Originally issued on October 9, 2001.
As bombs rain over Afghanistan, Pax Christi restates its position that violence, whatever the provocation, cannot end violence or establish peace with justice. The violence of war, once unleashed, is difficult to control.
Although little is known at this time as to the extent of the destruction in Kabul, Kandahar and other sites inside Afghanistan, civilian power plants were listed among the intended facilities to be destroyed. This has become a standard aspect of the U.S. approach to “disrupting” an adversary’s capabilities. The “disruption” of civilian power generation has an immediate and deadly effect on the most vulnerable non-combatants in the targeted society. We repeat our earlier call to President Bush to reject the targeting of civilian life-support systems regardless of their military utility.
We pray for the people of Afghanistan, as well as all people who, through no choice of their own, will find themselves caught between those who would use terror to destroy us, and our own nation that chooses to use terror to preserve us.
We pray for our own people who, because of the course chosen, will be called upon to support ever-greater acts of violence that, by their nature, will embody the very worst of who we are as a people and a nation. The demons of war are not confined to the military battlefield, but rather seek to possess all aspects of society, taking victim after victim and ultimately subverting every aspect of the warring nations.
Pax Christi USA rejects war and the many-fold manifestations that war inflicts on all parties. We embrace the God of nonviolent love who calls us beyond war to embrace the things that make for peace. We commit ourselves to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who showed us the power of redemptive suffering in overcoming death. We reject the failed belief that violence can be redemptive or that it can establish lasting peace.
Even as the bombing continues, we believe it is not too late for our country to turn back from the path of war. We call on our leaders to focus their creative energies on a renewed commitment to building an international order based on principle rather than interest, on justice rather than might.
We commit ourselves to stand with those who live in poverty in this nation, those who may be forced to bear the largest burden of this first war of the 21st century. With huge increases in military spending and generous bailouts for corporations, we are deeply concerned that programs to help low-income families will be cut and the federal commitment to those living in poverty will be curtailed.
We commit ourselves to stand with “communities of color” in this country and in the Arab World who will be doing most of the fighting and dying in this first war of the 21st century. As the twin fires of intolerance and hatred are fanned in the wake of each strike and counter-strike, it will be the most vulnerable among our people who will be threatened — beginning with Arabs and Arab-looking immigrants and possibly including all immigrants.
We commit ourselves to ever deepening our understanding and practice of nonviolence and to nurture and support all those who similarly commit themselves to building a world where war is no longer considered an acceptable means to achieve any goal. We welcome others who are called to join us in “devoting our days to works of mercy and justice, not to deeds of death and destruction.”
As we work to bring this war to an end, we take to our hearts the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who taught us that: “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it…. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.”