"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

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.

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