Several months ago, I joined the Network of Spiritual Progressives -- a group of people who believe there is a spiritual dimension in reality that is losing influence. We are people who believe in social justice, environmental action, human rights, the women's movement, the labor movement, disability rights and the peace movement to name a few. I suppose you could class us as spiritual liberals. We believe that the Christian fundamentalists should not be the only voice for religion and spirituality active in America.
When the group was founded these tenets were formulated:
- Changing the Bottom Line in America
- Challenging the Misuse of Religion, God and Spirit by the Religious Right
- Challenging the Many Anti-Religious and Anti-Spiritual Assumptions and Behaviors That Have Increasingly Become Part of the Liberal Culture
On May 17, 2007, the Network of Spiritual Progressives took out a full page ad in the New York Times on an ethical way to end the Iraq War.
I support their three basic resolutions. I like the forthright way NSP has expressed itself. Here is my summary of what NSP proposes and my reactions to it.
1. As a people we should have the humility and honesty to say "This war was wrong. And we repent the actions we took." I like the term "repentance". It is the reverse of the hubris and arrogance with which this administration not only started the war but stubbornly continues it -- regardless of the casaulties of both our soldiers and the much greater loss of innocent Iraqi civilians. Our leaders' attitude seem to be: "We are winners. We do not accept defeat. We will persevere, stay the course --- until this war ends in a way that saves our face and the nation's face."
There is hardly anything more pernicious that our distorted ego's. We will do almost anything to defend our ego's -- no matter how senseless and how many are hurt (including oursevles.)
If any of you watch the new police drama, The Closer, on TNT, you know that Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) often says: "Confession is good for the soul".
I can remember from my Roman Catholic past that one of my favorite parts of the Mass was the Confiteor, the ancient prayer which the entire congregation intones -- admitting their mistakes, weaknesses, failings. I regretted when we no longer said it in Latin.
Abridging the Confiteor greatly:
Confíteor Deo omnipoténti...
quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne,
verbo et ópere: mea culpa,
mea culpa, mea máxima culpa.
I confess to God Almighty
that I have greatly sinned in
thought, word, and deed:
through my fault, through
my fault, through my most
Saying those words: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa made me feel so good.
I mean this. Confession is good for the soul.
It would be good if Americans could get down on our knees and say about the Iraq War: mea culpa. And mean it.
The mass media who did not probe deeply as they should have: mea culpa. Those who voted and supported this "war president, or warmonger president: mea culpa. The citizens who did not vote: mea culpa. Those who did but did not take time from their too busy lives to think: mea culpa. Those who believed and believe that the duty of Americans is to follow the President wherever he leads us: mea culpa!
The second resolution from NSP is that we should withdraw our forces and that they should be replaced by an international force under U.N. auspices -- composed mostly of Muslims from non-neighboring countries. The U.S. should close all bases and turn them over to this international force. All U.S. troops including advisers should leave. U.S. corporations who have operated in Iraq during the period from the beginning of the invasion until we leave ---
should turn over to the Iraqis the majority of the profits made ---for the task of Iraqi reconstruction. And Iraqis should be the prime workers in this reconstruction.
Finally, the U.S. should lead the world in a new initiative: a Global Marshall Plan.
It is not sufficient to say "We're sorry about the death and destruction we brought to your country" --- we need to match our actions with our words.
This rebuilding of Iraq though is only part of the proposed Global Marshal Plan. The U.S. should announce now -- to commit at least 1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year for the next twenty years toward the goal of eliminating global and domestic poverty, homelessness, inadequate health care, inadequate education and for repairing the environment. The Global Marshal Plan is a major step toward a Strategy of Generosity which is the key to restoring trust in the United States. (from the ad statement)
Somewhere in scripture it says that to those to whom much is given -- much is expected.
Finally from the Hebrew Bible (II Chonicles 7:14 KJV)
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and will heal their land."