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, May 25, 2008
Touch the Truth of the World
"Redeem the times! The times are inexpressibly evil. Christians pay conscious -- indeed religious -- tribute to Caesar and Mars; by approval of overkill tactics, by brinkmanship, by nuclear liturgies, by racism, by support of genocide. They embrace their society with all their heart, and abandon the cross. They pay lip service to Christ and military service to the powers of death." - Daniel Berrigan, Statement of the Catonsville Nine
In 2008, Christians gladly embrace a society dedicated to war in a country that has no enemies other than those it has itself created. We can't struggle against death because we are satisfied with the life that this worship of death provides us. In order to maintain it, we will invent or even manufacture enemies so that death can be endlessly justified. The Iraqis are clearly not our enemies, yet we have declared never ending war on their people until they concede to our demand for absolute control of their resources.
"The US is holding hostage some $50 billion of Iraq's money in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to pressure the Iraqi government into signing an agreement seen by many Iraqis as prolonging the US occupation indefinitely. US negotiators are using the existence of $20bn in outstanding court judgments against Iraq in the US, to pressure their Iraqi counterparts into accepting the terms of the military deal, details of which were reported here yesterday." - Patrick Cockburn, "U. S. Extorts Iraq to Approve Military Deal"
While Iraqi children starve and American smart bombs obliterate the oldest civilization on earth, the U.S. threatens to steal 20 billion of desperately needed funds and then require the Iraqis to rebuild the country we destroyed. They must immediately (before July 31) accept permanent military occupation in order to escape a worse hell than the one imposed so far. We have brought them to the brink of such desperation that they might yield. Yet, against all reason and realpolitik, they remain miraculously unbending, while Christians remain predictably silent, unaware that their religion has anything to do with political justice.
In order to save itself from slow genocide, Iraq must submit to permanent military occupation. For now and the foreseeable future, "American forces will be able to carry out arrests of Iraqi citizens and conduct military campaigns without consultation with the Iraqi government. American soldiers and contractors will enjoy legal immunity." - Patrick Cockburn, "U. S. Extorts Iraq to Approve Military Deal" The empire will retain the power of life and death over every Iraqi citizen.
The price of "freedom" is high: "Human beings are machine-gunned and bombed from the air, automatic grenade launchers pepper hovels and neighbors with high-powered explosive devices, and convoys race through Iraq like freight trains of death. These soldiers and Marines have at their fingertips the heady ability to call in airstrikes and firepower that obliterate landscapes and villages in fiery infernos.
The cost to Americans is equally high: "They can instantly give or deprive human life, and with this power they become sick and demented. The moral universe is turned upside down. All human beings are used as objects. And no one walks away uninfected.
War thrusts us into a vortex of pain and fleeting ecstasy. It thrusts us into a world where law is of little consequence, human life is cheap, and the gratification of the moment becomes the overriding desire that must be satiated, even at the cost of another’s dignity or life." - Chris Hedges, "Collateral Damage: What It Really Means"
"The vanquished know the essence of war — death. They grasp that war is necrophilia. They see that war is a state of almost pure sin, with its goals of hatred and destruction. They know how war fosters alienation, leads inevitably to nihilism, and is a turning away from the sanctity and preservation of life. All other narratives about war too easily fall prey to the allure and seductiveness of violence as well as the attraction of the godlike power that comes with the license to kill with impunity." - Chris Hedges, "Collateral Damage: What It Really Means"
I conclude with words from Robert F. Kennedy, whose inspiration we should be celebrating today. 40 years after his death, he remains and even increases as a shining beacon of sanity. Here he considers why we fail to take the risk of acting for radical change in our society:
"First is the danger of futility, the belief that there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills -- against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence. Yet many of the world's great movements of thought and action have flowed from the work of a single [individual] .... Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation...
The second danger is that of expediency, of those who say that hopes and beliefs must bend before immediate necessities. Of course, if we would act effectively, we must deal with the world as it is. We must get things done. But if there was one thing President Kennedy stood for that touched the most profound feelings of people across the world, it was the belief that idealism, high aspirations, and deep convictions are not incompatible with the most practical and efficient of programs – that there is no basic inconsistency between ideals and realistic possibilities, no separation between the deepest desires of heart and mind and the rational application of human effort to human problems. It is not realistic or hardheaded to solve problems and take action unguided by ultimate moral aims and values. It is thoughtless folly...
A third danger is timidity. Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change."