The Common Good

Vision and Elections

Sojomail - November 7, 2002


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+++++++++++++++++++++ 7-November-2002 ++++++++++++++++++++++++
++++++++++  Without a vision, you lose elections  ++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Yoko Ono: Handgun violence

 H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
     *Without a vision, you lose elections
 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *Sham capitalism

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Jewish and Palestinian women: You and I are the conscience

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Life's little mysteries: #112

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *A Call to fast for peace
     *Anti-war protests around the globe last week

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Nuclear capability in Iraq?

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Two thumbs up: Priest who reviews cinema

 C a m p u s   L i n e s
     *Our new section for college readers

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

 W e b s c e n e
     *Western Muslim writers launch new Web magazine
     *Peace site geared for the young (at heart)
     *Make your own Dubya speech
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Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k

"Over 676,000 people have been killed by
guns in the U.S.A. since John Lennon was
shot and killed on December 8, 1980."

- Yoko Ono


H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
Without a vision, you lose elections

by Jim Wallis

When you don't have a message or a messenger, and the other side does, you lose elections. That's what happened to the Democrats in the mid-term elections. Proverbs says, "Without a vision, the people perish." And without a vision, Democrats had nothing to offer the American people as an alternative to the vision of the Bush administration.

The administration's message was that military might is the only real response to terrorism, and permanent tax cuts for the rich should be the heart of our domestic agenda. Most Democrats (and especially most Democrats who lost in this election) supported President Bush's war policy in Iraq and his tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Many people who wanted to vote against war or for economic fairness didn't really know who to vote for in most races, or just didn't turn out on election day. In key states, the traditional Democratic base was neither energized or mobilized.

The Democrats' lack of a clear alternative to the administration's economic program, or its conduct of the war on terrorism, is the core reason why the Republicans recaptured the Senate, increased their strength in the House, and solidified the popularity of a president who barely prevailed in the controversial election of 2000. Added reasons for the Democratic defeats were the popularity of the post-9/11 president, especially in the states of the most contested Senate races where George Bush ran strongly in 2000; and the very significant fact that Republicans again outspent Democrats by at least 3 to 1. Had the focus of this election campaign been on a bad economy, corporate scandals, and economic insecurity, instead of war with Iraq and the threat of terrorism, the Republicans could have been in real trouble.

Some say that Democratic opposition to war with Iraq and tax cuts would have lost against a popular president who equates dissent with a lack of patriotism. Perhaps so. But at least the politics of principle gives you something to build on even when you lose. And our goal must be to make real social change in the long run, not only to win elections in the short run. When you compromise principle and still lose, there is little to build on for the future. Remember the first of Gandhi's "seven deadly social sins" - politics without principle.

With the Republicans offering war overseas and corporate dominance at home, and the Democrats failing to offer any real alternatives, who will raise a prophetic voice for social and economic justice, or for peace? Never has there been a clearer role for the churches and religious community. We are not tied to the purely tactical debates that will now dominate the Democratic Party. We don't have to make the false choices between personal and social responsibility that both liberals and conservatives are still making. We can be for both family values and social justice, which Democrats and Republicans seem unable to do. We can push both parties toward moral consistency and their best-stated values, over the unprincipled pragmatism and negative campaigning that both sides engaged in during this election.

The courage many church leaders are already showing in opposing the war with Iraq is an early sign of that prophetic role. So is the growing unity across the spectrum of the churches on the issue of poverty. The truth is that there are more churches committed to justice and peace than there are on the Religious Right. It's time their voice be heard and their activism be mobilized to become the conscience of American politics in a time of crisis. That task is the vocation of Sojourners and Call to Renewal. We need your support, commitment, and involvement to succeed, but, together, I believe we can and will make a difference.

Help strengthen this prophetic voice:
To read more, click


              JOB OPENING IN BRONX

Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition seeks
Clergy Organizer to organize interfaith clergy committee
and local church/mosque committees. Requires commitment
to social justice, five years interfaith organizing
experience. Spanish, familiarity with congregation-based
organizing, theology background preferred. Salary $35-40K,
good benefits. Send resume to:
or fax (718)733-6922.


B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
Sham capitalism

by David Batstone

It may have gotten lost in the post-election noise on Tuesday that Harvey Pitt, chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) resigned from his post. While the timing of the announcement was clearly aimed to limit negative publicity, the failure of the current administration to address corruption in the corporate world should not go unnoticed.

Pitt was a former lawyer and lobbyist for the accounting industry. From day one it looked like the fox had been put in charge of monitoring the hen house. Those suspicions were confirmed with revelations last spring that Pitt was meeting privately with executives of firms the SEC was investigating, ostensibly counseling them how to avoid trouble with the very agency he was running.

Pitt has become an unwitting symbol of what's wrong with big business and government these days. They stand for a kind of sham capitalism that has nothing to do with excellence in running a business or meeting customer needs. It has everything to do with who you know and what you can get away with.

Consider the furtive practices of the Carlyle Group, a Washington D.C.-based private equity firm that could be nominated as a poster child for sham capitalism. Carlyle specializes in buying down-and- out aerospace and telecommunications companies, as well as defense contractors ­ all industries wherein government regulation is a key switch for operating successfully in commercial markets. Carlyle then turns around and sells a company when its fortunes miraculously improve with the influx of new and lucrative government contracts.

Not coincidentally, Carlyle has intimate links inside the corridors of political power; among the firm's associates can be found former U.S. president George H. W. Bush, former U.K. prime minister John Major, and a bevy of other one-time politicians and cabinet ministers from around the globe. Perhaps Carlyle does not violate any laws, yet the firm tramples over the delicate lines that rule conflict of interest, parlaying its considerable political clout into lucrative financial transactions.

Unfortunately, Carlyle is not a singular case. Lots of companies play by bended rules, though maybe not privileged with the same political clout. "The invisible hand works many miracles," spoke George W. Bush during his drive for the White House in the summer of 1999, "but it cannot touch the human heart." He was right. Many corporate workers feel dispirited, crushed by company behavior marked by cronyism, selfishness, and the quest for profit at any cost. And the hand that is supposed to be monitoring these misdeeds is invisible.


S o u l   W o r k s
Jewish and Palestinian women: You and I are the conscience

Bat Shalom is a feminist peace organization working toward a just peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

On the second day of the Sukkat Bat Shalom, a Palestinian woman from Ramallah was visiting her sister in the area. She saw the women of Bat Shalom in the middle of a public witness, and she stopped and asked to read a poem to those assembled. She read the poem in Arabic, and a Bat Shalom activist translated it into Hebrew. Below is the English translation.

I and You

I wept today and you will weep tomorrow.
Maybe you've wept for your husband and tomorrow
you'll weep for your son.
Let me tell you, I've already wept for both my
son and husband.

I wish I could walk into every house around carrying
within me anguish and heartache and mourning.
Come, mother of Ibrahim and mother of Itzhak, let's
weep together, you and me.
Longing for our loved ones unites us, you and me.
Motherhood unites us, you and me.
The heart aches.
Let's remember if in life there is no place for us on this earth,
We have place enough under it.
Let's pray together, mother of Ibrahim and mother of Itzhak.
You and I are the conscience.
You and I are love and peace.
You and I are the bridge to truth.

-- a Palestinian mother

**Bat Shalom, together with The Jerusalem Center for Women, a Palestinian women's peace organization, comprise The Jerusalem Link. For more information, go to:

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F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Life's little mysteries: #112

How is it one careless match can
start a forest fire, but it takes a
whole box to start a campfire?


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
A Call to fast for peace

Sojourners invites you to join with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders to call Americans to a fast for peace and acts of peacemaking.

Sixty Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religious leaders in the United States are inviting Americans to undertake a fast dedicated to seeking peace rather than war in the present conflict between the United States and Iraq.

For Muslims, the Call connects the fast with Ramadan (which begins November 6); for Jews, with a tradition of fast days on November 4, December 4, and December 15, and with a tradition of calling special fasts in time of impending calamity, including war; and for Christians, with a tradition of fasting during Advent.

In part, the statement reads, "For Christians, the time of Advent is traditionally a season of inner and outer preparation to welcome the birth of the Prince of Peace. For some, it has been, and for the Christians among us, it will be, a time to fast, making room in busy lives and overly full selves for the incarnation of God's love."

"We call upon us all to make this fasting a time to share our bread with the hungry, to study more deeply the consequences of war overseas and at home, to actively seek the fullness of peace, to gather with others of different religious communities, and to open our hearts to our God of compassion, community, and peace."

To read the full text of the Call, its initiating signers, and a companion letter from Rabbi Arthur Waskow calling for "Isaiah Actions" of peacemaking, go to:


A few reports on anti-war demonstrations this past week:

15,000 protest attack on Iraq in Boston:

Milwaukee Coalition for a Just Peace organizes downtown protest:

The church in Australia speaks out against war in Iraq:

London: Anti-war protesters in Halloween day of action:,3604,823715,00.htm


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

Number of reports that President Bush referred to on September 7 as evidence of Iraq's nuclear threat: 2

Last year in which the agency Bush cited as the reports' author had new information on Iraq's nuclear threat: 1998

Number of "indications" the agency had in 1998 of "any physical capability" to produce weapons-grade nuclear material: 0

Source: Harper's Index, Sept. 2002


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Two thumbs up: Priest who reviews cinema

by Frank Burns

Father Fantuzzi's reviews appear in La Civiltá Cattolica, or Catholic Civilization, a twice- monthly, Italian-language journal.

He might well be considered Roman Catholicism's Roger Ebert, and he might be expected to choose and evaluate movies in terms of their fealty to, or dissent from, Catholic orthodoxy. He does not....

Instead, Father Fantuzzi believes in shining a spotlight on movies that please him, because in his view good cinema and religion overlap, both searching for meaning, both finding a compelling language for that quest.

"When I pray," Father Fantuzzi said, "I pray with cinema in my head."

To read the entire feature, go to [registration required]:


C a m p u s   L i n e s
Our new section for college readers

by Nate Johnston

Living in Washington, D.C., and working for Sojourners magazine amidst all the politics, lobbying, and general social concern may seem like a college activist's dream come true. And in many ways it is. But this week I found myself wishing I was back in school. Not for the endless papers, early classes, or cafeteria specials, but for the mysterious thing that happens when a bunch of students rally together and say, "We're not going to put up with this anymore."

Whether the issue is fair-trade coffee or war, there is a unique energy, a healthy recklessness, an exchange of ideas, and a commitment to change things that rarely solidifies as much in other places. These days, with chalk-drawn messages littering campus sidewalks, weekly demonstrations, teach-ins, and flyers tacked on every open wall, one can't help feeling that something significant is happening.

I miss that feeling. And though sometimes it is misleading, history has proved it to be generally true. In fact, some of the world's most profound social revolutions were started on college campuses. So don't take yourselves for granted. You have something that no other group of people has. Just in case you don't believe it, I've gathered a few links to articles that recognize this uniqueness:

*"A Resurrection of College Activism" - Sojourners

*"Return of College Peaceniks" ­- Christian Science Monitor

*"Seeds of Protest Growing on College Campuses" ­- The New York Times


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B o o m e r a n g

Cathleen Twomey writes from Lawrence, Massachusetts:

Last week's SojoMail article by Jim Wallis about Paul Wellstone has been living in my heart, especially the quotation, "If you want peace, work for justice." Last spring, at a college in Massachusetts, I heard another "progressive populist," George McGovern, speak about world poverty and possible solutions. On that occasion, someone asked him what he would do about terrorism. His answer was, "Find a vaccine."

The vaccine has to be that "work for justice." I had never quite understood until last Monday night how far we are from justice in this country. On Monday, a friend and I were finishing our work in a local rectory when the doorbell rang. At the door stood a family of four. They were cold, they were lost, they were travelers on their way to South Carolina and they had just paid out hundreds of dollars to have their car repaired. The man, his wife, and two children - one a very young boy - were seeking someplace to stay for the night. They had absolutely no money left. My friend and I had less than five dollars between us and neither of us carry credit cards. That didn't faze me however. I thought we would call another church and voila! The family would have warm beds in which to sleep for the night. I am so utterly naive. More than 20 phone calls later - calls to shelters, to churches of varying denominations, to police departments, to the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army - we finally found a place for them. Yes, I did strongly consider taking them into my own apartment, especially after our spectacular lack of success. However, I have just one bed and one blanket - I live pretty simply myself. And, I have to admit, I could not accept the fact there was literally, "No room at any inn."

I think if I had called Paul Wellstone about the family, he would have said, "Come right on over." He was one of the scientists in search of that "vaccine for justice." I worry that there are so few such people left.


William Brumbaugh writes from Altoona, Pennyslvania:

I have a difficult time relating any politician to the prophets or the Pope no matter how liberal they think, act, or talk. What I find particularly disturbing is the fact that the Democratic leadership decided to use the memorial service as a circus arena to grab a few more (or at least attempt to) votes for the elections. I think this disgusting display of insensitivity and disrespect showed their true colors. Memorial services or any spiritually based events are nothing more than a stage to be manipulated and used for their own selfish benefit. I understand that they want to grab as much power and money as possible and to turn this country into a socialist state for which they will be the masters over, so why not just come out and say it. Don't stand behind those people and ideals that are good, honest, and truly have peace and spirituality as their guide. Mr. Wallis is sadly intoxicated by these people's lies and hidden agendas. Wake up and see it for what it is!


Jean Strawbridge writes from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: SojoMail is very helpful to me in its thoughts on peace and war, but regarding your "War is not the Answer" campaign, I must tell you that though I've had that slogan on my desk for all to see, I am not prepared to give a succinct answer when asked: "What is the answer, then?" Nonviolent resistance, yes, for the spiritually strong and those schooled in the discipline necessary to live it out, taking the consequences of their actions. But on balance we are not going to be able to get all people to be nonviolent protestors. How about some Sam Nunn kind of negotiating articles that give us "ending of hostilties" strategies instead of rhetoric about the underlying motives and wrongdoing of war.


Ed. Note: We strongly recommend the cover story of our Sept./Oct. issue of Sojourners magazine, "With Weapons of Will," by Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall:


Thomas Pack writes from Ada, Oklahoma:

While I appreciate your passionate plea for the poor and downtrodden of Iraq, I don't think many of those who are against war with Iraq have considered several things. As it stands now, I am opposed to military action, until and unless the United States government can provide irrefutable evidence that the government of Iraq has actively supported terrorism on U.S. soil. In that case, the U.S. has a responsibility to its citizens to provide for their safety from that international terrorism by using the most effective means possible, and having the obligation of keeping both U.S. and Iraqi casualties as low as humanly possible. So far, I have not seen the hard evidence needed to support any attack.


Karen Francis McWhite writes from Durham, North Carolina:

I am troubled by the tenor of some Boomerang comments that attack or criticize Sojourners' anti-war stance. What other stance can it have? As children of God, with scriptures and traditions that clearly call us all to find faith-filled and peaceful alternatives to mutual slaughter, we cannot abide by "objective" analyses of the present situation. Kudos to Sojourners for not joining the...cries for war. Kudos for reminding us all of the challenge and difficulties inherent in the mandate Christ has laid out for us all.


Murray Polner writes from Great Neck, New York:

Why ignore libertarian and conservative anti-war Web sites and magazines, e.g., and Pat Buchanan's new magazine, "The American Conservative"? You may not agree with some (maybe, most) of the latter's views but you will certainly appreciate its acute analyses and commentaries against the invasion of Iraq and its opposition to D.C.'s neo-conservatives and their bellicose visions of an American empire. We anti-war liberals and pacifists need all the help we can get in order to reach the many millions who are neither.


Andy Kerr writes from Long Beach, California:

I am writing in response to some of your readers who have expressed concern over the priority Sojourners has placed on the Iraq issue and the strong commitment to peace being expressed. While I appreciate the desire to dialogue and debate other pressing issues in our community and throughout the planet, I truly respect the leadership and resources Sojourners is providing on this extremely important debate that will effect each and every one of us. It is very easy to be overwhelmed by all of the issues of the day and to just toss the war debate into the mix of all our other worries. If we lose our focus now, I'm afraid there will be little resistance to those who would rush to attack and we risk waking up when it's too late. Keep inspiring us to ask the difficult questions and to speak the words of peace.


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:


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

*Western Muslim writers launch new Web magazine

Asking themselves "What went wrong?" a group of Muslim writers living in America, Europe, and Australia launched a Web-based publication they hope will be part of a solution to conflict between Islam and the West. It's unpredictable in its social and political views. Check it out at:


*Peace site geared for the young (at heart)

PeaceJam is an international education program built around leading Nobel Peace Laureates who work personally with youth to pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody. The goal of PeaceJam is to inspire a new generation of peacemakers who will transform their local communities. Go to:


*Make your own Dubya speech

Very funny site! Impending colonial war got you down? Write your own Bush speech! Go to:


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