Gives us hope

Thanks for publishing the story of Christian S., the disabled veteran who opposed the Iraq war at a pro-war rally. That took guts! He is the kind of American who gives us hope for his great country. Because of such people, we can still consider the US our best friend, despite all our differences.

No shame in peacemaking

If anyone is turning their backs on Canada during this international crisis, it is conservative politicians and pundits. Their pro-war, unconditional support of America is a threat to Canada's national sovereignty.

Though they try to brand Jean Chrétien a disgrace, they are disgracefully attempting to undermine a foreign policy stance -- which is backed by most Canadians -- and are flouting the established constitutional venues for dissent in our country.

Canada is dedicated to the so-called war against terrorism, which is widely seen as a just cause. We have supported our neighbors in the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. We lost lives at the hands of "friendly fire" from US pilots in Afghanistan. And now Canadian ships and soldiers are at risk trying to keep disasters like 9-11 from happening again. We should be proud of the role we are playing, and not use it as a political wedge to be driven between hawks and doves.

By and large, Canadians are mediators. We do not often act recklessly or rashly when crisis occurs. There is no shame in supporting peaceful resolutions to conflict.

Remember Nagasaki

I think it is time to remember Nagasaki, time to scratch away the numbing dailyness of our lives and look again.

I was in Nagasaki last summer, and I thought of the pilot who flew overhead that day in 1945 over a city that was described by a novelist as the "Naples of the Orient."

"Like Kyoto," he wrote, "Nagasaki overwhelms one with its beauty and serenity. It is a town of stone roads, mud walls, old temples, cemeteries, and giant trees." In an interview, Captain Sweeney used the word "pretty" to describe the city below. It was the greatest thrill of his life, he said, when he dropped the bomb.

There is a thrill in murder. There is a thrill in war. It is not just the certifiably insane who know this thrill. The eagerness for blood continues unabated in the human condition. But like parents of murdered children, being faced after years with the release of murderers, we must look again, and warn and grieve once more, openly, publicly.

We need to acknowledge the appetite for war, the fears that feed it, the hunger for vengeance, the blood lust. It is fresh blood that the dogs of war always demand. And so I believe we need to be graphic in our remembering, visceral in our imagining, we need to understand how the past is demonstrably present so that the salivating beasts with their mad thirst may drink and feel and realize the close, close connection between ourselves and the ones we devour. We need to taste the blood and know it to be our own.

Hans Kung states that in our striving for peace, we should begin with religion. "Peace among the religions," he says, "is the prerequisite for peace among the nations."

The atomic bomb, created by the Christian west, was prayed over by a Christian military chaplain before it set out on its lethal journey. Father George Zabelka was the Catholic chaplain. He lived to regret his approval of the actions that day. "In August of 1945, I as a Christian and as a priest, served not as an agent of reconciliation but as an instrument of retaliation, revenge, and homicide.... I chose nationalism over Catholicism, Caesar over Christ, as the "Great Artist" manned by Christians in my care, took off to evaporate the oldest and largest Christian community in Japan -- Nagasaki. ... I played an important and necessary role in this sacrilege -- and I played it meticulously. I am responsible... A sacrilege is the desecration of what is considered holy. For the Christian, the ultimate place of the holy is the human person....Every act of violence toward a human being is a desecration of the temple of God in this world. War for the Christian is always a sacrilege."

For Father Zabelka, it was by grace that, in his old age, he was able to make a pilgrimage to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and say, ÒBrother, forgive me for bringing you death instead of the fullness of life. Sister, forgive me for bringing you misery instead of mercy."

Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2003

Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2003, page 5. Some rights reserved.

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