"Now, more than ever, America needs our moral witness. We need a surge in troops in the nonviolent army of the Lord. We need a surge in conscience and a surge in activism and a surge in truth-telling for a change." (Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, Christian Peace Witness service at the Washington National Cathedral, 3/16/2007)
"Love your enemies" wasn't on any of the valentines I received this year, or on that heart candy so popular in elementary schools. I didn't notice "pray for those who persecute you" either.
Yet across the U.S., Christians are sacrificing their time and money to live these words of Jesus. One movement, Christian Peace Witness for Iraq (CPWI), invites Christians to hold local vigils as long as the war lasts, and to come to Washington, D.C., on March 7 for worship and a public witness.
CPWI gathers Christians because we believe in Jesus and that he has it right-humans cannot bear the cost of war. This year we join with our peace-minded sisters and brothers of other faiths, proclaiming together that we are committed to the way of peace and we stand firmly against war.
Society cannot afford war. For what we spend on just ONE DAY of the Iraq War (approximately $720 million), we could provide:
· 12,478 elementary school teachers, or
· 163,525 people with health care, or
· 6,482 families with homes.
Soldiers cannot afford war. Early reports are that one in six soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and one in three show symptoms. Increasing numbers of military parents are losing custody of their children following deployments as judges rule their home life is unstable. And the number of American military casualties in Iraq will soon reach 4,000.
Iraqis cannot afford war. In October of 2007, the average home in Baghdad had electricity only six hours a day. Most people lack clean drinking water, which is electrically pumped to residents. We are unable to count the number of Iraqis who have died because of the war; estimates vary from 81,000 to well over 1 million .
The U.S. cannot afford war. No country, especially one that seeks moral standing throughout the world, can afford to make war. As Christians, our hearts are wrenched when our sisters and brothers around the world associate the actions of the U.S. government with Christian beliefs. We at CPWI believe all torture is wrong, because we honor each human being as a child of God. We believe that violence overseas is directly related to the violence in our communities.
Please join us in Washington, D.C., on March 7! We need your help to create an authentically Christian, nonviolent witness to end war and speak the love of Jesus to our communities, our country, and our government. Next year, see if you can fit this on a Valentine: "Enemies: ya just gotta love 'em!"
Susan Mark Landis is the peace advocate for the Mennonite Church USA and a organizer of the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq. + Click to watch a slideshow of past actions