This is rather a rambling post; I’ve got so much more to say and only today left to post to this blog (and now I’m posting a day late, on Saturday, because of various problems yesterday, when I wrote this). Please bear with me.
Maria’s posting brings home the point that peace-building is often most effective when engaged in by those who have suffered most. I am reminded that not a single combat veteran I have ever spoken with calls himself or herself “pro-war.” And as we are all very aware, the peace-building process must include men and women equally. But we must think long-term — toward, as Maria points out, a sustainable peace — and that means we have to begin by educating children early as to why gender equity, justice, and nonviolence are the preferred means to a sustainable, judicious, peaceful, prosperous world.
We also must learn to refocus on the true meanings of prosperity. Prosperity means richness of life, laughter, friends, family, the soil, community, society. It means clean air and water, universal health care and education, and the availability of fulfilling, challenging, and fairly compensated labor. It means freedom to move without restriction. It means freedom from fear. It means the unrestrained ability to exercise one’s intellect, voice, and pen. It means the right to use a ballot box to choose who will represent you in a government that works for the greater good, not for the good of an elite class that couldn’t care less about the rest of us.
In the United States too, today, Friday November 11, is a day for remembering. It’s named Veterans Day, so it was primarily constructed to honor those who have served the country in its military forces, but some choose to remember all who have fallen or suffered during times of war. This country has been fortunate in that, since its official beginnings as the United States of America, it has had fewer armed conflicts on its own soil than most countries, as it is relatively isolated, with oceans on two sides and peaceful immediate neighbours. But it has sent its soldiers to fight in countless battles around the world, sometimes for what could be argued are noble causes and more often, shamefully, for avaricious or dominionist purposes.
Dominion means control over other things/peoples/nations/the earth. Dominion theologists in the United States, who have effectively taken over the legislative and executive branches of government and are a Supreme Court justice away from getting the judiciary as well — Samuel Alito, Bush’s nominee, seems to fit the bill — have a biblical worldview. They’d like to replace the U.S. Constitution with biblical law.
This ties in with what Dyab Abou Jahjah wrote to Rosemary and which she posted two days ago, on Wednesday, November 9:
“Honestly, I am disgusted by extremists on both sides. More and more I am aware of the necessity of a democratic alternative, a radical democratic alternative. This society as it is today, locally and globally, is going nowhere.”
I am delighted to find out about Dyab Abou Jahjah and look forward to reading more of his writing on Islam.
Extremists who hide behind dogma in any religion or even secular pursuit are dangerous to human rights, democracy, and indeed the planet. Those who insist that they are in the right because “God” or “Allah” or “Yahweh” or whatever-they-call-it gave them the right — those like George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden and the countless sheep who follow them — are a threat to us all. They are also, as I call them, willfully ignorant. They are the ones who know what is right for the rest of us, who systemize rape and torture and female genital mutilation and other oppressive behaviours on others. They must be stopped.
To come back to Maria’s point about effective peace-building being done by those who have suffered, I think it is critically important to bring to the world table those who have engaged in “small victories” after conflict — those who are rebuilding communities and societies in Rwanda, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, South Africa . . . these people, especially the women, need a platform from which they can teach others what they have learned.
I have learned a lot from the Study Circles model. It’s a very democratic, respectful way of education — small groups at a time. It all comes back to education; we have to think long-term.
I apologize for rambling. This has been a wonderful experience for me. I am so honoured to have been in your company, however briefly, and look forward to keeping in touch and continuing to learn from your vast wisdom and take comfort in knowing you are out there doing the wonderful, inspirational things you are doing for the betterment of us all. Salaam, shalom, síochán, peace.
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