WE MOURN ALL VICTIMS OF WAR AND VIOLENCE
Pax Christi and Friends are fasting as an expression of grief and mourning for the countless victims of war, civilian as well as combatant, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as a symbol of our commitment to oppose state violence, occupation, and war profiteering.
While the Pentagon spends $1.8 million per minute on war and war preparations, children around the world die of preventable causes at a rate of 21 per minute every day (UNICEF). While money is spent on war, children in the U.S. go to bed hungry, homes are foreclosed, and veterans are denied the help that they need. The economic cost of these wars is astronomical – nearly $1 trillion since 2001 – but the human cost is inestimable.
The scandalous cost of war was understood by President Eisenhower who said:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
The fast is a public way of expressing a hunger for peace, justice, and community as an antidote to war, greed, and alienation. It is a humble way of admitting complicity in the deaths of many and of expressing profound sorrow for all lives taken by war.
At the same time, the fast is undertaken in a spirit of hope that while the hour may be late, it is not impossible to transform our world. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
While we may stand at the precipice of doom, we fast in the hope that another world is possible – a world in which people will decide to beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more.
May Memorial Day be a solemn day of reflection on which we grieve the loss of life and commit ourselves to peacemaking. May we transform this day from one that celebrates militarism to one that invites us to look deeply at the reality of war and violence and ponder the possibilities of peace, justice, and reconciliation.
May our world find a way out of the madness of violence. May we come to know peace.
Memorial Weekend Public Fast, sponsored by St. Leo’s Bishop Gumbleton Pax Christi, Detroit, 2010.