I hate having my first post on this blog (whatever the fuck that means) to be copied and pasted from a friend's e-mail. However, I haven't heard from my good friend David Hennessey in about 3 months and this e-mail seemed to be entirely appropriate for this group. Enjoy...
There is much talk today of America being a "Christian" nation, founded by Christians. Though this is historically inaccurate, the notion is so popular that it merits public attention. The Republican party considers itself the representative of the Christian moral majority. How does the rhetoric stack up with reality?
*disclaimer* I am not a Christian, but I believe very much in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as well as many of the other great teachers of the world. As such, this is written from the perspective of one who finds it ironic that the pacifist teachings of Jesus have been co-opted by the Republican party. I believe this is no different from the peaceful teachings of Mohammed being co-opted by the war mongers from the other side; same story, different nouns.
If America really was a Christian nation...
*) Foriegn policy would be dictated by love and a desire to help our fellow man, not paranoia & vengeance. We would certainly not have powerful "intelligence" agencies that operate entirely beyond the control of the people, accountable to no one. We would not empower these people to interfere in other democracies to assassinate elected leaders and install US-friendly dictators.
*) We would pool resources for the common good, such as health care and an end to poverty. This should be easy for the richest nation. Jesus quite explicitly said rich people would not exactly be welcome in his company, so everyone should be very happy to only take what they need & share the rest. We certainly wouldn't close homeless shelters to pay for the largest nuclear weapon stockpiles in the world, capable of blowing up the planet several hundred times over. (After all, you really only need to have enough weapons to do it once, ya know?) And we certainly wouldn't have the largest permanent war economy in the history of humankind, while being behind every single other industrial nation in the world in terms of social services. Is profit really the only possible cornerstone of community?
*) We would love, welcome, and seek to understand our neighbor -- even the gay ones. We would not pour over the Bible in a pathetic attempt to find out who it's "ok" to hate, then make special laws about those people. Our propoganda demonizes Islam for exactly the same thing.
*) We would seek peace at all costs. Aggressive action would be evil to us. Defensive action would be something we'd use with complete restraint, because responding to violence with violence has always resulted in an escalating cycle of bloodshed. History -- and Jesus -- have taught us that it never ends until people are willing to have peace, even if the personal cost is high. When Africa had it's revolution against apartheid, it was peaceful; "liberate the oppressed AND the oppressor" was the mantra. Contrast that with the never-ending war between the Palestinians and Israelis. We certainly wouldn't launch bloody "pre-emptive" wars on third-world countries, then become the oppressors & torturers out of some self-righteous cowboy delusion of spreading freedom with a gun. We'd be intelligent and pious enough to learn from history.
*) We would not all buy into the lie that you use a military to spread democracy, death to spread human rights, & war crimes to advance the cause of freedom. Instead, we would use our excessive riches to invade every country on Earth with unconditional help; food, text books, Internet access, materials to build homes, jobs, and everything else people need to empower themselves to be free. We would offer the better alternative -- not impose it through fear of death (which is, after all, the definition of terrorism). And we would do this for every country, not just the ones with oil. (Why is it that we only find "humanitarian" reasons to invade countries if they have petroleum, but claim it's none of our business if they don't? Why does invading oil-rich countries always some how make us "freer?")
*) When struck, we would turn the other cheek. This is at the basis of Jesus' doctrine of pacifism. We would not succumb to the petty desire for vengeance and blood lust. Instead of asking who we must kill after 9/11, we would be asking *why* it happened in the first place. Why do people hate us so much that they would willingly die to kill us? Are there reasons for this? Should we perhaps ask ourselves if it was wrong to force the Palestinians off their land, killing many in the process, causing several wars, and creating generations of apartheid as a result? Should we ask ourselves if it was wrong to sell WMDs to Saddam Hussein during the Reagan administration? Should we ask ourselves if we invited this when we armed, trained & funded Osama bin Laden to fight the "commies" during the Reagan years? Should we question why Bush Sr. reinstated the brutal-but-US-friendly dictator of Kuwait after the first Gulf War? Should we question our government's policy of providing funding to anti-Iranian terrorist groups? Strangely, none of this was debated prior to our President launching an unending war on a word. We did not question if 50 years of bloody oppression might have caused them to lash out at the first opportunity. Most Americans know very little about the past 50 years of history in the Middle East, and how America has been involved. Yet we're all so willing to "nuke the towel-heads." Wouldn't asking questions be a better place to start, rather than going out and buying flags and being extra-proud of ourselves?
*) We would love our enemy as we love ourselves. Since we do not imprison ourselves indefinitely without trial while torturing ourselves and declaring ourselves outside the protection of humanitarian law, we should not be doing this to our "enemy." We cannot claim the higher moral ground unless we're on it.
*) We would not base our trade economy on foriegn slave labor. If you buy clothes at the mall, you are probably unknowingly supporting slave-wage labor. In fact, almost anything you buy that was mass-produced was made in a sweatshop. This has become the norm, not the exception. It is no longer front-page news to find out that another American company has opened up shop in a country without human rights laws. Is it consistent with Christian values for the rich to exploit the poor? And yet, Walmart is one of the largest and most succesful insitutions on the planet.
*) We would not do business with people who oppress, enslave, torture, and murder. We certainly would not let the crown prince of Saudi Arabia own a large chunk of our economy. And we would be asking hard questions as to why our President is so close to so many oil-hoarding dictators.
*) We would not demand that our country be solely exempt from the International Court of Justice, nor would we demand that our nation be exempt from international treaties that keep peace & humanitarian law intact. Justice, peace & humanitarian law would actually be things we'd want to be the leaders in -- by example, not military demand.
*) We would not make greed & avarice the highest values of our land. We would not pretend not to see homeless people when we pass them, shivering in the streets. We would not begrudge them the 50 cents they ask for by telling ourselves they'd just spend it on booze. We would not have such rampant poverty that 1,000,000 children are homeless in our country.
If you're a Christian, and all this sounds like idealism to you, I have one question for you... What value does Christianity have to you if you don't believe it's teachings *really* apply? Being a Christian nation isn't about putting "under god" into the pledge. It's not about trying to outlaw abortion while ignoring every other issue. It's about the actions of that nation.
It's not just radical fundamentalist Islam that needs reform. Reactionary fundamentalist Christianity has waged far more carnage in the last few years than a rag-tag band of terrorists could ever hope to accomplish. More than 100,000 civillian Arabs have perished, and our President feels there is no need for accountability. America, Israel, and the Middle East are driving conflicts that threaten to engulf the world. Why is bloodshed characteristic of the monotheistic religions? And here at home, it is breeding bigotry and intolerance. It is now acceptable, even fashionable for our leaders to be open bigots. An honest appraisal of what America is really like today -- not 200 years ago, not during World War II, but *today* -- is long overdue.
Could it be that a "Christian nation," "Jewish nation," and "Muslim nation" are all equally bad ideas? Maybe we need to just have *nations*, where all the people are equal. Or better yet, maybe we should just have Earth, with all the people, and forget about the imaginary lines on the map. Those lines only exist because our ancestors were savage. Our religions all teach us that we've become better than those savages. It's time we started acting like it.
Thanks for reading this far...