The Common Good

From Terrorism to Bombing

Sojomail - October 17, 2001


                       S O J O M A I L

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

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++++++++++++++++++++ 17-October-2001 ++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++ "From Terrorism to Bombing"  ++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *John Steinbeck: the path of violence

 H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
     *From terrorism to bombing

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Political humor

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *Old formulas simply don't fit

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *A poem by Wendell Berry

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Muslims in need of a helping hand

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Do you drive your car too much?

 P. O. V.
     *A widow's plea for restraint

 B o o m e r a n g
     *SojoMail readers hit reply
 R e l i g i o n   &   P o l i t i c s
     *Bin Laden's violence is a heresy against Islam

 E c o N e w s
     *Arctic drilling would threaten caribou people

 W e b   S c e n e
     *Find the terrorist in your neighborhood
     *Check out suspicious e-mails before you forward them
     *What didn't you learn to do in school?
     *Baseball fans' nirvana

Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k

"All great things have violent beginnings," [said Jim].

"There aren't any beginnings," Burton said. "Nor any
ends. It seems to me that man has engaged in a blind
and fearful struggle out of a past he can't remember,
into a future he can't forsee nor understand. And man
has defeated every obstacle, every enemy except one.
He cannot win over himself."

            -John Steinbeck, "The Dubious Battle"

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s 
From terrorism to bombing

By Jim Wallis

The longer U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan continue, the more 
international discussion will shift from terrorism to 
bombing - from the evil of an attack on America to the 
ethics and casualties of military reprisals. Any change in 
the global conversation from terrorism to U.S. bombing is bad 
for America and the rest of the world.

We are already seeing growing civilian casualties - four 
United Nations workers ... reports of 200 villagers ... a 
residential neighborhood near an airport ... two 
International Red Cross food warehouses.

As the bombing campaign against Afghanistan enters its 
second week, we are seeing the tragic unintended results 
of U.S. bombing: the deaths of Afghan civilians. Despite 
efforts to avoid civilian casualties and apologies from 
the Pentagon for bombs that have missed their targets, 
experience shows that bombing always results in the 
suffering of the innocent - both through "collateral 
damage" and through civilian dislocation such as we now 
see in Afghanistan. It has been the case ever since 
aerial attacks became part of modern warfare.

The people who were already fleeing desperate conditions 
under the Taliban are now being joined by those fleeing 
from the bombing. Winter is approaching, and the 
fighting is expected to continue and intensify. Already 
hundreds of thousands are displaced. Children are 
malnourished and many are on the brink of starvation. 
Aid agencies fear that a massive humanitarian disaster 
is approaching.

A mobilization to save innocent lives must equal the 
mobilization to apprehend terrorists. And it must be on 
a scale far larger than the food packets being airdropped 
by the U.S. military. Many religious and other 
international relief agencies are undertaking emergency 
efforts, and it is imperative that the U.S. and other 
government do everything necessary to assist them.  

Enough of the bombing. It is time to focus again on the 
terrorist networks and avoid a widening war. It is time 
to strategically concentrate international energies on 
bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 
attacks and to prevent the momentum more bombing brings 
toward a U.S.-led war in the Arab world. That is a formula 
for disaster and threatens a cycle of violence that will 
become harder and harder to stop. Our loss of innocent 
lives must not lead us to retaliate by causing the loss 
of more innocent lives, however unintentional. 


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Political humor...c'mon, at least smile

*I don't approve of political jokes...I've seen
too many of them get elected.

*How come we choose from just two people for
president and 50 for Miss America?

*I live in my own little world, but it's okay...
they know me here. 

B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
The old formulas simply don't fit

by David Batstone

Since Sept. 11, people have sought refuge in 
a set of political beliefs that help them make 
sense of the irrational. Unfortunately, fear 
usually does not offer space for considering 
how a new situation might lead to a different 
view of the world. Old scripts tend to offer 
more comfort.

A "patriotic" American is called to rally behind
his or her government in the face of attack and
show support of whatever actions it deems necessary.
We are not supposed to debate the best course of
political response nor question the wisdom of our
military strikes. Do we really have the moral
obligation to suspend our most basic values,
including the right to open speech in a time of
crisis? That doesn't sound like the America I read
about in my grade-school civics book.

The "peacenik" American, on the other hand, is
expected to lay the blame for every crisis on the
doorstep of the government and point out root
causes that have nothing to do with the agents
of the crime. Every government response that uses
force - be it retaliatory, a police action to punish
the criminals, or self-defense - is rejected as the
exercise of imperial might. Since America has
created so much injustice over the last 50 years,
it has lost the right for any legitimate self-
defense. So goes the logic.

As a patriotic American concerned for peace in the
world, I don't find comfort in either of these
scripts. I view Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda
network as a real threat. I don't plan to stand
passively by and allow him to attack our people.
Yet I have concluded that our government's actions
are only abetting his cause.

Think about it...if you were Osama bin Laden, what
would be the best-case scenario following your
successful assaults on New York and Washington, D.C.?
My guess: go to a trusted hideout and live there safely
while the U.S. military (following its old script)
delivered weeks of unrelenting bombing on Afghanistan.
Inevitably, civilian deaths will begin to mount,
and Arabs throughout the world will begin to see
the truth in your message that this is a struggle
of infidels against Muslims. Then, as more and
more spokespeople from the White House and the
Pentagon talk of widening the war to Iraq, Sudan,
and God knows where else, the logic of the war
begins moving in your direction.

And that's exactly what is happening under the
current U.S. military strategy. Already, young
disenfranchised Muslims from Pakistan and Uzbekistan
are taking up the "just cause" of the al Qaeda
against an invading army. We are playing into the
hands of Osama bin Laden. The stakes will get
higher as we move forward.

Being successful in politics in the 21st century -
whether in times of open conflict or not - requires
building public consensus, artful diplomacy, legal
recourse, and the strategic use of force. I fear our
government, as much as our populace, is still stuck
in old formulas that don't fit.




S o u l   W o r k s
A poem by Wendell Berry

Now you know the worst
we humans have to know
about ourselves, and I am sorry,

for I know that you will be afraid.
To those of our bodies given
without pity to be burned, I know

there is no answer
but loving one another,
even our enemies, and this is hard.

But remember:
when a man of war becomes a man of peace,
he gives a light, divine

though it is also human.
When a man of peace is killed
by a man of war, he gives a light.

You do not have to walk in darkness.
If you will have the courage for love,
you may walk in light. It will be

the light of those who have suffered
for peace. It will be
your light.

--Wendell Berry, "A Timbered Choir." Written to
his granddaughters who visited the Holocaust
Museum on the day of the burial of Yitzhak Rabin.


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Muslims in need of a friendly hand

In light of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11
and the intimidation of Muslims and others of similar
background that followed, a network of Philadelphia-
area Christians, Jews, and concerned people of
conscience have set up a network of volunteers to
accompany people who feel threatened. The network
is called FRIEND, which stands for Friendly
Religious Interfaith Escorts for Neighbors in
Distress. Here's an example of how it works: if
a Muslim woman is afraid to go to the supermarket,
or if parents are afraid to send their children
to school, FRIEND volunteers stand ready to
accompany them.
More than 100 people have volunteered, most of them
from churches, synagogues, and Quaker meetings.
Participants have visited threatened people in
their homes and attended Muslim religious
services, a Sikh vigil at City Hall, and similar
events. The response from Muslim and leaders of
other threatened groups has been very heartwarming.
"This is the time we need good friends to stand
with us," the leader of Philadelphia's Al Asqa
Mosque told participants.
For more information on how FRIEND is organized,
contact Dick or Phyllis Taylor at:


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Foot faults

42: percentage decrease over the past two
    decades in the number of trips Americans
    make on foot.

123,000,000: number of car trips Americans
    make each day that are short enough to
    be made on foot.

P. O. V.
A widow's plea for restraint

by Amber Amundson

My husband, Craig Scott Amundson of the U.S. Army,
lost his life in the line of duty at the Pentagon on
Sept. 11 as the world looked on in horror and

Losing my 28-year-old husband and father of our two
young children is a terrible and painful experience.
His death is also part of an immense national loss
and I am comforted by knowing so many share my grief.

But because I have lost Craig as part of this
historic tragedy, my anguish is compounded
exponentially by fear that his death will be used to
justify new violence against other innocent victims.

I have heard angry rhetoric by some Americans,
including many of our nation's leaders, who advise a
heavy dose of revenge and punishment. To those
leaders, I would like to make clear that my family
and I take no comfort in your words of rage. If you
choose to respond to this incomprehensible brutality
by perpetuating violence against other innocent human
beings, you may not do so in the name of justice for
my husband. Your words and imminent acts of revenge
only amplify our family's suffering, deny us the
dignity of remembering our loved one in a way that
would have made him proud, and mock his vision of
America as a peacemaker in the world community.

Craig enlisted in the Army and was proud to serve his
country. He was a patriotic American and a citizen of
the world. Craig believed that by working from within
the military system he could help to maintain the
military focus on peacekeeping and strategic
planning - to prevent violence and war. For the last
two years Craig drove to his job at the Pentagon with
a "visualize world peace" bumper sticker on his car.
This was not empty rhetoric or contradictory to him,
but part of his dream. He believed his role in the
Army could further the cause of peace throughout the

Craig would not have wanted a violent response to
avenge his death. And I cannot see how good can come
out of it. We cannot solve violence with violence.
Mohandas Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye only makes
the whole world blind." We will no longer be able to
see that we hold the light of liberty if we are
blinded by vengeance, anger, and fear. I ask our
nation's leaders not to take the path that leads to
more widespread hatreds - that make my husband's death
just one more in an unending spiral of killing.

I call on our national leaders to find the courage to
respond to this incomprehensible tragedy by breaking
the cycle of violence. I call on them to marshal this
great nation's skills and resources to lead a
worldwide dialogue on freedom from terror and hate.

I do not know how to begin making a better world: I
do believe it must be done, and I believe it is our
leaders' responsibility to find a way. I urge them to
take up this challenge and respond to our nation's
and my personal tragedy with a new beginning that
gives us hope for a peaceful global community.

*Amber Amundson is the wife of the late Craig Scott
Amundson, an enlisted specialist in the Army.



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B o o m e r a n g

Linda Martindale of Cape Town, South Africa, 

SojoMail, thank you for being a true voice of
reason in this unsettling time. I respect your
value system and understand why much of what is
happening is not settling in my heart peacefully -
it is because it is not the answer to the current
situation. I certainly do not have the answers -
but something about your approach is making a lot
more sense to me. 


Loretta Larkin of Wallington, New Jersey, wrote:

Perhaps one way to respond to the beginning of
the U.S.'s response to the WTC bombing could be
for Christians to be in solidarity with the
Muslims of the world in our desire for peace
and justice by joining them in prayer and fasting
during Ramadan. Our prayers can be for enlightenment
for our own sins in this matter, repentance,
and increased love and relationship with
each other and guidance in healing the wounds to
all. Meeting each other in the ground of the Holy
Spirit where Love can show us the Way can be the
most profound expression of our own love for and
obedience to Allah, Jehovah, Christ, Emmanuel.


Rob Stone of Ann Arbor, Michigan, wrote:

Mourn the victims, catch the killers, and
wage reconciliation.


Patrick Provost-Smith, "a former worker with
Youth with a Mission (YWAM)," wrote:

Re: Debate on Rios Montt and Guatemala:

I might concede (for the sake of argument) that David
Batstone's reply was hyperbolic in its comparison to
the Holocaust, but I must support the essential thrust
of what he writes. As but one "test," I printed out the
original letter concerning Montt and showed it to a
Guatemalan friend of mine with whom I was incidentally
having dinner the other night. Having witnessed
firsthand Montt's terroristic style of government,
and having lost family and friends, she was seriously
appalled that anyone might find something worthy of
praise in Montt's government.
If Montt is "so bad, why doesn't he have to run," you
might ask? I, for one, am in sheer incredulity - you
can't mean this as a serious question. Pinochet didn't
have to run, neither did Pol Pot, neither have most
dictators with military support.

Secondly, I'm also a former "YWAMer," which is not to
plead special authority, but to offer some (albeit
limited) perspective on Batstone's "defamatory"
characterization of YWAM as "Protestant fundamentalist."
Whatever Batstone's sources on YWAM happen to be, I find
no need, on the basis of my YWAM experience, to correct
or contradict them. For example, we had teachers
directly associated with Pat Robertson invited to the
missionary training school in which I participated,
with much fanfare and the direct support of our base
leadership. We were told, in no uncertain terms, that
God's judgment was coming to America for its toleration
of abortion and homosexuality, and for outlawing prayer
in schools - and not a word was said about American
militarism, or the supporting, training, and financing
of oppressive regimes in various parts of the world,
including Guatemala. Measured by their silence on
the matter, such were not considered "sins" worthy
of judgment. That is recognizably a characteristic
of "Protestant fundamentalism" by anyone cognizant
of these things.

But, most telling to me is that I myself heard YWAMers
praising Montt because he was a "charismatic Christian,"
and praise leading military officers in El Salvador
as "sincere Christians" and "grossly misunderstood"
by human rights activists. I also heard the language
of "spiritual warfare" explicitly used to justify
actions of the Guatemalan and Salvadoran military,
not to mention the contras in Nicaragua. And, I do
not recall a single instance of someone challenging
or correcting those views on the basis of historical
facts or habits of obscene brutality.

I will gladly admit that there are probably exceptions
to this in YWAM (I'm now too far out of those
circles to know of them), and for that we can only be
thankful. But there are serious issues at stake, and
to characterize Batstone's reply as an attack on
someone who dared to differ from his own views is,
frankly, obscene. Montt's legacy, and the apparent
lack of capacity to address that expressed in these
recent letters, is not about having "differing views,"
it's about calling genocide genocide. Shame on who?


Phil Little of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, wrote:

I have had contact with missionaries over many
years and have read enough credible sources to
conclude that there is really no doubt as to the
character or legacy of the former dictator Rios
Montt. While he wasn't a Pol Pot, given the
relative population of Guatemala he was truly
as evil and guilty of crimes against humanity.
To live in Guatemala, and worse yet, to be
associated with "missionary groups" and not to know
the truth about Rios Montt speaks only of a peculiar
myopia that is chosen, not inherited.

I worked for six years as a Catholic missionary in a
shanty-town area north of Lima, Peru. At that time,
in the mid-1970s, the population of the northern
zone was a mere 1/2 million. Yet I would meet good
Christian Peruvians who in quite good conscience
would deny that such an area existed. There was an
ideological blockage that prevented some from ever
acknowledging the true reality.


SojoMail reader Roy Joyner wrote:

Re: The Robert Sheer (LA Times) claim that "Taliban
violations once overlooked for sake of drug war" in
a recent SojoMail:
If you wanted to inform people about the actual
event you would have included a more informative
article that would have let people draw their own
conclusions. A less biased article would have
pointed out the fact that the aid was in the form
of food.

Here is an excerpt from Colin Powell's speech
outlining the form of the aid to Afghanistan:

"At the direction of President Bush, I am today
announcing a package of $43 million in new
humanitarian assistance for the people of
Afghanistan, including 65,000 tons of wheat, $5
million in complementary food commodities, and
$10 million in other livelihood and food security
programs within Afghanistan. We also expect to soon
announce additional assistance to Afghan refugees."

You can see the full text yourselves at:

I'm not sure why op-ed quotes like this are
included as if they were hard facts. It's almost
as if the goal is to stir up unjustified emotions.

*Ed. note: No such intentions, Roy. We are pleased
when our readers help guide us to a more
truthful rendering of the news. Thanks for the


Chris Cato of Alberta, Canada, wrote:

Praise be to God for a magazine like yours that
bravely stands up for Christian principles. We
are at a time when reason and justice have been
abandoned. I pray that you will continue your
struggle for the cause of peace and justice


R e l i g i o n   &   P o l i t i c s
Bin Laden's violence is a heresy against Islam

by Tim Winter
Daily Telegraph

It is a relief that the mainstream theologians
have come out so unanimously against the terrorists.
What we must now ask them is to campaign more
strongly against the aberrant doctrines that
underpin them.... Both "sides," therefore, have a
responsibility to act. The West must drain
the swamp of rage by securing a fair resolution of
the Palestinian tragedy. But it is the responsibility
of the Islamic world to defeat the terrorist
aberration theologically.

Read the entire article at:


E c o N e w s
Arctic drilling would threaten caribou

A Native American who lives above the Arctic Circle
told United Methodists why he and his people fear
drilling in or near the caribou calving grounds in

"We depend on those animals," said Rev. Trimble
Gilbert, an Episcopalian clergyman and a leader of
the Gwich'in tribe. "We are the caribou people."
Gilbert spoke at a gathering of United Methodists
who were also attending an environmental justice

The caribou have been in Northern Alaska and Canada
for thousands of years, and the Gwich'in people have
relied on the animals for food, clothing, shelter,
blankets, medicine, tools, and more, said Gilbert,
who lives in Arctic Village. The community, one of
several Gwich'in villages, is near the boundary of
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a pristine area
north of the Arctic Circle that President Bush has
proposed for oil drilling.

Each of the caribou herds has only one calving ground,
he noted. And each of the Gwich'in communities, based
on reservations in Alaska and Canada, depends on its
herd. The existing oil pipeline already hampers the
movements of some herds. Global warming is changing
the Arctic habitat too, he added.

The Gwich'in want to preserve the land and resources
for the next generations, Gilbert noted. "If we lose
the animals, no one will be there," he added.

In a 1998 study, the U.S. Geological Survey reported
that drilling in the refuge would yield only a six-
month supply of oil for the United States.

For more information, e-mail the United Methodist
Communications Board:



W e b   S c e n e
This week's best of the Web

*Find the terrorist in your neighborhood. Clever
Web game that leads you to re-think your facile
assumptions. Go to:


*Check out suspicious emails before you hit
the "forward" button. Did you get the email
with the fake Nostradamus prophecy
about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks? Or
did you hear the one about Bill Gates giving away
$1,000 every time somebody forwards an e-mail? Lies,
damn, lies, says our Urban Legends snoop guide:


*What didn't you learn to do in school? teaches you how to do all the
simple - once you know the process - tricks of
everyday life challenges. Go to:


*Baseball fans' nirvana. With the World Series
approaching, baseball enthusiasts can find a
staggering amount of info about the history of
America's pastime. From quote books, to stats,
to everything you'd ever want to know about the
Hall of Fame. Go to:


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