"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.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Man’s Original Virtue
Oscar Wilde wrote: "Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue."
"On May 1, all 29 ports on the U.S. West Coast are to be shut down by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in protest against the U.S. war on Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a historic event of international significance: labor action against imperialist war by a major American union. The strategically placed port workers in the ILWU can bring commerce with Asia to a grinding halt, and they’re about to demonstrate it. The maritime employers are already screaming, and you can bet it’s got the attention of the warmongers in Washington. All labor should take up the challenge this poses: For workers strikes against the war! Hit ’em where they feel it." - IndyMedia, Bay Area
As Christians, we must constantly work toward the growth of compassion, to end the myth of redemptive violence that holds America in its idolatrous grip. But we need to move beyond moral exhortation and materially support the works of solidarity wherever those works represent true challenges to the principalities and powers of this world.
"Modern society is in a definite state of decomposition. The old world, the world of slavery, of feudalism, of the proletariat, the pagan world, attacked at its base 1800 years ago by the great explosion of the doctrine of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity that Christ brought to earth, the world of misery, of struggle, of exploitation of man by man, has been shaken to its very foundations: It is cracking in every part of its worm-eaten timbers." - Victor Considerant
Words such as these ring as true today as when they were written in 1848. We must be part of that shaking of the foundations of the pagan world, which has seen such resurgence lately in the heartless (and gutless) empire building to which the ruling class has chosen to divert our resources. Christ has ended relationships of exploitation between human beings, has called us for thousands of years to break the oppressor's chains, first in ourselves, but then in those who distort and degrade our God-given capacity for work by turning it into the instrument of profit.
"Industrial action by one of the most powerful and militant American unions against a U.S. imperialist war – this is not just a couple of labor bureaucrats mouthing empty phrases at an antiwar rally, dock workers are using their muscle. Although it is a 'symbolic' action – stopping work for the day shift, on May Day, the international workers day – the symbolism is not lost on the ruling class. It is a warning of big trouble on the home front of their imperialist war, a vivid demonstration that American workers have the power to shut down the war machine – and that the most militant sectors are ready to use it." - IndyMedia, Bay Area, 4/26/2008.
Churches must be alive to the call issued by the longshoreman "to bring an end to this bloody war once and for all." The endless silence of Church and Pope while millions are being slaughtered for U.S. oil interests gives implicit spiritual blessing to the whole enterprise. The dockworkers' strike is a stirring of the American conscience which we must fan with our prayers and our action.
The virtue we preach is solidarity. We declare the common ownership of the things of God, "Do not say, 'I am using what belongs to me.' You are using what belongs to others. All the wealth of the world belongs to you and to the others in common, as the the sun, air, earth, and all the rest." - St. Thomas Aquinas.
So let us use the things of God to proclaim the coming of his kingdom. "To the light of science we must add the warmth of love. Today, as in the time of Christ, it is always a question of freeing the slaves, and of replacing an old society of misery, deceit and oppression with a society of brotherhood. You will not do that with a party of violence, hate, envy and anger. We need a new explosion of gospel feeling in order to save the old world. If you are not religious, you may someday have the force of the hurricane to uproot and overturn, but you will never have that of nature, which prepares the seeds, and the sun to make them grow. Let us place ourselves sincerely under the inspiration of the Gospel." - Victor Considerant.