Courage

In light of the Israeli slaughter of civilians and destruction of infrastructure in the open-air prison of occupied Gaza, the following poem is just as relevant today as when it was written. Guari wrote “Courage” on October 9, 2001, two days after the United States started bombing Afghanistan in “Operation Enduring Freedom” following the attacks of September 11. Give-peace-a-chance081214

 Courage

What courage does it take to pound the weak

what wisdom to believe the lies that are uttered

what faith to trust the god of war and greed

what skill to follow rational preachers of vengeance

 

The crucified Christ silently indicts

the politics of power, religion, and state

actions born from approved wisdom of the world

and denial of the sacred for the host of reason

 

Truth is written by grief on the faces of those

broken by the loss of loved ones

of home

of hope

 

Take the body down from the cross

carry it against the tide, against the crush

the push of the crowd, away from the arena

the mob’s rush to blood and more blood

 

To the tomb lying open, waiting deep in the soul

in the beaten heart’s distress, in the emptiness

powerless to change what has happened

there to rise and stand again

 

Guarionex, October 9, 2001

Written during “Operation Enduring Freedom”

 

Tragically, the cycle of violence continues today, fueled by the Myth of Redemptive Violence. For more about this topic, see “The Infernal Whirlwind: Violence, Terror, and War” in Chapter 7 of Shaking the Gates of Hell.

Easter and Guantanamo

Guantanamo action

“Remember those who are in prison as if you are in prison with them.”  Hebrews 13:3

Every Thursday afternoon, for years now, a group of Women in Black and their male allies gather at the freeway overpass in Nevada City.  Women in Black is a “world-wide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence.”

Yesterday we joined these friends with our “Torture is a Moral Issue” banner and our signs to “Close Guantanamo.”  This local action was one of many taking place around the country on the National Day of Action to Close Guantanamo and End Indefinite Detention, sponsored by Witness Against Torture  and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.  This is the third month of a hunger strike among Guantanamo prisoners.  Some are being force-fed.

It’s the season of Easter, but Christ continues to be crucified as our neighbors in Guantanamo (and elsewhere) suffer the cruelty and injustice of indefinite detention.  Some of the men at Guantanamo have been imprisoned for over ten years, without trial.  Some were arrested as children.  Some were subjected to torture.  They have all been separated from their families, ignored by the media, and all but forgotten.  Human rights campaigners and Interfaith groups have persistently tried to publicize their fate and gain justice for all who are imprisoned there.

As we stood there yesterday with our signs, most people driving by gave us a “thumbs up” or flashed a peace sign.  One young man walking by asked me, “What’s this all about?”  I briefly explained about Guantanamo.  His response:  “But this is Nevada City.”  Then he walked away.

Those of us who live freely here in the United States may not realize how connected we are to the prisoners in Guantanamo.  Their pain and their struggles may seem to have nothing to do with us.  But we are connected to them, and to the people killed by U.S. drone strikes and other victims of our country’s foreign policy.  I am a citizen.  I pay taxes.  I vote.  I remain silent or I speak out.  Our government can only take such actions through the active participation or the silent complicity of the people.

“But this is Nevada City.”  Even if we do feel bad about what our country is doing, we may feel that there’s nothing we can do to bring change.  This sense of fatalism is a spiritual sickness and a fruit of the Domination System, which benefits when a majority of people believe “there’s nothing we can do about it anyway.”  My book, Shaking the Gates of Hell, describes this system, it’s outer and well as inner effects, and how to regain hope that can motivate action for change.

Signs of the Reign of Death are all around.  It might be easy to give up and think that nothing I  do can make a difference in the larger patterns of history.  But my faith tells me otherwise, and my faith compels me to act.  Love calls.

It’s not too late to take action on behalf of these men.  To find out more about the hunger strikers or to make a phone call on their behalf, go to Witness Against Torture.

Whatever your faith, believe the unbelievable.  Love conquers hate.  Life conquers death.

Christ is risen.  There is hope.  Even for the people in Guantanamo.