"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, January 22, 2005

Loving Our Enemies

As anti-war Christians, we must not make the mistakes of many of the Vietnam-era protesters. To love our enemies means not to undermine their moral fervor. We must respect the idealism of those who justify war by using an appeal to bringing democracy and freedom to the world. There is a world of difference between showing the means to the end to be morally flawed and casting aspersions on the ideal itself. The mistake of the Vietnam protests was to promote a nihilistic cynicism that brought all ideals into question. Let us take the opposite path this time and give honor to what is real in the idealism of our opponents, while doing everything possible to magnify the dissonance between those ideals and the means they use to carry them out.

The Freedom

What American heart does not thrill to hear the following words: "Because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts we have lit a fire as well, a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power; it burns those who fight its progress. And one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world." - George W. Bush, inauguration speech, Jan. 20, 2005.

The fires that burn in Iraq are not fires of the mind. One fire is the fire of fear: "Ah the freedom. Look, we have the gas-line freedom, the looting freedom, the killing freedom, the rape freedom, the hash-smoking freedom. I don't know what to do with all this freedom." -Akeel, a 26 year old Baghdad resident on life in the new Iraq.

It is precisely the mind that is absent. All other fires burn brightly. The fire of phosphorus which melts human skin and water intensifies. Easy it is to feel the thrill of the rhetoric and let that mythology airbrush away the faces of those murdered in Fallujah, blood-soaked children whose parents were killed at a checkpoint because nobody thought that soldiers in Iraq would need to know Arabic, or armless girls struck by precision-guided missles. How many sincere converts to democracy have been made by smart bombs and napalm?

What is the fundamental principle that is being violated here? The means and the end must be in conformity with each other. If you wish to promote freedom, you must use the tools of freedom - education, open debate, and freely-formed associations. The tools of coercion can only achieve conformity through fear - a direct contradiction of the goal. You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace, or democracy.


Dear readers of Nonviolent Jesus,

Due to the continuing crimes of the U.S. and others in Iraq, I have decided to make a change in my life's direction. The silence of the last few weeks has been intentional because I feel that the God-inspired response to this attack on God's compassion is to fill myself with the teachings of the Church regarding the honor to be accorded to the human person. Thus armed, I will return to this blog shortly, as the war expands in ever-widening circles and the desire to dominate flares up in forgetful hearts. "Be not afraid." Also, I would greatly appreciate it if you would forward your thoughts/criticisms about the blog and it's current direction. Pray for me.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

War Crimes Documentation

Journalists and activists have now demonstrated direct violations of the Geneva Conventions in the attack (still ongoing) on Fallujah from November to the present. Over the next few weeks, I will be collecting and presenting the evidence of these crimes for those in the Catholic Peace community who care about such matters. Needless to say, the silence of the U.S. Church hierarchy has been nothing less than deafening. MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization, has begun the process of denounciation. See http://www.commondreams.org/news2004/1210-01.htm for a listing of the known crimes so far. The list declares a desperate reversion to the most inhuman tactics of the Vietnam war. As a committed peace activist, my job over the next several weeks will be to find documentation for each of these breaches so that Pax Christi members can use this evidence to pursue those responsible for these atrocities in the court of God's law if no other courts will take the case. Will you join me in this effort? If anyone knows of breaches and has hard evidence for them, please send your information to me at brcoll[at]houston.rr.com. Please don't let us be silent in the face of crimes being carried out in our name.