The Common Good

Peace Lovers or Peace Makers?

Sojomail - October 2, 2002


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+++++++++++++++++++++ 2-October-2002 ++++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++ Peace Lovers or Peace Makers? +++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Henri Nouwen: Bring on the saints

 P. O. V.
     *Are we peace lovers or peace makers?

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *George Bush addresses Iraqi people

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Nearly half of all Americans say First Amendment goes too far

 C o l o m b i a   J o u r n a l
     *Colombia: Another war for oil?

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Arab proverb

 P e r s p e c t i v e 
     *Sri Lankan: Why Americans are alone in their worldview

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Falwell's gay neighbors hope to win hearts and minds

 B o o m e r a n g
     *SojoMail readers reply

 W e b s c e n e
     *Kids helping kids in crisis
     *Alternative news watch
     *When was the last time we bombed Iraq?
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Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k

"The world is waiting...for new saints, ecstatic
men and women who are so deeply rooted in the
love of God that they are free to imagine a
new international order."

                     - Henri Nouwen


P. O. V.
Are we peace lovers or peace makers?

The following is a speech delivered by Anglican Bishop Peter Price at an anti-war rally in London on Saturday, Sept. 28:

I am frightened we are hurtling towards a war that will have unseen and unforeseeable consequences. For we will not only fight a wicked regime but enter a war that could devastate and destroy our friends. My mind goes back to a visit to Iraq in 1999. I was invited with others, including the Bishop of Coventry, to a lunch with a Christian family. At his table our host welcomed us, our Iraqi minders, secret police, and drivers. He took a large unleavened bread and broke it, sharing it with us and saying in Arabic: "Under God, we are all one, as we share this bread."

Before the meal ended he beckoned me for a quiet word in his garden, telling me in a few hastily grabbed moments what life was like. It was not good: His action that lunchtime put him and his family in danger. "I am making this garden for peace," he said. "It is on the site of a bomb crater. Come and sit down with me under this fig tree."

In that moment I reflected on the vision of the prophet Micah. "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, or ever again be trained to make war. But each one will sit down under his own vine and fig tree with no one to trouble him." Today I wonder what will happen to such people, to one who practices "loving his enemy" if war comes.

This march today represents people of all faiths and none. We represent people who believe war can at times be justified, and those who believe that war is always wrong. What unites us is a sense that preparations for war that could begin with a unilateral, pre-emptive strike is illegal, immoral, and unwise.

Let there be no mistake. We regard Saddam and his regime as a real threat to his own people, neighbouring countries, and to the world. Saddam must end the repression of his people, abandon his efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, and respect the legitimate role of the U.N. as it ensures that he does so. But our nations must pursue these goals in a manner consistent with moral principles, international law, and political wisdom.

We must be guided by the vision of a world in which nations stop seeking to resolve their problems by making war. Within the traditions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity there is teaching that obliges governments and citizens to work for the avoidance of war.

Today we are demonstrating for peace. But are we peace lovers, or peacemakers? We must not only demand of governments that they work for peace, but that we as citizens so change our attitudes that peacemaking becomes as natural as breathing. Demonstrations rarely change things immediately. What changes things is when people find in their heart a new resolve, a new courage to shape the world differently. War may come. The question is what will we do then? Do we simply shrug our shoulders and walk away, saying "We demonstrated in Hyde Park, but it failed?"

As a Christian, I follow Jesus of Nazareth who said, "Blessed are the peace makers"; not peace lovers. We all love the idea of peace. Today we are demonstrating for a new kind of world, but it will not come unless we work for it. We cannot be peacemakers only when war threatens.

True peacemaking is demanding. It demands new attitudes from governments and citizens; it demands we open our eyes to see all humanity as one and equal; it demands we recognize that a bomb dropped on an Iraqi, Palestinian, or Jew is as a bomb dropped on any of us; peacemaking demands no more unilateral actions by powerful nations; peacemaking demands the dismantling of all weapons of mass destruction.

To build lasting peace we need new international, political, judicial, and financial institutions; the ending of international debt. Peacemaking requires a revitalized United Nations; equality before international law; the ending of discrimination over the application of U.N. resolutions. Peacemaking demands we find common ground by moving to higher ground, rising above old arguments over just war and pacifism.

Today we give a simple message. Stop the war. Contain and disarm Saddam. But building world peace does not happen with slogans or rallies, but through citizens and governments that: Pray peace; think peace; speak peace; and act peace.

Jesus of Nazareth was the greatest peace activist of all, and he said "Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God."



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F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
George Bush: A war of values

From: President George W. Bush
To: The Iraqi people
Re: A war of values

We SHELL not EXXONerate Saddam Hussein for his actions. We will MOBILize to meet this threat to vital interests in the Persian GULF until an AMOCOble solution is reached. Our best strategy is to BPrepared. Failing that, we ARCOming to kick your butt.


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Nearly half of all Americans say First Amendment goes too far

"For the first time in the annual 'State of the First Amendment' survey, almost half (49 percent) of those surveyed said the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees - a 10-percentage-point jump from 2001, which suggests new public concerns in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks...."

Additional findings:

*More than four in 10 said they would limit the academic freedom of professors and bar criticism of government military policy.

*About half of those surveyed said government should be able to monitor religious groups in the interest of national security, even if that means infringing upon religious freedom.

*More than four in 10 said the government should have greater power to monitor the activities of Muslims living in the United States than it does other religious groups.

For more info, go to:

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C o l o m b i a   J o u r n a l
Colombia: Another war for oil?

A report from Mennonite Central Committee

With the advent of the oil industry in Arauca has come guerrilla sabotage, government military retaliation, and disruption of the social fabric. All of Arauca's citizens long for relief from fighting over the oil pipeline. Some believe that state forces can get the upper hand. Many others say more military force on either side will only elevate the level of violence here, as has happened in so many other parts of Colombia over the years.

Read the full report:


S o u l   W o r k s
Arab proverb

"The words of the tongue should have three gatekeepers."


P e r s p e c t i v e 
Why Americans are alone in their worldview

by Ajith Fernando
Youth for Christ, Sri Lanka

It is a few days after the first anniversary of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and with fear and trembling I took the decision to write something that represents a perspective on world happenings from the other side of the globe.

Perhaps there has never been a time during my lifetime when the opinions of the rest of the world have diverged so markedly from the opinions of the government of the USA. This hurts me a lot because many Christians in the Third World are very upset, and I believe this is adding fuel to the serious gap developing between Christians in the Third World and in the USA. In fact when I hear some of our Christian leaders speak about America I fear they may have slipped into the sin of racism. This must not be, for we all belong to one body. If one part of the body remains angry with another it hurts itself. This hurts me especially because some of the happiest years in my life were spent as a student in the USA. Though I have never considered living there, I am still always very happy when I visit the USA. I owe so much of what I am to Christians there. Most of my mentors are Americans, and so are many of my closest and most valued friends.

At the heart of this crisis is the sense that is developing among Christian leaders here that it is impossible for Christians in the West, especially in the USA, to understand what is happening in the rest of the world. There is a wish that they would listen to us and ask, "What do people in those countries feel?" There is a growing frustration coming from a suspicion that American Christians are listening only to what American experts say about the situation in the world outside their borders.

Many here believe that these events were a direct response to the humiliation the Muslims have faced during the past few decades over successive defeats they have endured as the West has marched towards the domination of the world.

The Gulf War of 1991 and the continued bombardment of Iraq since then are two such defeats. But there are several other defeats. One is the Western dominance in trade and economics. It is called globalization, but in order to survive developing nations have been forced to bow down to the Western agenda with its individualism and competitiveness. The Muslim countries that are doing well economically have, in order to survive in a global economy dominated by Western values, adopted economic systems that other Muslims consider anti-Islamic. The Islamic extremists are very angry that Muslims have made so many concessions to this dominance of the world by the West.

Then there is the dominance of Western culture through the media. Some of the values portrayed there directly oppose Asian values such as costly commitment to family, lifelong faithfulness to spouse, and community solidarity as opposed to individualism. Then there is the proliferation of pornography and other sexual deviations, which has hit our people without the preparation through a gradual sexual revolution that the West experienced. It has hit the East suddenly in its full-blown form and our people here have not developed defenses to cope with it. They have got sucked in. Recently I heard about a poor 15-year- old boy who has seen 500 to 600 pornographic videos. My son told me of a 17-year-old Muslim classmate who has downloaded from Western web sites and saved two gigabytes of pornography in his computer.

I think that out of solidarity with the Christians in the developing world Western Christians need to be reluctant about giving blanket support to military initiatives against non- Western powers. I believe such an approach will help in speeding the work of the gospel among non-Christians, especially the Muslims. If the Muslims know that, though the West is attacking some of their nations, many Christians are opposing those attacks, they may conclude that the Christians are not their enemy, and they may become more open to the message of the gospel.

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C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Falwell's gay neighbors hope to win hearts and minds

by Carol Morello 

In another time and place, Mel White and Gary Nixon would have been known as the two old bachelors who live in the small white house on the corner.

It has been a month since White and Nixon signed a one-year lease on the two-bedroom house with aluminum siding and black shutters and began introducing themselves around town as the "two gay guys who moved in across from Jerry." They came to Lynchburg on a mission: to persuade Falwell and his church that they can be gay and worship God at the same time, and that their love for each other is not a sin.

White and Nixon decided to move here after Falwell said that homosexuals, as well as abortionists and the American Civil Liberties Union, were symptomatic of the immorality that made the Sept. 11 attacks God's retribution on the United States - a statement for which Falwell later apologized.

To read the entire article, go to:


B o o m e r a n g

Roger Barker writes from Kawhia, New Zealand:

Thank you for including the piece by Archbishop- designate Rowan Williams in SojoMail [9-25-02]. Modern weaponry has indeed changed the way in which we look at war. There was a time when national leaders would only go to war for a cause worth dying for, because even the "winners" would suffer huge casualties. The weapons that countries such as the U.S. have today means that they can wage war over a cause worth killing for, keeping their own casualties very light (e.g. Afghanistan, Kosovo, etc.). As the Archbishop says, if we see our "enemies" as real human beings, war becomes impossible.


Clive Perrett writes from London, United Kingdom:

There was an irrationality in U.S. policy against Vietnam that the '60s generation fought against with success. Many lives were lost (most of them Vietnamese) before reason prevailed. But now the stakes are higher. Your quote from St. Cyprian [SojoMail 9-25-02] is much too close to the present day for comfort. Your piece by Rowan Williams is perfectly apt - everything about modern weapons is "from a distance." But death itself is close up. After "9/11" America knows this. But the death that Americans themselves can inflict, and have inflicted, on Vietnamese people, or on Iraqi people, is also "close up." The TV coverage of the Gulf War depicted Iraqis not as human beings but as "germs" that had to be "cleaned up." This kind of rhetoric is an insult to reason.


Peter VanderKam writes from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada:

I have been waiting, and still do so, for somebody to organize a "rescue Iraq" crusade (remember the world's reaction to Pres. Bush's use of that word?) The idea is simplicity itself. Think back to the historical Crusades to rescue Jerusalem. Every participant was armed to the teeth. When Bush used it some months ago, the image conjured up was again one of heavily armed forces that were to take Saddam Hussein down a peg or two. Result of the original crusades? Bloodshed in unheard of quantities. Result of a crusade against Iraq? More of the same.

Can we reverse the trend? Yes! Start a "rescue and justice" crusade. Ask for volunteers (from all the European harbor cities), give them life-sustaining materials to carry, and march them into Iraq. Make sure the TV cameras are rolling and don't stop for anything, especially not armies and armed opposition. If those are encountered, simply act like the flood waters we see on TV and roll over and around them. When we reach the ruling people of Iraq, we hand them the same life-sustaining materials and invite them to participate. Once the stuff is distributed (person to person) folks are invited to form cells on the pattern of Habitat for Humanity. Together we help rebuild Iraq, and again, the leaders (including Saddam) are invited to lead the way.


Kathleen Robbins writes from Rochester, New York:

Thanks so much for the voices of Mtumiki Njira from Limbe, Malawi, and Mike Brislen from Djibouti, East Africa [Boomerang, 09-25-02]! Truth is hard to come by these days, as painful as it is. But when we face ourselves the rest of the world will be safer. And others outside of this country can help the scales to fall from our eyes.

What do I see as that truth? As these two persons said, our nation has committed and is contemplating committing terrorist actions. This just feeds the violence. And perhaps we should have vision beyond this present crisis (as important as that is) and be working to remove our current administration from office nonviolently (by our ballots!!!) and to call for and elect true, just, and visionary leaders (again, by our ballots!!!). True, just, and visionary leaders are marked by their wisdom, not by their ability to use force. So thank you Mtumiki Njira and Mike Brislen for your emails and thank you Sojourners for being willing to print them.


Kenny Kistler writes from Park Ridge, New Jersey:

After reading Mike Brislen's irrational rant I was painfully reminded that so many on the radical left are so close-minded that they resort to calling those of a different political persuasion "evil mass murderers" rather than engage their differences on an intellectual level. There are those on the radical left who are so uneducated in the American political system that they fail to understand how the electoral college made George W. Bush the legitimately elected President of the United States, as it had for the 42 previous American presidents. And there are those on the far left who, based on pure conjecture, conclude that President Bush is more likely to use weapons of mass destruction against other countries than any other world leader.

So, speaking for only my own moderate, level-headed self, I politely decline taking advice from someone like Mike Brislen, who appears to be ideologically opposed to facts, objectivity, and critical thought. President Bush and his "junta" can stay where they are.


Rev. Joe Bradford writes from Danville, Virginia

I believe what we are seeing is twofold. This self- declared "war" that President Bush is pushing for looks very much like an attempt to finish what hawkish Republicans claim his father left undone: getting Saddam. There are several other oppressive dictators in the Middle East we don't seem as worried about. This seems to be more about family versus family than any real threat of weapons.

Secondly, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out in today's front page article, there is a large deposit of oil in Iraq that Exxon and Mobil can't get at with Saddam in power. Is it not barely possible those oil reserves are another motivating factor for an ex-oil man to start a fight?

As a farmer in Highland County, Virginia, once said to me, "Rich men send poor men to fight their fights." Wealthy men sit on Capital Hill voting on whether to send poorer Americans to free up the oil reserves of Iraq, which would justify the president's lack of gusto on the idea of increased gas mileage standards. After all, why do you need better MPG when there is "plenty" of oil?


Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of views. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor:



W e b s c e n e
This week's best of the Web

*Kids helping kids in crisis

The organizations listed here were started and are run by kids. They had ideas for projects to help their communities and those projects then grew into organizations.


*Alternative news watch

The American Prospect Web site offers stimulating discussion of many topics - globalization, poverty, and foreign policy.


*When was the last time we bombed Iraq?

The Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace has compiled a list of all the bombs the U.S. has launched against Iraq since March 2000:


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