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A Letter From The Grunts

By       Message Dave Belden       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   5 comments

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This week I got an email from a stranger that I actually read. I want to share it: it's to the President from Veterans for Peace of Bellingham, WA: about Afghanistan. After it, I write a little about the man who sent it, who I called up and talked to. He has quite a story. He saw it all happen before.

Maybe the best line in it is this one:

We are at a historic moment very much like the moment when President Johnson was escalating the Vietnam War and Dr. King asked him to stop and think. President Johnson missed his opportunity...

Or maybe it's this:

We might try using our resources to empower women instead of killing men.

Here's the full letter:

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An Open Letter to President Obama. Feb. 24, 2009.

Dear President Obama,

While you are reviewing U.S. policy toward Afghanistan, we ask that you include a perspective that has been lacking in the national conversation since Sept. 11, 2001. You have received much advice, whether sought or unsought, from political and military experts. We ask that you give even greater consideration to seeking out spiritual guidance.

There is no shortage of people seeking to advise you on how to win a war. But there is a critical shortage of people around you who might ask a more important question: How can we make peace?

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Since Sept.11 our national conversation has been lacking a spiritual perspective. When Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his great "Beyond Vietnam" speech at Riverside Church, the event was organized by Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam. Perhaps the religious community has not been as organized during these last few years as it should have been, and perhaps no one can take Dr. King's place, but we can still take advantage of the wisdom he revealed in that speech.

There is no shortage of deep spiritual thinkers in our country today, but there is a shortage of leaders willing to seek their guidance. We are asking you to be that leader.

If we really want peace in Afghanistan, we should start with an offer of a cease-fire. That is the most immediate concern, to stop the killing of the innocent. Then comes the hard part, negotiating for justice.

Everyone has a viewpoint in Afghanistan, but instead of encouraging a dialogue to seek common ground, we have focused on a military solution to the problem of injustice. The Taliban's idea of justice may be light years away from ours, but we are not going to solve the problem of male injustice to women in Afghanistan by killing all the men. And if we did, there are another 10 million men on the Pakistani side of the border with the same anti-woman attitude. In fact, it is a planet-wide problem that cannot be fixed by war. We might try using our resources to empower women instead of killing men.

We are at a historic moment very much like the moment when President Johnson was escalating the Vietnam War and Dr. King asked him to stop and think. President Johnson missed his opportunity to be one of our greatest presidents because he let the military/political dimension overrule the spiritual dimension.

George Bush called himself a war president. He was misguided. We voted for you, President Obama, because we believed that you would seek the path of peace. We believe you can make us proud again.

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War is the worst way to solve problems. Peace is the best way. We believe our country can become a leader in peacemaking. You can start to lead us along that path.

With best wishes to you and your family, and for peace for everybody, no exceptions.

If you agree with this letter, you can have your family sign it and mail it to the Obama Family at: The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20500

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Dave Belden, D. Phil, is the Managing Editor of Tikkun Magazine, in its 23rd year as a bimonthly journal of spirituality, politics and culture.

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