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.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Silence is not permitted
Imagine, if you will, a political group inspired by the ideals and actions of the first Christians, or in the words of Jacques Maritain, "Imagine a political group of men who decide to resume ... and to transpose into the political order the methods of the early Christians and of apostles of all times... they go beyond the ordinary means that the law provides and that are not, strictly speaking, means of warfare. In cases where it becomes necessary to carry on their struggle by voluntary suffering, they practice poverty, they endure punishment carrying the loss of civil rights, they go out to meet these things, shouting the truth in season and out of season, refusing in certain cases to cooperate with the civil authority, and initiating reforms outside the law, not to disorganize the state or imperil its safety, but to obtain the repeal of an unjust law, or to bear witness to the existence of a right, to force a reform of which reason has recognized the necessity, to prepare little by little the transformation of the temporal regime, until the hour comes when the burden of office and responsibility shall fall into the hands of the group." "Freedom in the Modern World"
When we contemplate, not the ephemeral regimes of Republican or Democratic flavor, but the powers of global dominance for which they act as marketing representatives, it is almost impossible not to succumb to a sense of futility. In fact, they have labored long and hard to instill this sense of impotence in us, the idea that there is no alternative to the everlasting dominance of savage capitalism - the end of history, indeed. But the weapons God has given us are the same as those which the early Christians used against an equally powerful empire. And he will not abandon us now either.
We begin by acting on our conscience - there is no substitute for action, but the action must be supported by the twin pillars of prayer and strategic analysis. Prayer must be sincere, but the strategic analysis must penetrate to the depth of the power relations that we face. Otherwise, we will be satisfied with small concessions while the real crimes continue.
Recently, three followers of Jesus acted against torture training at Fort Huachucha in Arizona and issued the following statement: "Today we join many who call for an end to our country' s use of torture in interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, in Iraq, Afghanistan and in secret prisons elsewhere. We stand near the main gate of Ft. Huachuca, a U.S. Army post in southern Arizona, home base for Army intelligence and where all Army interrogators are trained.
We are here because we can no longer tolerate violations of fundamental human rights such as detention without trial and acts of torture committed in our names behind the vast secrecy which the present administration has instituted.
Although Colonel Jeff Jennings and other training staff at the fort seemed sincere in telling some of us that waterboarding, sleep deprivation and stress positions are prohibited at Ft. Huachuca, we continue to believe that these brutal and dehumanizing methods are still happening at the hands of U.S. interrogators deployed abroad. These acts and the secrecy surrounding them contradict our understanding of the U.S. Constitution and our treaty obligations as a signatory to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. They are deeply unacceptable to our personal moral consciences.
There has been widespread opposition to our current government's imperial policies of pre-emptive war, unwarranted telephone and Internet-based surveillance, the sending of invasive national security letters, rendition of many times mistakenly suspected foreigners to countries known to practice torture and the selective abolition of civil rights like habeas corpus.
We have filled the streets; we have filled the Internet and telephone lines, the op-ed and letters to the editor columns as well as Congressional mail bags.Some of us have refused war taxes. And yet unspeakable, illegal and immoral acts are committed daily in our names as American citizens.
Gates and sentry posts always relate to greed, the desire to hold on to what we have and to keep people less fortunate than we are from claiming their share. It is not true that military people are more greedy than the rest of us, but they have accepted the charge of protecting our abundance with weapons of unprecedented killing power. They are enforcing the projection into the world of our unwillingness to share. We cannot reconcile gates, guns or sentry posts with the Sermon on the Mount. Gandhi spoke of nonviolent direct action as an experiment in truth or satyagraha. We ask ourselves: how can we best honor our need to withdraw our complicity with our government's actions? Our simple ritual of approaching the gate of Ft. Huachuca expresses our willingness to undergo suffering rather than to inflict it, and our longing to bring our country to openness and accountability.
We seek to meet with enlisted personnel and officers on Ft. Huachuca to continue a dialogue about the interrogation techniques they are learning, how easy it has been for others trained before them to fall into cruelty, and to explore with them what they each might do to prevent themselves from repeating the horrible errors of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. We may be arrested.
We ask for your prayers, and we ask also that you escalate - in any nonviolent way you are led - your own efforts to end torture and the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan."
Look at the face of the boy at the top of the blog post and imagine what he feels as he faces what America has wrought in his tortured country. Then lift up your heart in prayer and ask God to heal us of the fear that causes us to kill and torture.