by Beatrice Parwatikar
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
Signs you see on the streets in U.S. cities now are asking for the defunding and demilitarization of police departments. I say we must work to defund the military budget because what we are seeing on the streets of U.S. cities is a direct result of the unfettered spending for the military in our national budget. We knew that military equipment was being sent to police departments all over the nation. When we look at the reaction of the police today, we’re seeing a military response to our constitutional right to protest on our streets.
Many are not aware that what we’re seeing on our streets here is what it looks like when our military occupies some other nation. Our military and our militarized police departments are there — we must remember — to protect the agenda of corporate interests. We must join Black Lives Matter in asking for a demilitarized police but also asking for demilitarization of ICE and the military itself. We ask this not just for what is happening on the ground now in this country but for our perpetuation of using military might both here in the U.S. and throughout the world. We must call for such defunding because it will protect the lives of People of Color, poor people and the environment.
While the military budget continues to enrich corporations and researchers, I think back to the old saying, “butter or guns”. We are at an important crossroad in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the disadvantage of not having a safety net in our health system so that it might care for all and offer support for people with low incomes. I believe by cutting the military budget we can fund programs that can help people’s lives. The extension of this militarization now into our police departments happens at the expense of the poor, People of Color, and the most vulnerable in our society.
We spend a great deal of money on killing people or controlling people while it would cost far less to give care to our most vulnerable. We need to create jobs through fixing our roads and bridges and other needed, long-overdue repairs. We need a better healthcare system that gives all a chance of getting the care each of us deserves. We need a better educational system for all. We can’t continue to let Black and Brown People die in the streets; we can’t continue to let every program that helps people be defunded while the military budget not only stays funded but gets bigger.
Dear Great Spirit of God,
Look down on our land where we see the loss of the spirit of love; please guide us to love each other. I have great hope this time that those in power will hear the cries of those who suffer.
I hold in my heart the names of the too many who have died at police hands, those that are unfairly imprisoned, those seeking to come in at our Southern border because they suffer, the homeless, those who suffer because of inadequate healthcare, those who are impoverished by our selfish system, those who are attacked because of their sexual orientation, and those who continue to suffer because of their skin color.
Oh, Great Spirit bring your healing upon us for those who suffer but also for those who cause the suffering. May the Great Spirit bring us hope, and enlightenment to those in power. Amen.
Beatrice Parwatikar is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace.