If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to My breast.

-George Herbert

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Christianity and Violence

Here's a question: is non-violence a moral imperative for Christians? By violence, for the purposes of this inquiry, I mean the use of destructive force, not merely rough treatment.

I take it as a premiss that the Christian will admit, in light of the revelation of God in Christ Crucified, that each human being is granted an infinite value, in light of which the deliberate destruction of human life is, under any circumstances, to be avoided as of all crimes the most heinous.

Yet I believe the answer to our question must be no. First of all, no one can deprive a person of the right to defend his own life, or the life of another, when it is under immediate attack. If there are any natural rights at all, the right to life must be the most fundamental. As for the aggressor's right, he himself has imperiled it for the moment by willfully placing life in jeopardy. This does not mean that a Christian may not choose to insist upon his right. But this raises another question. What is the Christian's duty with regard to protecting the life of another, particularly if that other is less capable of self-defense?

Much here will depend upon the intent of the other. If such a person has a clear, stated intention to become a voluntary victim of violence as part of a strategy of combatting injustice, then one would be absolved of the duty of forceful intervention. I cannot escape the conviction however, that one would be duty bound in any other case to intervene, with force if necessary. Otherwise one would become an accessory in the act of the aggressor, and through cowardice, his moral equivalent. This is particularly true when the target of violence is a child or any other person who, by reason of immaturity or helplessness, is ill-equipped to make a choice for self-sacrifice.

Once we admit so much, we are compelled also to admit that participation in a defensive war would not be a violation of moral principle. My view here is that while nothing that is in accord with natural law can be in conflict with Christian practice, yet Christians are called, though not compelled, to follow a higher path, particularly in the case of war, where violence tends always to become indiscriminate and more impenetrable to moral vision. Also, where any alternative to the destruction of human life exists, we are bound to pursue it. Often these alternatives to violence will require more, not less, courage to enact; and all too often we have absolved ourselves of the imperative duty to exercise this courage.

I will be thinking about this more in days to come, but these are my first, sketchy thoughts on the matter.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Arundhati Roy vs the Invisible Elite

Two things struck me deeply about the interview, posted below, with Arundhati Roy, the Booker Prize winning author of the magnificent novel,The God of Small Things, who parlayed the wealth and fame consequent upon the success of her book into a controversial career as the spokesperson for the countless faceless victims of the globalization of the "free market".

When I first listened to the interview, I could not believe that I had never heard of what is effectively a civil war being waged in "the world's largest democracy", between the so-called Naxalite Maoists and the government backed militias and police. I could not help but wonder if I had been asleep, or had somehow selectively ignored so important a story. I searched the online archives of NPR for references to the Naxalite Maoists. Not one result. I searched the Washington Post archives going back to 1987. Two tangentially relevant stories. And I searched the New York Times archives going back to 1981. Three results, only one of which was a serious, in-depth article; the others were perfunctory reports of ambushes which had killed police. 70,000 paramilitary forces have been deployed by the Indian government to drive the indigenous peoples of India's forests from their land so that mining companies can have access to the trillions of dollars worth of mineral wealth upon which they live, and there has been a near media blackout on the story, at least in the United States. If this does not indicate that corporate controlled media is serving the interests of it's masters by masking their crimes against humanity, whatever could it mean? "Democracies" are using troops to obtain wealth for private industry at the expense of their own citizens (Hmmm....sound familiar? Just substitute "oil" for "mineral wealth") and the media either hides the story, or reframes it as a tale of patriotic triumph and determination, suitable for flag-waving. It all depends on the market, whether the audience receives the stimulant or the depressant.

Most devastating to me was Roy's critique of non-violent resistance, all the more devastating because I want to believe in it's efficacy. What do you do when your isolated village is surrounded in the night by paramilitaries? Do you let your children be slaughtered? Do you stage a hunger strike? A boycott? There is a fiendish logic, too perfect to be coincidental, in the tactics used by the forces of globalization and progress. They are the ones who have perceived most deeply, and have exploited the fact that non-violent resistance relies for it's power on an appeal to the conscience of the broader civilization. If no one is looking, it doesn't work. That leaves only the recourse to violence, and violence can then be labelled "terrorism", "marxism", or whatever other term will serve to justify a disproportionate and crushingly violent response by the defenders of our freedoms.

Corporate control and manipulation of information insures that the greatest threat to the hegemony of the market, non-violent resistance and the appeal to conscience, will not work. What are the remaining options for the hapless human obstacles to further corporate enrichment? Passive compliance with the destruction of their cultures, or armed rebellion, either of which will suit the invisible elite to a tee.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fault Lines - Arundhati Roy

This interview is an eye-opener, and it has been haunting me on a number of levels ever since I first watched it a couple of days ago. I am going to write more about this when I have the time. In the meanwhile, what a glorious, passionate human being is Arundhati Roy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010