(AV17620) Reflections on the 8th Anniversary of the Iraq Invasion
Articles,  Blog

(AV17620) Reflections on the 8th Anniversary of the Iraq Invasion

good evening good evening once again and
I am the director of campus ministry and coordinator of charity justice and peace
that’s a everlastingly long title but that’s what I do at st. Thomas Aquinas
here in Ames it’s a Catholic Church across the street and I just want to
welcome you all tonight and thank you for coming thanks to all of the Ames
High students and the ISU students and all of the community members who are
here to greet our speaker and welcome him back to ISU Tom Cordero Creed ro has
been part of my history for a very long time without knowing it I grew up in
Kansas City Missouri area and I knew his brother bill back in the 80s and 90s and
I was connected with the Catholic Worker community there in in Kansas City Holy
Family house and so bill and I used to cook together and pray together and then
I heard about this firebrand guy named Frank Cordero Korda and I actually met
Frank once I don’t think he remembers it but he came down for a Thursday night
mass at the Catholic Worker when I was living there and so I thought wow you
know these two brothers are just awesome and and great inspiration for a lot of
Catholics in the area of social justice well then I was most fortunate to be
offered the position here at st. Thomas almost three years ago only to find out
that the guy who established the position at st. Thomas was another
Cordero brother Tom and so I just felt like there were Cordero’s coming out of
my history everywhere but I finally got to meet him today so it’s my great honor
to introduce Tom he was a Iowa State student back in the 70s when the
political climate in the US was very interesting and nuclear war was all the
way always in our attention and Tom and
Frank boy they sure had a lot to say about it and a lot to talk about in
terms of Catholic social teaching and war resistance and since then since 1983
when Tom left Eames he has been involved in Pax Christi which is the Catholic
national peace Association and then most recently he is the just as an outreach
minister at st. Margaret Mary church in Naperville Illinois and Tom is here with
his wife Bridget tonight and their daughter Angela is a college student and
so like a lot of you is probably dealing with all of these kinds of issues and
wondering how they fit into her life as well and so we welcome Tom tonight and
thank you for coming back to Iowa State to share with us your insights on the
war on terror and thoughts about peace good evening everyone
it is for me a great honor to be invited to speak here today as part of the
Monsignor James supple endowment lecture series having been an active member at
st. Thomas Aquinas and also as a campus minister under the leadership of
Monsignor supple in many ways coming back to Ames has been like a journey to
come back home of course when I was in Ames in the 70s
and 80s he was lovingly referred to as James from Ames as he would say I came
to Ames in 72 as an 18 year old freshman Monsignor supple blew into my life like
the spirit like the Holy Spirit because I had never met a Catholic priest so
full of joy and so full of life he was what I called an Easter morning
Christian and not only did he love his job but he had a genuine love for every
young person he met including me Monsignor supple and the rest of the
priests and religious and lay people I worked with at st. Thomas Aquinas taught
me the church was more about community than it was about rules and doctrine it
was more about loving and serving unconditionally than about labels that
we put on people and everything I valued about being church I learned in my time
here in Ames and even though I’ve worked at Catholic parishes and Catholic
institutions for over 30 years now I can say that my time at st. Thomas Aquinas
represents the high point of my Catholic parish experience of course in addition
to what I learned on the south side of Lincoln Way
I also learned a great deal on the north side of the street on this side of the
street as well and I want to particularly mention two people who
really really made an impact on my life the first is someone who’s in the crowd
right now with us today and that’s professor Ted Solomon who taught the
philosophy of religion here at Iowa State University professor Solomon
taught me how to think and how to write clearly he pushed me to connect the dots
when I would make an argument and to do the work necessary to back up all the
conclusions that I would make and I you know he never gave me an A on any of the
papers I wrote but he always gave me an A for the class so I suspect I am NOT
gonna get an A tonight either but you know hopefully I’ll do okay now the
other person I want to mention that had an impact in my life is dr. Dan Saffiano
who was the vice president of research here at Iowa State University when I was
a young campus minister doctors efron–oh
and I began our relationship in 1980 when Iowa State was beginning to do
research on nerve gas for the United States military and I led a group of
student and religious leaders who objected to the research and doctors
efron–oh became the principal target of our ire what I remember most about dr.
Zafar Anto was his even-handedness in dealing with our ragtag little group I
remember him being open to the questions that we raised about this research and
understanding the implications of the issues that were being raised every
public forum we organized on this issue he attended every request for a meeting
he granted us every question we raised he addressed now we did not see eye to
eye about the appropriateness of this research but he did understand that
wrestling with these issues was at the heart
of what a university is supposed to be about dr. Zafar Rana was one of those
rare people who understood that a university is primarily a place of
learning and that the search for truth is the ultimate goal of any university
and even when we occupied his office in a non-violent sit-in he understood that
what we were engaged in was more than just disrupting business as usual but
that it was part of this search for the truth and he taught me that it was
possible to disagree while still being agreeable he exemplified for me that
Chinese proverb about the three truths there’s my truth there’s your truth and
then there’s the truth and the universities are supposed to be places
where competing understandings of the truth are tested in order to come to a
clearer understanding of the truth so I would encourage any students here
tonight to consider the following that the most important things you learn at
Iowa State University are not always in the classroom take the opportunity to
learn from both sides of Lincoln Way secondly it’s more important to learn
how to think then what to think the skills that will be most useful to you
in the future are your analytical writing and speaking skills try to work
on those and third never forget that is lifetime learners our goal is the search
for truth and that the truth is best served when we are humble about our own
understanding of the truth and open to the truths of others with that in mind
let us begin our evening inquiry tonight I’d like to share with you some of the
major themes of my book be not afraid and I’ll turn
to the war on terror of course in this short kind of presentation that I’m
giving I can’t do a full explanation so I’m going to give you an outline of some
of the major arguments but not all of them following hopefully with some
questions and answers that we can use to clarify some of these things it’s not an
overstatement I think to say that we live in a time of acute fear and anxiety
in our country we’re currently facing a national and global economic crisis that
is rocked us on our heels and made a second guess almost every financial
transaction that we contemplate and for the first time in many generations we
wonder aloud whether our children and grandchildren will experience the same
level of economic security that many of us have taken for granted for most of
our lives and while economists tell us that the economy has turned the corner
we all know that the road to recovery will be slow and gradual at best many
commentators and and economists also tell us that at least some of the
economic crisis we face today has its roots in the way we responded to the
terrorist attacks of 9/11 more than the attacks themselves our response to them
have had far-reaching economic and human costs which have made us less able to
respond effectively to the current economic crisis we face a Time magazine
article a year or so ago stated that the war on terror has cost this country so
far over 1 trillion dollars and while many Americans had hoped with the
election of Barack Obama as president and his pledge to end the war in Iraq
that we might begin to see some savings in defense spending and the wars it’s
becoming clear now that whatever savings there might be will be very small
because of his double down and increasing involvement in both
Afghanistan and in Pakistan now it was only natural that after we were attacked
on September 11th that we would demand justice for the
victims that we’d want to do all that we could to prevent another attack like it
in the future so doing nothing was not an option but
deciding on what we should do was really in many ways short-circuited by a rush
to war what I want to talk about tonight in this presentation is first how our
response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks was formed how the shaping of our
response drove us further into fear and into counterproductive actions and how
we might create an alternative to the war on terror that would be both more
effective and more true to those values and principles which are at the heart of
what it means to be an American finally I want to explore two very different
visions or understandings of peace that exists within our national story and I’m
going to make the case that unless we embrace one of these visions and move
away from the other we will really not be able to effectively deal with this
threat unfortunately in our country when faced with a threat to our sense of
security we often embrace the metaphor of war as an organizing principle in
order to deal with a threat so we’ve embarked for instance on a war on
poverty then we had the war on drugs neither of which as I recall has been
all that successful but for political leaders invoking the war metaphor can be
very very appealing because if of its all-encompassing power and totality on a
society in his book war a force that gives meaning Chris Hedges talks about
the power of mythic war he writes and I quote war makes the world understandable
a black and white tableau of them and us its suspends thought especially self
critical thought all bow before the supreme effort we are one
most of us willingly accept war as long as if we can it can be folded into a
belief system that paints the ensuing suffering as necessary for a higher good
for human being seek not only happiness but also meaning in mythic war we fight
absolutes we must vanquish the darkness it’s
imperative and inevitable for civilization for the free world and for
the good for good to triumph end quote so war is more than just organized
violence it is a force with the ability to transform social norms to suspend
legal and moral restraints and to galvanize a nation around a common
purpose when the Bush administration declared its war on terror many of us
became troubled by what was happening in our country to our sense of civil
liberties to our sense of right and wrong to our commitment to the rule of
law and we wondered aloud if we had not lost something essential to our national
character but it’s important to realize that we did not just get to this point
by accident or by some inevitable sequence of cause in effect Hedges talks
about the importance of mythic reality in creating the momentum to war I prefer
the term narrative the Bush administration had succeeded in
hijacking our national story of a commitment to civil rights and respect
for the rule of law and replaced it with a new storyline a new narrative that he
called the war on terror it was a narrative born out of those
traumatic experiences of attacks on September 11th and it was carefully
crafted with a specific purpose in mind and that is to prepare our nation to
engage in perpetual warfare even the choice of the phrase war on terror was
done with purpose as the slope suggest we’re told that we were engaged
in a war against an unnamed enemy in an unnamed place therefore the threat could
come from any place at any time and from anyone and just how does one wage a war
against an extreme form of fear during the Bush administration we were told
that the enemy was not only al Qaeda terrorists but al Qaeda supporters al
Qaeda sympathizers and anyone else who might share al-qaeda’s critique of u.s.
foreign policy or its support of Israel and the engine that drove this war on
terror narrative during the Bush administration it was fear in order to
get the American people to accept the suspension of civil liberties the use of
torture the establishment of secret detention centers and the sacrifice of
its children and its treasure it had to be regularly terrorized and
most of the effort to terrorize the American people did not come from Osama
bin Laden it came from the Bush White House the Bush administration created a
9/11 narrative in service to this perpetual war on terror that depended on
keeping the American people terrified about the possibility of another attack
and even though they are now out of power some of the architects of this war
on terror like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are intent on continuing this strategy
of terrorizing us by trying to convince us then unless we give up our values and
principles there’s no way we can remain safe and while the Obama administration
has stopped using the slogan war on terror and has made verbal commitments
to uphold these values in principles we hold dear in the struggle against
terrorism it’s still unclear whether they will act to uphold the rule of law
by holding the architects of this campaign of torture waged
our name accountable for their actions unless President Obama fulfills his oath
of office to protect the Constitution and uphold the law even if it leads to
charging former government officials and legislators both Democrat and Republican
he will make himself part of the conspiracy to violate the Constitution
because my friends upholding the law and prosecuting lawbreakers is not a
optional obligation that can be put aside in order to fulfill some
legislative agenda and unless there is a full accounting of this dark chapter in
our history unless those who gave the orders are held accountable all of his
flowery talk about the rule of law and upholding our national values and
principles will be nothing but empty rhetoric now in the past during times of
national crisis our leaders worked hard to lead us away from fear
we all remember President Roosevelt’s famous words the only thing we have to
fear is fear itself but during the Bush administration there
was a different agenda in mind General Charles kerlick former commander of the
Marine Corps and General Joseph hor former commander and head of US Central
Command wrote in few article a few years ago about the public’s fear of another
terrorist attack and the temptation to use torture as a response they wrote and
I quote fear can be a strong motivator we have served in combat we understand
the reality of fear and the havoc it can wreak if left unchecked or fostered fear
breeds panic and it can lead people and Nations to act in ways that are not or
that are inconsistent with their character the American people are
understandably fearful about another attack like the one we sustained on
September 11th but it is the duty of the commander-in-chief
to lead the country away from the grips of fear not into its grasp end quote
fearful people are easy to control and to manipulate and President Bush’s war
on terror like all wars reduces the world to an oversimplified kind of
morality and either-or thinking it leme limits us and stunts our creativity by
marginalizing alternative points of view war does produce unity but all too often
it is the unity of totalitarianism it’s only a small step from calling for
national unity on the one hand too demanding blind and unquestioning
obedience on the other when people who are kept in a state of terror become
convinced that war will make them safe they’re more willing to suspend good
judgment and give their leaders the benefit of the doubt and when fear
overrules good judgment a nation can be easily trapped in a cycle of revenge and
reprisal against an enemy that over time becomes less a reflection of reality and
more a projection of its own phobias and as we have learned recently from a book
written by the former head of the department of homeland security Tom
Ridge the decision to keep the American people in a constant state of fear was
not only pursued in order to keep the powers of the executive branch of
government beyond the control of Congress in the courts it may have also
been employed as a political strategy to keep the Bush administration in power
Ridge wrote about the pressure he would got to raise the terrorist threat just
prior to the elections he wrote and I quote Ashcroft strongly urged an
increase in the threat level and was supported by Rumsfeld there was
absolutely no support for that position within our department none and I
wondered is this about security or about politics
and now in my book I spend a good deal of time comparing and contrasting the
9/11 narrative created by the Bush administration with the 9/11 narrative
created by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network and what becomes
obvious is that both of these narratives are mutually sustaining that is they
create a dynamic whereby the actions of one validates the story of the other the
results of course at best is a draw but when the most powerful nation on the
planet is fighting a bunch of thugs living in caves in Afghanistan a draw is
actually a loss for the United States now there are those who want to try to
stop terrorism by waging war but terrorists are not interested in
conquering our military they don’t have armies that wear uniforms they prefer to
infiltrate countries not take them over and this is important terrorists measure
success not in terms of winning battles but in terms of provoking their enemies
into acting in ways that confirm their worldview and aid in the recruitment of
more and more followers that’s the goal and so what we need to ask ourselves is
what has this war on terror actually achieved according to a survey by the
British newspaper or the independent in just the first five years the war on
terror resulted in a minimum of 62,000 people killed in over 4.5 million people
left as refugees as of September 2006 the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan have
cost the United States more than the grand sum total needed to pay off the
debts of every poor third-world country on this planet and what is the net
result of this front-line strategy every time the United States acts in ways that
validates al-qaeda’s worldview new Kreutz become available and more Muslim
Arab communities become safe havens for them to take refuge so it’s time to ask
ourselves what all of this death and destruction and expenditure of treasure
has won for us are we any closer to ending this threat or can we shape an
alternative to the war on terror that does not call us to abandon the very
principles on which our government and this nation was founded can we shape an
alternative to the war on terror that can effectively reduce the threat and
provide ways of discrediting al Qaeda and other terrorist groups there are I
believe any number of important principles and values American
principles and values that are crucial to a 9/11 narrative that it’s going to
be capable of uniting our country and rallying our allies in this struggle to
combat terrorism the first of these is equality under the law Justice Robert
Jackson was the chief counsel for the United States during the Nuremberg
trials he spoke prophetically when sentencing Nazi war criminals he stated
and I quote if certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes they’re crimes
whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them and we are not
prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would
not be willing to have invoked against us we must never forget that the record
on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge
us tomorrow to pass these defendants a poison chalice is to put it to our own
lips as well end quote while vigorous police action to hunt
down terrorists in order to bring them to justice is crucial in our efforts to
end terrorism this must be matched with an unshakeable commitment to the
important American principles of equal justice under the law and our commitment
to human rights but when we abandon our own tradition of law when we jettison
international treaties and laws wouldn’t they become inconvenient then our fight
against terrorism is undermined and the very legitimacy of our struggle comes
under question another founding principle American principle that we can
bring to the struggle to end terrorism is the commitment to democratic
self-determination the cornerstone of our American story is this that all
people have a right to participate in the process of government and to select
leaders that represent their views and their values and even though past
presidents have offered a great deal of lip service and political rhetoric about
this principle of democratic self-determination many of the world’s
poorest people see the United States acting in ways that support their own
undemocratic governments and this is no more true than any other place in the
world like it is in the Arab world terrorism will end when we allow other
people the right to self-determination to create their own forms of democracy
and not have a particular form of government or economic model imposed
upon them another important American principle that we can bring to this
struggle to end terrorism is the principle that government should work
for the common good not just for the rich and the powerful
our alternative 9/11 narrative should be based on the recognition that terrorism
will end when we create the International economic mechanisms that
will ensure that the wealth and resources of this world are distributed
in a way in which every human being can live in dignity as long as the wealthy
elite in this country and around the world control most of the wealth and
consume most of the resources at the expense of those who are destitute
there’s always gonna be terrorism always added to all
these core American values it’s one more principle that I believe is crucial in
our alternative 9/11 narrative that would create a powerful means of
separating al Qaeda and other terrorist groups from their base of support
fundamental to our American character is our tolerance and respect for those from
different cultures faiths and ethnic backgrounds now although our
history is filled with many many examples of how we have failed to live
up to this ideal at our best we understand that in a nation as diverse
as ours tolerance and respect go hand in hand with peace and unity our efforts to
combat terrorism will be more effective if we understand that terrorism will end
when all cultures are respected and the dominant white Western culture is not
imposed upon indigenous peoples around the world as long as we continue to act
in ways that disrespect and destroy other people’s cultures and hence their
identities we can expect terrorist attacks to continue against us now the
stakes in this struggle are high but the possibility for meaningful change is
even higher but any alternative to the war on terror cannot hope to succeed in
gaining the support of our people in this country unless it is tied to an
understanding of peace that is deeply grounded in our common American story
the problem is we often talk about peace in this country without being clear
about what we mean by peace now the dominant understanding for what makes
for peace is what I call peace as enforced order but there also exists
within our national story an alternative understanding of peace one that is every
bit as American as this understand of peace as enforced order but one that
is more in harmony with our religious values this understanding of what makes
for peace is what I call peace as an enterprise of justice now both of these
visions are always at play within a national story but at this time in our
history peace as in forced order seems to be
predominant and again because I don’t have the time during this presentation
to present a full explanation of these two contrasting visions I’m going to
make a number of assertions here without giving you much in the way of examples
or proofs the examples and proofs are in the book and if you’re interested you
can read them there ok so let’s start with peace as enforced order scarcity
scarcity is the fundamental principle that guides the strategic thinking of
those who see peace as enforced order now the principle of scarcity holds that
all those things that make for the good life are in limited supply and because
of this there’s always going to be competition and conflict over the it’s
limited supply of goods organizing our lives or organizing the life of a nation
around the principle of scarcity means viewing the world through a zero-sum
framework that means if someone’s power is growing than someone else’s power
must be diminishing if someone is gaining well then somebody else must be
losing shortly after World War two while our national security state was being
formed George Kennan who worked for the State Department in 1948 wrote this he
said we have about fifty percent of the world’s wealth but only 6.5 percent of
its population in this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and
resentment our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of
relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity with
our positive detriment to our national security
and quote in one form or another this continues to be the guiding principle of
u.s. foreign policy although it is seldom publicly acknowledged now the
highest virtue of peace as enforced order is acquisition the more you have
the more powerful you are and US political and military strategists have
recognized for many years now that future threats have their roots in the
economic disparity between the rich and the poor and if we live in a world of
scarcity then acquiring or controlling as much of the world’s resources as
possible inevitably becomes the most important task and fear over losing
accessing control has been the engine that is fuelled US national security
planning ever since this country became a superpower
now the biblical model of peace as enforced order are the Pharaohs of the
books of Genesis and Exodus they’re portrayed as rulers of powerful empires
intent on holding on to their power by controlling all those that they that
they control under they’re under there under their leadership but the Bible
portrays them all as fearful leaders in the 47th chapter of Genesis we’re
introduced to a pharaoh who is haunted by dreams and it takes an insightful
young Joseph to decipher the Pharaohs malaise Pharaoh dreams there’s going to
be a famine in the land and for the first time in the Bible someone says
there’s not going to be enough let’s get as much as we possibly can the fearful
Pharaoh haunted by dreams of scarcity in the book of Genesis is followed by a
pharaoh in Exodus whose fear of scarcity drives him to enslave the Hebrews why
because they were growing more numerous than the Egyptian
and in order to ensure that the Egyptians had all that they needed these
Hebrew slaves were given the task of building pit moths and Rameses to store
the surplus wealth of Egypt while acquiring as much as possible those who
embrace peace as enforced order understand peace primarily as the
absence of conflict a maintenance of order which of course favors the status
quo peace as enforced order is a peace that insists that any change be managed
in such a way as to avoid disturbing the fundamental arrangements of power and
privilege peace as enforced order can provide stability but it can also mask
deep divisions and crushing in justices peace as enforced order can’t some
degree provide predictability in social economic and political relationships but
it can also make it harder to understand and adapt for pressure for change from
below peace as enforced order can reduce open conflict but can also create
conflicts that are harder to identify and even harder to resolve the dominant
American narrative based on peace as enforced order is a fortress America
that spends most of its wealth projecting its military power around the
world much more of its wealth on doing that than it does on diplomacy or
development aid and it creates a civilian population that sees enemies
everywhere in their Arab and South Asian neighbours or in the undocumented
Mexican worker that cuts his lawn and cleans his office building and people
under the influence of peace as enforced order can be quickly provoked to strike
out without cause or clear purpose countries that embrace peace as enforced
order may give lip service to these higher ideals and principles at times
when it feels secure but it’s true nature is revealed at times of crisis
when it feels vulnerable and it’s at that time that peace has enforced order
shows its true face of course this is not totally true for the United States
because we are not totally given over to this understanding of peace as enforced
order there is another force at work another another understanding of peace
that is quite different but is every bit a part of our American story in the
judeo-christian tradition peace is more often understood in positive terms peace
is both a gift from God and the work of humans it must be constructed on the
basis of central human values like truth and justice freedom and love and
although in u.s. popular culture and in politics this understanding is often
ignored or trivialized or co-opted the vision of peace as an enterprise of
justice has a long tradition in our nation President Kennedy in his famous
1963 commencement speech at American University spoke eloquently about this
particular vision of peace he said what kind of peace do I mean and what kind of
peace do we seek not a pox Americana enforced on the world by American
weapons of war I’m talking about genuine peace the kind of peace that makes life
on Earth worth living and the kind that enables men and Nations to grow and to
hope and build a better life for their children not merely a peace for
Americans but a peace for all men and women not merely a peace for our time
but a peace for all times end quote abundance
abundance is the fundamental principle that guides the strategic thinking of
those who see peace as an enterprise of justice and the principle of abundance
holds that the goods of this earth necessary to support lives that are
fully human and fully alive are bountiful that God created the world
exceedingly fruitful as a strategic guide making sure that the goods of this
earth are distributed in a way that allows for every human person to develop
to their fullest human potential becomes the highest priority those who embrace
peace as an enterprise of justice hold that the individual good is realized in
the context of community humans are social beings whose welfare and
development are realized through relationships with one another so peace
as an enterprise of justice is founded on the concept of the common good
whereby the good of each is the good of all the highest virtue of peace as an
enterprise of justice is enough enough only by recognizing the difference
between what is needed and what is merely desired can a person or a nation
come to understand the virtue of enough and implied in the virtue of enough is a
constant dialogue between the individual and the community about rights and
responsibilities what rights and responsibilities the individuals have in
relationship to the community and what rights and responsibilities does the
community have in relationship to its individual members or as Paul put it in
his letter to the Corinthians the eye cannot say to the hand I do not need you
any more than the head can say to the feet I do not need you if one member
suffers all the members suffer with it and if one member is honored
all the members share in its joy now the virtue of enough has really all the way
up until the age of mass production always been part of our American culture
always been part of our American character from the folk wisdom of
Benjamin Franklin to the simple living movements of today Americans have always
been suspicious of addictive consumerism Americans like Henry David Thoreau
helped to set the moral tone when he wrote a man is rich in proportion to the
number of things which he can afford to let alone and the first born American
Saint mother Elizabeth Seton set forth the ethical principle when she said live
simply so that others might simply live now deciding on enough is not something
an individual can do without looking to their neighbor to see if their basic
needs are being met and the enterprise of justice calls on us not to compare
our once and needs to those who live above us in the social order but to
compare them with those who live below now the biblical model for peace as an
enterprise of justice is freed slaves being fed manna in the wilderness in the
book of Exodus we are told how these newly freed slaves were being formed
into a people by God when they left the land of Egypt and they began their
journey across this vast wilderness they faced the ultimate of economic
challenges how shall we sustain ourselves in addition to having the law
to guide them symbolized by the Ten Commandments God would teach them a new
set of principles to guide their economic lives as well now the story of
manna in the desert is often preached to us as a miraculous feeding story but it
is much much more than this the manna story is about God testing these newly
freed slaves to quote see if they will follow my instructions
are not exodus chapter 16 verse 4 the Hebrews were instructed to only take
what they needed for the day they were told not to store up any surplus manna
except the day before the Sabbath the day they were to rest from work and the
story tells us that the Hebrews learned quote those who gathered a large amount
did not have too much and those who gathered a small amount did not have too
little as scripture scholar Chad Myers points out in God’s economy there is
such a thing as having too much and too little
this contrasts radically with modern capitalism’s infinite tolerance for
extreme wealth and extreme poverty end quote
in light of this we can begin to see that the whole of the prophetic
tradition in the Jewish Scriptures is a call for Israel to return to this
covenant ‘el understanding of enough which is implicit in the demands for
justice for the poor in the light in the print and light of the principle of
abundance in this virtue of enough the whole of Jesus’s public ministry can be
seen as a reaffirmation of manna economics in the life of Israel his
coming was heralded by his mother as a time of great redistribution of wealth
and that beautiful prayer the Magnificat in the Gospel of Luke we read Mary
saying he has deposed the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly to
high places the hungry he has given good things
while the rich he has sent away empty handed Jesus began his own public
ministry by signaling a time of Jubilee the year of the Lord’s favor as it says
in the Gospel of Luke when debts would be canceled land restored to its
original owners and slaves and debtors set free his feeding miracles pivot on a
conversation with his disciples about perception
of scarcity Jesus would say why don’t you give them something to eat
yourselves and the disciples say it would say but Lord we have only five
loaves and two fishes and the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warns against laying up
treasure and making wealth into a god and jesus himself foresees the coming of
the kingdom as a great reversal of economic fortune blessed are you who are
hungry you shall be filled and woe to you who are full you shall go hungry and
in teaching his disciples to pray only for their daily bread not their weekly
bread not their monthly allotment of bread but for their daily bread Jesus
demonstrates this virtue of enough as a sign of trust in God’s providence
if those consumed by the concept of peace as enforced order are always
looking over their shoulders for potential threats and enemies those who
embrace peace as an enterprise of justice are always looking around to
make sure everybody’s got a seat at the table while those who are compelled by
peace as in forced order are driven by a fear of others those compelled by peace
as an enterprise of justice are driven by a fear for others now embracing this
concept of peace as an enterprise of justice is not a matter of rejecting
everything our nation stands for on the contrary it is a matter of embracing an
alternative narrative that is as much a part of our American story as the
dominant narrative that currently holds sway in our popular culture in our
corporate media and in our major political parties as people of faith the
challenge we face and setting forth a vision of peace for our time that will
lead us away from fear not further into its grasp the only peace that can truly
provide us the security we seek it’s a piece that is a piece for all people a
piece that is based on the pursuit of justise grounded in the principle of
abundance and lived through the virtue of enough as a rune Hatay ROI in Indian
activist once said at a recent World Social Forum another world is not only
possible she is on her way on a quiet day I can hear her breathing
thank you we have we have opportunity we have a microphone in the back for the
anyone who would like to ask a question I’d ask that the question be a question
that also that you try to make it a short and succinct as possible so we can
get as many questions as possible yes Michel SP with Washington report on
Middle East affairs welcome back to Iowa State thank you is it dr. kadar oh no no
well in any case welcome back and I do have a question and it’s one that’s
related to a conversation I’ve been having with your brother Frank we’ve
been talking recently about about Zionism you mentioned the
judeo-christian tradition and I’m wondering I guess you know there’s been
a lot in the news just recently about relations between the United States and
Israel and I’m wondering how can you talk a little bit about how you perceive
the perhaps we could call it modern political Zionism in relationship to the
judeo-christian tradition and if I can complicate that question just a little
bit is the is the judeo-christian tradition
not itself a sort of an exclusivist concept in that it excludes a lot of
other religious traditions so I guess I’ll just leave your dad I don’t want to
get any more complicated thank you thank you
first let’s make it clear again because I don’t know how much the crowd here is
familiar syan ism is a is a political ideology it
should not be confused with which you deism which is a religious belief not
all Jewish folks are Zionists in fact there are Christian Zionists as well as
Jewish Zionist and secular zionists as well so let’s just give that on the
table so when we’re talking about Zionism we’re not talking about the
Jewish religion per se I think that in terms of addressing peace in the Middle
East in particularly the israeli-palestinian conflict this is
probably the most crucial issue in relation to what I’ve been talking about
in terms of discrediting the al-qaeda Osama bin Laden narrative key to their
narrative the story that that they tell about about us to the world is
fundamentally rooted in it in this conflict insofar as is that we are
portrayed and I think for anyone looking at it it’s obvious that we side mostly
with Israel on this and against the Palestinian people you know that we
don’t have the courage or the political will in this country to stand up to our
friends the Israelis when they are wrong and tell them they are wrong and they
need to change their way and that is a that means that everything that Obama
tries to do in the Middle East to try to better relationships better
better our our standing in the Muslim world and especially in the Arab world
will fail will fail unless he has the courage to stand up to you know and I
compared the Israelis here in the end the government in particular to sort of
like a friend who’s driving drunk you know we need to take the keys away not
because we’re anti Israeli but because we realize that they’re on a destructive
path and the problem is is they’re going to take us down with them we just no way
we can really begin to separate al-qaeda radicals from their base of support
unless we become honest brokers in that particular conflict and really begin to
call an Israel to obey and this national security resolutions to obey
international laws and to end to fulfill their own obligations under treaties
they’ve already signed and unfortunately at this point it’s just not happening
and we can talk about that but but I think it is absolutely crucial if we
don’t if we can’t do that then there’s nothing else we do is going to help in
terms of changing the tide okay next I first I want to just give you credit for
showing some of those pictures those disparities between like where we live
and where a lot of people live it’s really like I saw the kid there his skin
and bones and you know we’d like to tell ourselves
that we think everybody deserves an equal chance in life but I would kind of
go in a different direction sometimes but my question I when you were talking
about peace as enforce order it really reminded me of a lot of establishment
politicians and a lot from the ideology that is neoconservatives neoconservatism
does your book describe at all like their role they played in like starting
up the ideology that brought us into Iraq
right yeah yeah I spend a lot of time talking about the neo-cons
and about the project for a new American Century which is really foundational and
then and I think for folks who may not know much about I’ll just say a few
things and that is that that key members of the Bush administration like Rumsfeld
like Cheney and and others Wolfowitz before coming to power were part of a
movement called the neoconservative movement they were calling for the
invasion of Iraq the reinvasion of Iraq back in the mid 90s you know all along
and they saw it as crucial in order to maintain us hegemony in that area in
order to secure access to oil I mean that was very very key that was always
an understanding what the nine what the attacks on 9/11 did was it allowed them
it gave them a pretext for doing something that they had always had
planned but they knew they couldn’t pull off unless something like this were
happening now I do not agree with a lot of these conspiracies theories that say
that that the Bush administration created the 9/11 attacks or that they
even allowed them I don’t think that happened at all but I do think they did
take advantage of a situation that occurred in order to do in order to to
achieve some goals that they had all along and these attacks made it very
very possible to do that I picked up your book before the lecture started and
I opened it up to page 254 democracy requires a lot more of us than
being intelligent voters it requires that we learn to solve problems with
others that we learn to listen to negotiate and to evaluate to think and
speak effectively to go beyond simple protests in order to wield power is
becoming to becoming partners in problem solving this isn’t about so-called good
works it’s about our vital interest and it is about simply running our
government it’s about running our lives and when I read that I couldn’t help
about the big vote that just took place in our Congress about health care and I
that vote came in then we started having people starting violence and making
threats against the people who voted for that healthcare beer and that just blew
me away and if our government and our people in
power are going to be threatened and I think that again what’s what’s becoming
clear is that we’re not we’re losing the ability to talk about to one another and
this is not just a problem of the far right this is a problem that crosses the
boundaries all along I on the one hand I can say that universities should be the
places where conservatives and and liberals and everyone in between can
come and converse in a civil manner to try to solve problems not to try to
score points and I think that’s crucial unfortunately one of the things that
makes that difficult is because of the internet and because of you know cable
TV each of us now can live within our own media bubbles if you live on the
right you listen to Fox News and and and Glenn Beck and and you listen to Rush
Limbaugh on the radio right but if you live on the left do you live you’ll
watch MSNBC and you listen to Keith Olbermann and and Rachel meadow and and
air America and neither the twine can meet the prime minister problem our hope
we don’t explore not expose to one another anymore we know that the Commons
the public Commons where ideas are shared is it’s shrinking so one of the
things that I think is he crucial to save our own democracy is to rebuild the
Commons the polar Pollak to political comments in this country because
democracy again is not just voting democracy is people working together to
solve problems and we need to recapture that and that means we need to be able
to like I said up at the very beginning about the three Chinese truths we need
to recognize we need to speak boldly about our own understanding of truth we
also need to be open to the truth that other people say because the real truth
the true why somewhere outside of all of us and
it’s something we’re always kind of seeking and trying to get to and that
begins by taking each other seriously thinking I think you only the
best intentions behind what is being said and learning to listen without
being fearful of being wrong or of having to win the argument and and and
and it’s sad but that’s it certainly is where we’re going and I hope that we can
and a university should be the place where it should be happening yeah you
said just your last comments are kind of going the direction I was wanting to go
and with my question but it dawned on me after 9/11 being one of the
silver-haired people in the audience here having gone through the Vietnam
experience and wondering why we’re doing this type of war again the parallels
between Vietnam and Iraq I don’t think have been lost on anyone who’s 55 years
or older but it dawned on me after 9/11 that we have more ills in our own
society that need to be healed than going to any other foreign country and
trying to destroy them have a power play on them whatever you want to call what
we’ve done in Iraq and Afghanistan I mean our own ills are huge and if you
don’t think that there’s violence in our own societies that are crippling us and
children in need and all this stuff in our own neighborhoods
then we’re blind so do you what kind of thing do we need to do in our own
country to heal our own society well again I think I think part of it is his
dialogue with people and getting out of her own comfort zones
it is easy to stay in your own comfort zone with people who think like you who
act like you who talk like you part of you know the the economic divide and the
growing economic divide within this country as well as in the world as a
whole is we just don’t rub shoulders with people who are different than us
anymore and that needs to change that means we we have to almost force
ourselves to get into and to go into places where with people we don’t
normally go with that means beginning to get to know people from different faiths
from different walks of life and beginning again to try to find common
ground because unfortunately even very many places even the attempt to find
common ground is dying so that that’s I think a good first step so many times in
past centuries it has been religion that has been kind of the society or social
shaper for a basic moral code and in our war on terrorism religion has been
hijacked more or less to push various agendas to the point where people have
just become turned off to the idea of religion being used in any way to
address challenges at all that it’s seen as being more divisive than something
that could unify do you see in a post terrorism or or where we out currently
what do you see as a role for religion in the future from this point going
forward well you know religion religion as opposed to institutional religion
religion can play a powerful force both for good and evil like you were
mentioning I think that the most important thing that we can do in terms
of religious leaders is begin working together across again
across across the boundaries of faiths one of the things we do in Naperville
every year that’s kind of grown exponentially is we do a World Peace Day
service and last year we had we had Buddhists we had Hindu we had Muslim
Jewish Christian we had Baha’i we had so astir we had everyone together praying
together and talking about peace together now it may seem like a small
thing but what it shows is that all of these religions can co-exist and that if
you look at the fundamental level especially when you look at the moral
teachings that they’re very very similar you know I do peace and justice work so
for me it’s easy to work across boundaries of faith I have friends who
are Muslim that work with me on on issues of worker justice I have Jewish
friends who work with me on on immigration issues and the these great
social welfare and social betterment kinds of Crusades and not Crusades god
help me I just said crusade of struggles and campaigns are I think I think the
way the way of the future that’s the way we need to go and I think we need again
to get out of our comfort zones and begin to create these these
relationships with other people who come from different faith traditions in your
book in the epilogue of the first edition you spoke of being not afraid
and what that meant for you as a father and as a family man and and I would
wonder if you would share a little bit of that with us kind of as our closing
okay okay I do think that the probably the
greatest issue that we have to deal with it’s underneath all the other issues is
the issue of fear in this country I think a lot of the anger that we see out
there today below that anger is fear people are afraid of some
different things and it’s not just terrorism it’s all kinds of things I
think um that’s for me what what life has taught me is that that fear is a
fear kills any possibility of life I mean there’s a level of fear that that’s
normal for everyone and one that everyone should have if you don’t have
some kind of fear we’re in a dangerous situation you’re in trouble you know
some level of fear is important I’ll tell a story about when I was a campus
minister here that I think exemplifies for me the movement from what I call
from fear to freedom I as any most of the churches in the round here you know
and when we live when I lived here and I worked here every now and then we’d get
a poor person somebody a street person coming off the street into the church
asking for help you know and usually at night and I only lived about I lived in
back of the state of st. Thomas apostate Thomas Aquinas Church there and and
whenever the evening reception has got somebody come in of course I was the
only one available I don’t know where the priests were but I happen to be the
only one available it seemed like so it was like Tom we got somebody needs some
help what do you want to do normally I would come down you know and I would I
would make him a sandwich I’d throw him a few dollars and God bless you and send
him out the door well at the same time I was doing that I was also being getting
involved with with my brother Frank over here who runs the Catholic Worker house
in Des Moines Iowa I write who’s part of a Catholic Worker community and Des
Moines now the Catholic Worker community for people who don’t know is a community
of people who live together and share their their lives and their homes with
those who were poor and Frank had been doing this for a while and I had been
bringing you know students down to his Catholic Worker house to experience that
that whole level of living and I was always amazed at the courage and
and the level of compassion they had here they were opening their homes to
the poor and to the homeless and every time I would go down to the church and
give some guy who was homeless a sandwich and a dollar and send him out
the with his whore I really felt like uh you know why can’t I do what my brother
Frank does down in Des Moines you know why can’t I do that and I remember I
took that to prayer and I really spent some time with it why and it was obvious
to me that well I was afraid and it was on three different levels at first I was
afraid if I let somebody into my apartment I’d get beat up so I mean that
was the number one thing that suddenly I mean it was and it was easy to identify
I was afraid of that and and that was a real true thing I
mean when you know Jesus said you know if you want to be my follower pick up
your cross and follow me he didn’t offer us the longest of life
he didn’t say I’ll promise you longevity he did promise us the fullness of life
and it seems clear to me that if we’re serious about following Jesus that
ultimately down the road there’s a cross and you know if we love like Jesus if we
live like Jesus the chances are we we might get nailed like Jesus so there’s a
real possibility Jesus was not Pollyannish about about what it what it
means to love so anyway there was that issue but I and I prayed more on it it
was sort of like this this whole issue of what to do with homeless people come
to the church was like a pebble in my shoe no matter what I could do I
couldn’t get rid of it it was a constant nuisance to me nagged me all the time
the second thing though that I discovered was that I was afraid I might
lose my stuff and I was a young everybody has a nice stereo you guys
probably don’t know what a stereo is oh but I had this thing called a stereo it
played music and I had a TV set I had my microwave I had some good some nice
stuff that I really liked and it became clear to me in thinking about that and
praying about that that I realized that my stuff owned me I didn’t know it
they owned me because they were defining the limits of what I could do and
couldn’t do my things were telling me about who I was and what I’m about
that was a bit of a surprise the third thing though that really struck me when
as I prayed about this and began to and agonize that for months about this was I
was afraid of being taken advantage of that one surprised me the most my ego
was a part of this I mean what if somebody came in and wanted a place to
stay and they were playing me you know they were gaming me how embarrassing
that might be so there’s this whole ego thing going on too and that that was a
real surprise well I remember one time though I was on a Friday and and I I
will confess that I already had a beer maybe two and I was on my way out with
some friends and sure enough just as I was about to go out the door the phone
rang and it was a reception it said Tom there’s somebody down here who needs
help what do you want me to do and I said to her I said well Sundara send
this guy up send him up to my place and it’s about a five minute walk from the
office to my apartment and in that time I went over to everything I treasure in
my in my apartment I said to my stereo I said goodbye stereo and went over to my
my TV set and I said goodbye TV set and I went to everything my album selection
albums another thing I’ll explain later anyway
I said goodbye to everything that in that place that I had any value to me
and then the door knocked and the guy opened the door and is a little guy he
must have been about 30s mid 30s name’s Francis by the way that was kind of cool
anyway he came in and I said Francis how you doing my name is Tom I says you can
stay here tonight ice and I fixed him some dinner I showed him how to use the
TV set I made a bed for him on the couch there
and I said you know Francis I said I’ve made plans for the evening I’m going out
with some friends but help yourself to whatever I’m leaving and I walked out
that door and I shut the door behind me and it was as if a lead coat
I’ve been lifted off of my shoulders it was exhilarating I had broken free for
the first time in my life I think I experienced what true freedom the
freedom that Jesus offers us that God offers us
when we make these kinds of take these kinds of risks I didn’t care if he’s
took everything from it didn’t matter the important things that didn’t even
matter what mattered as I was able to do the right thing and what I’ve learned
over a lot my the course of my life is that true freedom is the ability to do
what you know is right regardless of the consequences the ability to do what you
know is right everything else my friends is just one of many forms of slavery
that parade itself as a freedom the ability to do what you know is right
that that that night changed my life in many ways I mean I I finally gave up the
apartment I joined with some friends of mine we opened our own kind of Catholic
Worker house and did that for many years of the rest of the time I was here in
names you know that was a taste of freedom you know I’ve come close to
grabbing that again sometimes I back away sometimes I’m just not ready for
freedom my hope and prayer is that sometime before I die I hope to be free
and to be really a human being and that’s really the task folks to be a
human being and all that that means and all that it can mean and I think if we
do that then we can be a free people and being a free person in any country
whether it’s democracy or not it’s a very dangerous thing but it’s a
beautiful thing and I hope that every young person here at one time in your
life has the opportunity to be free and if you’re a Christian to take these
promises of Jesus to take them serious scene test them out for yourself you
know test them if I give up everything will I be okay
will I be taken care of if I’d risk knowing full well that crucifixion is
also a part of that but Jesus says that he has come to defeat death and what
that means is that we don’t have to be afraid any longer we don’t have to be
afraid thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *