Tens of millions of Americans will prayed for peace as they celebrated
Thanksgiving Day, and they will do so many more times during the coming
Even non-believers will acknowledge that prayer can be powerful - providing measures of solace, insight and inspiration.
But prayer is made meaningful when it is linked to action.
So how do we act upon a prayer for peace?
By acknowledging that, despite all the spin from the Bush
administration and its Republican allies and the acquiescence of too
many of members of the Democratic opposition, America remains mired in
a pair of undeclared wars that continue to cost previous lives of young
Americans soldiers and innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fantasists will claim that the occupation of Iraq has become less
horrific, yet the truth is that the death and destruction is merely
less reported. Fifteen American soldiers have been killed so far this
month. Thirty-three American soldiers have been severely wounded in
recent weeks. For Iraqis, the toll is much higher: Hundreds dead,
thousands of wounded each and every month. No wonder polling suggests
that the one thing uniting Iraqis is a desire for the U.S. to withdraw
its troops from that country.
It is now just as bad in Afghanistan, where circumstances have grown
dramatically worse. The American death for the year has risen to more
than 150 - three times the number for the entire first year of the
occupation. Soldiers are being wounded at a rate that is becoming
competitive with Iraq. And civilians are being killed and maimed in
such numbers by U.S. bombing raids that Afghan President Hamid Karzai,
Washington's man in Kabul, warns that battle for the hearts and minds
of the Afghan people is being lost. This week, Karzai met with a United
Nations Security Council to demand a timeline for the end of the
foreign military intervention in his country.
The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are not "good wars."
They are neither moral nor responsible.
And they are certainly not necessary.
These military misadventures are in conflict with any sincere prayer for peace.
So how do we act upon a prayer for peace?
By supporting efforts to end the occupations.
The biggest lie of the last few years has been the claim that there
is not a viable peace movement in this country. In fact, every state
and many communities across the country have peace and justice networks
that are doing great work. (You'll find a great master list of
organizations on the United for Peace and Justice website.)
From Washington state's Port Townsend Peace Movement to Veteran for Peace Chapter 1
in Walpole, Maine, there are dozens of local, regional and state groups
that need support. The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice is one
worthy recipient of Holiday season donations. The group has been
highlighting and supporting nonviolent activism for peace by groups in
Iraq, educating Wisconsinites about the fact that the Iraqi people want
foreign military forces withdrawn from their country. Online donations
can be made at www.wnpj.org.
Nationally, consider Peace Action, which says: "At Peace Action we take
concrete steps to promote and more peaceful and just world by building
a community of engaged and active citizens. We never forget that it's
not the policy, but the people whose lives are at stake that matter
"Your money will be use to press for an end to the US occupations of
Iraq and Afghanistan. We're reaching out to the millions of Obama
supporters who voted for real progressive change to push for reductions
in runaway military spending and direct that money to fund human
It is easy to donate online to Peace Action at: www.peace-action.org.
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