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, June 01, 2008
"It is undeniable that the countries of the North bear responsibility for the hunger and malnourishment of 854 million people. They imposed trade liberalisation and financial rules that demanded structural adjustment, on a world composed of clearly unequal actors. They brought ruin to many small producers in the South and turned self-sufficient and even exporting nations into net importers of food products." - "Cuba's vice-president: 'We can confront the food crisis'"
A deep analysis of the situation is almost totally lacking in most mainstream churches. Christian minds are frozen into neoliberal crystallizations which only true compassion can shatter. The beginning of wisdom is that the crisis is systemic and structural. It is not the random result of bad harvests or even global warming. The globalist hegemony has intentionally created the current state of hunger in order to maximize profit margins for the major agricultural corporations. If we try to solve the problem while failing to comprehend it as the result of "free trade" policies that have destroyed agricultural self-subsistence in poor countries, then Christian charities will become complicit in maintaining global hunger. Our charity will be used to placate the outrage and rioting while maintaining the steady profits to be reaped from hunger.
The immediate cause of spiraling food prices is speculation in the commodity markets. "Recently, due to the sub-prime crisis, speculators and investors have shifted their money into these commodity exchange markets, seeing a chance to make massive profits out of speculating on food commodities. Sensing this, and knowing that countries' food reserves were depleted, large corporate traders started withholding supply over the last few months in the hopes of higher prices in the future, whilst playing off currency differentials. In response, investors started buying grain futures in the hope of making profits, which drove prices even higher. The consequence has been that the price of maize tripled in the last two years.26 Of course, corporations and speculators are profiteering from the higher prices; while people around the world stare starvation in the face." - Shawn Hattingh, "Liberalizing Food Trade to Death"
The proposed cure is to increase the intensity of the disease by ending all resistance to the multinationals. "Far from driving the price of food down, further trade liberalization will extend multinational corporations' control over the human food chain and food prices." - Shawn Hattingh, "Liberalizing Food Trade to Death"
Because of our support for capitalism and "free trade", hundreds of millions face starvation over the next few years. But this is not a Christian issue. No, it has nothing to do with religion. These are complex matters of economics best left to experts in the field who alone are equipped to deal with such massive problems. God has called us only to enjoy the fruits of this catastrophe.
In the countries which have been ravaged by our desires, people are responding to the needs of their neighbors not with complex economic theory, but with deeds of truth. "...these movements have established cooperatives and collectives to meet people's food needs. Through this, they have created their own economies based on democracy, solidarity, and equality. They have also established alternative trade networks to improve the lives of the people. In the urban areas of Argentina, movements such as the Piqueteros have also invaded land and established urban farms. Along with this, they have created their own neighborhood kitchens to ensure that all the people in these areas are fed." - Shawn Hattingh, "Liberalizing Food Trade to Death"
And when we feel the weight of this monster on our back, it is well to remember the words of Daniel Berrigan: "'The fall of the towers [on 9/11] was symbolic as well as actual,' he adds. 'We are bringing ourselves down by a willful blindness that is astonishing.' Berrigan argues that those who seek a just society, who seek to defy war and violence, who decry the assault of globalization and degradation of the environment, who care about the plight of the poor, should stop worrying about the practical, short-term effects of their resistance. The good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere," he says. 'I believe if it is done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don't know where. I don't think the Bible grants us to know where goodness goes, what direction, what force. I have never been seriously interested in the outcome. I was interested in trying to do it humanly and carefully and nonviolently and let it go.'" - Daniel Berrigan in "Daniel Berrigan: Forty Years After Catonsville" by Chris Hedges