Guest Post : Afghan Peace Volunteers
Two young Afghan boys herding cattle in the Uruzgan Province of Afghanistan were mistakenly killed by NATO forces yesterday.
They were seven and eight years old.
Our globe, approving of “necessary or just war,” expects “this to happen occasionally.”
Some say, “We’re sorry.”
Therefore today, with sorrow and rage, we the Afghan Peace Volunteers took our hearts to the streets.
We went with two cows, remembering that the two children were tending to their cattle on their last day.
We are those two children.
We want to be human again.
Don’t we see it? Don’t we hear it?
All of nature–the cows, the grass, the hills and the songs–crave for us to be human again.
We want to get out of our seats of pride and presumption and give a cry of resistance.
We want the world to hear us, the voice of the thundering masses.
“We’re so tired of war.”
“Children shouldn’t have to live or die this way.”
“This hurts like mad, like the mad hurt of seeing a child being caned while he’s crying from hunger.”
“We have woken up, and we detest the method of mutual killing in war that the leaders of the world have adopted.”
We say, with due respect to the leaders but with no respect for any act of violence, “We are very wrong. You are very wrong.”
“We cannot go on resolving conflicts this warring way.”
Unless we see the cattle’s submission upon being blown to pieces, understand the momentary surprise of the seven year old listening to music on his radio, empathize with the eight year old who had taken responsibility for the seven year old and weep torrentialy with the mother of the children, we are at risk of losing everything we value within ourselves.
Hearing the NATO commander General Joseph Dunford say that they’re sorry makes us angry–we don’t want to hear it.
We don’t want to hear apologies. We want an end to all killing. We want to live without war.
We want all warriors to run back anxiously to their own homes, and fling their arms around their sons and daughters, their grandsons and granddaughters, and say, “We love you and will never participate in the killing of any child or human being again.”
In the days to come, we’ll remember the distraught mother and family of two children.
We know they won’t eat or feel like breathing or living. They will remember, yet not want to remember.
Their mother will feel like giving away tens of thousands of cows just so she can touch her two children’s faces again. No, she’ll not only touch their faces, she will shower them with the hugs and kisses only mothers can give.
Do not insult her grief or her poverty by giving her monetary compensation for her children.
If they were alive they would say along with their mother, “We are not goods.”
We went out there with our hearts and two cows this morning. We stood in front of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, next to a trash-lined river no one wants to clean up, and we began to feel human again.
We had begun to cry for our world.
“We are those two Afghan children.”
Guest Post: Esther Pineda, CSJ
The message of Our Lady of Guadalupe is for the restoration of justice. She highlights the need to be present to those who are poor, to those devastated by war, to those whose voices have been silenced by the pillage of conquest, to those who are rendered invisible by social and political structures. Through Juan Diego, now St. Juan Diego—he was canonized August 2002—she becomes the visible love of God. She is God’s action on behalf of those who are poor. Our Lady of Guadalupe gathers the people and restores their sense of dignity and self-worth, reveals to them that they are both loved and loving and reveals to them the unconditional love of the One God who has not abandoned them.
This is the fundamental imperative of the Gospel.
Her presence becomes a conversion—a call to see the world upside down. . . “The meek shall inherit the earth, the last shall be first,” and so on. She calls on Juan Diego, a poor, uneducated, indigenous peasant and makes him an ambassador with the message for the Bishop of Mexico. The bishop is to build a church on the outskirts of what is now Mexico City . . . among the people who live on the periphery of the city, on the outskirts. Prior to her apparition, the church was located in the heart of the city, in the heart of the commercial and political arena. It was difficult for those living on the outskirts to attend liturgy and avail themselves of God’s word and sacraments. The Church is to be in the midst of the poor. As is often being said, “Option for the poor is not an option, it is a mandate.” It is a mandate from our God, the God who sides with those who are poor, who sides with the anawim of society.
As we continue to contemplate Our Lady of Guadalupe, as we continue to prepare for the coming of her Son, let us be about justice-making.
Sr. Esther Pineda, CSJ, is a member of the Pax Christi USA National Council.
On this day of remembering the life and love of St. Francis I feel hope–hope that the story of one life and passion for justice and peace has joined the lives of millions over centuries and remained true.
True to the radical notion that God’s love is abundant and our lives are marked from the beginning with an amazing potential to be grateful, humble and blessedly present. Francis gives us the invitation to integrate the suffering and joy of the day into the widest chamber of our hearts and to feel the buzzing anticipation of transformation while holding the tender sadness of not being there yet.
On this day to all those who hold Francis as an elder, an inspiration, an ancestor and a saint may the joy of wildly passionate Francesco fill your day.
Peace and All Good…
In light of all the talking points, issues and framing of the national conventions I feel pulled to the memory of Maya Angelou reading her poem at Bill Clinton’s inauguration.
In particular, the following stanzas:
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream…
Maya Angelou, On the Pulse of the Morning
It recalls for me this is a time to dream rooted in the best of who we are and the most we long to become.
The video below, “This is the America I Believe In,” (featuring songwriter and performer Sister Kathy Sherman, CSJ) recalls the space of civic engagement that is about imagination, values, and dreams. I offer this video this week as we pause after the Republican National Convention and head into the Democratic National Convention to ask ourselves what is my hope, our hope for the America we all believe in.
I woke up on Friday and saw my home state in the headlines for another mass shooting. As I read the emerging details I could not help but think back to Columbine High School and the faces of survivors as they poured out of the building on that awful day.
The details keep emerging on both sides, details of the victims and of the perpetrator. Our path to understanding the victims and their families is clear–immediate compassion and a sense of outrage that anyone should ever have to experience such a trauma and tragedy.
Our path to the gunman is less clear. The images of him in court with his wide open stare, asking guards how the movie ends, seem to show a man in shock and out of touch with reality. But there is another image, one that cannot be escaped, and that is the vision of him standing in a darkened theater, firing his guns over and over into a terrified and innocent crowd.
What do we do with the gulf that exists between the gunmen in the dark and the young man in court? What do we do with the reality that everything he used to slaughter a crowd was gained legally? What do we do with the culture that promotes punishment for violent acts while simultaneously romanticizing and glamorizing violence?
This tragedy is not just about any one issue; its complexity should not be reduced because it is painful to look at. It points us again to a trend of violence that is supported by nonexistent gun control, a violence glamorizing culture and the incredibly easy ways for people to live in isolation.
We are failing and yet we do not seem ready to write a new dialogue around this tragedy that opens doors for a different future.
James Holmes was living a life we all recognize–the up and coming graduate student–and yet within that ordinary life the fantasy of mass murder was becoming a reality, one gun purchase at a time.
To really honor the victims and the families of all the mass shootings we need to ask some hard questions and be brave enough to come to conclusions that challenge the notion that the Second Amendment is untouchable, a court verdict is the only thing that will heal the community, and the gunman should be despised for his violence while violence in general is cool, hyper-masculine and necessary.
To honor the victims and their families, let us dig deep and not be afraid to see the big and small ways we can create a path forward–a path that reduces the risk of anyone of us standing outside a movie theater, waiting to find out if our loved one lived.