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, February 17, 2008
The Hidden Scars of War
If you want to understand what the Iraq occupation has meant to most Iraqis, take a look at this video from Bill Moyer's Journal: Lori Grinker on Iraq's Displaced
As Susan Jacoby put it on a recent Bill Moyer's Journal show, we should not be concentrating so exclusively on the fact that we were lied to by the Bush Administration, but asking ourselves the deeper question, "Why was it that we were so willing to be lied to?" This is especially pertinent for Christians, who need to constantly examine and strengthen their conscience. What made it so easy to slide into war mania? Beyond blaming the media, what is it in ourselves that made us deaf to all voices but those that funneled all our attention into war?
It is our own demoralization, our surrender to entertainment as the real meaning of existence, the inner evasion implanted in us through years of snarky propaganda, that there can be no final truth or unwavering moral commitment. The principalities that rule this world have firmly instilled the notion that "...truth in the sense of eventful and factual matter does not exist. In place of truth and appropriating the name of truth are data engineered and manufactured, programmed and propagated by the principality." - William Stringfellow, "Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land."
Those of us of a certain age have watched the news media in the U.S. devolve into a mouthpiece for noisy and trivial opinion scientifically designed to reinforce certain attitudes. In place of news, we get entertaining senselessness wrapping notional nuggets meant to shape our beliefs and responses to current events. Or, "Sometimes doublespeak is overtalk, which which the media themselves so accentuate volume, speed, and redundancy that communication is incapacitated..." - William Stringfellow, "Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land" At the same time, our ability to politically analyze situations is neutered and the voice of real life drowned out.
Those in leadership are no less victims than are we. They invariably commit their atrocities by proxy, while professing devotion to Christianity. But their deeds cannot sully the faith of those who recognize the source of their delusive power.
1,173,743 Iraqi lives have been lost because of our action and inaction. Yet so effective have the instruments of the corporate media become that even now "...with the war costing Americans more than $338 million a day, MoveOn says, 'The tradeoffs are stark: Bombs or unemployment insurance for people laid off as the economy slows? Billions for Halliburton and Blackwater, or help for people on the verge of losing their homes because of the subprime meltdown?'" - "In Iraq Forever?", PWW, Feb. 23, 2008. Indeed, the trade offs could hardly be starker, but the choice to kill has been set to default for the foreseeable future. And, short of a miracle, there will be no united Christian voice rising up against this blasphemy. Such is the power of the illusions which enmesh us that even if the vast majority of Americans are notionally opposed to the war, the dominions trump all calls to end the occupation. These powers hardly even bother to consult Congress any more, their role having become as meaningful as that of the Roman Imperial Senate.
"Negotiations are set to start Feb. 27 between the White House and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki over an open-ended military, political and economic agreement that would secure a heavy U.S. military/corporate presence in Iraq for decades. To date neither the U.S Congress nor Iraq’s Parliament has been consulted about the proposed deal." - "In Iraq Forever?", PWW, Feb. 23, 2008. Why bother consulting with the empty shell of one never-to-be-born and another long-dead democracy? It won't be long before we dispense with even the pretense of elections.
The spiritual power which might rise up against this horror has been effectively neutralized, "By now truly demoralized, they suffer no conscience and they risk no action. Their human interest in living is narrowed to meager subsisting; their hope for life is no more than avoiding involvement with other humans and a desire that no one will bother them. They have lost any expectations for society; they have no stamina left for confronting the principalities; they are reduced to docility, lassitude, torpor, profound apathy, and default. The demoralization of human beings in this fashion greatly conveniences the totalitarianism of the demonic powers since the need to resort to persecutions or imprisonments is obviated, as the people are already morally captive." - William Stringfellow, "Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land."
Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee recently spoke candidly about imperial aims: "'It is important to remember that Bush’s original goals in Iraq were not only to gain control over Iraq’s oil but also consolidate long-term control over the entire region’s oil and geopolitics ... The Bush administration is planning for 14 long-term military bases in Iraq. The aim is to 'turn Iraq into a virtual unsinkable aircraft carrier for the U.S.'"
Even with impending economic meltdown, they will proceed with their plan and they will pay as much attention to letters to Congresspersons as to Iraqi deaths. In the words of Glenn Greenwald, "What were the consequences for the President for having broken the law so deliberately and transparently? Absolutely nothing. To the contrary, the Senate is about to enact a bill which has two simple purposes: (1) to render retroactively legal the President’s illegal spying program by legalizing its crux: warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, and (2) to stifle forever the sole remaining avenue for finding out what the Government did and obtaining a judicial ruling as to its legality: namely, the lawsuits brought against the co-conspiring telecoms. In other words, the only steps taken by our political class upon exposure by the NYT of this profound lawbreaking is to endorse it all and then suppress any and all efforts to investigate it and subject it to the rule of law." - Glenn Greenwald, "Amnesty Day for Bush and Lawbreaking Telecoms"
Truly, we suffer no conscience and risk no action other than personal action to protect ourselves from the beast's punishment.
Listen to the beast: "And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months; it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. If any one has an ear let him hear:
If any one is to be taken captive
to captivity he goes;
If any one slays with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain."
- Revelation 13: 5 - 10