appetite for Hell
commencement of the present war in Iraq, politicos,
pundits, and pukes have all had a chance to
weigh in on whether or not the invasion was
in the national interest. Frequently these minions
of public policy forget their role in American
discourse and instead attempt to wear the mantle
of morality, speaking with a preacher's voice.
Bush talks often about bringing hope to the
oppressed and justice to the people of Iraq.
He utters bromides of the unique mission of
the U.S., our "special calling." Not
content to celebrate the hard work and duty
of the troops in the field, he glorifies them
with phrases like "faithful" and "peacemakers".
He is joined by a chorus of politicians, painted
in red, white, and blue, who excuse spending
more money on military defense than on programs
for social uplift.
ostensible public servants cast their eyes towards
Heaven, but their feet are pointed in the opposite
morning talk shows fill the airwaves with the
latest casualty counts and jawboning about Iraq's
current plight. They provide an opportunity
for apologists to justify Administration policy
and promote arguments for war.
the banal light of television studios, the latest
crop of pundits - most whom have never visited
the Middle East much less Iraq - ponder the
news of the week with false gravitas. Their
network talkety-talk drowns out local religious
programming. With deceitful skill, their sharp
tongues slice the arguments of opponents.
of the fourth estate concentrate media ownership
and fill their treasure houses, thinking little
of journalistic righteousness.
in the sterile corridors of the Pentagon the
triumph of victory is heard, drowning out the
din of escalating insurgency, continuing horror,
and worsening crisis. Despite the fact that
the army is stretched razor-thin, the service's
top general takes time to find silver in the
dross of bloodshed.
Peter Schoomaker calls the military's experience
in Iraq beneficial because the war has helped
to give the army "tremendous focus."
He says this is the sort of thing that servicemen
and women study their entire careers for and
that there would be no use for an army that
did "nothing but train". Illustrating
this he says, "There's got to be a certain
appetite for the hell we exist for." He's
general recites with precision the Way-Of-The-Sword.
He has seen the inferno and will command living
corpses, if compelled, all the way to the abyss.
is the furthest object from the ideals of faith
and religion, and its desires have little to
do with reaching either our human potential
or serving God. It only masks the cravings of
those who combine lust and power with an appetite
for wealth. The war in Iraq should be discussed
and debated not only by the few who profit from
it, but by the many who provide direction for
weighty issues of faith and conscience: priests,
rabbis, imams, and preachers.
Riverside Church in New York, Rev. Martin Luther
King, Jr. pleaded with our current generation
to be mindful of war's destructive power. He
said, "We can no longer afford to worship
the God of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation
is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and
individuals that pursued this self-defeating
path of hate." King warned of "power
without compassion" and "might without
morality". He urged us to face reality
while working together to overcome the fears
and scourges that confront us.
have entered a new year, and with it many individual
resolutions. Let us also resolve - as a nation
- to listen more to those who speak with the
voice of moral authority, and less to those
who converse with demons while making claims
maybe we can reduce our appetite for hell.
Charlie Jackson, founder
of Texans for Peace, recently returned from
his second trip to Iraq, undertaken through
the Christian Peacemaker Teams organization
of Chicago. He is a high-tech CEO and lives
with his two sons in San Antonio.