The Common Good

Obama in Cairo: A Just Peace

Sojomail - June 4, 2009


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

You can raise pigs to be very strong and very fat. But a pig is still a pig. And a pig has no rights.

- Liu Suli, who served 20 months in prison for his role in the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, on the idea that “his fellow Chinese have made a devil’s bargain, trading the freedom that he and his fellow protesters sought for a chance at a car and a bigger apartment.” (Source: The New York Times)

+ Sign up to receive "Verse and Voice" - our daily quote and Bible verse e-mail

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Wallis is on retreat this week. His column and blog posts will resume next week.

GUEST COMMENTARY

Obama in Cairo: A Just Peace

Get a free trial issue of Sojourners Get a free issue of Sojourners

Truth. Respect. Security.

These three elements of just peace theory found their way into President Obama’s speech, delivered in Cairo. He spoke the truth about our common humanity and a common purpose of creating and keeping peace in the world. He did not deny hard, ugly, bloody facts of history. He faced today’s tough and touchy problems with a determined steady gaze. He described a vision of a world at peace. Wisdom teaches that where there is no vision, a people perish. This is so for all of humankind.

The historical truth he told recalled both the good and the bad: conflict, religious war, colonialism, Cold War, the Holocaust, the dislocation of Palestinians, slavery, apartheid, America’s role in the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Iran, the subjugation of women, 9/11. He spoke of the contributions of Islamic civilization to the world in mathematics, navigation, writing, art, architecture, poetry, music, religion, and spirituality. He spoke of Islam’s relationship with the United States from the nation’s beginning. He spoke of Islam inside the U.S. and of the contributions of Muslims. He spoke of the civil rights movement and of the efficacy of nonviolent protest, of democracy and human aspiration, of inter-religious dialogue, women’s rights, and economic development. He spoke of the interdependence of nations, what Martin Luther King Jr. would describe as a network of mutuality. Financial crisis, viral infections, nuclear proliferation, and genocide are not local concerns. The whole world weeps. Ending the suffering is a global responsibility.

This is important.

We live in a moment of human history where no one nation can say: “Do what I tell you to do or face grave consequences.” The days of disrespectful rhetoric, of what the U.S. will or will not allow, are over. The truth is no nation has ever held such power. The very concept is delusion and deception.

President Obama spoke of seven main issues: violent extremism; Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world; nuclear weapons; democracy; religious freedom; women’s rights; and economic development. He observed: “All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments, community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life."

Such an approach has the power to bring true security to the world. We are accustomed to thinking of security in terms of military power, hard power, negative power, power that works its will through violence or the threat of violence. However, security also comes when we deploy soft power, the positive power of everyday effort working at the grassroots to assure every human being on the face of the earth that which is necessary to sustain life and to allow joy.

Truth. Respect. Security.

President Obama was right to remind us that peace on earth is the will of God. He was right to remind us that it is our work to do.

Valerie Elverton Dixon is an independent scholar who publishes lectures and essays at JustPeaceTheory.com. She received her Ph.D. in religion and society from Temple University and taught Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School.

+ Click to share to this article

+ Click to respond to this article on the God's Politics Blog

INSIDE SOJOURNERS MAGAZINE

A Paper God: How the out-of-control buying and selling of money led to our current crisis.

How to Read the Bible: "Literalism" is a key problem in the U.S. church. The antidote can be found in the realm of mystery and paradox.

Christ and Whose Culture? A new wave of Native American evangelical theologians rejects the false choice between following Jesus or embracing their traditions.

+Plus! Video: Indigenous theologians on reviving Native American theology.

ON THE GOD'S POLITICS BLOG

+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends

Abu Ghraib: Don’t Be Afraid of the Truth
by Rose Marie Berger

Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba wrote the U.S. Army's report on the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. He was then forced into retirement. During that time, he made a startling admission to New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh.
+ Click to continue

To Hell with Human Trafficking. There, I Said It.
by Eugene Cho

Is it possible that we as Christians just aren't angry enough about injustices like human trafficking and slavery? Perhaps we've grown too desensitized, domesticated, and docile. I really believe there are times when the church needs to have a deep[er] anger about the grave injustices of the world ...
+ Click to continue

The Legacy of an Eco-Prophet: Remembering Thomas Berry
by César Baldelomar

Thomas Berry held that all must be seen within the context of the universe. Modern science -- with its theories about the universe's origins, evolution, and the interaction of species with other species and with their natural environment -- can, according to Berry, awaken the modern mind to the incredible universe story.
+ Click to continue

The Day I got 'Left Behind'
by Aaron Taylor

The day we heard the trumpet blast, my brother and I fully expected that the moment after we blinked our eyes we would be in heaven. After blinking hard a few times, we both looked at each other with the same horrified expression on our faces. "Oh no! We've been left behind!"
+ Click to continue

Taking the 'Micro' out of Microfinance
by Oscar Perry Abello

For too many households around the world, living paycheck-to-paycheck is a luxury out of reach. In order to deal with small and irregular cash flows, households earning $2 a day or less must be creative in how they manage to put food on the table every night and pay for other assorted and regular necessities.
+ Click to continue

Abortion: Conversations, Not Killings
by Gareth Higgins

Yesterday in The Huffington Post, former Religious Right leader Frank Schaeffer made a significant response to the murder of Dr. George Tiller, acknowledging his part in the blame for creating the sparks that too easily turn into wildfires.
+ Click to continue

Reconciliation and Homecoming
by Seth Naicker

Homecoming is on my mind in this day and this hour. My family and I will leave the Twin Cities, our Bethel University, our Sanctuary Covenant Church, and the host of family and friends to return home to the land of our birth, South Africa.
+ Click to continue

Jeremiah's Change of Heart
by Neeraj Mehta

In Jeremiah 32, Jeremiah is instructed to buy a seemingly worthless piece of land in what is soon to be a devastated city. Is this just a real-estate transaction following in Mosaic tradition? Or one more in a long line of prophetic symbolic actions led by God?
+ Click to continue

Should We Tolerate Legalized Prostitution?
by Danielle Strickland

This week has been eventful in Australia. At the launch of The Salvation Army's Red Shield Appeal -- a new fundraising initiative -- a group of sex workers from Scarlett Alliance (a local sex workers collective) stormed the event as a public protest against The Salvation Army.
+ Click to continue

My Mama in Congo
by Harper McConnell

I see a Congo that is filled with women like Mama Noella and Mama Virginie, who embody the hope and untapped potential that exists. Just as the women in Liberia were able to transform their country by electing the first female African head of state in 2005, I believe that Congolese who are mobilized by people like Mama Noella can claim a new vision for their country both now and in the 2011 elections.
+ Click to continue

Reflecting Eden in 'Nuestro Jardín'
by Steve Holt

Though we're several weeks from our first harvest, we've already shared seedlings with friends and neighbors. I am learning that beyond creating a cheaper source of good food for ourselves, gardening yields the opportunity to reach out and share with our neighbors.
+ Click to continue

Money Creation and Idolatry: How did we let this happen? by Elizabeth Palmberg
For centuries, money creation was mostly the monopoly of the state. But in the 20th century, a new kind of money creation become common: Private banks themselves were able to create enormous amounts of money. How did they do this? Simple -- they just lent out far more money than they received from savers on deposit, from investors who bought shares, or than they possessed as their own capital (in cash, shares of stock, or treasury papers). And this process creates real money.
+ Click to continue

The Myth of Holy War
by Logan Laituri

I, like Aaron Taylor before me, noticed the GQ expose of the Worldwide Intelligence Update that the former administration had circulated. When I looked more deeply into the article, I found it entirely and irrefutably contrary to a Christian ethic ...
+ Click to continue

The Biblical Truth about Gender
by Mimi Haddad

Consider Peter's request in 1 Peter 3:1-4 that wives submit to the authority of unbelieving husbands. Some assert that Peter was emphasizing the universal authority of husbands over wives, but this is not the case. Peter makes clear that the husbands in question are unbelievers. The point of the passage is not universal wifely submission, but the evangelism of unbelieving husbands in a cultural context where obedience to husbands was expected.
+ Click to continue

On Racism
by Brian McLaren

By wrenching one sentence out of context, these spokespeople are making it sound like Judge Sotomayor believes white males always make inferior decisions. But it's clear, after reading her speech in its entirety, that her critics are distorting her meaning -- whether through ignorance, carelessness, or maliciousness, I can't say.
+ Click to continue

Christian Soldiers in Afghanistan
by Valerie Elverton Dixon

Many in the Muslim world consider the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan as another Crusade. The Crusades were wars between Christians and Muslims, Christians and Pagans, Christians and Christians over four centuries. It was a tragic time when armies of the state fought to promote a religious cause.
+ Click to continue

SOJOURNERS IN THE NEWS

+ Sign up to receive our "Daily Digest" e-mail - the latest headlines on critical issues

Top Stories:

Sotomayor and Abortion: Is a Blank Slate Common Ground?
The American Prospect blog
Sojourners president Jim Wallis blogged: "For those who have been looking for more evidence of President Obama's common-ground approach to the issue of abortion outlined last week at Notre Dame, here it is."

+Click to continue


When Religious Bigotry is the Default Setting
Daily Kos

FRC's Careless Attacks
Faith in Public Life blog

"Sojourners in the news" articles are the most recent news clippings that mention Sojourners in any way - whether favorably or unfavorably. Though we provide the text on our site for your convenience, we do not necessarily endorse the views of these articles or their source publications.


ADVERTISERS

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!



The Great Awakening: Seven Ways to Change the World -- Jim Wallis’ latest NY Times bestseller is now out in paperback. Order yours today and get a free downloadable study guide!

Get a faithful perspective on the economic crisis with Sojourners’ new discussion guide: Faith and Finances: Christians and the Economic Crisis. Downloadable at the SojoStore.

Immigration -- What do you think? Though most people living in the United States have immigrant ancestry, our nation’s immigration policy has not welcomed strangers. Explore this topic with Sojourners’ downloadable study guide. Click here.

Dorothy Day says, "Food for the body is not enough ... there must be food for the soul." You can say it too as you shop with Sojourners’ exclusive stuffable, reusable, and durable shopping bag. Order yours.

Extreme Poverty. Do we have the knowledge and ability to end the suffering of billions who now live in extreme poverty? Do we have the moral will? Learn more with Christians and the Global Economy. Available for download!

Your morning coffee -- with an attitude. Let others know you're a Sojourner with this exclusive travel mug, complete with Jim Wallis quote. Microwavable, dishwasher-safe, and comes with a lid for commuting. Click here to order.


God's Politics Blog facebook
MySpace YouTube

Click Here!

GIVE TO SOJOURNERS: Donate now to support this voice for justice and peace.

GET THE MAGAZINE: Subscribe today

CONTACT US: General inquiries: sojourners@sojo.net | Advertising: advertising@sojo.net | About Us

PRIVACY NOTICE: Sojourners won't trade, sell, or give away your e-mail address. Read our privacy policy.