Speech at the Rally (with 2500 people) outside Donald Rumsfield’s House,
Taos, New Mexico,October 26, 2002.
Dear friends, I’ve just moved here from New York City where I worked for the Red Cross after September 11th at the Family Assistance Center, helping to coordinate over 500 chaplains, and counseling over 1500 grieving relatives and hundreds of rescue workers at Ground Zero. Many of them said to me and the other chaplains, in their midst of their tears, that they did not want anyone else killed; that war will not bring back their loved ones; that bombing raids on Afghanistan or Iraq will not bring them comfort or healing or protection; that killing innocent women and children in Afghanistan and Iraq only increases their sorrow. So I come here today to say with you: Don’t bomb Iraq! Don’t kill the children of Iraq! Don’t use terrorism to stop terrorism!
Since 1990, our sanctions on Iraq have killed over one million Iraqis, most of them children, according to the UN, UNICEF, the Vatican, and the World Health Organization. We grieve the deaths of 2900 people in New York; they are beside themselves over the death of one million Iraqis. No one supports tyranny, but our country is the reason why these children have been killed, why they continue to die quietly by the thousands each month. In March 1999, I went to Iraq with a delegation of Nobel Peace prize winners and saw for myself the effects of our sanctions and bombing raids. We saw hundreds of children, born long after the Gulf war, dying of relievable diseases, because we have systematically destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure. Today, we say to Donald Rumsfield and President Bush, lift the sanctions on Iraq! Don’t bomb Iraq! Let the children live!
Bombing the suffering people will not bring democracy to Iraq. It will not bring nuclear disarmament or peace to the Middle East. It will not prevent terrorist attacks. It will not help the international work of peacemaking and the UN inspections. It will not build community with the rest of the world. It will not help our economy. It will not fund jobs here in New Mexico or feed the hungry or pay for healthcare, education, low-income housing, or environmental clean-up. It will not uphold international law. It will not solve our problems or lead us to true security. Bombing Iraq will only protect the oil companies; sow the seeds of further terrorism; set a horrible global precedent, that it is okay to bomb preemptively; and risk the death of thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, mostly children.
War with Iraq is not only illegal and immoral, it’s just downright impractical. It’s not justified or noble, just lethal and stupid. We should not be using depleted uranium on Iraq. We should not be making it here in New Mexico. And we should not try to overthrow any other government. Instead, we should root out the causes of terrorism, by ending the real axis of evil, poverty, starvation, the degradation of the earth, the proliferation of weapons, and the existence of nuclear weapons.
Today, in the name of the God of peace, we say that war is terrorism; that war is not the will of God; that war is never justified; that war is never blessed by God; that war is the ultimate mortal sin; that war is not the way to peace; that war can never solve our problems or overcome evil or give us security or teach us how to be human or deepen the spiritual life; that peaceful means are the only way to a peaceful future and the God of peace; and in particular, that Christians are supposed to love our enemies, not bomb them.
Today, we tell Donald Rumsfield and President Bush that we want a new foreign policy based on nonviolence; a new vision of peace with the people of the world, based on justice for the poor and compassion and reconciliation with all peoples; a new commitment to ending hunger, poverty, and disease; a new commitment to dismantle every one of our nuclear weapons and all our own weapons of mass destruction.
As we walk to Donald Rumsfield’s house, we do so in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Mahatma Gandhi, in a spirit of nonviolence, with respect toward Donald Rumsfield, his family and the police, but insisting on the truth that bombing Iraq is wrong; that we should pursue nonviolent alternatives through the United Nations; and that we need to disarm our own arsenals. The God of peace loves us all and created us all to live in peace.
As we walk in a spirit of peace, as we pray in the Spirit for peace, and as we speak the truth of peace, we bless him and everyone in the name of the God of peace that we might all repent of the sin of war and be converted to God’s way of loving nonviolence.
Dear friends, don’t be discouraged. Don’t despair. Don’t be afraid. Don’t give up. Keep on speaking up for peace. Keep on insisting on the truth of peace. And keep on walking the road to peace. God bless you.