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 24, 2008

The 'Magna Carta' of Christian Nonviolence




"I met with two children who survived Wednesday's Jabalyia soccer bombing: the other 4 kids were, as you likely know, killed. One of the children I saw had no flesh on their legs, had burns all over their bodies from the tank's shelling. This was one of the scariest things I have seen yet, and I have seen a lot more than that. Only today, 35 killed, still going on and 180 injured, many were women and child. Hospitals appeal for blood donation and fuel for ambulances." - Mohammed Omer, "Fear in Gaza", Mar. 1, 2008. Most Americans have no idea that Israelis are currently raining missiles on children's soccer games. Palestinian suffering is not real suffering - only Israeli or American pain is worthy of response.

Almost exactly one year ago today, the Holy Father called for a "Christian Revolution", by which he meant an end to violence and a love powerful enough to embrace the most bitter enemy. Is is unreasonable to expect that this could begin with a recognition of the humanity of our brother and sister Palestinians?

"He was crying as he told the story, his tears hurting him even more than his psychological pain, as he has burns in his eyes. His mother uncovered his wounded leg where I could only see bones without flesh in places. I could not understand how he managed to lay down conscious, but knew it was a consciousness full of pain and anguish. I felt this pain in my own heart and head." - Mohammed Omer, "Fear in Gaza", Mar. 1, 2008.

Perhaps even Christians can feel the pain of those who are now being murdered and maimed using our tax contributions to Israel. According to the Pope, "'Love your enemies' is ...the 'magna carta' of Christian nonviolence; it does not consist in surrendering to evil -- as claims a false interpretation of 'turn the other cheek' (Luke 6:29) -- but in responding to evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21), and thus breaking the chain of injustice." - "Benedict XVI Calls for a 'Christian Revolution' Invites Faithful to Respond to Evil With Good", Feb. 18, 2007

Breaking the chain of injustice means breaking the chain of hatred, of strike and counterstrike. Is it conceivable that the Church could intervene in the massacres now being carried out in Gaza and plead that the chain be broken, even at the cost of political retribution?

"As I talked to this child's mother, she said that she'd had to evacuate her children, as it's no longer safe to be in that area where the children had been playing. The kids ranged from 6 to 14 years old. The two ones who survived said they had all been playing soccer in front of the door of their house in Jabalyia when the Israeli missile hit them." - Mohammed Omer, "Fear in Gaza", Mar. 1, 2008.

It is thus understood that nonviolence, for Christians, is not mere tactical behavior but a person's way of being, the attitude of one who is convinced of God's love and power, who is not afraid to confront evil with the weapons of love and truth alone." - "Benedict XVI Calls for a 'Christian Revolution' Invites Faithful to Respond to Evil With Good", Feb. 18, 2007

Convinced as we are of God's power, of the potency of love and truth alone, we speak out for the victims that the world has abandoned to the refuge heap. Even when Israelis call for a "holocaust", a shoah against the Palestinians, the world averts its gaze in complacent silence. Palestinians are "unpeople" - their pains don't hurt. Their only hope is the hope of Mohammed Omer, the writer of the article referenced here: "If I have to die (not my wish) , I want to be awake, so I know I'm dying, and by whom. Not asleep."

"But the real genocide in Gaza cannot or will not be assessed through sheer numbers. It is not a massacre of gas chambers. No.

It is a slow and calculated genocide -- a genocide through more calibrated, long-term means. And if the term is used in any context, it should be this. In many ways, this is a more sinister genocide, because it tends to be overlooked: all is ok in Gaza, the wasteland, the hostile territory that is accustomed to slaughter and survival; Gaza, whose people are somehow less human; we should not take note, need not take note, unless there is a mass killing or starvation." - Laila El-Haddad, "The Gaza genocide", Mar. 2, 2008

"Loving the enemy is the nucleus of the 'Christian revolution,' a revolution not based on strategies of economic, political or media power. The revolution of love, a love that does not base itself definitively in human resources, but in the gift of God, that is obtained only and unreservedly in his merciful goodness." - "Benedict XVI Calls for a 'Christian Revolution' Invites Faithful to Respond to Evil With Good", Feb. 18, 2007.

"The innocent laughter of six-month-old baby Mohammed al-Bor'i stopped forever on Wednesday night when shrapnel from an Israeli missile and rubble struck the infant in the head, minutes after he enjoyed his last meal.

'The baby sucked milk, he was playing with his mother; I was reading a book when a rocket hit the Ministry of Interior,' said Nasser al-Bor'i, the baby's father." - "Israeli missiles silence baby's laughter in Gaza", Feb. 28, 2008.

Please consider signing the letter of those of us consider that the Pope's upcoming visit to George Bush will be received as a blessing on his policy of murder and displacement against the Iraqi and Palestinian people: http://www.jonahhouse.org/Kobasa_Benedict.htm

The Pope who has given us this glorious magna carta may listen.

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