"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.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Let Yourself be Devoured by a Zeal for Justice

"The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) carried out an eight-hour work stoppage at West Coast ports on May 1 to demand an end to the war in Iraq." - wsws.org

For eight glorious hours, the country’s principal gateway for cargo container traffic from the Far East was shut down. It was a noble gesture, but just as the Democrats in Congress are incapable of doing more than pretend to end the war, American labor, whose collective might could shut down the war mechanism, cannot assert this power. No matter what torture revelations, trillion dollar debts, or millions slaughtered, the war will go on because it is required in order to fuel the global empire. It is also quite likely that a new war will also be required to consolidate its control of the world's primary energy resources. And the new war will be unconditionally approved in the same way as the previous one. The message-amplifiers in the corporate media will adjust the volume of propaganda as required in order to assure general public approval.

In carrying out this action, the longshoreman lived out Isaiah's imperative, "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am. If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." Isaiah 58: 6 - 11.

Who are the hungry and the oppressed? The people of Iraq, cursed to have oil under the ground of their blessed and ancient land, who have suffered far beyond what the makers of misery in Washington could endure for a single day. Compromise is not possible between the imperatives of empire and the waters of justice.

"Compromise is as impossible between the Church of Christ and the idolatry of wealth, which is the practical religion of capitalist societies, as it was between the Church and the state idolatry of the Roman Empire." - R.H. Tawney, "Religion and the Rise of Capitalism"

To stand against this idolatry is a fiery cry for righteousness. The contrast between the post-modern equivocators of our time and the carriers of that cry from former eras is as palpable as the image of John Ludlow in his days of shadow and the pink-cheeked purveyors of despair, "At the monthly meetings, you would often see there a bent figure sitting with the face of one who come out of other more heroic days. There a nobility in the prophetic head which made the rest of us look very cheap. And now, again when some pink, youthful, cheerful pessimist... had plunged us all into the abyss of despair, the old man would rise and shake with the passion of old days that forever haunted him with their wickedness and woe, and bid us cheer up... The fire still gleamed in his eyes so that they shone with passionate light which is only to be seen in men who have know Maurice. He quivered with an underground, volcanic vehemence which no years or gray hairs could tame; he was devoured by a great zeal for justice. We felt we were listening to the man Maurice found so hard to hold...A deep, strong noble soul, he retained to the last his democratic faith in the people, his passinate pity for the poor and downtrodden, his fiery cry for righteousness." - John Cortner, "Christian Socialism", p. 152.

Perhaps the first dim red gleams of an awakening volcano have colored our despairing cheeks.

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