I wrote this piece for the in faith column of our local Sunday paper for this week. I wonder if you have any comment.
The War against Terror is approaching its sixth year. Following the atrocities or the 9th of September 2001 the response made by George Bush was not long in coming. Invasion of Afghanistan in order to Osma Bin Laden (still free), the Invasion of Iraq to chase Weapons of Mass Destruction (still not found), the heartbreak of terrorist murders in our capital and the more recent action of Israel against “terrorists” and the Lebanese people (not spoken against). The War against Terror has brought more terror, murder, destruction, widows, orphans and death as the cost of the U.S to “protection” of its people. The unequivocal support of our Prime minister, Tony Blair, and the Labour government in meeting terror with terror has caused many to despair over the blinkered use of violence that has caught up the innocents in its enormity.
Before the Labour Party Conference in Manchester last week I joined with the tens of thousands of people who converged on Manchester to show their opposition to the continuing fruitless use of violence to combat terrorism. But I was dismayed to see among the organised groups attending from Islamic, Socialist and Marxist groups, few Christians. I was dismayed because my belief is in the responsibility we own as people of faith to speak out. We are to stand with those who are subject to the oppression and violence of others. Christianity, Judaism and Islam share a common foundation in the faith of the Hebrew prophets. Isaiah said, in the way of the prophet to speak for God, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:15-17 NIV)
While you may think that such protest is unavoidably political, I would argue that to protest is unavoidably spiritual. Our religion must be substantiated by our view of the world and how we treat those who are oppressed by the actions of others.
The most powerful impact of the march against the War for me was when the shouting and drum beating stopped and we held a mass “die in.” In those minutes I reflected on the loss of life of innocents seen as “collateral damage” by the hawks of Washington and Westminster. I thought of my own children and how precious their small lives are to me. I mourned for the loss of life taken by the fear, hatred and violence of people who would better serve their cause by seeking peace through dialogue with their “enemy”. I prayed for a better world free from violence and fear for the widows and orphans made by terrorists of all descriptions. I prayed for a world free from violence and fear for my children to grow up in. If this is political it is also spiritual and necessary to follow the command of Jesus “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:43-44 NIV)
By Martin Hill