April 20th, 2021 Reflections from Danbury
The other evening there were eight deer in the meadow below Camp, playing in the puddles of rainwater collected on the worn spots of the softball diamond. They reminded me of the goats we kept in Vermont, running, splashing with their hooves, chasing one another.
While on the phone one day I looked out the window to see a wild turkey wander by, foraging across the expansive lawn. The moon is waxing, the daffodils and tulips are blooming, and the weeping cherries are now shedding the petals of their blossoms. Spring is on her way and this setting is quite lovely. I strive to get out three times a day to walk the ¼ mile track.
Photos of Steve Kelly’s release, on his knees for a blessing, hit me with joy, and angst over his prison condition, the toll on his body. His face was radiant of course.
The daily readings of the Acts of the Apostles bowl me over. Stephen, martyred, asks: “Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute?”
We are to be nourished on the Body of Christ, in the spirit of love, as we hold on to our Stephens.
The news of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan takes my mind back to the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul, whom I was able to visit on three occasions, briefly sharing in their lives of hope amidst war.
As if the U.S. military could “rebuild” a nation, making the world “safe” for our imperial ambitions and globalization of capital.
The “graveyard of empires” for the British in the 19th century, the Russians, in the 20th, and now the U.S. in the 21st century, -what will our empire look like post-Afghanistan?
Our use of supreme military power was supposed to crush the ancient governance and power sharing traditions of local councils. Two months into the war the U.S. refused the Taliban surrender, wanting only to force what it wanted for the country. Afghans want neither Taliban rule nor a foreign puppet government.
The violent opioid epidemic has come home to roost.
Billions of dollars spent, and yet the land is left without adequate schools, hospitals, housing and decent drinking water.
When the Kabul River flows again through a beautiful garden city, then we will know the hounds of war have been reined in.
There is an interesting representation amongst my companions here. Families range from life long military careerists with praise from the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, to labor union organizers betrayed by informant prosecutors and attorneys. The social and judicial safety net differs for those who often suffer from similar afflictions relating to money and addiction.
Memory is long in the white dominance history. Punishment is meted out to the next generation of those who resist the injustice.
And in counterpoint, favor is given to those who have served the “whirling death machine,” as Chelsea Manning has described it, being one who spoke against the war crimes.
My participation in an action opposing the use of drones as judge, jury and executioner has landed an outstanding case for me that sits with a judge who doesn’t resolve the case.
The judicial system can be used in many ways to reward or punish citizens who may stand on one side or the other of the status quo.
The conviction of Derek Chauvin today was received with surprising indifference from many here. There is small hope for large changes. But there was also a sigh of relief. Racism is a mental illness; we all need treatment. His darting eyes while his guilt was declared were haunting.
Here is a quote from Simon Wiesenthal that was sent to me:
“…in a democracy, the legal branch of the government is the safeguard of continuity, the citizen’s protection against arbitrary acts by the Executive. A rotten judiciary is the handmaiden of dictatorship. In Germany and Austria, justice was administered in the name of injustice.”
“The Pentagon’s Brain” by Annie Jacobsen is wracking my brain with the intensity of the fact that we are so embedded in a way of thinking that makes the Caesars of Rome, seeking god-like status, look like silly child’s play.
Every aspect of our lives and culture is infiltrated with a mindset that says God has given certain of us the right to pursue unlimited, violent force to have things our way. Artificial intelligence and robotic technology are the new horizon for warfare, drones being a large component of this scheme.
A new field of study called neuroeconomics and morality is looking at the bastardized use of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in uterine contractions in childbirth, and let down of milk in nursing the newborn.
It is being tauted as “the brain’s moral molecule,” “erasing fear,” and “allows MAN to make moral decisions — (and that) morality is tied to trust.”
The robots can be trusted to override any human reflex that shies away from killing. Can we trust the military-industrial complex that runs the Pentagon to control “investing all human potential into warfare?” Does “free trade” include meshing the human brain with computer technology for fearless killing?
John 6:31 says: “My father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.”
This inspires us to discern what is from God and what is from man.
What does it mean to believe the very body of Christ will feed the hungry and thirsty?
When we eat this bread of Eucharistic resistance and we trust in the Mystical body of Christ, and our baptized eyes are opened wide to the trickery of man’s self-reliance, then our path becomes both a terrible challenge and a great inspiration.
Dear God, take away the fear in our hearts and give us loving trust. And let us not put the nuclear arsenal into the “hands” of computers.
And let us give thanks to the innumerable people from around the world who are working to bring the abolition of nuclear weapons to reality.