The Iraq War began 12 years ago this week on March 19, 2003.
With America leading false charges regarding the immanent threat posed by alleged weapons of mass destruction, the United States invaded another nation.
This ongoing violence is deeply embedded into the psyche and culture of an entire generation of American children:
*best estimates of between 500,000 and 1.4 million Iraqi civilian are dead
*4,486 American soldiers are dead
*32,021 American soldiers are wounded
*Unknown number of soldiers returning with traumatic brain injuries from IED’s
*18 American veterans suicide a day on average
*Iraq War has cost the USA $2.2 trillion dollars which looks like this: $2,200,000,000.00
*Iraq War perpetrated unprecedented violations of the principles of American democracy and integrity of international law
*the psychological & ethical tolls the war has cost our national image in the global community
In addition to these economic and moral costs, the Veterans Administration is pervasively slow and perpetually under-serves our armed forces. The immediate and ready availability of abundant war “surplus” (which you paid for) has lead to the militarization of local police departments (and its not just in large cities). We’ve employed the successful methods of marketing/advertising to orchestrate language spins like “collateral damage” to sanitize the catastrophic destruction and death of war.
The big picture multifaceted costs of the Iraq War continue to shape our society as a culture of violence for us…and our kids.
But collectively we don’t talk it. This conversation doesn’t happen.
I’m ashamed that the color of a dress, TMZ gossip and March Madness are our chatter.
Talk of violence and war…having conversations in our heads and our hearts…among families and friends…is what sacred activism sounds like as it emerges.
These dialogues are the responsibility of religious people in general and spiritual people in particular.
What we consider as Sacred affects these discussion. God matters regarding our perceptions of violence.
Please make no mistake. I honor all American soldiers and sincerely consider our wounded warriors to be some of my personal heroes.
They demonstrate a profound courage that I do not possess.
But my prayers and mediation; reading and thinking; study and ministry…show me that human rights; equality of gender, race and sexual orientation; violence; ecology and economic disparity…these need to be the interfaith agenda inviting all religious paths to provide sustainable solutions.
I won’t stop searching every day for inspiration, hope and moments of compassion and forgiveness (which is the mission of my ministry) or reporting bits of good news. But as my intuitive sense of the urgency of sacred activism evolves, I need to express my growing belief that violence and its pervasive manifestations are a spiritual emergency demanding my attention.