"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.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Something Died at Guantanamo
"I am not a politician. God knows, it is enough in this day and age just to be Christian at some kind of serious and functional level. To the extent that I am Christian, though, it follows of necessity that what I write and what I say and the actions I take have political repercussions or consequences, for better or worse. I am not naïve enough to think otherwise. When I say I am not a politician, in other words, I simply mean to say that I have no knowledge of how to resolve all the contradictions and conflicts of interest that impede the easy execution of our common life, both domestic and foreign. I don't pretend, either, to have a professional's grasp of what all of those opposing forces are. I certainly don't claim the expertise that would be able to calculate accurately what the consequences might be of restraining any or all of those opposing forces for the sake of the common good of humanity and the on-going health of the Great Experiment.
What I do know, however, is that this July I am reading more and more about Guantanamo Bay and what we have done there. I can view again on the net pictures that have been taken in that place and understand to the depths of my soul, all over again, that something died there, that the Great Experiment was dealt something close to a fatal blow there, that the hope which birthed both the Marseillaise and the Star-Spangled Banner was mocked into impotence there." - Phyllis Tickle, "The Great Experiment and the Great Commandment"
Indeed, something died in America when we (you and me) permitted innocent men to be incarcerated indefinitely without charges and tortured for the sake of an unprovoked war of aggression to control Middle East energy resources. We allowed this because it was inconvenient to do otherwise. It would have interfered with our career growth path. It would have interfered with our personal fulfillment and enjoyment, so we didn't do anything or if we did, we did it knowing that it was not a serious enough act to really affect the crime that was being committed.
Those who created a revolution in 1776 were still capable of being inspired by something beyond their own self-interest. The mobs that stormed the ships during the Boston Tea Party were not concerned primarily with how that act would look on their resumes. They felt part of something larger than themselves, something that was threatened as a whole, not simply their particular piece of it. They felt that to be a human being meant to care about the community that one was a member of, not to cower behind electronic walls and "interact" with a faceless void.
Realities outside the self have become alien to us. The domination of consumerism disintegrates all communities other than affinity groups because the primary dynamic of consumption is isolation. The spirituality proper to such self-consumption is the New Age movement in which "...the soul, whose essence is self-abandonment, is cultivated as a project of self-fulfillment." - Joel Kovel, "History and Spirit"