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.
Monday, December 10, 2007
The Supreme Act of Faith
"Acts of resistance are moral acts. They begin because people of conscience can no longer tolerate abuse and despotism. They are carried out not because they are effective but because they are right. Those who begin these acts are few in number and dismissed by the cynics who hide their fear behind their worldliness. Resistance is about affirming life in a world awash in death. It is the supreme act of faith, the highest form of spirituality. We remember and honor the names of those who, solitary when they began, defied their age. Henry David Thoreau. Jane Adams. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Mahatma Gandhi. Milovan Djilas. Andrei Sakharov. Martin Luther King. Václav Havel. Nelson Mandela. It is time to join them. They sacrificed their security and comfort, often spent time in jail and in some cases were killed. They understood that to live in the fullest sense of the word, to exist as free and independent human beings, meant to defy authority. When the dissident Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was taken from his cell in a Nazi prison to the gallows, his last words were 'this is for me the end, but also the beginning.'" - Chris Hedges "Why We Resist", at http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/12/10/5731/.
Conscience is the ability to do what is right even when no one else is doing it. To act when no one understands or supports you, to defy injustice when everyone is snickering, to be a fool for Christ - this is the flowering of the spirit. What holds us back is not "common sense", but fear and "a complacency bred from cynicism and despair" (Chris Hedges). Most progressives are suffering post traumatic stress from the endless stream of ridicule poured on the heads of those who believe that another world is possible.
But we must see past this trauma. "In terms of the Gospel, the history of man's liberation from injustice is an outward aspect of the inward growth of man into God. Liberation is the consequence of God's explosion of love in history, made visible in the cross of Jesus of Nazareth. Liberation is the political expression of humanity's transformation in love. It becomes possible whenever man turns from the will to power and instead acknowledges in his depths the power of Love. The growth of God's love in man, and his transformation into the man-God, is the process which results finally in the breaking of chains and the freeing of slaves. The political liberation of humanity is a sign of God's redeeming presence breaking the bonds of sin." - James W. Douglass.
When we break the bonds of violence in ourselves, we break them not just for ourselves and our immediate circle, but all humanity can breathe a little more freely. Everyone who struggles for this liberation, whether they acknowledge Christ or not, is building the kingdom of God to the extent that they remain in the power of this love. Part of that spirit is to acknowledge that current economic structures are fundamentally unjust and need to be radically transformed in the direction of structures that exalt the dignity of man, God's image on earth. Capitalism, which focuses exclusively on profit and maximization of wealth without concern for the good of humanity or the whole, is inevitably the foe of God's kingdom.
The alternative, which we will experience in the lives of returning Iraq vets, is well described by Mumia Abu-Jamal, speaking of the wave of veterans now returning from the blood bath:
"In the years to come, when people trickle home, they will carry these nightmares into their work lives, and also into their personal lives.
They will be cops, prison guards, politicians, merchants, teachers, and journalists.
Within them will be these silent demons who will not rest in Iraq.
American society was deeply impacted by the return of Vietnam veterans, and not for the better.
We have yet to see the ripples from the war wash against the shores of this land.
We will find that the blood of war, and the perversities of occupation will splash against us all."
"Then a power angel picked up a boulder like a great millstone, and as he hurled it into the sea, he said, 'That is how the American empire is going to be hurled down, never to be seen again.'
'Never again in you, American empire,
will be heard the song of bankers and generals,
the music of drum and bugle marching abroad;
never again will technicians of every skill be conscripted
through the global slave trade;
never again will shine the light of the frontier.
Your corporate heads were the princes of the earth,
all the nations were under your spell.
In the American empire you will find the blood of prophets and saints."
The end is certain. The exploiters will fall from power, and the poor will inherit the earth. Will Jesus find you among them?