"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, August 25, 2007

Let Us Then Try What Love Can Do

"...the thing that makes for peace above all others is the systematic practice in all human relationships of nonviolence" - Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means: An Enquiry into the Nature of Ideas and into the Methods Employed for their Realisation

One of the lessons that the peace movement must constantly relearn is what Gandhi called "the Law of Suffering". We have inherited many good and bad tendencies from the sixties. One of the worst is a superficiality that is rooted in impatience. At its foundation, this impatience is a refusal to suffer, which has a surface relationship to the struggle for justice. The fundamental attitude to struggle against is the one that identifies all suffering with evil. Gandhi had a profound intuition of the value of suffering, one that we must embrace in order to give new vigor to the antiwar movement. It is an insight that Christians should feel a deep empathy with since it was embodied by our Savior on the cross. All true spiritual achievements are grounded in suffering, just as all real progress toward peace must accept suffering as the price of moral insight. "The purer the suffering, the greater is the progress," according to Gandhi. By making personal, felt sacrifice, we empower the peace movement.

This suffering acts to intensify the unity with those who must endure the consequences of our anti-human and anti-Christian lifestyle: "I do not believe ... that an individual may gain spiritually and those who surround him suffer ... I believe in the essential unity of man and, for that matter, of all that lives. Therefore, I believe that if one man gains spiritually, the whole world gains with him and, if one man falls, the whole world falls to that extent." - Gandhi

The time has come to start suffering: "So why don't we have A STOP THE WAR plan? That might require pain and sacrifice, something we're told we don't have to engage in as American's--not even to save the planet." - Jeff Gibbs, "Why I am not Going to Protest", CounterPunch

"I can no longer give myself a pass because MY deal, my family, my work, my ease, is more important. It's not. Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, even if the comfortable are ourselves. We should be ashamed that we are leaving the heavy lifting the Cindy Sheehan, to me the lone voice who has failed to be cowed into submission or giving up among us." - John Gibbs

How about some action? By Christians who believe that Jesus came to bring peace? "No shopping. No going to work. No movies released. No concerts. No TV shows produced. No schools open-the students have walked out. No buying of cars, plane tickets, gasoline. Hundreds of people driving the speed limit every rush hour-every major city will be shut down. Campus walkouts and non-violent strikes; maybe occupations." - John Gibbs.

The truth is that George Bush is not responsible for the Iraq War - you and I are. He and the Pentagon could do nothing without our willing cooperation. It is our inaction, our devotion to comfort, which sustains this war. The Democrats are a convenient substitute for action. Pressuring them bleeds the energy we need to stop the war. They will obey their corporate masters no matter what we do. Once the corporate master feels pain, he will act to stop the pain. One day we will look back on this era and realize that the issues were far more fundamental than we currently believe. We need to think protest through to its foundation until we can conceive "ending our role as the world's chief glutton" - John Gibbs. Our gluttony is the cause of the violence which ravages the poor and the life of the world.

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Rich said...

It breaks my heart to read this beautiful, well-thought-out posts, and then see "0 comments." Okay -- here's a comment. This post affected me deeply, and caused me to re-think my way of dealing with the Iraq War. Suffering, yes -- if that will bring about a better world. Thank you for this.

Boyd Collins said...

Thanks so much, Rich. My heart has been broken by this war - I've got some skin in the game, as Cindy Sheehan puts it - and I speak out of that brokenness. I will continue to speak even if nothing comes back but the same silence which has greeted this crime. But it sure warms the heart to have your words of encouragement.