"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, September 09, 2006

100 Years of Satyagraha

One hundred years ago on Sept. 11, 1906, satyagraha was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. As a Christian and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, I know that there is only one weapon which the Christian may use lawfully when struggling with his enemy - love and the suffering that love brings with it. In other words, our mission as Christians is to destabilize the structures of sin through the sufferings which love requires of us.

"Arun Gandhi told us that by failing to prevent the impoverishment and humiliation of people around the world, we are engaging in passive violence, the result of which is physical violence. He said that we need to work for peace actively, not be satisfied with peace in our own hearts or private lives, but insist on taking peace out into the world everywhere we go." David Swanson, truthout, Sept. 11, 2006

The Christians that shout in their megachurches are committing passive and often active mega-violence against the poor of this world. Somewhere beneath all the righteous protesting we know that this is true - that Christ's face protrudes from their swollen bellies. Yet we cannot confront our compulsion to violence, but continue to justify the murders required by our lust to possess. There can be no true peace in the heart while our brothers and sisters starve and die to feed our consumption. Instead we must begin to accept their death as our own.

"Peace is to be built in the hearts. It is here that the feelings develop which can either nourish it or, on the contrary, threaten it, weaken it, suffocate it. For it is the heart that is the place of the interventions of God. The great task of the religions is to build peace in hearts. To be peace, even in the midst of war, remains an aspiration that cannot be renounced, the dream of a world which is finally, human. Politics, culture, the relations between people in daily life, all have need of spirit, of breath: of dreams of peace, of the hope of building a better and more just future." - Pope Benedict XVI, Sept. 2006

How is this peace to be sought? By keeping Christ's cross before us, and letting the sorrows of cities such as Nablus and Rafah sink into our subconscious. We should feel the misery of those whose lives our government has shattered: "When the mothers tell me about their sons taken from them. Killed in front of them, or arrested from their family home. Some mothers tell me that their fourteen or fifteen year old sons rush to them when the army arrives in their street and cry to them to hide them. Some say that their sons ask to be put back inside their bellies because they would be safe there.
Can you imagine this? Fifteen year old boys! And the world hears of them only as terrorists.'

One mother came to the sanctuary and for an hour sat on the stones and howled till her heart would break: 'I could not hide him! I could not hide my son!' She cried over and over again." - Death and Tears in Nablus, CounterPunch, Sept. 16, 2006.

To break free from the compulsion of violence, we must enter the feelings of others, sometimes howling till our hearts would break, to understand what our passive violence has meant to millions who hold to no inner retaliation, just a longing for life. Hold on to the tears, for they are the waters of life.


Chris Sullivan said...

Thanks for this beautiful and moving post.

Keep up the good work.

God Bless

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