The Cry of the People

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Photo: Doctors in Fallujah, Iraq are registering hundreds of babies with severe birth defects, which they attribute to Depleted Uranium munitions and other war toxins. [Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera]*

 

My husband is rereading Reckoning with Apocalypse: Terminal Politics and Christian Hope by Dale Aukerman (Crossroad Publishing, 1993). He has pointed out to me a passage that quite moved me and pertains to our own world situation:

The Cry of the People

Jews in Palestine during the earthly ministry of Jesus were a subject people under the Roman overlordship. They had virtually no access to the central power of the Empire. The rule under which they lived came upon them from above. They did not have a participatory voice for choosing that rule or the rulers. Jewish collaborators took part as an elite that imposed roman authority, as well as their own, on the masses. That political situation seems quite remote from present-day democracy in the West.

Yet the most significant decision made by Roman authorities during the centuries of the Empire was that of crucifying Jesus of Nazareth, and, ironically, the local population did have a participatory voice in that decision. It was sort of direct democracy between the crowd and Pilate. Much Roman decision-making was oriented toward killing on behalf of the Empire, and the execution of Jesus was in line with that, even though Pilate, who alone had the requisite authority, drew back. But “the people,” incited by their leaders (Mt. 27:20), had their say, and Pilate went along with vox populi.

 When i gaze at photographs of Jews, especially children, being rounded up for Auschwitz, I try to comprehend  for those few something of the tragedy of it all. Anne Frank’s legacy is that of taking us past the incomprehensible numbers into the humanity of who she, a single victim, was. In Jerusalem the Yad Vashem memorial to the Holocaust victims has a building dedicated to the children. At the entrance are a few photographs of haunting faces. And then inside, into the eerie darkness of mirrors and myriad dots of light is read in endless succession name after name, each intimating the unique, unfulfilled human person from among the 1.5 million Jewish children who perished. But for the slain Iraqi children and the hundreds of thousands who continue to die in the aftermath of the war and for the forty thousand children around the world who are given over needlessly to death each day we have no Anne Frank, no Yad Vashem, and hardly any pictures. These children and any who for us would visually represent them have been carefully kept from our view. There were the other Germans, among them Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said, “Only he who cries out for the Jews may sing Gregorian chants.” If we are not to have our own humanity effaced by the alluring powers of destruction and by the tidal inhumanity of official thought control, we must see those we are not meant to see and cry out for them.

Some in Jerusalem did not join in the cry, “Crucify him!” Luke pictures massive dissent before and after that execution: “And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him…. And all the multitudes who assembled to see the sight, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts (Lk. 23:27, 48). Offering continuation of that dissent, some in our time do not merge into the collective readiness to kill. They do not become functionaries for contemporary crucifixion. They withhold consent and live out their resistance to the purpose and deed of taking human life. What is most crucial is the stance: to see all public killing, from capital punishment to nuclear holocaust, as having its historic center in the execution of Jesus and to live life from him in struggle against all death-mongering.

At this moment:

#NoWarinSyria #DontBombSyria #HandsOffSyria

#NoDrones #StopDrones

#NoMoreWar

And always:

I Declare World Peace. (#IDWP)

  *See the article and photos of “Iraq: War’s Legacy of Cancer” by  Dahr Jamail at Al Jazeera here .

A Welcome Vote

I am updating and celebrating. In a previous post, I wrote that the city commission of my hometown of Frankfort, KY was considering what is known as a Fairness Ordinance, that is an ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation. I had posted about some of the dissension and spoke of my belief in human rights for all.

I am here to report that our City Commission did indeed pass that ordinance (3-2) on August 28 and I am delighted. I must say that there was much discussion regarding the matter and the city commission meetings were extremely well attended. The religious community was divided and spoke up, especially the progressive and more conservative Baptists. We are in the Bible Belt. It was a good community conversation that even went into the newspapers, including opinion pieces and letters to the editors.

I must say that I am rather surprised by all this. I grew up here and have spent most of my life here. Kentucky is a conservative state and Frankfort is not the most liberal city, though in some ways rather moderate. Again, I am delighted.

I Declare World Peace.

 

Note: You can read articles from the regional paper, The Lexington Herald-Leader, on the Frankfort Fairness Ordinance here.

 

I Have a Dream

I post on for the anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous I Have a Dream speech in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August, 1963 an excerpt from a post by the Rev. Chuck  Queen of Frankfort, KY in his blog,  A Fresh Perspective,  of August 2013.

From the progressive point of view, the kingdom of God is as much about this life in this world as it is about the life and world to come. It’s about being in right relationship with God and everyone and everything else. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is just as important as loving God.

It’s about a world where everyone has enough – not just to survive, but to thrive and flourish.From the progressive point of view, the kingdom of God is as much about this life in this world as it is about the life and world to come. It’s about being in right relationship with God and everyone and everything else. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is just as important as loving God.It’s about a world where everyone has enough – not just to survive, but to thrive and flourish.

It’s about a world where the playing field is leveled, where the excluded are included, where all are treated with dignity, equality, and respect.

It’s about a world where poverty is eliminated and the oppressed are liberated and all that is broken is healed.

A progressive vision emphasizes inclusion, equality, compassion, social justice, and the dignity of all people.

(You can read the full post here.)

I Declare World Peace.

Just War, Drones, and Counterinsurgency

I am not a big proponent of  just war theory. I would much prefer Christian Gospel nonviolence and nonviolent resistance or struggle. However,  just war, to me, is over and above realpolitik or political realism. President Obama has said that he is a proponent of just war theory,

There is an article in the August 7 issue of The Christian Century magazine, “Discriminating Force: Just War and Counterinsurgency” by Daniel M. Bell that is worth noting. Bell, says The Century, teaches at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC and at the US Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS.

Here is an excerpt of that article:

In the context of counterinsurgency, drones may actually increase noncombatant risk insofar as they extend the range and opportunities for military strikes to places where otherwise there would be no such threat. In the absence of drone technology, the civilian populations of Waziristan or Yemen, for example would not be facing any attack. They would not not be targeted by an infantry division or by B-52’s. In this context, therefore, drones are decidedly not more discriminating than the alternative — which is no attack at all. When the alternative is not an invasion or carpet bombing, drones increase the risk of harm to noncombatants.

Furthermore, the fact that a weapon may be more discriminating does not mean that it is sufficiently discriminating. The noted military ethicist martin Cook has suggested that drones may be “tactically smart but strategically dumb.” The clear tactical advantage of being able to reach more bad guys while optimizing force protection is overridden by the damage such weapons do to the political aims of counterinsurgency, which is protecting the population and winning hearts and minds, In just war terms, drones may violate the criterion of “reasonable chance of success” because they undermine the political goals of the war.

The way beyond the deficiencies of war as annihilation exposed by the rise of the drones is not a new ethic but a more rigorous, responsible practice of just war. In marked contrast with the permissive vision of just war as it emerges in war as annihilation, counterinsurgency strategy calls for maximum discrimination and the minimum force necessary. This is because the focal point of counterinsurgency is protection of the population. The insurgent or terrorist is trying to provoke the counterinsurgent into using overwhelming force that inadvertently causes significant harm to noncombatants — with the result that the population turns against the counterinsurgents, thereby making victory more elusive.

A more rigorous vision and practice of just war is particularly well suited to the demands of a counterinsurgency because it recognizes that victory is determined by more than sheer destruction of the enemy, Likewise, it embraces a stricter standard of discrimination and proportionality, thereby increasing the security of the population in accord with the demands of counterinsurgency.

After more than ten years of war against an asymmetric opponent, the permissive vision of just war linked to wars of focused annihilation is in crisis. The context of counterinsurgency calls for more attention to the political dimension of war and thus for a more responsible and discriminating use of force. Far from calling for a new ethic, the context calls for a more robust vision and practice of just war.

I Declare World Peace.

Endless War in the Drone Age

This second of two posts on drones features a slide presentation by Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of CODEPINK and author of the book,  Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control, 2012. (My previous post on drones is here.) I Declare World Peace, not drones.

Thanks to Medea for sharing publicly.

10 Reasons you should be OUTRAGED on the Drone Wars:

I have been wanting to post on the issue of drones, especially the “killer drones,” but have not been able to get it together. Instead, I am borrowing, in two posts, from others. This is a post from an organizer with CODEPINK who is Yemeni-American.

I Declare World Peace.

Digital footprints

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10. Bombing civilian communities and destroying homes, schools, hospitals, and pharmacies, is a form of terrorism. Saying oops and labeling them collateral damage is not OK. They are human beings with stories and histories. These are War Crimes.

Ex. On Dec 2009, a U.S. Tomhawk cruise missile hit al-majalah, a village in Yemen and dropped cluster bombs all over, killing  14 women including 5 pregnant woman and 21 children (the youngest child was only a one year old.) The cluster bombs resulted in two more deaths a year later after it exploded and injured15 more. No one killed in that massacre was even considered a “militant”. In other words: this was a war crime.

9. It took Diplomatic cables for the U.S. to finally admit they were launching airstrikes and waging a war in Yemen. They’ve been lying to you despite using your money to pay for these wars.

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A Pink, White, and Blue Fourth

Pink I am
Woman I am
For peace, I am too

White I am
Though not to brag
‘Tis just the way it is

Blue I am
My country, the USA
Not as honorable as once thought

Its red, white, and blue I cannot fly
Red she be: blood has flown free
White she be: fear-stoked, pained, and grieved
Blue she be: oxygen-starved, frozen, about-to-die

So a new flag I wave:
Pink for peace, for compassion, for loveliness
White for truth, for integrity, for purity, for humbleness
Blue for conciliation, for calm, for unity
To get us out of our cave

Waving for July Fourth, the pink white and blue
I Declare World Peace for you, for all of you
May Peace Prevail On Earth!