Sunday, July 30, 2006

Pardon a cynical observation

cloaked in a scripture reference. First, the reference, from Luke:

Some who were there at the time told him about the Galileans, about how Pilate had mixed their blood with their sacrifices. He answered them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were the worst sinners in Galilee, because they suffered this? Hardly. However, let me tell you, if you don't have a change of heart, you'll all meet your doom in the same way. Or how about those eighteen in Siloam, who were killed when the tower fell on thm--do you suppose that they were any guiltier than the whole population of Jerusalem? Hardly. However, let me tell you, if you don't have a change of heart, all of you will meet your doom in a similar fashion.--Luke 13: 1-5, SV
Now, read the reactions to the bombing of a building in Qana, and see if you notice anything:

A Red Cross official said the Qana airstrikes hit a residential building that housed refugees, which Israel said was near Hezbollah rocket launching sites.

"I saw several bodies of children, women and old men," reported CNN's Ben Wedeman. "Residents were digging with their bare hands, taking more and more bodies out. Parts of the town were completely bombarded, as if hit by a giant mallet in many places. I was told by one Lebanese army officer that they counted more than 80 individual strikes on the town."

During an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council on Sunday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan again called for an end to the fighting.

"We must condemn this action in the strongest possible terms," said Annan. "I am deeply dismayed that my earlier calls for immediate cessation of hostilities were not heeded, with the result that innocent life continues to be taken and innocent civilians continue to suffer. I repeat that call once again." (Full story)

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, speaking during a visit to California on Sunday, said the attack added urgency to the situation.

"What has happened at Qana shows that this is a situation that simply cannot continue," Blair told reporters after speaking with other world leaders, including Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. "I think there is a basis for an agreement that would allow us to get a U.N. resolution, but we have to get this now."

Blair said negotiations should result in "a general cessation of hostilities in a way that allows us to put an end to them for good," promising "more details" after a second discussion with Siniora.

President Bush said Sunday's events highlight the need for a lasting peace.

"Today's actions in the Middle East remind us that the United States and friends and allies must work for a sustainable peace, particularly for the sake of children," Bush said.
The Prime Minister of Lebanon, and the Secretary General of the UN, speak of loss of human life. The Prime Minister of Britain and the President of the United States, speak of geopolitical objectives. Bush and Blair do not seek peace, because they do not seek justice. They imagine themselves better than those who have died; they may even imagine some of the deaths (though obviously not those at Qana) are more heinous than others. They are wrong. They are wrong because they are not considering the people involved, and so they are not considering the needs of justice. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said:

There is no peace because there is no justice. There can be no real peace and security until there be first justice enjoyed by all the inhabitants of that beautiful land. The Bible knows nothing about peace without justice, for that would be crying "peace, peace, where there is no peace". God's Shalom, peace, involves inevitably righteousness, justice, wholeness, fullness of life, participation in decision-making, goodness, laughter, joy, compassion, sharing and reconciliation.
Justice is enjoyed by people. Righteousness, wholeness, fullness of life, goodness, laughter, joy, compassion, sharing and reconciliation: all enjoyed only by people, not by policies. There is no policy that can give those things. They come from people, and are present where justice is present; just as peace is present when justice is present. "Give the king your justice, O Lord!" cries Psalm 72. That is why. Justice allows room for God's shalom to be present. Justice, allows for people.

Which is why the people want the king to have God's justice. But when the king wants only to further his policy objectives....there is no peace. And when only a change of heart will bring justice, how can we expect justice when people are not even considered an important part of the situation crying out for peace?

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