I went to church this morning at St. Leo parish here in Tacoma Washington. Today is the first Sunday in Advent, the time when Christians prepare for the peace of the nonviolent Jesus to come into their hearts and into the world.
The first reading for today is from the prophet Isaiah who has a vision of people getting their instruction from God and hammering their swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks, and not training for war any more. Is 2:1-5
One of the first things that comes to my mind when I read this passage from Isaiah is that God wants to instruct us and lead us in the light. So I ask myself, “Where am I getting my instruction?” From the culture or from God? The culture tells us to be good consumers, to buy more and more. The culture tells us that we need to be afraid of others, and that the solution to our fear is to have more weapons. The culture tells us that the truth is dangerous, that the truth needs to be hidden. We don’t want to look at the truth: the reality of the wars our country is engaged in and the results of the weapons that are used. The documents from Wikileaks posts are discredited before we even see the content of the documents. And we don’t seem to grasp that the wars and the weapons are making us poorer by the minute.
During the homily, I learned that yesterday (Nov. 27, 2010) Pope Benedict XVI remembered the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and said: “This tragedy persistently reminds us of the necessity to persevere in efforts to ensure non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and disarmament.” And that “the memory of this dark episode in human history becomes more poignant each year as the witnesses of such horror pass away.” Benedict continued saying that nuclear weapons were a major cause of concern, raising tension and mistrust in many parts of the world through their possession and threat of being used.
It is impossible to have good instruction without access to the truth. But the truth about the nuclear weapons is hidden, even to the extent that we end up thinking that we are safer because we have these weapons. The truth can be hard to find in a culture where greed and power control what we hear in the media and what is written in the history books.
Will the truth about why we went to the US Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor come out in the court room in front of the jury? That is certainly in question. On Friday, the Disarm Now Plowshares were given a Motion In Limine by the Assistant US Attorneys, Arlen Storm and Brian Werner.
The government attorneys ask the judge to prohibit us “ from presenting evidence and argument relating to the interpretation of international law, including the Nuremberg defense, and relating to the necessity during (1) voir dire; (2) opening statements; (3) the defendants’ case-in-chief; (4) cross examination; (5) jury instructions; and (6) closing arguments.”
And then, the government attorneys ask the judge to prohibit us from “presenting evidence or argument relating to the lethality of the nuclear weapons” as such evidence would “present a high likelihood of confusing the issues before the jury.”
I believe that the federal district judge, Judge Settle, and the government attorneys, Arlen Storm and Brian Werner, want a safe world for their children and grandchildren to live in. I don’t believe we are basically any different on that issue. The question is, how do we get there? Do we get to a position of safety by amassing more and more nuclear weapons, by bankrupting our country to fund an out-of-control military, by continuing to be driven by fear? Or do we get to a position of safety by beginning to disarm our nuclear weapons, by putting our resources into our schools, infrastructure and health of the people in our country.
And regardless of our answer, there is the US Constitution and the law: law that says that these nuclear weapons are illegal. Law that says we need to move in “good faith” toward disarmament. Law that says we can’t indiscriminately kill civilians, and use weapons that can’t be controlled in time or space.
Further, there is the moral law of the nonviolent Jesus, whose advent we are preparing for, who teaches us to love one another: to love our enemies. It seems to me that there’s a dialectic between disarming our own hearts, and disarming the weapons of war including the nuclear weapons. We have to work on both at once. A little bit of disarming our hearts, and a little bit of disarming our weapons. One informs the other. One makes possible the other. The time is now!
Filed under: DNP reflections Tagged: | Advent, Assistant US Attorney Arlen Storm, Isaiah 2:1-5, love of enemies, Motion In Limine, Pope Benedict XVI, St. Leo Parish Tacoma WA, Susan Crane, swords into plowshares, US Federal Judge Benjamin Settle, US Naval Base Kisap-Bangor, WA