"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.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

"Let us try to imagine Veronica as she steps out from the jeering, mocking crowd. Was she afraid as she walked past the hostile, armed soldiers? It was not appropriate for her, as a woman, to touch a man, but Veronica refused to be constrained by social norms. She saw the suffering, bleeding Christ, and she was moved by compassion and mercy to step forward." - Christian Peacemaker Teams

Veronica was converted from a silent bystander at the death of God to one ready to forget self by submersion in the sorrows of the innocent. In Silver Springs, Maryland at the Winter Soldier gathering, Iraq veterans have also chosen to cease being silent bystanders to the crucifixion of the Iraqi people and the American conscience. In the halting voices of men whose consciences have ruptured and flowed over into rage, sarcasm, tears, defiance, and love for their brothers both living and dead, Iraqi and American, we hear in their voices and see in their broken faces the response which Howard Thurman described when he said, "One man's response to the sound of the genuine in another man is to ascribe to the other man the same sense of infinite worth that one holds for oneself." This infinite worth arises from the love with which God made each one of us, mar it as we will. In the voices of these veterans we can hear the sound of a distant roar, the mighty waters of righteousness which are rolling towards us on the flood of justice that longs to break forth over the earth.

Geoff Millard penetrates right to the dehumanizing core that turns Iraqis into stick figures for our violent amusement. The purpose of military dehumanization is not merely to make it easier for empire to neutralize the resistant, but it is primarily to gain full control over those who must carry out the order to kill. In gathering rage at the betrayal of all that is best in us, these winter soldiers have poured the balm of truth over the calcified conscience of the American soul and this balm will bear its fruit one day.

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