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Friday, September 21, 2001

Hope in the midst of suffering
Middle of my mid-term break. Seminary grounds are peaceful and serene for now. Still, the noises from the work site nearby with its piling and pounding do break the silence once a while. Getting pretty dusty too as the forest nearby are being cleared as Punggol 21 begins to take shape.

Came across several commentaries that may give us to some pondering for this day:

In the field of conflict resolution, there are two types of violence, hot and cold.

Hot violence is the death and chaos of this past Tuesday in New York and Washington. Hot violence is the Columbine High School massacre, the Oklahoma City bombing. The unspeakable horror is up close and visible; witnesses' emotions are felt; outrage is immediate; media are quick to the scene.

Cold violence has little of that. It is beyond our view, so routine as to stir few emotions, so ordinary as to attract the media only rarely. Cold violence is the worldwide daily death toll of an estimated 40,000 people from preventable hunger-related diseases. But that is a distant and unseen reality, not an American reality, not the destroyed World Trade Center reality. Cold violence is the dying of Iraqis every day caused by U.S.-imposed economic sanctions. We learn to compartmentalize....

In "The Respectable Murderers," a classic text on nonviolence, Monsignor Paul Hanley Furfey, the Catholic University sociologist, wrote: "The sporadic crimes that soil the front pages, the daily robberies, assaults rapes and murders, are the work of individuals and small gangs. But the great evils, the persecutions, the unjust wars of conquest, the mass slaughters of the innocent, the exploitation of whole social classes--these crimes are committed by the organized community under the leadership of respectable citizens."

The solution? Withdraw support--political, financial and emotional--from all double-standard practitioners of violence, hot or cold, illegal or legal. Transfer the support to those working to eliminate violence, no matter where it is found or who is madly justifying it. This is an apt moment, as retribution hysteria grows and the ethic of hit-'em-back-harder is sounded like a battle station bugle call.

The nonviolent response to Sept. 11 is in the tradition of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, Jeannette Rankin and groups like the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Pax Christi. It is saying to those behind the attack: We forgive you; we reject vengeance. And then, summoning still more moral courage, to ask them to forgive us for all of our violence--for being the world's major arms peddler; for having a military budget many times greater than the combined military budgets of our alleged enemies; for our bombing of Grenada, Libya, Panama, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia; for supporting dictators; and for blindly believing the jingoism of President Bush, who said, "Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world."

A model for what? Vengeance, retribution, score settling? In the minds of the hijackers, that's what Sept. 11 was about. To perpetuate it from here is to guarantee more eyes for eyes.

Colman McCarthy, director of the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, teaches nonviolence at Georgetown law school, American University and the University of Maryland.

What about this agonizing piece from an Afghan:

Dear Gary and whoever else is on this email thread:
I've been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to
the Stone Age."...

And I thought about the issues being raised especially hard
because I am from Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35
years, I've never lost track of what's going on there. So I want to tell
anyone who will listen how it all looks from where I'm standing.

I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is
no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the
atrocity in New York. I agree that something must be done about those
monsters...

But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not
even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant
psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a
political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis.
When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of
Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that
the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first
victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if someone would come in there,
take out the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed
up in their country.

Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban?
The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering...

We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the
Stone Age. Trouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it
already.

Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their
houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate
their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from
medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that.

New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they
at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the
Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip
away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled
orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs.
But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the
criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making
common cause with the Taliban-by raping once again the people
they've been raping all this time...

Tamim Ansary


Our Holy Father has some words of comfort and inspiration for us to handle the goings on and madness that the world is currently facing:

The Psalm (56/57) describes the enemy with evocative metaphors, appearing first as a pride of lions poised to attack. Then the image is transformed
into a symbol of war, depicted by spears, arrows and swords. Finally, the believer feels he is being assaulted by a death squadron.

Yet, fear is soon dispelled by God's intervention, who answers the prayers of the one besieged, making the assailants "stumble in their own
evil plans."

So hope arises; fear is transformed into the "song of awakening to Easter light," which for the Christian is summarized in Easter joy,
"removing the fear of death and opening the horizon of heavenly glory."

John Paul II Emphasizes Hope in Darkness of Tragedy At General Audience a Week After Attacks in U.S.

Make the best of this day!

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