The Common Good

In Awe of the Good

Sojomail - September 27, 2001

               
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                       S O J O M A I L

          Promoting faith, reason, compassion, and justice
                   in days of violence and fear

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++++++++++++++++++++ 27-September-2001 ++++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++++++++"In Awe of the Good"++++++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Rabbi: "It is time to say enough..."

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *In awe of the good

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *'Deny Them Their Victory' signers online
     *What you can do to stop anti-Muslim violence

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Prayer: restore the peace

 P. O. V. 
     *An open letter to the peace movement

 B o o m e r a n g
     *SojoMail readers hit reply

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Q u o t e   o f   t h e   Day
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This much we know: What was done is evidence of the
corrosive power of hatred; that there are those 
whose souls have been poisoned, whose minds have 
been corrupted by the evil and the hatred taught 
to them. It was this spirit that destroyed 6 
million Jews in Germany. It was this spirit that 
saw the butchering of hundreds of thousands of 
innocent men, women, and children in Rwanda....
It was this spirit that bombed the church in 
Birmingham and took the lives of four innocent 
children. It was this spirit that saw Martin 
Luther King and John Kennedy assassinated. It 
was this spirit that took the lives of nearly 
six thousand of our brothers and sisters on 
September 11th. It is time to say enough - to 
dedicate ourselves to stand against those extremists 
who believe, in their hatred and fanaticism, that 
their cause provides sufficient moral sanction to 
kill innocent people. To do less is to have failed 
to learn the lessons of our history. To do less 
means that those who perished will have done so 
in vain. We refuse to allow that to happen.

        - Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the 
	Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, at 
	a memorial service this week in Washington, 
	D.C. For the entire speech go to 
	http://www.rac.org/news/091301speech.html
 
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B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
In awe of the good

by David Batstone

Today will be our final *daily* edition of SojoMail.
We will put out our standard edition of SojoMail
on Friday, and then return to a weekly delivery
next week.

We sensed it was important to move to a daily edition
immediately following the events of September 11. We
aimed to provide spiritual support for the suffering
left in its wake, to offer a space for clear thinking
before the threat of a global war, and take an active
role in the historic shaping of our moral character,
now and for the future. I suppose at some moments we
reached our lofty goals, and on other days we let you
down. But we have no regrets for making the effort.

You, our constant readers (and all the newcomers to our
electronic community), have been nothing short of
phenomenal. You have poured out your hearts in grief,
hope, and anger. Not all of you agree with the positions
we take, but almost everyone has been willing to stay
in the dialogue. (It's remarkable how few "unsubscribes"
we've had.) Some of you even spontaneously sent in
financial gifts to ensure our ongoing viability.

The last two weeks have made us wonder how such evil
can happen on this planet. The SojoMail community
has kept me in awe of the good as well. Thank you!

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B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
"Deny Them Their Victory" statement signers go online

by Duane Shank

As of Wednesday night, there are now 2,800 signers to
the interfaith statement "Deny Them Their Victory: A
Religious Response to Terrorism." The breadth of 
signers - from across religious traditions and across 
the country - makes it one of the most broadly endorsed
statements ever put forth by American religious leaders.
There is clearly a strong belief in the land that 
vengeance is not the appropriate response to terror.

To see the statement, signers, and to sign on yourself, 
go to: http://www.sojo.net/response

********************************************
What you can do to stop anti-Muslim violence

by Rose Marie Berger

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
reported more than 400 anti-Muslim incidents in
the week after September 11, including shooting
deaths in Arizona and Texas. Mosques, Islamic
centers, and Muslim schools have been the targets
of bullets, graffiti, and protest demonstrations.
Here are 10 things you can do to keep the fabric
of your community strong:

1. Take flowers to your local mosque or Islamic
center. Introduce yourself to the staff and offer
your support.

2. Listen to talk radio and respond. ("I've just
heard a caller on your show defame and threaten
Muslims. This is not the American way and won't be
tolerated. As for me, my family, and my community,
we stand in solidarity with Muslims and Arab
Americans.")

3. Set up an "accompaniment" telephone hotline.
Many colleges and some towns offer a service for
people who must walk alone and feel frightened.
Use this system to provide accompaniment for Muslims
who feel threatened, especially Muslim women who
are scared to go about their weekly shopping and
errands.

4. Identify your chapel or community center as a
safe haven for Muslims or Arab-Americans who are
experiencing harassment.

5. Organize a local "emergency response team" to
move quickly in the event of any hate crime. They
can be on hand immediately to remove hateful
graffiti and offer immediate support to hate
crime victims.

6. Talk to your children or youth group about how
to stand with and protect their Muslim classmates.

7. Take up a special collection for donation to
your local mosque or Islamic center.

8. Educate yourself and your community on Islam.
Sponsor a Christian-Muslim dialogue.

9. Write a "Letter to the Editor" of the local
paper denouncing anti-Muslim violence. Use the
religious leaders' statement "Deny Them Their
Victory" as an aid.

10. Encourage local religious leaders to take a
bold, visible stand in support of the Islamic
community.

*Rose Marie Berger is an assistant editor of
Sojourners.

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S o u l   W o r k s
++++++++++++++++++++
Restore the peace

by Robert Anderson
 
"I wrote this prayer about the time of the Gulf
War. I didn't think it would be so relevant to 
my prayers again."

-----

It is written, O Lord,
That the prayer of the righteous has much power;
That the Word of truth has great authority.

Who, O Lord, is righteous in Your eyes?
Who can stand before You equal in holiness?
The one whose tongue forms no evil,
Whose hand works no wickedness.

Look upon the folly of Your creation, O Lord,
See with Your own eyes
The high moral purpose
We have claimed for ourselves

We are at war again
Nation upon nation
Raging and foaming at the mouth
Destruction reigns in the desert.

We are slaves to the pride that possesses us,
Servants of the greed that drives us.
Everyone wants to live by his own law.
Each one listens only to his own voice.

We speak high-sounding words to cover our low motives.
We define great deeds to hide low esteem.
We seek our own fame,
Daring to believe that such a thing
Will outlast Your glory.
We have turned our backs to Your face.
And scorned Your great salvation.

I cannot presume to speak Your great word, O Lord.
I come before You knowing
My complicity in the common folly of humanity.
Though my prayer be imperfect,
I appeal to Your grace.
Let me claim a portion of Your mercy,
And rejoice that You perfect my petitions
If it were not for Your mercy, O Lord,
Who could stand before You at all?

Forgive our foolish ways.
Break the pride that fuels our ambition.
Crush the greed that rules our actions.
Forgive our false optimism,
And our great hope that we place on our leaders.
Cause us to look to You for our salvation and not to them
To gaze with terror upon the holiness of your face
To watch with wonder the love in Your eyes.

Transform our hearts.
Renew our minds.
Cleanse the confusion of our minds.
Wash the terror of our hearts away.

How long, O Lord, will You allow us to be consumed with our vanity?
How long will You allow us to go to war to settle our differences?
How long will the powers of this world sweep us along by events faraway?
How long will You allow the pride of nations to drive us to Hell?

It has been said by one who knows, "War is Hell."
Who would be willing to join the devil in his residence?
Who could wish to make a pact with the devil
To fight a war with the devil?
Who desires to go to war
To enter the gates of Hell?

Let the enemy be the victim of his own stupidity.
Let the adversary succumb to his own wrath.
Only do not let us pay the devil's rent
At the cost of our own souls.

Will You not come out of the whirlwind?
Can You not see through the dust being blown up in Your face?
Will You not defend Your creation?
Can You not strengthen the cause of Your people?
Will You not speak a word of justice
Before we judge ourselves too highly?
Can You not speak a word of righteousness
Before we march into the abyss?
Will You not lead us in the way of righteousness and justice?
Can You not plead the cause of the poor, the oppressed and the needy?
Will You not root out the sin which compromises our souls?
Can You expose the lies which threaten Your creation?
Will You destroy our vanity?
Can You restore our sanity?

Remember Your covenant, O Lord,
Which You made to Abraham, our father
Do not let the world forget
That You protect the chosen one.
That You are the Lord
Strong and mighty in battle.
Do not let people mock You,
Or revile Your Name,
Or appeal to You falsely.

Remind us that war settles nothing
That winners inherit destruction,
That revenge seeks to even the score plus one,
That our hope of heaven is related to our hope for earth
That to rest in peace in the world to come
We must rest in peace in the world that is.
That You, O Lord, have already taken upon Yourself
The anguish of our sins.
That we need not repeat what You have already done,
That pride and greed have no case against the elect.

Reconcile us to Your word,
A word of peace,
A word of promise to all who hear Your voice,
A word of threat to any who speak out of turn.
Reconcile us to You and to each other in You.

Restore us to the place of high esteem
From the depths of envy and hate;
To the courage founded upon good faith;
From the trap of foolish bravery;
To the wisdom of the Lamb;
From the conceit of the lion;
To the freedom of hope;
From the fear of destruction;
To the submission of Godly discipline,
To the rod of correction,
To the staff of conviction,
To sight that sees with the eyes of faith,
To hearing that gives heed to Your word alone.

Let all who claim Abraham as our father shout for joy;
And proclaim the praises of the One True God
In one accord together,
Now and forever. Amen.

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P. O. V.
++++++++
An open letter to the peace movement

by Charles Deemer 

I first marched for freedom, justice, and peace in 1963.
The place was Los Angeles, and the cause was civil rights.
In the late '60s and early '70s, as a graduate student
at the University of Oregon, I marched often against
the Vietnam War. In fact, there has not been a single
military action by the United States that I've supported
as an adult. Not one.

Over the years, however, I've expressed the view that,
if the U.S. were under attack, I would support a
military response. And I believe that is the case now,
which is why I am leaving your ranks. I am writing to
share my steps in deciding to leave the peace movement;
to challenge you to do your work in a way that is
constructive rather than divisive (as I believe your
early responses have been); and to urge you to avoid
easy analogies, such as Vietnam, and to find radical
new ways to "wage peace."

1. We are under attack. I know some of you think we
are not under attack, a position I cannot comprehend.
Others of you think we are justifiably under attack,
a position I partially understand. But the facts are
clear: We explicitly have been under attack at least
since the late '90s, when various proclamations
against us were issued by radical Islamic groups:
a "holy war" against the U.S. was explicitly declared.
The seriousness of that decree now should be clear
to all. 

2. When a nation is under attack, the first decision
must be whether to surrender or to fight. I believe
there is no middle ground here: You either fight or
you don't fight, and doing nothing amounts to surrender.
I realize the great danger of fighting is turning
into the enemy. But the certainty of not fighting
is being defeated by the enemy. I believe one side
or the other is going to win this war. I don't
think "a draw" is possible. And I believe there
is much more opportunity to create "a radical
peace," creating a more just world, if the U.S.
coalition wins rather than the terrorists.

3. There are many ways to fight. Here is where I
part company with my former colleagues in the
peace movement. I do not believe the network of
terrorism can be defeated without engaging it
directly, which I believe will result in violent
acts. I believe this because I don't believe
anything can be done to make terrorists surrender,
and because I believe, in their worldview,
dying for their cause is a holy act, which
means they are willing to take others out with
them, as we have seen.

Some of you are cultural relativists and believe
that the Taliban's treatment of women, to list one
example, is "a cultural phenomenon" about which we
should not make value judgments. But I believe a war
of historic proportions is going on here. Some
historians are calling this "the 12th century
against the 18th century" in terms of the contrasting
views of humanity in conflict. I tend to think of it
as a war between two perversions, the perversion of
extreme materialism against the perversion of
extreme spiritualism.

So a choice must be made. As the old labor song goes
(which I've sung with you many times in another
context), "Which side are you on?" It's time to
write new verses to that cherished old tune.

So farewell, my friends. I look forward to a future
time when our views are similar again. I hope for
victory, and when we have won it, I hope to join you
again in working for "a radical peace" that will
make the world more equal, more free, and more
pleasant for all the world's peoples.

Charles Deemer is the author of "Seven Come Eleven:
Stories and Plays, 1969-1999," among other works.
 
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B o o m e r a n g
++++++++++++++++++

Marc de Chazal of Cape Town, South Africa, wrote:

A short while ago you sent out an appeal for donations
to keep the weekly SojoMail resource going (I'm sorry,
my few rands are worth even fewer dollars). But since
the terrible tragedy of September 11 you have
maintained a steady flow of daily mailings that have
proven resourceful, balanced, and courageous, offering
a needed alternative to the war mongering we read in
other media sources.

TV news today informed me that worried South Africans
are buying gas masks and other surplus military equipment
in preparation for possible chemical warfare around
the globe. Then I read again your unflinching calls
for peace and justice, echoes of your brave cries
against injustice when apartheid sucked the life out
of my nation. I note with gratitude the financial
sacrifice you're making to give fellow sojourners
elsewhere in this troubled world hope.

-------------------------

Margo Menconi of Seoul, South Korea, wrote:

For the most part I agree with what Jim Willis had to
say in yesterday's column regarding the terrorists'
intentions and motivations. But I think that they
may have been reacting to U.S. cultural hegemony,
if bin Laden and the Taliban, et al., are the culprits.
I'm sure they are having a difficult time protecting
their way of life and values with Afghans accessing
Western media of various sorts. Many people would
agree that the theory itself and the actual practice
of the Taliban's view of the world is not one of
great social justice. But their sense of morality
is undoubtedly offended by the West and they might
possibly fear for the continuity of their way of
life.

-------------------------

Ellen Naney of High Falls, New York, wrote:

I want to join David Batstone on his platform to
influence the script being written after September
11. There is work to be done.

-------------------------

Merridie Costello of Melbourne, Australia, wrote:

Thanks for the 10 points of your platform. They
express extremely well what a lot of us down here
are feeling, praying, and desperately hoping might
be taken into consideration and acted upon.
SojoMail is like a life line at the moment. It is
being well-read by a wide circle. Keep it up.

-------------------------

Jim Holsen of St. Louis, Missouri, wrote:

Having read David Batstone's 10 principals, I would
presume that we would have fundamental differences.

As for the war on terrorism, I'm certain that we
can keep our strikes fast and neat now, but would
we be able to maintain that calm if we were
hit again? Would our allies stay with us? An
invisible terrorist organization would like to put
us to that test.

As for bringing the guilty to justice, I look at
it as dealing with arson. First, put out the fire
(radical fundamentalism), and then bring the arsonists
to justice as you are able. In this regard, it seems that
I have more confidence that such beliefs can be changed
than do those who see the necessity of battle. I don't
think that it could be done fast, but with continued
attention I think that it could be done.

-------------------------

Denes House of Utica, New York, wrote:

Well, you're at it again.... Maybe it was harder to
see when SojoMail only came once a week, but it's
pretty clear now that I get one each day that some
of us have a hard time seeing beyond our ideological
preconceptions.

Witness SojoMail's concern over the president and
administration using "war language," as you call it.
Let's not use "war language," you plead, because
of where it may lead. Your post-modern viewpoint
seems to see conflict as a matter of "language
games." But this is not a case of simply using "war
language." Osama bin Laden and the folks who agree
with him have *actually* declared war on the United
States, Israel, and the West. This is not a case
of the president going crazy with his words - he
is acknowledging what the enemies of our country
have been saying for a long time. Far from being
precipitous, the United States has refrained from
treating this situation as the war that it actually
is for far too long.

But Sojourners' ideological blinders require that
you see the president as a reckless, gun-toting
moron, so it's not surprising that you see this
situation the way that you do.

-------------------------

Ricky Ross of Glasgow, Scotland, wrote:

I've been reading SojoMail and thought you might
be interested to hear some of what is happening
here in Glasgow. Yesterday we drove to Loch
Lubnaig through the holiday village of Callander. As
we passed the main square we saw a large American
flag and noticed a fire engine, where off-duty 
firefighters were collecting on behalf of their 
fellow officers in New York.

This is not untypical of what is going on here.
On Saturday I heard Ken Ross of the fire brigade
union talk of the solidarity between firefighters
and how their union was to present a cheque for
£100,000 to their NY colleagues. Ross spoke as
well as to their opposition to more violence
through attacks on Afghanistan. People at
this rally felt strongly that British and U.S. policy
in relation to Israel and Iraq has been nothing
short of shameful, and they saw no contradiction
in venting that feeling along with their sorrow
for September 11th.

The coalition of groups has promised to meet at
5 p.m. in George Square Glasgow on the day of any
military attacks being launched by the U.S. or
the UK. For all the media tells us about Blair 
getting huge support for his "shoulder-to-shoulder"
with the U.S. over this issue, I've not yet managed
to meet one person who supports him!

-------------------------

Dave Pruett of Arkansas wrote:

While I cannot agree with all viewpoints of the
contributors to SojoMail, I love getting it.
Please keep up the good work.
   
One note regarding yesterday's edition. While
political expediency causes Mr. Bush to speak
in a way that satisfies the hurt of the nation,
his administration is using good common sense in
this difficult time. Though not a Republican, I
admire the way he has put a team together to
address issues about which the former administration
had become complacent.  Perhaps Bush will be the
vehicle that turns us around. And, a group like
Sojourners can keep tabs and blow whistles on
inappropriate actions. We are a nation in pain,
we need a government that will address our pain,
and help heal us, not profit from our misfortune.

-------------------------

Sarah Stockton of Daly City, California, wrote:

Thank you for Seamus Heaney's poem "On the Far
Side of Revenge." I have read so much since 9/11/01
that I am heart-sore and mind-weary, and I even find
myself beginning to skim over material that I know,
at any other time, I would read in depth, a result
of emotional, spiritual, and intellectual exhaustion.
The Heaney poem spoke to me, though, and gave me a
blessing to carry through the day.

--------------------------------------

Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of
views. The views expressed are not necessarily 
those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice 
heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor:

"boomerang@sojo.net"

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