Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Processsing Peace

Peace lovers should renew their efforts at pointing our country in peaceful avenues that are productive for everyone, not just the conquerors. We might even take a lesson from The U.S. Army Marine Corp Counterinsurgency Field Manual. It argues that taking care of the needs of people is a tactic in fighting insurgents. This counterinsurgency doctrine proceeds from several paradoxes, one of which claims: “some of the best weapons for counterinsurgents do not shoot” (49). Dollars and ballots become the weapons of choice. The manual says that “a vibrant economy, political participation and restored hope” are the best ways to combat insurgents.

I hardly believe Jesus would argue with that. Economic development, democracy, human rights, and religious liberty, form justifiable and sustainable peace principles. Such principles go far beyond the capability of military forces to provide. Thus, non-governmental organizations and inter-governmental organizations need to work on the ground in conflict situations to help initiate these principles.

As outlined in the Manual, counterinsurgency understands the influence of nonmilitary leaders and of extra governmental leaders in conflict situations. Business people, religious leaders – including lay leaders – media people, and elders of families help the community interpret current events. These are often closest to the hearts and minds of the masses.

I wonder what would happen if inter-religious peacemaking groups worked on the ground with local people to teach conflict resolution, help organize groups to build a strong civil society, to work on issues of local economic development, and to create truth and reconciliation commissions.

I know … they might have to work with the military … to insure security, while staying far enough distant to build and maintain people’s trust. However, they would be contributing to global peace, as well as the common good. Hopefully, President Obama will continue moving in that direction.

One of the founders of Hamas tells of his early life when he wanted to be a surgeon--the 1960s, but we were already refugees (emphasis added). There was no humiliating blockade then. But now, after decades of imprisonment, killing, statelessness and impoverishment, we ask: What peace can there be if there is no dignity first? And where does dignity come from if not from justice?

“Our movement fights on because we cannot allow the foundational crime at the core of the Jewish state -- the violent expulsion from our lands and villages that made us refugees -- to slip out of world consciousness, forgotten or negotiated away. Judaism -- which gave so much to human culture in the contributions of its ancient lawgivers and modern proponents of tikkun olam -- has corrupted itself in the detour into Zionism, nationalism and apartheid.

“A ‘peace process’ with Palestinians cannot take even its first tiny step until Israel first withdraws to the borders of 1967; dismantles all settlements; removes all soldiers from Gaza and the West Bank; repudiates its illegal annexation of Jerusalem; releases all prisoners; and ends its blockade of our international borders, our coastline and our airspace permanently. This would provide the starting point for just negotiations and would lay the groundwork for the return of millions of refugees. Given what we have lost, it is the only basis by which we can start to be whole again.

“I am eternally proud of my sons and miss them every day. I think of them as fathers everywhere, even in Israel, think of their sons -- as innocent boys, as curious students, as young men with limitless potential -- not as "gunmen" or "militants." But better that they were defenders of their people than parties to their ultimate dispossession; better that they were active in the Palestinian struggle for survival than passive witnesses to our subjugation.

“History teaches us that everything is in flux. Our fight to redress the material crimes of 1948 is scarcely begun, and adversity has taught us patience. As for the Israeli state and its Spartan culture of permanent war, it is all too vulnerable to time, fatigue and demographics: In the end, it is always a question of our children and those who come after us."

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a surgeon, is a founder of Hamas. He became foreign minister in the government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh that was elected in 2006.

We Americans must somehow become better listeners to troubled people around the world, then do what we can do to lift the level of the common masses . Speaking to the rituals practiced by the people of Israel, the prophet Isaiah thundered, "Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord? Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the hyomeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from our own flesh(Isaiah 58).

Amid the religiosity of Judaism, Islam, and even Christianity, there is often too much concern over the forms and functions of the rituals practiced and far too little actual walking in the light of love personified by the God of the Bible (I John 3:14-18).

from Warner's World, I am


Nikki Thornton said...

Peace is a gift,
It is a gift we give to ourselves,
And then to each other.

Wayne said...

Thank you, Nikki, and what a gift, all stemming out of His gift to us. :-)