During the run-up to the Iraq war, I learned two valuable lessons that have stayed with me. One was political and the other personal and, yes, spiritual.
On the eve of the war, my wife, Joy, and I unexpectedly found ourselves in the labor-and-delivery room of the Washington Hospital Center—our son Jack was coming a month early! I had rushed home from a Call to Renewal board meeting in Florida, which is where I was when Joy went into labor.
Sojourners had just launched the 6-point plan, offered by U.S. church leaders as an alternative to war with Iraq. The plan we offered took the threat of Saddam Hussein seriously. It called for his removal from power through an international criminal indictment, the elimination through coercive inspections of any weapons of mass destruction he might have, and the democratic reconstruction of Iraq under international leadership (not U.S. occupation). We said there was a better way than war to solve the problem and detailed how it might be accomplished.
In less than two weeks, the plan spread around the country and the world. Those of us offering the plan had met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and discussions with his Cabinet leadership continued. People at the United Nations, including Secretary General Kofi Annan, were studying it. Officials at the U.S. State Department requested a presentation and discussion, and some non-administration hawks on Iraq said it should be tried. Democrats in the House and Senate were calling to ask for meetings—they hoped that an alternative to war from the religious community might help them regain their voice. When The Washington Post prominently published the plan on their opinion page under the title "A Third Way is Possible," a contact at the White House told me that "everybody" there had seen it.