Dec. 24, 2006
"Peace on Earth" Means "No More War"
BY JOHN DEAR
Last September, nine of us tried to deliver a letter to Senator Pete
Domenici's office, asking him to help end the immoral U.S. war and
occupation of Iraq. We entered the Santa Fe Federal Building and got as
far as the elevator, when officials pulled the plug and shut it down.
For the rest of the day, we sat there, reading aloud the names of 2900
U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, and tens of thousands of dead Iraqi
civilians, before they arrested us. We stand trial in Albuquerque at the
Federal Court House on Jan. 25th, 2007. I intend to explain how this war
is illegal, and how we were just obeying God's law of nonviolence.
This work for peace fits in well with the Christmas season. According to
the story, Jesus was born to homeless refugees in abject poverty on the
outskirts of a brutal empire. On that night, a chorus of angels appeared
to impoverished shepherds, singing "Glory to God in the highest and
peace on earth!" The child grew up to become, in Gandhi's words, "the
greatest nonviolent resister in the history of the world."
This week, as many of us celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, our
country wages war in Iraq and Afghanistan. If we want to honor the
Prince of Peace, we have to welcome this gift of "peace on earth," which
means we have to work for abolition of war itself.
Christmas celebrates a life of perfect nonviolence. And so it demands we
cultivate nonviolent lives of our own. We're summoned to study, teach,
and practice nonviolence in every aspect of life so that one day peace
will reign on earth. If we support the U.S. war on Iraq, or nuclear
weapons at Los Alamos, or U.S. imperial domination, we do not honor
Christ; we mock him. We side with the Herods and Pilates who slaughter
the innocents and imprison and execute the peacemakers.
Christmas welcomes the God who says, "Blessed are the Peacemakers," the
God who commands, "Put down the sword," the God who teaches, "Love your
enemies." To welcome the nonviolent Jesus, we have to renounce Bush's
war on our Iraqi sisters and brothers, demand an end to the occupation,
insist that our troops come home now, and call for massive reparations
to heal Iraq, a new global Marshall plan that will end poverty, hunger
Jesus was born into poverty and died on a cross, executed by the Roman
empire. You cannot honor him and likewise support the death penalty.
Christmas also requires that we abolish the death penalty once and for
Most of all, Christmas demands we abolish our nuclear weapons. The
weapons we prepare at Los Alamos mock those angels. Instead of peace on
earth, they ring out: "War on earth!" This holy feast invites us to stop
supporting the nuclear weapons industry, and to call upon our
politicians to abolish our weapons of mass destruction, clean up our
poisoned land, and use those resources to feed the hungry, house the
homeless, eliminate disease, reverse global warming and teach the
world's children the way of peace. I hope and pray that everyone at Los
Alamos will quit their jobs, that no one will join the military, that
every Christian will take up Jesus' ethic of nonviolence and that we all
will do our part to welcome that Christmas gift of "peace on earth."
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