Friday, January 20, 2006

Dallas Morning News

Charlie Jackson: Waging peace
Like Dr. King, we are marching, praying and working for an end to war, says CHARLIE JACKSON
05:33 PM CST on Saturday, January 14, 2006
The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows," proclaimed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Feb. 25, 1967, in a speech titled "The Casualties of the War in Vietnam."
Little could Dr. King know that his voice would become an instrument to illuminate future times and chillingly similar circumstances.
Dr. King spoke of the casualties, the broken bodies of women and children, and the tortured souls of returning soldiers. He reminded Americans of the "fields and valleys of battle being painted with humankind's blood."
He also called attention to the other casualties of the war: self-determination of the Vietnamese people; domestic welfare and poverty eradication programs in the U.S.; the American principles of dissent and free speech; and the prospect for humankind's survival when faced with a vast nuclear arsenal.
Against the deceit and war hysteria that brought about a full-scale conflict in Iraq, Dr. King's light of peace shines with a fierce brightness. And next week, it will be passed on by people of faith – Christians, Muslims, Jews and others – dedicated to our founders' vision of a place where even an individual could humbly redress "kings and potentates" and express age-old calls for justice.
Beginning tomorrow, Dr. King's birthday, members of Christian Peacemaker Teams will embark on a "Shine the Light" campaign in Washington, D.C., to highlight hostage-taking and abuse of detainees throughout Iraq.
Christian Peacemaker Teams is a Chicago organization that offers nonviolent alternatives to war and other conflicts. Members will hold a series of processions, starting at key institutions that bear responsibility for the ongoing occupation – from the CIA to congressional offices – and ending with a brief prayer service at the White House.
Shine the Light: Find, register an event
Each day through Jan. 29, candle-carrying participants will walk in prayerful silence guided by a torchbearer shining the light on a hooded detainee, who represents all people held captive by war and occupation. They are asking for like-minded people of faith throughout the country to join them in local activities. (See www.cpt .org/iraq/shinethelight.php for details.)
Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams recognize that issues surrounding war and terrorism are complex. They have remained in Iraq throughout this war and have sent delegations to other areas of conflict in the past. They know that just as warfare is a human invention, the diligent work of peacemakers is needed if hostilities are to end.
And Christian Peacemaker Teams continue to work for a just end to the war in Iraq – despite having four members currently being held by kidnappers in that country.
Dr. King reminded, "In the light of all this, I say that we must narrow the gaping chasm between our proclamations of peace and our lowly deeds, which precipitate and perpetuate war. We are called upon to look up from the quagmire of military programs and defense commitments and read history's signposts and today's trends."
This is what Christian Peacemaker Teams are doing, both in Iraq and at the doors of our nation's Capitol, working to bring about an end to war.
"We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path," Dr. King said. "It is not enough to say, 'We must not wage war.' It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it."
We join with millions in celebrating the legacy of Dr. King and will continue to carry the torch of noble dreams.
Charlie Jackson recently returned from his third visit to Iraq through the Christian Peacemaker Team. He is the founder of Texans for Peace, and his e-mail address is
charlie j@texansforpeace.org.

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