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.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sanity Defined




Sanity can be defined as follows: "The psychic task which a person can and must set for himself, is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity, without panic and undue fear." - Erich Fromm, The Sane Society.

What Mark Danner describes in "The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means", the ground-breaking report just published in the New York Times Book Review, is an obsession with security that is the psychic opposite of sanity. To be free means to be insecure, just as the thinking man is by necessity uncertain. When the risk of insecurity becomes intolerable then we are willing to torture and maim others to maintain the illusion of security no matter the cost to our humanity. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

"How does peace come about?...Through the big banks, through money? Or through universal peaceful rearmament in order to guarantee peace? Through none of these, for the single reason that in all of them peace is confused with safety. There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It is the great venture. It can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to mistrust, and this mistrust in turn brings forth war. To look for guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means to give oneself altogether to the law of God, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won where the way leads to the cross. Which of us can say he or she knows what it might mean for the world if one nation should meet the aggressor, not with weapons in hand, but praying, defenseless and for that very reason protected by 'a bulwark never failing'." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "The Church and the People of the World"

But clearly this is not the path which the Obama administration has chosen. "The United States has formally adopted the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture; they are not some kind of "foreign devilment" messing with our sacred sovereignty: they are the law of the land. But it is clear that the Obama Administration does not have and never had the slightest intention of obeying the law and instigating the required investigations and prosecutions of the high crime -- the capital crime -- of ordering and committing torture. And the reason for this refusal is also clear: the Obama Administration wants to retain the power to torture, to conduct "paramilitary operations" with secret armies and single assassins, to carry out mass, illegal surveillance of the population with no legal accountability, to do "whatever it takes" to keep the machine of war and domination churning at full strength. That is why they have retained apparatchiks like Kappes and Sulick; that is why they are not only defending the Bush gang's egregious assertions of authoritarian power, but are actually seeking to expand them, as Glenn Greenwald and others have detailed." Chris Floyd, "Hope Abandoned", April 10, 2009.

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