By Stanley Campbell
Please let me offer a prayer for justice and for peace. Our country has been attacked. We pray for justice, we pray in grief, and we pray for the families who have suffered and the people who are in pain. Surround them with love, strength, courage. But most of all, we pray for healing. We pray for a miracle of healing. We pray to be healed ourselves, of our anger, of our hatreds, and our fears. We pray to be able to heal. We pray to be able to heal the wounds of the body, the mind and of the soul. As a Christian, I ask what would Jesus have us do? He gave us a seemingly impossible commandment to not resist him who is evil, but to turn him the other cheek when hit. Jesus says, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. I find that so hard to do as an individual. How can my country? I know one thing. We as Americans must stop attacks on Muslims, and stand with them as fellow citizens. We pray for the arrest of the perpetrators of this crime against humanity, but we must not condone wanton self-righteous, sometimes drunken attacks on fellow countrymen simply because they have a different religion. That is not the American way. In Psalm 120, the poet says: Too long has my soul had its dwelling with those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war. We are called to serve our country. But some will say that their religion or conscience does not allow them to kill. Our government has grudgingly allowed that in the past. During the Gulf War, though, some soldiers were thrown into jail for refusing to fight. I hope we respect the right of the conscientious objector, for we pray that someday all will object to war and war may be stricken from the earth. As a Christian, I read that when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, a great multitude with swords and clubs came up and seized Him. One of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear.
Then Jesus said to him, Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.
Jesus gives me an example that I wish we could follow. I served in Vietnam, and I saw many of my fellow soldiers turn from fighting what theyd thought was a just war to hating all Vietnamese. I saw the worst aspects of war, and I returned to America and marched with other veterans against that war. I do not want to see that happen again. I also dont ever want to see another occupied building destroyed, for whatever reason. Im tired of death and destruction and wish to put and end to wanton killing. So let us pray for justice that will bring about a lasting peace. Let us pray that the terrorists will be seized, the innocent protected, the guilty prosecuted and the persecuted set free. Since bombing Afghanistan into the Stone Age is redundant (the Soviets did that during the 80s, and the Taliban finished it in the 90s), let us instead bomb the Afghanistani people with butter. Lets give them the best meal that theyve ever had. Let an outpouring of gifts to the poor in that region of the world so impress them with American goodness and kindness that they themselves will gladly seize the terrorists among their midst and drive them into our arms. We call upon our God, our higher power, our better nature.
Stanley Campbell is the executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and a spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice Action Committee.