Prayer for the Korean peninsula

May 3, 2013

God who knows all history,
hear our prayer;
For an identity shaped by the shame of occupation,
hear our prayer;
For a land still cringing from the rape of a war waged more than six decades ago,
hear our prayer;
For bodies that toiled to rebuild and recover,
hear our prayer;
For the painful separation of sisters and brothers,
hear our prayer;
For stubborn governments unable to hear one another and negotiate,
hear our prayer;
For those that deny responsibility,
hear our prayer;
For an entire world that continues to provoke and live with hate,
hear our prayer;
For the voices that call for and take steps towards peace and reconciliation;
hear our prayer.
Grant us your church a renewed vision;
hear our prayer.

by Kathi Suderman, MCC Representative for North East Asia

Continue reading context for prayer: Read the rest of this entry »


A Decade of War: A Biblical Reflection

October 7, 2011

by Earl Zimmerman

Photo by Theo Sitther

How can we mark the tenth anniversary of the Afghanistan War, now the longest war in our history?  I feel more sorrow than anger. U.S. forces first attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.  The Obama administration chose to remember the tenth anniversary of 9/11 but decided to largely ignore the tenth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.

Some of the soldiers now fighting in Afghanistan were still children when the war began. About 1,700 U.S. troops have died there, thousands more have been injured, and the total cost of the war is about $455 billion. More than 17,000 Afghans, almost evenly divided between soldiers and civilians, have also died.

No war can be reduced to such statistics. The real impact is felt in children who will never know their fathers or mothers, spouses and parents who will forever grieve a lost loved one, communities that have been destroyed, and returning soldiers scarred by physical injuries and emotional trauma. It is also felt in resources that could have been used for education, health care, and other human services, which have been diverted to the war.

The anniversary of the war is a reminder of how fragile and marked by violence our human communities are. It is a testimony to how difficult it is to break such cycles of violence in order to achieve a lasting peace. This must be what Jesus felt when he wept over Jerusalem, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19: 41).

Lasting peace may actually be better understood as a gift than as something achieved.  The central biblical message is that God is reaching out in love to each person and the whole creation. Our experience of God’s love enables us to in turn forgive those who have harmed us.  We learn to trust again and we slowly regain our humanity that has been destroyed by violence. In this way we become agents of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19).

Read Not by Sword or Spear: The U.S. Role in Afghanistan, Spring 2011 issue of the Washington Memo.


A Decade of War: Religious Leaders Speak Out

October 5, 2011

In June of this year thirty-eight religious leaders sent a letter to President Obama calling for an end to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. The letter also calls for untying development aid from the military counterinsurgency strategy. The letter states that “militarized aid has worked to undermine long term sustainability while proving ineffective in addressing immediate poverty concerns.” And the letter further states that “the past ten years have shown that we cannot broker peace in Afghanistan by military force; it is time to transition toward a plan that builds up civil society and provides economic alternatives for Afghans.”

A decade of war in Afghanistan has proven ineffective in fostering sustainable livelihoods or peace for the Afghan people. While, U.S. leaders claimed that U.S. military action in Afghanistan will help bring peace in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, it has in fact failed to accomplish peace or any steps toward a peaceful resolution of conflict.

Read the faith leaders letter to President Obama and contact your members of Congress and encourage them to actively work for holistic peace and development in Afghanistan.

Read Not by Sword or Spear: The U.S. Role in Afghanistan, Spring 2011 issue of the Washington Memo.


A Decade of War: The Human Cost

October 4, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011 will mark a decade of war for the United States. On October 7, 2001 President George W. Bush addressed the nation and launched a war in Afghanistan. In response to the attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States chose a path of military violence rather than trying to understand the root cause of the violence. In his speech the President said, “Initially, the terrorists may burrow deeper into caves and other entrenched hiding places. Our military action is also designed to clear the way for sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive them out and bring them to justice.” Peaceful engagement was abandoned for vengeful action. However, the U.S. quest for “justice” came with a heavy price for the Afghan people.

Gozarah district in Herat Province. Photo by U.S. Air Force TSgt Laura K. Smith

Ten years later Afghans continue to endure an ongoing war that is seemingly endless. While President Bush and later President Obama have both assured the nation and the world that Afghan civilian lives will be protected, civilians have in fact borne the brunt of the violence. In 2010 alone more than 2,777 civilians were killed, a 15 percent increase from previous years. And 2011 is on track to be the deadliest year for Afghan lives.

A decade of war with mounting deaths on all sides of the conflict raises serious questions about the legitimacy of this ongoing and bloody war. Justice through military action remains elusive.

Take some time this week to pray. Pray for the thousands of Afghan families who have lost loved ones. Pray for those who have been injured and displaced from their homes. Pray for our leaders that they will choose a path of peace; life rather than death.

Read Not by Sword or Spear: The U.S. Role in Afghanistan, Spring 2011 issue of the Washington Memo.


The costs of war

September 8, 2011

Melissa Engle/MCC

As we approach the ten year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, it is worth taking note of the staggering costs of war in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade. A recent study by researchers at Brown University suggested that as many as 225,000 people have died as a result of the two wars. They also suggest that the price tag for the military’s involvement could be as high as $4 trillion.

Take some time this week to tell your policymakers that the current level of military spending is unsustainable. Our nation must find alternative responses to violence. The costs are simply too high.


Aid, Not War in Afghanistan – An Open Letter from Religious Leaders

June 22, 2011

Mennonite Central Committee along with thirty seven other religious groups has signed a letter to President Obama calling for an end to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. The letter also calls for untying development aid from the military counterinsurgency strategy. The letter states that “militarized aid has worked to undermine long term sustainability while proving ineffective in addressing immediate poverty concerns.” And the letter further states that “the past ten years have shown that we cannot broker peace in Afghanistan by military force; it is time to transition toward a plan that builds up civil society and provides economic alternatives for Afghans.”

The letter also calls on President Obama to hold true to his commitment to “begin a responsible but accelerated withdrawal of troops” beginning in July and “continuing along a set timetable.”

Click here to read the letter including the complete list of signatories.

For additional resources on Afghanistan, check out the Spring issue of the Washington Memo newsletter.


Funding Our Priorities

February 23, 2011

Early Saturday February 19 the House of Representatives passed legislation (H.R. 1)

MCC/Melissa Engle

that would cut federal spending by $61 billion.  The cuts come mainly in programs dedicated to assistance for vulnerable populations in the U.S. and internationally.

 

You can let your Senators know that this approach to the budget is neither responsible nor just.

Together, these two areas of the budget represent just 15 percent of U.S. spending.  Although the same legislation requests  a defense budget 3 percent lower than the President’s 2011 request, it is still $8 billion higher than 2010 levels.  Defense spending represents over 50 percent of U.S. discretionary (not mandatory) spending.

The math is questionable: how can we address the deficit without addressing the most expensive portion of the budget?  Even beyond military spending, H.R. 1 fails to adequately address a number of root causes of the nation’s deficit.

Read the rest of this entry »


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 78 other followers

%d bloggers like this: