July 4, 2006

I Don't Know

I find Independence Day a little depressing. As I try to reflect on the questions facing these United States, I have few answers.

What to say about immigration? I've spent my life in the Franciscan order living and working in churches built by Germans, but now populated by folks of various Spanish-speaking cultures. I ride on the railroads built by the Chinese and the subways built by the Irish. Should it be any surpise that people are still seeking a share in our wealth and spirit of self-determination?

What to say about our conflict with violent Islam, the so-called war on terror? Yes, people need protection from harm. But there is part of me that has some sympathy with the "terrorists." Theirs is a theological world, and perhaps they feel threatened by the economic and cultural imperialism of the secular west. At least the paganism of the classical pagans was one of beauty and order; ours is the much more crass paganism of power, wealth, and security.

We (and our allies) are the only ones allowed to have nuclear weapons. Unfriendly states are only allowed defenses that we can beat easily. We decide what defenses and economies others are allowed to have; what is this but the colonialism whose rejection we allegedly celebrate today?

When I was in school and they taught us about the American Revolution, we were told about how the American soldiers used subterfuge and guerilla tactics to defeat the orderly British army. But they weren't terrorists, we were taught, they were creative, do-it-yourself, American freedom fighters.

5 comments:

forget me not said...

You don't know how many times I've raised the same questions. I live in Italy and my view of the US has changed a lot over the years because it is easier to see clearer from a distance. I was very sad on 9/11 most of all because I knew exactly what was going to happen. I was even sadder when the media made great efforts to keep emotional levels high over the following months. It was a sort of 'overdose' of fear and sadness, that dulled the senses while civil liberties were being purloined, strategies planned out and alliances forged. God help us.

friar minor said...

Nice to meet you forget me not, and thanks for the gentle comment. I was afraid this post would induce flamage!

Jason said...

Getting into a flame war is just immature, but I believe there is more behind terrorism that just feeling threatened by the West. Islam is a fundamentally different relgion from Christianity. Christian pastors do not encourage or celebrate terrorist bombings; Muslim imams do. They just want to spread Islam and since Islam and freedom are incompatible, this means eliminating our Constitution, rights, etc. Granted, America's history has its share of sins, but is it not true that more Americans have more rights today than 20, 50, and 100 years ago? You don't see the same trends in Muslim countries.

That said, the vast majority of Muslims are just regular people and deserve to be treated with respect and love as Christ commands us. We should pray for the terrorists who persecute us. But on the flip side, it is also the responsibility of our military to protect us when we are attacked.

Of course, much of the terrorism we face now is rooted in our support of Israel, but I guess that's one of things that isn't really open for debate, politically speaking.

forget me not said...

Thanks Friar! In response to Jason I'd like to clarify that in my opinion, the terrorism we now face is rooted in our short sighted and irresponsible foreign policy. It is not in the support of one faction or another, but in HOW and WHY we support them. (Bin Laden was our guy at one time).. It's all about money and power. We will never know how bad these activities really were and are. But there are a lot of people who do know. People whose husbands or children or wives have been killed or tortured or maimed for life. That's where terrorism comes from. It's not about religion. Terrorism, in other words, the reaction to this arrogance, uses fundamentalist religion as a way to achieve its objectives. But Islam is not the only form fundamentalism that exists on our earth...
Furthermore, I agree, our military should protect us when we are under attack, but that doesn't mean they should go out there and destroy a country that had nothing to do with that attack!

Crescentius said...

My Brother:

You raise some interesting questions that have hit close to my heart as of late. As I write this i am currently visiting our brothers in Honduras. This is the first time I have celebrated the Fourth of July outside of the United States.

In the Honduran paper today there was a full page ad from the leading political party and its leader congratulating the United States on its "freedom".

I was in the outskirts of a small city of 16,000 this weekend visiting four small communities in the mountains and attended Mass in their chapels. The people all had family in the United States and had great fear of the United States´immigration policies. While I was loved and accepted there is a growing fear of the United States that one could draw parallels to the hatred seen in the Middle East.

It is very easy for fear to turn into hatred.

Peace
Crescentius