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October 2001
A Message of Peace from a Christian Community

By Bruce Friedrich



At the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community, here in Washington, DC, we have been working with the nation’s poor and outcast, and asking why so many are poor and outcast, for more than 20 years. Over the past few days, we have mourned with the nation, mourned both the victims of the September 11th tragedy and the reaction of our country’s chosen leaders.

Truth is the first casualty of war, but as people of compassion, as people of faith, as a Judeo-Christian nation, we must resolve to face the truth. There are some hard realities that we must keep in mind, and more importantly keep in our hearts.

First and foremost, although a desire for revenge is perfectly human and understandable, retaliatory action will only add to the level of misery, suffering, and sadness. The people of Afghanistan are people with children, mothers, brothers, and friends, beloved by God, just like we are. Any bombing, anywhere, is a tragedy. Any bloodshed, anywhere, is a tragedy. No war is holy. All war is evil. If we kill as a response to this great tragedy, we are no better than the terrorists who launched this awful offensive. Killing is killing, and killing is wrong.

Second, we are now experiencing what people in many parts of the world know so well. In places like Iraq, Palestine, the Sudan, Panama, Yugoslavia, and so many other countries, the people know what it’s like to live in terror of bombs falling from the sky; of loved ones lost to violence. We pray that this great tragedy will help us to feel a deeper empathy for the masses of people who live in war-torn or famine-stricken nations, all over the world. They are every bit as beloved by God as we are. Their sorrow at losing loved ones is every bit as sincere and awful as ours.

Third, and perhaps most difficult for us to face, the U.S., through hardcore interventionist policy and oppression, has brought this on itself. The catalog of U.S. atrocities against other nations and peoples is long, and the representation in human suffering simply cannot be put into words. Most recently, in addition to our nation’s continuing to allow tens of millions of people to starve to death every single year, for want of what the UN says would be a $20 billion annual commitment, we have also overtly killed millions of people across the globe, from Iraq, to Panama, to East Timor, to the Sudan, to Serbia, and so many more.

Even Osama bin Laden can be traced to U.S. war-mongering. He is what the CIA calls “a blowback”—a former CIA operative who turns against us. In the 1980’s, just as we created and supported Saddam Hussein, we did the same with Osama bin Laden: supporting, training, and funding him in his holy war against the Soviet Union. It is worth recalling that if these attacks were his work, he is now using our own methods against us.

This is a critical point in human history. How we as a nation respond to this attack may determine the fate of humanity. We are at a turning point. We can choose, as we have in the past, to answer violence with violence; or we can chart a new and life-affirming course.

Please God, let us choose life, that others may live.

Bruce Friedrich worked at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, in Washington, DC, from 1990 to 1996. He remains a member of their extended community while working for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The views expressed are his own.


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