"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, March 26, 2005

The Christian Response to War

Come, think of Yahweh's marvels,
the astounding things he has done in the world;
all over the world he puts an end to wars,
he breaks the bow, he snaps the spear,
he gives shields to the flames.
"Pause a while and know that I am God,
exalted among the nations, exalted over the earth!"

Psalm 46:8-10

The costs of the Iraqi War are $157.8 billion and counting -- the money that could have been spent, for instance, to insure 94.5 million children for one year or provide four-year scholarships at public universities for 7.7 million students." - Furuhashi, "How Do We Resist This Ruinous War?", CounterPunch, March 25, 2005.

We must stand with Jesus Christ, the defeated one. Our leader is not the Arnold Schwartzenegger of the moment, rather "there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him." (Isaiah 52:19). Each in his or her own place can begin to do the small things that put an end to violence, in ourselves first, and then among the nest of lies that become bullets in the flesh of the innocent. Among the defeated, all are welcome, anyone can speak a word that deflates the myth, that pokes holes of silence into the ranting beast. Since we are defeated, we need not waste our substance in dreams that keep the voice of violence alive in us. Out of truth comes true hope. Out of defeat the ability to see truth.

"Every person of conscience in the United States right now should be putting everything into ending the war on Iraq. The US military is killing thousands of human beings, wounding thousands, traumatizing infants and children, destroying families, destroying cities. This is not one issue among many. This is an emergency to which we must not become adjusted and numb. This is life and death. People are murdering in our name.

Anger and vengeance are being nurtured by actions we are allowing to occur. We are encouraging international armament and militarism by failing to restrain our government. We are allowing the world to move closer to nuclear disaster, a catastrophe that looms more urgently than global warming." "Peace in Iraq Now", Progressive Democrats of America, March 15, 2005.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Fate of Humanity

"When war, as in these days in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is ever more urgent to proclaim, with a strong and decisive voice, that only peace is the road to follow to construct a more just and united society." -Pope John Paul II

The following report from Fallujah by Guiliana Sgrena may well have something to do with why the U.S. may not have wanted her to leave Iraq alive: "This month of November will be remembered as one of the bloodiest of the occupation. Since the beginning of the month, which is not yet finished, 109 Marines have been killed, a figure already greater than that of the earlier attack on Fallujah, last April. But it is above all the Iraqis who are paying the highest tribute : 2,085 killed in the attack according to the information given out by Iraqi Security Minister Quassim Daud, without specifying the number of civilians. The problem, says the Minister, is that of identification, as many of the victims were not carrying documents. But many observers say that the problem is that many of the bodies were unrecognisable because they were so carbonised that the use of napalm was suspected. At the same time as the victim count from Fallujah, more disturbing news is arriving from Oslo in the form of the report of an investigation conducted by the Iraqi Health Ministry, in conjunction with the Norwegian FAFO Institute for applied international studies and UNDP, into the health of Iraqi children. The report states that since the beginning of the war (March 2003) the number of Iraqi children under the age of 5 suffering from acute malnutrition has doubled, passing from 4 to 7.7%. Further, over 400,000 are suffering from chronic diarrhoea and protein deficit." - Il Manifesto, March 10, 2005.

Let us pray for the children of Iraq. May they be wiser than those who have burned the flesh of those whose human needs they could not understand, who use chemicals to destroy the faces that will one day gaze on them, perhaps with forgiveness. Let us beg God for this forgiveness for ourselves and them.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Little by Little

The war in Iraq will one day be the glass cabinet case of why violence fails. Just as intelligence agents of discretion disavow torture as unreliable, so pre-emptive war, along with war in general, will one day be consigned to the desperate measures of the incompetent. The Church, despite the silence of so many bishops, has stared from this abyss with an eagle's eye. When the madness ends in shame and amnesia, she will call to her lost sons with healing in her wings.

The words from Pacem in Terris ring out like Elijah, "We would remind such people that it is the law of nature that all things must be of gradual growth. If there is to be any improvement in human institutions, the work must be done slowly and deliberately from within. Pope Pius XII expressed it in these terms: 'Salvation and justice consist not in the uprooting of an outdated system, but in a well designed policy of development. Hotheadedness was never constructive; it has always destroyed everything. It has inflamed passions, but never assuaged them. It sows no seeds but those of hatred and destruction. Far from bringing about the reconciliation of contending parties, it reduces men and political parties to the necessity of laboriously redoing the work of the past, building on the ruins that disharmony has left in its wake.'"

How much damage is left to be undone? "Read the searing account of Dr Salam Ismael, who took aid to Fallujah in January. He describes the ordeal of a 17-year-old girl, Hudda Fawzi. Her father opened the door to US marines who shot him and a friend dead, then shot her elder sister, having beaten her senseless, then destroyed the family's furniture. Wounded people were dragged from their homes and run over by tanks; a clinic was destroyed by missiles. 'It became clear to us,' Ismael wrote, 'that we were witnessing the aftermath of a massacre, the cold-blooded butchery of helpless and defenceless civilians.' It is not surprising that the Blair government has refused Ismael fresh permission to visit and speak out in Britain. His testimony, and that of many other reliable witnesses, is known and feared. Last April, the US command agreed that it may well have slaughtered as many as 600 people in Fallujah." - "Protecting a Regime with Blood on its Hands", John Pilger, The New Statesman, March 4, 2005.

Another prophet wrote words which should be chiseled on the walls of Abu Ghraib, "Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practice them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator". Gaudium et Spes, 27.

God forgive us our silence, the harm we have written in our souls and the souls of those we have allowed to be tormented while we refused to listen.