In these days when both right and left find a multitude of reasons to support violence and thus oppose peace, this is a good place for one to begin to question the real efficacy of violence as a lasting solution:
Father John Dear, a prominent peacemaker who has been arrested 75 times in the name of peace and has written numerous books on the nonviolence of Jesus, calls on peacemakers of all religions, and certainly to Christians, who’ve by and large forgotten the core teachings of the nonviolent Master, to turn away from violence and bloodthirst, as a solution, and to instead answer the call of peace in the only way that this call can be answered, through peaceful means:
“Those who live by the sword will die by the sword,” Jesus told his disciples the night before he was assassinated. Violence in response to violence only leads to further violence, he taught. Retaliatory violence will not break the downward spiral of violence. It will only fan the flames of hatred and war. Active nonviolence breaks the cycle of violence. Nonviolently resist those who do evil; don’t become like them. Create justice for everyone and you will reap a great harvest of peace.
I think Jesus’ teachings on the futility of retaliatory violence and the possibilities of active nonviolence have long ago been proven true. Our wars, our weapons, our state terrorism have not brought peace. The U.S. assassination of bin Laden, like the death of Saddam Hussein, will not end terrorism or bring peace. It will only inspire further violence, and bring new terrorist attacks against us.
Bombing and killing civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan only fuels the spiral of violence and inspires a new generation to retaliate against us. Jesus was right. Stop killing people, treat people nonviolently, and you will have a better chance of being treated nonviolently too.
But who follows these teachings anymore? Very few. We have twisted Christianity so that God will bless our wars. If Osama bin Laden did not represent true Islam and the All-Merciful One, neither do George W. Bush or Barack Obama represent true Christianity and the nonviolent Jesus.
In fact, Al Qaeda and the Pentagon are two sides of the same coin. In the end, both spend their resources trying to kill, and end up killing innocent civilians. If Osama bin Laden was guilty of killing innocent civilians, so are George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton guilty of killing innocent civilians. But the truth is that the U.S. military has killed many more people — millions more — than Al Qaeda. Both need to be stopped and dismantled.
Read All of Father John’s article:
Posted in Nonviolence, Quantum Sunday | Tagged Father John Dear on the Assassination of Osama bin Laden, Nonviolence and the Christian Nation, Nonviolence of Jesus and the Assassination of Osama Bin Laden, Nonviolent Jesus | Leave a Comment »
What is happening to the fabric of the balance of powers government, of, by, and for the people, that the founding fathers established?
Read Greenwald’s Latest:
My computer is undergoing repair, I’ll be back up, posting regularly, soon; was so grateful to come across this video through a friend today.
The power of the people will never die; it is our spirit, our soul, and our constitutional mandate!
The speech the corporate media ignores, King’s antiwar speech, the speech some, closest to him, have surmised led to his assassination, for a number of his closest associates have believed that he was indeed assassinated by and from forces from within the government; how then would his strong and bold antiwar stance be received today? Would King be marginalized today; would he be harshly criticized today for his antiwar stance, which would as surely be applied to war today as it was applied to war then; would his greatness be recognized or marginalized today?
King spoke of our status in the evolution of mankind stating, “It is no longer a choice between nonviolence and violence, it is a choice between nonviolence and nonexistence; that is where we are today!” Even more clearly, these words rings now, just a few decades later, such a short time in the span of man’s existence; today, a day set aside to honor his life, should forever be a day to honor nonviolence, for nonviolence and nonviolent action were the sum of his life and of his faith.
Time Magazine on King’s Antiwar Speech:
“Demagogic slander that sounded like Radio Hanoi!”
The Washington Post on King’s Antiwar Speech:
“[King] diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, and his people.”
Watch Democracy Now on King’s Antiwar Stance:
Posted in Antiwar | Tagged antiwar, Dr. King Antiwar, Dr. King Nonviolence, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Antiwar; Nonviolence; Democracy Now, nonviolence, Rev. King Nonviolence; Antiwar, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Antiwar Speech | Leave a Comment »
“Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”
Father John Dear on “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”
King’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ still challenges us
This past week, while visiting Nags Head, North Carolina, I’ve been studying his famous 1963 “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.” It was written after his Good Friday arrest for marching to break unjust segregation laws without a permit.
One of the great documents in our history, this letter was composed in his darkest hour, just as the nonviolent movement for civil rights was on the verge of total collapse. And yet, the letter is filled with faith, hope, and love — enough to enlighten us in our own dark times.
While in his bleak jail cell, King came across an open letter written to him that January by eight white church leaders in Birmingham, criticizing his work for racial justice as “unwise and untimely.” He spent that week crafting a lengthy response on newspaper scraps, even toilet paper.
King’s eloquent cry for justice was reasonable, passionate and unparalleled. A careful reading shows concern for at least three themes: nonviolence, civil disobedience, and the church.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Dr. King writes. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
That’s why he’s in Birmingham, he explains. The white church leaders call him an outside agitator; he wonders why they have done so little to relieve the suffering in their midst.
They charge him with creating tension, albeit for justice and equality; that’s the duty of every Christian, he responds.
King used creative nonviolence to lance the boil of racism, segregation and injustice. His public project was messy, but it began the healing process. He knew the infection of violence ran deep among us, and the work of healing would continue for generations.
“We… need … nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men and women to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brother/sisterhood,” he writes.
Nonviolent gadflies. That’s us. Like King, we too are “nonviolent gadflies” who create tension to help force new understanding, disarmament, justice and peace. As “nonviolent gadflies,” we agitate for the abolition of war, poverty, nuclear weapons and environmental destruction. And through our creative nonviolence, lance the boil of violence for the sake of societal healing.
Breaking Unjust Laws
Next, King tries to explain the methodology of civil disobedience. Some people must challenge unjust laws to push for positive social change, he writes.
As King outlines the theory, he teaches that civil disobedience has a noble place throughout history and the biblical tradition.
“We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal,’” King reminds us. “It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.”
King does not want us to sit by while injustice and war run rampant. Take nonviolent action, even to the point of breaking unjust laws, he commends, in order to safeguard justice and peace — as Jesus and the early church did.
All of us are called to be “co-workers with God” for justice and peace, King insists. Some may even have to engage in civil disobedience. Work “tirelessly” and “persistently,” he urges. This is what the times require.
Disappointment with the church
Exhortations on nonviolence and civil disobedience might be expected from King. But the remainder of the letter takes on a surprising topic: King’s deep disappointment with the church. Such talk is rare.
We know little of the disappointment of St. Francis, Franz Jagerstatter, Dorothy Day or Oscar Romero — though they must have been profoundly hurt by the church leaders of their day. We can barely imagine Jesus’ anguished disappointment with the religious leaders of his day.
Like us, King had hoped that church leaders would lead the struggle for racial equality, justice and peace. He presumed that anyone who claimed to follow the nonviolent Jesus would seek the fullness of God’s reign, promote its consistent ethic of nonviolence, and advocate for the disenfranchized.
Alas, King learned the hard the way, as we are learning, that church leaders rarely join — much less lead — the struggle. Too often they stand in the way.
An irrelevant social club. Today millions dismiss our church leaders as far worse. Outright disgust is commonplace. Yet despite his disappointment, King remains in the struggle precisely as a church person.
But in a rare moment of candor, he speaks of turning within to find strength.
“Maybe I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ecclesia and the hope of the world,” King concludes. “I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decision hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future.”
No despair about the future. King has hope — hope in nonviolence, hope in the civilly disobedient, hope even in the church as the community of followers of the nonviolent Jesus.
It’s that hope which makes him an exemplary “nonviolent gadfly,” an authentic church leader, a bright headlight leading us home through the darkness.
An Extremist for Love
“You’re just an extremist,” the eight white churchmen write.
At first, King was hurt by this dismissal. But on reflection, he decides it’s a compliment. In times of violence, injustice and war, what else is there to do, he asks, but be an extremist for love, an extremist for peace, an extremist for nonviolence?
We need more extremists for love, peace and nonviolence, King concludes.
Be nonviolent gadflies who work for disarmament, justice and peace, he advises. Don’t let your disappointment with the church paralyze you. Set your sights high, take new risks for love and truth, and be the church you wish others would be.
King’s great letter continues to instruct today. It challenges us to break free of complicity, despair and disappointment; to use nonviolence creatively for justice and peace; and to follow Jesus as an extremist for love, peace and nonviolence.
As we begin a new year with violence everywhere, from Tucson to Kabul, I hope and pray we heed King’s word and example.
Posted in Antiwar, Nonviolence | Tagged Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Antiwar; Nonviolence, Letter From a Birmingham Jail; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Father John Dear; Nonviolence; Antiwar, Nonviolence; Antiwar; Martin Luther King Jr.; Father John Dear | Leave a Comment »