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, January 13, 2008

Deliver Us from the Violence of Apathy




"...the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in a time of moral crisis maintain neutrality." - Martin Luther King, April 4, 1967.

There are two types of social critics: those who believe that the current situation is the result of incompetence and can be fixed if only we had more intelligence and good will and those that see the current situation as a result of cold calculation. Unfortunately, experience lends greater and greater weight to the latter. Social classes can be most effectively repressed by exploiting their weaknesses. Drugs are a prime example. The ruling elite has no interest in ending the drug trade, because they realize that the drugged mind is complicit in its own degradation, that taking drugs is a form of accepting the waste of human life that the capitalist system engenders deliberately in pursuit of profit.

The fundamental relationship between Church and empire has remained steady for two millenia: "Those human beings and communities of humans who persevere in fidelity to God and to the gift of their humanity, those who resist death and thus live in Jesus Christ - whether that be a public formality or not - do so under the condemnation of the State in own way or another, be it in ridicule and ostracism, in poverty or imprisonment, as sojourners or fugitives, in clandestine existence, as a confession movement, or, otherwise in resistance." - William Stringfellow, "An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land"

Jesus Christ led the way in showing how direct action could change hearts. The Christian Peacemaker Team has followed the footsteps of Jesus into the office of one of the primary enablers of the American addiction to blood and wasted humanity: "Eight CPTers, dressed in sackcloth and ashes as a sign of repentance for complicity in the war, entered the Congressman’s office around 4:00 p.m. They presented his staff with a letter expressing their concerns and a pledge for the Congressman to sign, in which he would promise to vote against any further funding for the occupation in Iraq." - "CHICAGO: Five CPTers arrested in M.L. King Day witness against Iraq war".

Even those of us who can't risk arrest can risk prayer and penance during this Lent by participating in "People Breaking the Silence", a time to bring before bishops and archbishops the sight of Christians doing penance for the sin of complicity in torture and the sin of silence in one of the most brutal and unnecessary wars ever to disgrace the human race.

"Upon his release from jail shortly after midnight, Gerber said he had no regrets about his action: 'We can hope and pray for peace but there are times when we are called by the Spirit to take drastic action to live the Gospel of peace and love.'"

One place to begin is with the Litany of Resistance:

"One: For our scorched and blackened earth
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For the scandal of billions wasted in war
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For our leaders who wage war in our name
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For our Caesars and our Herods
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For our generals and tacticians
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For the men and women in battle
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For the men and women training for war
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For the scientists and researchers
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For the arms dealers and the merchants of death
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For our taxes that fund the evil of war
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: Deliver us, O God
All: Guide our feet into the ways of peace
One: In humility, we ask
All: Hear our prayer. Grant us peace."

- Christian Peacemakers Team (Litany of Resistance)

Samuel Provance gave testimony tonight on Democracy Now about Abu Ghraib. What was deeply moving was his complete honesty and openness, obvious to anyone who shares his humanity. No one stood up for justice with him. Not a single soldier. Every single one looked at what happened to him and decided to protect themselves. That is the world the U.S. has created. That is the shame we must live with. That is the world we have said "yes" to. That is the world that those who are silent will die in.

It is not the world of Jesus Christ.

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