The Common Good

A Final Appeal

Sojomail - March 19, 2003

Quote of the Week Helen Steiner Rice: misguided weapons
Hearts & Minds Jim Wallis: A final appeal
Batteries Not Included David Batstone: An interview with biz ethicist Jeffrey Seglin
Spirituality and Politics Rose Marie Berger: Of Presidents, Prophets, and Prime Ministers
Soul Works Arundhati Roy: The cost of living
By the Numbers Poll: What is your favorite anti-war song?
Politically Connect Jimmy Carter: Just war - or a just war?
Funny Business Celibate good times
Palestine Journal Rachel Corrie's letter home
Boomerang SojoMail readers hit reply
Web Scene Diary of a human shield | Former intelligence analysts: How our government makes a war | Talking to children about war

THANK YOU - Last week, SojoMail readers forwarded our action alert to more than 100,000 people! If you haven't already, tell friends, family, and others about this free, weekly email-zine from Sojourners:


"More than guided missiles, all the world needs guided men."

- Poet Helen Steiner Rice

A final appeal
by Jim Wallis

Last week, I wrote about the response to our 6-Point "Alternative to War" plan. In the week since, that response has been even more overwhelming. Tens of thousands of you sent the plan to President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and Secretary-General Annan. It appeared as a major piece on the opinion page of The Washington Post. We know that it was read in the White House and State Department, in the U.N. Security Council, in Congress, and at the highest levels of the British government. Until the last moment, it could have been a real alternative to the war that is now about to begin. But the Bush administration refused to listen - in one call from the White House last week, I was told, "The president is scheduling no more meetings."

Our final appeal was yesterday, on the day of the debate and vote in the British Parliament. We were able to place our 6-point plan as an ad in the five major British newspapers. Our press release on that appeal is below.

As a war begins, we now will each need to discern our responses. Here are three suggestions:

1. First, and most importantly, pray. Pray for those in the militaries of all countries and their families. Pray for the men, women, and children of Iraq. Pray that even at this late hour, God will work a miracle that avoids war.

2. The Win Without War coalition is asking everyone who shares our opposition to the invasion of Iraq to gather at 7 p.m. on the evening when a military attack is launched, and light a candle for peace - just as occured last Sunday evening in 6,850 locations in 140 countries. We will stand as a united people - across this nation and across the world - to affirm our opposition to this war.

3. Many people will be called to participate in "the day after" actions of civil disobedience. Pax Christi is coordinating many of these activities; contact them for more information.

Thanks to each one of you for your work. Let us all continue to pray and act for peace.


A Final Appeal

British Print Ad Campaign Offers Final Appeal for an Alternative to War from U.S. Church Leaders to Prime Minister Blair

WASHINGTON, DC - March 18, 2003 - With war on Iraq imminent following President Bush's 48-hour deadline for Saddam Hussein and his sons to leave Iraq, U.S. church leaders today offered a final appeal for an alternative. A print ad campaign in five leading British newspapers - The Guardian, The London Times, The Independent, The Telegraph and The Financial Times - appealed to Prime Minister Tony Blair: "We need you to be a true friend of America in this critical hour. We need you to help our government not make a terrible mistake."

"If we wage war on Iraq, it will be a failure of political and moral imagination," said Jim Wallis, executive director and editor of Sojourners. "While we acknowledge that we are seconds away from the start of a pre-emptive strike on Iraq, we continue to believe that war is not the answer to the threats posed by Saddam Hussein. Our political leaders have not exhausted all diplomatic options. There is still a credible alternative."

The ad campaign, in cooperation with Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, is expected to reach nearly 3 million readers. It follows an intense mobilization to promote a 6-Point Plan with solid options for disarming Iraq without war. The plan was developed by the U.S. religious delegation that met with Prime Minister Blair last month. In recent days, it was considered seriously by senior British officials and was well known in the U.S. administration. The plan was featured on the opinion page of The Washington Post last Friday, and was delivered to Prime Minister Blair, President Bush, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and members of the U.S. Congress and British Parliament. It remains a serious and credible alternative to war, even at this late hour.

"As Americans prepare for a war with Iraq, I believe that there is still another way - a third way - to prevent the unleashing of such massive military firepower against those who will be most victimized, the Iraqi people," said Rt. Rev. John Chane, Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C.

To read the complete text of the print advertisement, please visit

To read "There is a Third Way" by Wallis and Chane, please visit

Get more perspective from Sojourners Editor-in-Chief Jim Wallis at:


Want to engage with other women and men of the North American Anabaptist community in a discussion regarding theology and the arts?

Attend the Women Doing Theology Conference, "Gifts of the Red Tent: Women Creating," May 16-18, 2003. Check out:

Interview with NYT business ethics columnist Jeffrey Seglin
by David Batstone

Jeffrey Seglin writes a regular column on business ethics for The New York Times and is a professor at Emerson College. Seglin's new book, "The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business" (Spiro Press), is a collection of his NYT columns. I caught up with Seglin for a quick interview:

Batstone: The collection of essays in your book both pre-date and post-date the spate of corporate scandals led by Enron. How did business change?

Seglin: When I looked back over four years of work, I discovered that the themes were recurring: leadership by example, dealing with unethical bosses, lying and cheating and the gradations in between.

Batstone: What does it take to get a senior manager to the point where he or she sees it is in the company's interest to act with integrity?

Seglin: The cynical answer is, fear of being led out of your office in handcuffs. In the bigger picture, business leaders need to get out of the short-term mindset that the market will decide for us what is ethical and what is not. Let's face it, sometimes doing the right thing can cause a lot of pain. In the book of Isaiah, the prophet points out that when everyone in the marketplace is a liar and a thief, the honest man will get pummeled. Doing the right thing has a payoff in the long term, but it does sometimes mean making a sacrifice today, and I think people know that.

Batstone: What advice do you offer up for corporate employees who are in an unethical company?

Seglin: Sharon Watkins of Enron often gets held up as a whistle-blower. She actually drew attention within the company to what was going wrong. That's what employees can do - point out the unethical behavior and not engage in it. You have to choose your battles, however. It doesn't pay to be vociferous and strident about every little thing; you will be dismissed as a gadfly, or not a team player. You have to distinguish between what's really wrong and what you just don't like. Since Enron, I get more email from readers who tell me, "because I don't like my boss he must be unethical." Sometimes we find people offensive, or dislike their leadership style, but that doesn't make it an unethical lapse.

Batstone: And what do you tell corporate leaders?

Seglin: The things that make for good management practice are also good ethics. Treating people right, recognizing workers for their contribution, rewarding equitably, those are all great management tools.

To order Jeffrey Seglin's "The Right Thing," go to:

Get more perspective from Sojourners Executive Editor David Batstone at:

Extra! Extra! This ad appeared Tuesday in five British newspapers - The Times of London, The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, The Independent, and The Guardian.

The ad, "A Letter from Concerned Americans" see it at: to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, reached nearly 3 million people and was made possible by a supporter of the 6-Point Plan for Peace.

We are reaching more people than ever because of generous donations from people like you. Imagine what your gift can do and how many hearts and minds it can reach. If you are able to contribute, we need your help now. Give online at:

Of Presidents, Prophets, and Prime Ministers
by Rose Marie Berger

Speech given at the Global Vigil for Peace candlelight event at the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington, D.C. on March 16, 2003.

I stand before you this evening as an apprentice of a first century itinerant rabbi from Nazareth and bring you his words: Blessed are you, peacemakers, for you are children of God.

During the proceedings tonight there were some high school students behind the stage yelling "Bomb Iraq!" and "Nuke Saddaam!" I spoke to one young man. He was 16 or 17 years old. He said that the only recourse we had against the evil of Saddam was military force. I told him that I thought we could be more creative than that. Then, as his eyes welled up with tears, he said this, "But all those people died in the Towers. If we don't do something, it will be like we don't care, like we've forgotten them." He is 16 years old. Tonight, as I look out on this sea of candles, I say that each candle out there is because we do remember. We who are gathered here take on our shoulders the burden of this memory and grief, so that our children do not have to.

read the full speech at:

by Arundhati Roy

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget."

Poll: What is your favorite anti-war song?

1. Fleetwood Mac - Peacekeeper
2. Beastie Boys - In a World Gone Mad
3. George Michael- The Grave
4. John Mellencamp- To Washington

Source: The Drudge Report

Buttons, stickers, and signs from Sojourners!

Mobilize peaceful and prayerful rallies in your community. Order protest buttons, stickers, and signs and declare, "War is Not the Answer."

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Just war - or a just war?
by Jimmy Carter

Profound changes have been taking place in American foreign policy, reversing consistent bipartisan commitments that for more than two centuries have earned our nation greatness. These commitments have been predicated on basic religious principles, respect for international law, and alliances that resulted in wise decisions and mutual restraint. Our apparent determination to launch a war against Iraq, without international support, is a violation of these premises.

As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards. This is an almost universal conviction of religious leaders, with the most notable exception of a few spokesmen of the Southern Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel based on eschatological, or final days, theology.

To read Jimmy Carter's entire essay as it appeared in The New York Times, go to [free registration required]:

Celibate good times

A visitor to a monastery noted that all the scribes were transcribing the holy canons from copies. He questioned the head monk about this. "Suppose the first scribe made an error transcribing from the original text. That error would be perpetuated through the ages on all succeeding copies. Would it not be wiser for all scribes to transcribe from the original text?" The head monk decided to check one of the copies against the original text, which had been locked away in the basement for hundreds of years to preserve it. When he did not return for an hour, the visitor became concerned and went looking for the old monk. He found him beating his forehead against the wall and weeping uncontrollably. He asked the monk, "What is wrong?" The old monk replied through his tears, "The word was 'celebrate'!"

Due to the overwhelming response to the U.S. church leaders' 6-Point Plan for Peace, we are offering the plan in a Sunday church bulletin format.

First bundle of 100 copies is FREE (folded and shrink-wrapped - not including shipping and handling). Additional bundles are $10, while supplies last. Shipping and handling varies on delivery date and method of delivery.

Click here for more information:

Or contact the Sojourners Resource Center at or 1-800-714-7474.

Rachel Corrie's letter home

Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli-run bulldozer as she tried to protect the homes of Palestinian citizens. The letter below is excerpted from an email she sent to her parents on Feb. 7, 2003, two weeks after her arrival in the Gaza Strip.


I am in Rafah, a city of about 140,000 people, approximately 60 percent of whom are refugees - many of whom are twice or three times refugees. Rafah existed prior to 1948, but most of the people here are themselves or are descendants of people who were relocated here from their homes in historic Palestine - now Israel. Rafah was split in half when the Sinai returned to Egypt. Currently, the Israeli army is building a 14-meter-high wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-man's land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes have been completely bulldozed, according to the Rafah Popular Refugee Committee. The number of homes that have been partially destroyed is greater.

Today as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, "Go! Go!" because a tank was coming. Followed by waving and "what's your name?" There is something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids: Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what's going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously, occasionally shouting - and also occasionally waving - many forced to be here, many just aggressive, shooting into the houses as we wander away.

I've been having trouble accessing news about the outside world here, but I hear an escalation of war on Iraq is inevitable. There is a great deal of concern here about the "re-occupation of Gaza." Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents, but I think the fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here, instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the communities. If people aren't already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope they will start.

Many people want their voices to be heard, and I think we need to use some of our privilege as internationals to get those voices heard directly in the U.S., rather than through the filter of well-meaning internationals such as myself. I am just beginning to learn, from what I expect to be a very intense tutelage, about the ability of people to organize against all odds, and to resist against all odds.


Bruce Lather writes from White River Junction, Vermont:

God Bless you, Sojourners, for speaking out so forcefully against war. It's such a refreshing change from the pro-war corporate-owned media. Ten minutes of Fox News in particular, and I have a headache!


Rev. George W. Holston, vicar of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Chiefland, Florida, and Chaplain (Major) in the U.S. Army Reserve, writes:

I served as a chaplain during Desert Shield/Storm, and continue to serve in the Reserves. My hunch is that the combat, and its consequences, this time will be much worse than in 1991. It's painful to watch friends deploying to the region, and my family waits knowing that it is just a matter of time before my turn comes for mobilization and deployment.

I read with interest the "6-Point Plan" put forward by several church leaders. My concern is that while it would seem to be a reasonable plan at first reading, there are problems with the reality of the situation the "Plan" does not address.

1. The "Plan" does not take into account Hussein's megalomania. I'm referencing the numerous studies of his life that have been published since the end of Desert Shield/Storm, including the interview with Dan Rather. His (Saddam's) perception of reality in no way matches the facts of history.

2. The "Plan" does not acknowledge that the embargoes have not worked. The reality is that Saddam has continued to "thumb his nose" at the world community and disregarded the conditions of the embargoes.

3. The current culture in Iraq does not allow for the possibility of democratic development. Take a look at the "elections" in Iraq several months ago. Anyone who believes that this was a democratic exercise is simply deluding themselves.

There are other problems; the ones mentioned above are my "top three." My desire for peace in the region is deep. I have no desire for war, yet my sense of reality is telling me that war with Iraq is inevitable.


Bill Bryson writes from Toronto, Canada:

I would think that your excellent plan should be aggressively distributed to those nations who are urging continued arms inspection - France, Germany, Russia and China - as well as the smaller countries who are under so much pressure from the U.S. to sign on to war. This goes much further that just "continue the inspections" and offers real hope for a peacefully implemented permanent solution to this crisis. The declaration of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Saddam Hussein and key members of his administration would de-legitimize that regime and open the way for U.N. political action on the ground. Surely, if the U.N. can go to war, as it did in Korea in the '50s, it can facilitate a regime change in a very dangerous rogue state.


Harold Pidwell, leader of the House of the Gentle Bunyip, writes from Melbourne, Australia:

Your 6-point plan is regretfully so American-centred as to be unhelpful. It saddens us to realise that you still do not understand where the rest of the world is standing. It doesn't recognise the U.S. complicity in evil by selling Iraq weapons of mass destruction. I was disappointed that your initiative was not more helpful.


John Slorp writes from Minneapolis, Minnesota:

David Batstone's editorial in last week's SojoMail is not written in the spirit of the 6-point plan document. It was written from economic self-interest and lacks spiritual insight. Economic rationales for averting the war are among the weakest to raise; they appeal and persuade with greed, selfishness, and short-sighted emotion. You have weakened your stance and dis-motivated my participation with Sojourners.


David Calvert writes from New York City:

David Batstone outlines how elements of the American business community oppose a U.S. invasion of Iraq, and now even George Bush Sr. has expressed misgivings. President Bush's team just might be looking for an honorable way out. Declare victory! President Bush should announce to the world that his policy has won, Saddam has disarmed, the U.N. got tough, positioning the soldiers got results, and now he can bring them home to a safer world. This news would be greeted with shrieks of joy virtually the world over, and many millions of liberals and conservatives alike would be able to join hands and hearts in claiming some part in this enormous victory for peace and democratic, participatory action.


Tom Boughan writes from Cowan, Tennessee:

In last week's SojoMail, Mary Weidner said that God ordered the Israelites to destroy nations. Because they didn't, we are suffering from that disobedience. I do not believe God is a homicidal maniac that orders people to commit genocide. What God are you worshipping, Mary? Certainly not the one Jesus talked about, the God of mercy and love. There are some parts of the Hebrew Bible that portrayed God as a tribal war god. I hope we have progressed in our view of God since then.


Huw Spanner writes from Harrow, Britain:

When I read reports of U.S. plans to install a military governor in Iraq with an army of up to 200,000 soldiers to maintain law and order, I think of Lebanon. Twenty years ago, the U.S. Marines in Beirut were a sitting target for the suicide bomber who killed 241 of them. Can anyone doubt that, if the U.S. attacks a Muslim nation without provocation, there will be hundreds of would-be Muslim martyrs wanting to send the infidels garrisoning their country straight to hell? The difference this time, I suspect, is that this U.S. administration will not withdraw its forces when the first suicide bomb goes off in "free" Baghdad but will retaliate in the only way it seems to know, with more extreme violence. Ordinary U.S. soldiers too - to whom the Iraqis will "all look the same" - will quickly come to distrust, despise, and hate the people they have supposedly liberated. I wonder if the Pentagon has planned for this eventuality.


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:

We receive hundreds of letters in any one week, so please understand if we don't publish yours.

*Diary of a human shield

"Diary of a Human Shield" runs on Beliefnet. The diary is written by American and Canadian members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams who are now in Iraq to serve as educators and "human shields" in the event of war. The diary is updated every few days. The diary can be found here:

*Former intelligence analysts: How our government makes a war

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), founded in January by a small group of former intelligence analysts, including Ray McGovern, has just issued a memo on how intelligence is being massaged to justify plans for making war on Iraq. The memo is posted on the Web site of

*Talking to children about war

Read the informative article written by Jennifer Wolcott Scott, staff writer at The Christian Science Monitor, "Of War and Words, Talking to Children about Conflict":

Other Web sites on this subject worth checking out:

About Our Kids.Org:

Educators for Social Responsibility:

Save The Children:

United Nations Children's Fund:

War Child:

Donate now to support our work.

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