A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘war in Iraq’

“Blessed are the peacemakers…” President Obama’s address

Dear All – I want to take this week to reflect on President Obama’s address to the “Muslim world” delivered on June 4.

After eight years of a complete lack of diplomacy, international law and human rights, President Obama faced a steep challenge in addressing the primary victims of U.S. foreign policy.  I would like to honor the incredible gaps he tried to bridge from communities still shattered by 9/11 to communities currently shattered in the face of occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. As President Obama noted in his speech these are areas of historical as well as current anguish and require careful reflection and steady care.

I thank the President for what he said. I am relieved and heartened by the tone he struck and hopeful for the branch of collaboration he offered. If we turned a page eight years ago on 9/11 perhaps we have turned another page this past June 4th – a turn toward peace.

But for collaboration to flourish, for mistrust to ease, for anguish to end as the President hopes (and we all hope), we need to take a minute to examine what President Obama did not say.

He did not say that the war in Iraq was illegal and has killed over a million civilians and displaced more than 2 million more; he did not say that Palestinians have existed in one of the most brutal occupations of the past century-an occupation aided and abetted by U.S. military aid; and he did not say that the people of Afghanistan and now Pakistan have begged for the U.S. to leave – that its presence fuels the extremists, it does not defeat them.

In short he did not say what we have done, what we are responsible for, what we need to ask forgiveness for in the humblest of ways as a people – no strings attached – no hedging – just open hearts and hands.

I say this not as a critique of such an important and powerful speech, but as a gentle reminder to each of us: how do we create the peace and prosperity the President eloquently framed if we do not start with the truth? Simple, stark and uncomfortable, the United States has been a devastating force within her own borders and beyond for a long time – long before 9/11.

I think President Obama gave us a place to start – a place more hopeful than the one created by the Bush Presidency. But it is only a beginning and it will take each of us stretching and pushing the public discourse, policy and vision to really create what Obama laid out as a possibility in his speech.

So as the President said, “We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written:

 The Holy Koran  –  “O mankind ! We have created you male and female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another!”

The Talmud – “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called daughters and sons of God.”

We can do it – in love, in light, in community and a perfect opportunity to begin is the Peace Conference on August 1 in La Crosse – join peacemakers from the around world to learn how to open our hearts and hands toward a vision of  shalom.  In Peace, Liz

Peace Conference details http://www.franciscancommonventure.org/

“Did you too, O friend, suppose democracy was only for elections

“Did you too, O friend, suppose democracy was only for elections, for politics, and a party name?” Walt Whitman
Whitman wrote these words in the aftermath of the Civil War in an essay entitled “Democratic Vistas.” Whitman was hoping that from the promise held in becoming a country without the institution of slavery a broader and deeper democracy would emerge in the United States. Whitman knew this would take great commitment from everyone – politicians and citizens alike – to become a reality.
History shows us that Reconstruction led to the Jim Crow and a new form exclusion and discrimination took hold and the hopes of many waned. Democracy again became a “ballot initiative” every four years with a stark silence in between. It would take a great, grassroots movement to overturn Jim Crow and open the door once again for that broader and deeper democracy to emerge.
We are at a similar crossroads again today. Last week we saw the historic election of the first African American President. A president elect who is promising to be the “change we need” and calling on us as a nation to help him “re-build America.”  We have an opening yet again to deepen and broaden our own democratic republic.
Let us answer President Elect Obama and continue the ongoing work of democracy. Let us remind him of his campaign promises to the end of the war, provide affordable health care, give aid to homeowners, close Guantanamo, pass effective immigration legislation, create green jobs and the list goes on.
to sign a letter to President Elect Obama encouraging him to bring the troops home and work with the Iraqi people to provide reparations and safe transition. An action to begin the important process of not only recovering what we have lost in the last eight years but also deepening the democracy we will hand on to the next generation. Thanks and Peace Liz

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