Friday, September 29, 2006

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


"Can't the United States see that when we allow someone to be tortured by our agents, it is not only the victim and the perpetrator who are corrupted, not only the 'intelligence' that is contaminated, but also everyone who looked away and said they did not know, everyone who consented tacitly to that outrage so they could sleep a little safer at night, all the citizens who did not march in the streets by the millions to demand the resignation of whoever suggested, even whispered, that torture is inevitable in our day and age, that we must embrace its darkness?"

Ariel Dorfman, Chiliean novelist and human rights activists

Friday, September 22, 2006

"We should take care, in inculcating patriotism into our boys and girls, that is a patriotism above the narrow sentiment which usually stops at one's country, and thus inspires jealousy and enmity in dealing with others. Our patriotism should be of the wider, nobler kind which recognizes justice and reasonableness in the claims of others and which lead our country into comradeship with the other nations of the world. The first step to this end is to develop peace and goodwill within our borders, by training our youth of both sexes to its practice as their habit of life, so that the jealousies of town against town, class against class and sect against sect no longer exist; and then to extend this good feeling beyond our frontiers towards our neighbours."
Lord Baden-Powell

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

From Pastor Rich Gamble of Keystone UCC

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye.
Matthew 7:3

It is a very human thing to want to believe that our own actions are right & the actions of those opposed to us are wrong. And therein lies the problem. For if human behavior is going to change it must do so either through force exerted from someone else, or through the willingness of the individual or community to change itself. If everyone refuses to examine their own beliefs & actions, then conflict is inevitable & that often leads to violence.

One example of this is found in the forms of the word, "terrorist" used today.

From an FBI document about terrorism I found this quote: "The U.S. Code & the FBI define terrorism as '...the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.'"

According to our own government's definition, the employment of violence to coerce others to obtain a political or social objective is terrorism. And by that definition there is no distinction between a million dollar bomb dropped by a multimillion dollar jet, & a bomb made with fertilizer & diesel fuel. It is not the type of bomb or the means of delivery, it is the intention.

Every war's goal is to "coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." War is terrorism. This is no surprise to soldiers. They seek to instill terror in their enemy. Military planners strive to coerce the government & civilian population of the enemy. That is why we bombed civilian targets like Berlin, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Hanoi, & Baghdad. That is why the Israelis have bombed civilian targets in Lebanon.

The FBI definition limits terrorism to the "unlawful" use of force or violence. They would argue that our violence is legal. The violence of "terrorists" is not. But the legality of something is subjective. Jesus was legally executed. Hitler's murder of Jews & Gypsies conformed to the laws of Germany at the time. Our massacre of Lakota men, women & children at Wounded Knee was carried out by a duly constituted authority. But the victims of these acts of terrorism would undoubtedly & rightly claim that these actions were criminal. In conflicts between groups each side sees their violence as legal & the violence of the other as criminal.

All of this is to say that there is no line of separation between those who employ violence to gain their own ends. Violence is terror producing. Those who use it are terrorists. In this light then the President's "War Against Terrorism" makes no sense. It is a campaign of Violence to end Violence. The end result can only be perpetual violence.

In the U.N. the representative of Israel said they were fundamentally different from Hezbulla. Israel, he said, grieved the deaths of the innocents they killed whereas Hezbulla celebrated the innocent deaths they caused. In other words it is not whether you kill people but how your act of murder makes you feel that separates out good people from bad. This ridiculous statement shows how bankrupt any attempt to justify the use of violence is.

So let's drop all the name calling & all the justifications & let's say that any use of "violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives" is wrong. Let's challenge anyone who uses the phrase "terrorist" as label for others. Let's admit that when we resort to violence we become terrorists & before we can expect others to give up violence as a tool to gain "political or social objectives" that we as a nation must do so.

Iraqis know the terror brought on by our invasion. The people of Lebanon know that the bombs that are dropped on them by Israel are paid for by U.S. tax dollars. It is time we saw the world & ourselves through the eyes of those our nation calls enemy.

Sunday, September 10, 2006