Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day -- A New Vision, A New Call to Organize

The Democrats capitulated. There are great excuses -- spin -- about why they needed to do that. But the fact remains that the war is funded by $120 billion without any time tables to bring the troops home.

The top excuse, of course is that they don't have a veto proof majority. Did they really have no alternative? I think they did. They could have stood their ground. They could have brought public pressure to bear. They could have entirely withdrawn funds from the war. But their sons and daughters are not in Iraq (except for a very few) -- why should they put in the extra effort?

Rabbi Michael Lerner thinks this is because they are liberal about their liberalism. Stuck in the same old "domination" paradigm as the President, they have no alternative ways to see reality. This is why Democrats are so often Republican-Lite!

Lerner offers an alternative paradigm -- Generosity rather than Domination. Rabbi Lerner's Network of Spiritual Progressives is picking up that call. Here's his article in

Funding and Crying: Why The Dems Capitulated To One of The Least Popular Presidents in US History to Support One of The Least Popular Wars in US History—A Response From The Religious Left

The Network of Spiritual Progressives ran a recent ad in newspapers. Click here to read and sign the ad entitled "An Ethical Way to End the War in Iraq: Generosity Beats Domination as a Strategy for Homeland Security."

But the fault is also with us. The anti-war community is not organized enough to hold the Democrats' feet to the fire. This is why they will get away with this spineless action.

Memorial Day is a good day to re-commit to organizing.

On this day we will commemorate the lives of 3487 US military lives lost. The website Iraq Body Count reports a minimum 64351 and maximum 70491 Iraqi civilians have died in this war. Every month US troops stay in Iraq, it gets worse.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow offers a reflection on Memorial Day that calls us to organize. Indeed a table of interfaith leaders are coming together to organize a massive campaign to be held in local communities across the country on October 8th. The organizing work begins now.

Here's Arthur Waskow's reflection:


Dear Friends,

Memorial Day was created to mourn the dead of American wars: "That these dead shall not have died in vain; that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

The people of the United States have spoken clearly. This war is indeed "of" us – it is our young who are dying, losing eyes and legs and genitals and minds and souls. It is our schools, our firefighters, our levees, our health care, that are robbed and starved to pay its monstrous costs.

But this war is not by us, and not for us. Our soldiers are dying bravely to veil the cowardice of those who govern us. Our peoples – American and Iraqi – are suffering so those who govern us can celebrate their arrogance, their stupidity, their greed. Their idols.

The President and Congress of the United State have just now, on the very cusp of Memorial Day 2007, chosen to celebrate it not by mourning the dead but by killing more of them.

What shall we do? Mourn, pray, organize.

Pray in the way Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught us: "Prayer is useless unless it is subversive, unless it shatters pyramids ."

Organize the way he taught us as he marched for justice and for peace: "I felt as if my legs were praying."

During the past month, we at The Shalom Center have been working with The Tent of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah – Jews, Christians, Muslims – and with the leaders of the great church, mosque, and synagogue bodies of America, to imagine and plan a moment this fall for us to begin again.

To turn from conquest to community, from violence to reverence, from our old and arrogant celebration of the "discovery" of America by Columbus to the self-discovery of our best selves by our true selves.

To lower the barriers that separate our different faiths so that we can join with each other to fast in self-reflection, celebrate together the Infinite Unity that connects us, call out for an end to this war, to torture, to the celebration of grotesque violence that corrupts our media, to abusive violence in our homes and communities, to the rain of bullets in our streets and schools.

This month of discussion is beginning to bear fruit. Soon we will be able to share the Call that is emerging from them.

Meanwhile, this Memorial Day may we all keep in our hearts and minds, our prayers and meditations, our eating and our sharing, the vision that we can, we WILL, turn from conquest to community, from violence to reverence.

So that these dead shall not have died in vain.

With blessings for shalom, salaam, peace –


Rabbi Arthur Waskow, co-author, The Tent of Abraham; director, The Shalom Center which voices a new prophetic agenda in Jewish, multireligious, and American life. To receive the weekly on-line Shalom Report, click on --


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