March 20, 2004
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"In the Name of Peace"

(John Dear gave these remarks to one thousand people at the anti-war rally in front of the State Capitol in Santa Fe, New Mexico on March 20, 2004, the international day of protest.)

Dear friends, today, in the name of peace, on this first anniversary of the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq, which has left some 600 U.S. soldiers dead, 3000 injured and perhaps 10,000 Iraqis dead, we join our voices with millions of people around the world and say, “End the occupation of Iraq now, give them food and medicine not more weapons, stop stealing their resources and killing them, let the people of Iraq live in peace, bring our people home, let the United Nations resolve the crisis, take a cue from the people of Spain and vote these warmakers out of office.”

Today, in the name of truth, we say, “The U.S. occupation of Iraq is a total disaster. We have been lied to, the facts have been distorted, and the country has been misled. This war was not about democracy, not about nuclear disarmament, not about bringing peace to the Middle East, not about preventing terrorist attacks, not about feeding the hungry or funding jobs, healthcare, education, housing, or cleaning up the environment, and not about upholding international law. Iraq is not a liberated country, it is an occupied country, and we are the military, imperial occupiers. One year ago, we bombed every single major building in Baghdad except for the Ministry of Oil. We let riots and looting happen everywhere, except at the Ministry of Oil. This war and occupation is all about oil. It makes the oil millionaires richer; sets a terrible precedent that it is permissible to disregard the international community and bomb preemptively; guarantees further terrorist attacks against us; and kills hundreds of our people and thousands of our brothers and sisters in Iraq.

Today, in the name of love, we say, “Stop the occupation of Iraq,” because hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children died from our sanctions; because we bombed and killed innocent civilians and not one person should have died so that Bush’s oil barons could get richer. One year ago, we bombed the Baghdad vegetable market and killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more, and a grandfather who lost his wife, children, and seven grandchildren asked through his tears, “Is this democracy? Is this liberation? Is this peace?” We say, “Stop the occupation, let the children of Iraq live in peace, let the United Nations and the international community restore justice and democracy, and do not kill one more person in Iraq or anywhere.”

Today, in the name of hope, we say, “Bring our soldiers home,” because we don’t want them to get killed or to kill anyone. Last November, the Springer, New Mexico 515 Battalion of the National Guard with some 75 soldiers came marching around my house and church for an hour, and then stood in front of my house shouting their battalion motto, “One bullet, one kill,” which sounded like, “Kill, Kill, Kill,” so I went outside and right in the middle of the street and said to them, “In the name of God, I order you to quit the military, not to go to Iraq, not to kill anyone or get killed, but to practice nonviolence and love your enemies.” Our people do not belong in the desert of Iraq. Bring them home and let them heal and get on with life.

Today, in the name of disarmament, we say “Dismantle all our weapons of mass destruction,” because if we’re so committed to making the world free of weapons of mass destruction, we must stop our hypocrisy and dismantle our nuclear arsenal, our tens of thousands of weapons of mass destruction, beginning right here in New Mexico, by disarming Los Alamos, Sandia and Kirkland, and abolishing every one of our nuclear weapons, because we are the greatest threat to the planet.

Today, in the name of the God of peace, we say “Stop all our wars--our wars in Iraq, Palestine, Colombia, Afghanistan, Haiti, and elsewhere,” because war is not the will of God; war is never blessed by God; war is the ultimate mortal sin; war is never justified; war is immoral; war is demonic; war is evil; war is anti-human, anti-life and anti-God; war can never end terrorism because war is terrorism; war is not the way to serve humanity or deepen the spiritual life or find God. The God of peace calls us to repent of the sin of war, to beat our swords into plowshares and to live in peace with every human being on the planet. In particular, Christians are forbidden to support war because the nonviolent Jesus orders us to “put down the sword” and “love our enemies.”

Today, in the name of nonviolence, we say, “Stop the occupation of Iraq, stop our imperial occupation of the world and rediscover the path to peace” because peaceful means are the only way to a peaceful future and the God of peace; because Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Mahatma Gandhi call us to create a new world without war or nuclear weapons; because the way to end terrorism is by ending poverty, starvation, the degradation of the earth, the proliferation of weapons, and the existence of nuclear weapons; because we were created to be nonviolent with one another and with the earth, to receive the gift of peace from the God of peace and live in peace together.

So, don’t be discouraged! Don’t despair! Don’t be afraid! Don’t give up! There’s too much work to do.

Keep on speaking out for peace, praying to the God of peace for the gift of peace, organizing and acting for peace, and taking another step forward on the journey of peace. May God bless us all.

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