Friday, January 5, 2007

Violence Begetting Violence

Joan Chittester/National Catholic Reporter, writing about the Saddam execution and its aftermath -- Justice is done: Why doesn't it feel like it? --

The event was, in other words, totally surreal. Except for one thing: the questions it raises, if we will only face them, are profoundly important ones for us as a nation and for a world in transition to a village.

But the ultimate irony, perhaps, lies in the fact that now political pundits are saying what philosophers, theologians, mystics and holy ones have been saying ever since Jesus said, "Peter, put away your sword." They are all clear: "No," they tell their interviewers across cyberspace, "No, this will not change anything in Iraq -- except, perhaps, make it worse."

Violence begets violence the saints have told us over and over again.

We have seen it with our own eyes. We invaded Iraq and started a war. We justified the invasion on false grounds and now carry on our own backs the onus of injustice: There were no weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqis did not lie to us. They had nothing to do with Al Quaeda. They had not been breeding terrorists. They did not support the attack on the Twin Towers.

All of those things have been forgotten. Now, instead, we tell ourselves that we did, at least, eliminate a dictator. But how? And at what cost? And with what gains as the numbers of our dead climb and theirs skyrocket?

Maybe we should listen again to the saints. Perhaps we should give our own role in World Peace Day new attention as we approach the day in which we will be given "a new strategy" for Iraq. If it were not for American voters, we would be nowhere near such a moment. But the vote may not have been enough to make the difference. We may all need to do more to make the point that World Peace Day is a pressing, immediate, demanding and real challenge, not a celebration of the kind of self-serving sanctimonious nationalism that says we believe in peace, therefore we are peaceful.

I think Sr. Joan is saying that by continuing with this eye-for-an-eye (il)logic, we're becoming blind.

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