Tag Archives: war

taking the words out of my mouth

(Another excerpt from the book quoted in the previous post)

I have been thinking a lot about war, violence and pacifism lately, so I skipped ahead and read the chapter in the book by Fred Bahnson on peacemaking.  His opening sentences could sum up my experience lately:

I haven’t always been a pacifist.  I was once part of the vague majority of Christians in America who knew Jesus said we’re to love our enemies, but believed that doing so was “unrealistic.”  I thought Christians could, at times, use violence in the defense of justice.  I lived that tension between Jesus’ command and what seemed to be a matter of “responsibility.”  Questions plagued me: Isn’t it wrong to “allow” innocent people to be killed if we can prevent it, even if that means killing the assailant?  What about the Nazis?  Jesus didn’t really mean love all your enemies, did he?


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2, 20, 200, 2000

**From a couple weeks ago..

How do you measure the value of a life?  Is one life better than another?

This weekend, I listened to first hand accounts of the repression happening in Honduras.  I listened to a first hand account of investigating the death of a young activist hear the Nicaraguan border.  Tortured, stabbed 40 times, a husband, a father, a son.  A medical report puts him in police custody at the time of death.  On July 5, another young man was shot while protesting at the airport.

Just as it was hitting me how SAD, WRONG, SICK, DISGUSTING, and EVIL it is to kill others, to go to war and to use violence as a solution, I saw this.  The US will stop publishing how many insurgents and Taliban die.  As if they don’t matter, as if they don’t count… ultimately because it is not strategic:

Rear Adm. Gregory Smith ordered the change as part of the new military strategy in the war that focuses on protecting Afghan citizens rather than killing militants.

“Indicating the number of insurgents killed has little relevance to impacting the lives of Afghans. In fact, if that were the only purpose and metric, you would likely only extend the time it takes to bring about an end to the insurgency,” Smith said in an e-mail to CNN responding to a query about the change.

This is also a good strategy if you want people to support what you are doing, because people feel bad about killing and death, so if they are moved far away from those kinds of scenes and statistics, they won’t feel bad and they will probably support what you are doing.  That is a good strategy to encourage people to support war.  I like when he says “Indicating the number of insurgents killed has little relevance to impacting the lives of Afghans”  How can it be that the death of a person has little to do with the life of their neighbor?  How can it be that the amount of people killed by the US is an irrelevant fact?

I have  never been super conservative, nor super liberal.  I have never been all war or a pacifist.  I have also never lived anywhere near war, violent conflict or large scale injustices.  Now I do, and it has made all the difference.  I guess that is what spending a month in a conflict zone does to you, it make you a pacifist.  I always thought it was cool that Costa Rica didn’t have an army.  Until now, I have not understood the meaning of that.  How different would this situation be if Honduras didn’t have an army?  I feel the deep injustice of war, and the deep injustices of the manipulation of politics and strategy that ultimately lead to the devaluation of life.  I feel deep pain for one life and can not fathom favoring an idea that leads to the death of many, let alone a methodology that prioritizes strategy over life.

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we are crisis

we are 24/7 news

we are constitutions, oligarchy and institutionalism

we are cowboy hats, white t-shirts, face masks and fatigues

we are strikes, curfews and cadenas nacionales

we are a golpe de estado

we are tension, stress and anxiety

we are grafitti

we are polarized

we are fighting on the internet

we are mourning

we are two dead youth

we are thousands sleeping on the ground and hungry for food

we are everything is ok

we are UN, OEA and ALBA

we are quick go home because Mel is coming

we are pastors and cardinals and civic leaders

we are the poor and the rich

we are gorileti

we are in Costa Rica in our pajamas

we are afraid

we are remembering the past

we are negotiating, posturing and manipulating

we are CNN, HRN, Radio Globo, Canal 8 and TeleSur

we are teachers, unions, students and political parties

we are in our homes, we are on the streets

we are militarized

we are hearing helicopters circling the city

we are watching games and telenovelas while everything breaks loose

we are with out electricity all Sunday morning

we are the cuarta urna

we are theology, socialism and capitalism

we are comunists and golpistas

we are peace and democracy and the military

we are two presidents

we are canceling trips and not making plans

we are living in Honduras, where there is no peace without justice.

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Two thoughts keep going through my head: 1.  I never would have imagined this would have happened and 2.  Honduras will never be the same.

The last thing I want to do is argue or debate on my blog about who is right and wrong… there has already been so much polarization and bickering.  Conversations and relationships become awkward as people un-sensitively blast their opinions as fact before considering others.  I mostly want to share about my personal experience of living this and reflect on a few of my observations.   I have been wanting to blog, but my thoughts have needed more brewing.

Personal observations over the last weeks:

  • There is a lot of corruption in Honduras (and in the world at large).  Mel and Micheletti are both well known for being crooked politicians and manipulators of the people.  It is crazy to me that people would say that either of them is saving the country from the hands of criminals and destroyers of democracy.
  • It is a radical experience for me to be living in these conditions… manipulated, controlled, oppressed.  We have had a curfew for around a week.  It has ranged from as early as 6:30 pm to as late as 11 pm.  The day they took Mel to Costa Rica, they turned the power off in the whole city of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula for the morning.  News channels have been simply taken off of the air.  Major media outlets are laughably biased.  I watched a video on CNN of military shooting out the tires of buses on their way to the city to protest.  Two friends were observing a pro-Mel protest at a distance (sitting down).  They were grabbed by the back of their shirts and taken for questioning, just because.  Monday and Tuesday the new government and most of the media proclaimed the message “everything is ok”.  Meanwhile, no other country was recognizing the new government and was condemning the actions as a coup.
  • Part of why Honduras will never be the same is the polarization that is happening.  Every day, on Facebook, on the internet, in conversations… people fight.  The prominent leaders of the evangelical and catholic churches have taken positions against Mel.  The city is COVERED in graffitti against what happened.  Divisions between the poor and the rich grow deaper.

A friends shared the African proverb: “When the elephants fight, the grass suffers.”  Here are a few tangible examples:

  • This is the high season for short term mission groups and tourism.  Every NGO/church/reatreat center I have talked to has had all their groups cancel.  Some are wondering how they will make it as this is the income that tides them over for the year.  The airport was shut down for almost a week.  These are jobs and vital income in the balance.
  • Normal activities are disrupted.  We usually have small group on Friday nights.  Not anymore until the curfew is lifted.
  • People are living with a very high level of stress- we can atest to this!!  Last week we were anxiously awaiting Mel to see what would happen… violence?  conflict?  His arrival was delayed from Thursday to Saturday to Sunday.  Every day is wait and see.
  • My work is integral with IHNFA (social services of the Honduran gov).  We have hardly worked since this began.  First because most offices were closed due to safety issues.  Then because the union was on strike in favor of Mel.  Now the new President has changed the IHNFA director and everything is in the air.  That change happened yestreday and today and tomorrow the union is on a strong strike, closing down the main building and the building where our office is.  Wasted time?  yes.  Jobs in the air?  yes.  Children’s cases not being handled effectively because people are not working or the adminstration is in transition?  yes and most important.

What can I say?  I think it was wrong to use force as they did.  I think other diplomatic efforts could have been exhausted first and maybe this elephant fight would have been averted.  Paraphrasing what the President of Argentina said at the AOS, I am not defending Mel.  I am against how things have been handled and the conditions under which we have been living now.  I am arguing against force for the sake of peace.  We can not get in an argument with someone, punch them and then cry “Peace!  Peace!” This isn’t about who we like better, Mel or Micheletti.  It is about how we live with each other, how we treat each other, how we resolve conflicts, how we seek Shalom for our world.

Sometimes I get a little glimpse of the reality of the opressive economic and political system found in Honduras.  The other night, a friend told us about his job over dinner.  He is a store manager for a large appliance/furnitre store.  It is a chain here, but the owners are in Mexico.  They sell at interst rates that turn out to be up to 50% annually.  They ask for payments weekly, even though that never works out for the client beceause people get paid monthly.  It is a system totally designed to doop the buyer, get as much money possible out of them through fees and interest and take advantage of those with little financial sense.  Large companies, conveniently arranged as groups, avoid taxes by the millions.  Clothing factories, a major source of jobs and substancial part of the economy are free of unions.  I don’t like to see the grafitti, but I can also understand the anger of those who recognize the oppresive systems under which they live.

Where are the leaders?  Where are the leaders who love the people?  Where are those who seek justice and are willing to make sacrifices to promote it?  Where are the prophets?  Where is the church?

This morning I was brewing these thoughts as I was looking at the graffiti all over a bank and I got so mad!!!  There are deep injustices here that hide behind painted facades of noble businesses, democratic processes and almighty laws.  Evil in its essence.

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