"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, October 06, 2007

If you are neutral in a time of injustice, then you are on the side of the oppressor

"All things considered, then, it's a great blessing to be found guilty of speaking out against this evil war." - John Dear.

"We have war criminals in the White House. What are we going to do about it?" - Andrew Sullivan.

The following are the words of James Circello, part of the legion of honor that has decided to obey conscience rather than shouts of hatred by going AWOL from Iraq:

"I saw kids turn into animals.
Members of my own unit, who I will never speak negatively about,
doing things that one day I know
will haunt them.

I saw soldiers mistreating detained Iraqis.
Detained on nothing more than pure suspicion in some cases.
But why not, it was the Old West, anything goes and anything did go. Honestly.

Questionable shootings.
Questionable decisions by superior commanders.
Nothing ever questioned by your superiors.
You as the Soldier were always in the right.

One platoon in particular killed so many people,
some legally,
some others
maybe not so legally.
They were investigated.
Nothing ever came from it.
Everyone always knew nothing would come from it.
In the military you watch each other's back, against the "bad guys" --
including the investigators."

The answer to this comes from God, in the words of a priest, Fr. Louis Vitale, about to be jailed for praying against torture, "My conviction is that we can work together. We can transform our world, culture by culture, drawing on the way of the Gospel, drawing on the example of Francis, Clare and other witnesses to nonviolence. All human beings have the heartbeat of compassion and love. But we have to help them," Louis said. "We have to help them locate the desire for peace that beats already in their hearts."

Those who have asked about the fundamental theological orientation of our words should consider the words of Leonardo Boff, "Faith will guide our choice toward the socio-analytical framework that is best at discovering the mechanisms that generate injustice, that offers us a suitable mechanism for overcoming them, and that does most to foster the notions of brotherhood and participation." The economic root of the these injustices are the sinful social structures engendered by capitalism and the remedy is a socialism that exalts the spirit of freedom and the preciousness of the human person and does not weigh itself down with the chains of materialism.

To "apolitical" Christians, I would say that part of the body of Christ is missing in you. God did not create us as pure individuals, no matter how penetrated we are with that corporate media message. The social dimension will ever intrude itself because it is part of the love that God created us for. Therefore, "In our present historical situation noncommitment would signify acceptance of the existing situation and a subtle stand in favor of those already favored." - Leonardo Boff.

Such noncommitment is no mark of purity, but of lack of spiritual maturity. Recognition of oppression is the identification of what is contrary to God's historical design for humanity, not encasing oneself in the narrowness of a political sect. It is the embrace of the fullness of humanity's freedom, which is God's will for us, and the consequences of that freedom. Witness means clinging to the truth (satyagraha) especially when it hurts.

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