Stop the Wars, End the Sanctions, Lift the Embargoes
Can any good thing come from this horrible plague that has befallen us? Our pain and distress are so personal and immediate that it sometimes seems almost impossible to get beyond ourselves and ask that question. I recently learned of the passing due to coronavirus of a dear friend I hadn't seen for several years who had been a part of my faith community some time ago. And while I feel safe by staying in my apartment, I'll admit there's nevertheless a little bit of fear rattling around in the back corners of my mind.
But while we can't magically dispel our fears, I believe that one thing we can do to help us endure our fears is to reach out beyond ourselves and care about other hurting people. In this frightening moment we can find help by becoming "wounded healers," as Henry Nouwen put it. Reach out, send that email, make that call.
Much of my life has been spent caring about people in faraway places that we seldom hear about except when the American Empire picks a fight with their country — the people of Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Syria and Yemen are especially in my heart right now. The same tragic events we're seeing at overcrowded hospitals in Elmhurst, Queens, just six short miles from where I'm writing here in Manhattan, is happening around the world to untold numbers of people and it's going to get worse.
What can we do? Write, call or email your Senator or Congressperson and demand that we 1) Stop the wars in the countries mentioned above and wherever else our far flung American Empire has been picking fights. There's actually some good news on that front. Fear of coronavirus has reportedly led our warmongering and butchering Saudi allies to suspend their war on the people of Yemen, although that situation is still not clear. During the past decade the U.S. has been supporting the anti-government rebels (who are pretty much synonymous with the terrorists) in the proxy war in Syria. We need to reverse course and use our great power to demand that the war on the people of Syria stop. Let the people of Syria alone.
Source: PressTV (Iran)
2) End the sanctions A number of years ago I personally watched helplessly as two children died in Iraq because of U.S. sanctions, so the issue of sanctions is a particularly sensitive one for me. It is without a doubt that the U.S.'s sanctions on Iran have hindered that country's fight against coronavirus. Why exactly is the U.S. government trying to hurt the people of Iran? They've done nothing to hurt you or me. What the U. S. is doing now by maintaining sanctions against Iran during this coronavirus time of crisis is evil and indeed sadistic. Those are very strong words, but they are true words that need to be said.
What is particularly infuriating to me as a Christian during this Holy Week is that the point person who is implementing these terrible sanctions on Iran and over 30 other countries is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who makes a great deal of his conservative Christian faith. I can't judge his soul, but I can judge his actions and his actions are profoundly unChristian.
Credit: Dr. Guido Abu Violetta
3. Lift the embargos What is happening in U.S. prisons right now with the coronavirus pandemic is horrific. That's what's happening on a vastly larger scale in Gaza, the world's largest open air prison. What Israel is doing to the people of Gaza is evil and wrong and our U.S. support for the Israeli blockade of Gaza is evil and wrong. Instead of spending our money to send ever more guns to the Israelis, we should be sending more medicine to Gaza.
What might Jesus say on this Holy Saturday? I think He would first of all judge us Americans for our anti-scientific fundamentalist thinking that has contributed so much to delaying our response to this crisis. And He would condemn our Phariseeism — our detestable, endless, self-righteousness as a country and our worship of the false idols of money and bloated military budgets. We've spent trillions of dollars building up our military but spent precious little on our public health system.
But then, since He is ultimately not about judgement but about love and peace and forgiveness, Jesus would plead with us to stop scrolling on our computers and iPhones long enough to really look into the eyes of the children of Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Syria and Yemen and all of the other hurting people around the world and respond with love and do something! Let's use this moment to join in the healing of the world. Please take a moment to contact your elected officials in Washington and demand that we Stop the War, End the Sanctions, and Lift the Embargoes.
Holy Saturday, April 11, 2020