"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.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Appalling Silence of the Good People

"Today, I speak with you about a radical idea. It is one born from the very concept of the American soldier (or service member). It became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War - but it has been long since forgotten. The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it"
"The Nuremburg Trials showed America and the world that citizenry as well as soldiers have the unrelinquishable obligation to refuse complicity in war crimes perpetrated by their government. Widespread torture and inhumane treatment of detainees is a war crime. A war of aggression born through an unofficial policy of prevention is a crime against the peace. An occupation violating the very essence of international humanitarian law and sovereignty is a crime against humanity. These crimes are funded by our tax dollars. Should citizens choose to remain silent through self-imposed ignorance or choice, it makes them as culpable as the soldier in these crimes."
I have broken no law but the code of silence and unquestioning loyalty. If I am guilty of any crime, it is that I learned too much and cared too deeply for the meaningless loss of my fellow soldiers and my fellow human beings. If I am to be punished it should be for following the rule of law over the immoral orders of one man. If I am to be punished it should be for not acting sooner. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period … was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

Now, I'm not a hero. I am a leader of men who said enough is enough. Those who called for war prior to the invasion compared diplomacy with Saddam to the compromises made with Hitler. I say, we compromise now by allowing a government that uses war as the first option instead of the last to act with impunity. Many have said this about the World Trade Towers, "Never Again." I agree. Never again will we allow those who threaten our way of life to reign free - be they terrorists or elected officials. The time to fight back is now - the time to stand up and be counted is today.

I'll end with one more Martin Luther King Jr. quote:

One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law." Lieut. Ehren Watada, Veterans for Peace National Convention, August 12, 2006.

Once again, the voice of conscience has risen irrestibly in the act of one willing to make sacrifice. No one can read the words of Lieut. Watada and have any further doubt as to where right stands in the cause of Christian justice and peace. His noble words characterize in all its stringent glory the honor that some still are capable of holding in their hearts. One Ehren Watada is worth a whole host of religious professionals.


Lauren said...

I understand your calling to lead men towards a non-violent society, and too feel this is what Jesus taught. Martin Luther King Jr., as a proponent of non-violent actions in persuit of justice, echoed Jesus when he taught to live a life of love rather than hatred. And war, for no matter what reason, is never a thing of beauty or an entity longed for in one's society, BUT, as believers in the Holy Bible, we are called to stand up for justice, even to the point of death. There are multiple examples of war in the Bible, and times in which men were even so much as blessed while fighting for their cause with their faith in God. So, as a believer in the good word, in it's entirety, how would you unbiasedly address this inconsistency?
Thank you

Boyd Collins said...

I speak as a simple Christian in the tradition of Martin of Tours, of Clement, Origin and Tertullian, all of whom repudiated war as a means to settle human differences. That was our Christian way until the Empire took over the Church and made it an instrument of imperial policy.