Thursday, August 12, 2021

Guest Post: WHY BOMBING UNARMED CIVILIANS IS ALWAYS WRONG--IS EVIL from "Blessing the Bombs" by Repentant priest of the bombers

Blessing the Bombs Father George Zabelka "I was there, and I was wrong. Yes, war is hell, and Christ did not come to justify the creation of hell on earth by his disciples. The justification of war may be compatible with some religions and philosophies, but it is not compatible with the nonviolent teaching of Jesus. I was wrong. And to those of whatever nationality or religion who have been hurt because I fell under the influence of the father of lies, I say with my whole heart and soul I am sorry. I beg forgiveness."

Photo of a dead toddler strapped to his young brother's back after the dropping of the Nagasaki atom bomb

I asked forgiveness from the Hibakushas (the Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings) in Japan last year, in a pilgrimage that I made with a group from Tokyo to Hiroshima. I fell on my face there at the peace shrine after offering flowers, and I prayed for forgiveness—for myself, for my country, for my church. Both Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

This year in Toronto, I again asked forgiveness from the Hibakushas present. I asked forgiveness, and they asked forgiveness for Pearl Harbor and some of the horrible deeds of the Japanese military, and there were some, and I knew of them. We embraced. We cried. Tears flowed. That is the first step of reconciliation—admission of guilt and forgiveness. Pray to God that others will find this way to peace.

This photo is from Bloody Saturday, of the slaughter of civilians in Shanghai by the Japanese Warlord Government, but the small child also represents all the hundreds of thousands of innocent children intentionally slaughtered by other governments including the United States:-(

Father George Zabelka, a Catholic chaplain with the U.S. Air Force, served as a priest for the airmen who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and gave them his blessing. Days later he counseled an airman who had flown a low-level reconnaissance flight over the city of Nagasaki shortly after the detonation of “Fat Man.” The man described how thousands of scorched, twisted bodies writhed on the ground in the final throes of death, while those still on their feet wandered aimlessly in shock—flesh seared, melted, and falling off. The crewman’s description raised a stifled cry from the depths of Zabelka’s soul: “My God, what have we done?”

Over the next twenty years, he gradually came to believe that he had been terribly wrong, that he had denied the very foundations of his faith by lending moral and religious support to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Zabelka died in 1992, but his message, in this speech given on the 40th anniversary of the bombings, must never be forgotten.

The destruction of civilians in war was always forbidden by the church, and if a soldier came to me and asked if he could put a bullet through a child’s head, I would have told him, absolutely not. That would be mortally sinful. But in 1945 Tinian Island was the largest airfield in the world. Three planes a minute could take off from it around the clock. Many of these planes went to Japan with the express purpose of killing not one child or one civilian but of slaughtering hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of children and civilians—and I said nothing.

I never preached a single sermon against killing civilians to the men who were doing it. I was brainwashed! It never entered my mind to protest publicly the consequences of these massive air raids. I was told it was necessary—told openly by the military and told implicitly by my church’s leadership. (To the best of my knowledge no American cardinals or bishops were opposing these mass air raids. Silence in such matters is a stamp of approval.)

I worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights struggle in Flint, Michigan. His example and his words of nonviolent action, choosing love instead of hate, truth instead of lies, and nonviolence instead of violence stirred me deeply. This brought me face to face with pacifism—active nonviolent resistance to evil. I recall his words after he was jailed in Montgomery, and this blew my mind. He said, “Blood may flow in the streets of Montgomery before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood that flows, and not that of the white man. We must not harm a single hair on the head of our white brothers.”

I struggled. I argued. But yes, there it was in the Sermon on the Mount, very clear: “Love your enemies. Return good for evil.” I went through a crisis of faith. Either accept what Christ said, as unpassable and silly as it may seem, or deny him completely.

For the last 1700 years the church has not only been making war respectable: it has been inducing people to believe it is an honorable profession, an honorable Christian profession. This is not true. We have been brainwashed. This is a lie.

War is now, always has been, and always will be bad, bad news. I was there. I saw real war. Those who have seen real war will bear me out. I assure you, it is not of Christ. It is not Christ’s way. There is no way to conduct real war in conformity with the teachings of Jesus. There is no way to train people for real war in conformity with the teachings of Jesus.

The morality of the balance of terrorism is a morality that Christ never taught. The ethics of mass butchery cannot be found in the teachings of Jesus. In Just War ethics, Jesus Christ, who is supposed to be all in the Christian life, is irrelevant. He might as well never have existed. In Just War ethics, no appeal is made to him or his teaching, because no appeal can be made to him or his teaching, for neither he nor his teaching gives standards for Christians to follow in order to determine what level of slaughter is acceptable.

So the world is watching today. Ethical hairsplitting over the morality of various types of instruments and structures of mass slaughter is not what the world needs from the church, although it is what the world has come to expect from the followers of Christ. What the world needs is a grouping of Christians that will stand up and pay up with Jesus Christ. What the world needs is Christians who, in language that the simplest soul could understand, will proclaim: the follower of Christ cannot participate in mass slaughter. He or she must love as Christ loved, live as Christ lived and, if necessary, die as Christ died, loving ones enemies.

For the 300 years immediately following Jesus’ resurrection, the church universally saw Christ and his teaching as nonviolent. Remember that the church taught this ethic in the face of at least three serious attempts by the state to liquidate her. It was subject to horrendous and ongoing torture and death. If ever there was an occasion for justified retaliation and defensive slaughter, whether in form of a just war or a just revolution, this was it. The economic and political elite of the Roman state and their military had turned the citizens of the state against Christians and were embarked on a murderous public policy of exterminating the Christian community.

Yet the church, in the face of the heinous crimes committed against her members, insisted without reservation that when Christ disarmed Peter he disarmed all Christians. Christians continued to believe that Christ was, to use the words of an ancient liturgy, their fortress, their refuge, and their strength, and that if Christ was all they needed for security and defense, then Christ was all they should have. Indeed, this was a new security ethic.

Christians understood that if they would only follow Christ and his teaching, they couldn’t fail. When opportunities were given for Christians to appease the state by joining the fighting Roman army, these opportunities were rejected, because the early church saw a complete and an obvious incompatibility between loving as Christ loved and killing. It was Christ, not Mars, who gave security and peace.

Today the world is on the brink of ruin because the church refuses to be the church, because we Christians have been deceiving ourselves and the non-Christian world about the truth of Christ. There is no way to follow Christ, to love as Christ loved, and simultaneously to kill other people. It is a lie to say that the spirit that moves the trigger of a flamethrower is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ.

It is a lie to say that learning to kill is learning to be Christ-like. It is a lie to say that learning to drive a bayonet into the heart of another is motivated from having put on the mind of Christ. Militarized Christianity is a lie. It is radically out of conformity with the teaching, life, and spirit of Jesus.

Now, brothers and sisters, on the anniversary of this terrible atrocity carried out by Christians, I must be the first to say that I made a terrible mistake. I was had by the father of lies. I participated in the big ecumenical lie of the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox churches. I wore the uniform. I was part of the system. When I said Mass over there I put on those beautiful vestments over my uniform. (When Father Dave Becker left the Trident submarine base in 1982 and resigned as Catholic chaplain there, he said, “Every time I went to Mass in my uniform and put the vestments on over my uniform, I couldn’t help but think of the words of Christ applying to me: Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.”)

As an Air Force chaplain I painted a machine gun in the loving hands of the nonviolent Jesus, and then handed this perverse picture to the world as truth. I sang “Praise the Lord” and passed the ammunition. As Catholic chaplain for the 509th Composite Group, I was the final channel that communicated this fraudulent image of Christ to the crews of the Enola Gay and the Boxcar.

All I can say today is that I was wrong. Christ would not be the instrument to unleash such horror on his people. Therefore no follower of Christ can legitimately unleash the horror of war on God’s people. Excuses and self-justifying explanations are without merit. All I can say is: I was wrong! But, if this is all I can say, this I must do, feeble as it is. For to do otherwise would be to bypass the first and absolutely essential step in the process of repentance and reconciliation: admission of error, admission of guilt.

I was there, and I was wrong. Yes, war is hell, and Christ did not come to justify the creation of hell on earth by his disciples. The justification of war may be compatible with some religions and philosophies, but it is not compatible with the nonviolent teaching of Jesus. I was wrong.

And to those of whatever nationality or religion who have been hurt because I fell under the influence of the father of lies, I say with my whole heart and soul I am sorry. I beg forgiveness.

I asked forgiveness from the Hibakushas (the Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings) in Japan last year, in a pilgrimage that I made with a group from Tokyo to Hiroshima. I fell on my face there at the peace shrine after offering flowers, and I prayed for forgiveness—for myself, for my country, for my church. Both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This year in Toronto, I again asked forgiveness from the Hibakushas present. I asked forgiveness, and they asked forgiveness for Pearl Harbor and some of the horrible deeds of the Japanese military, and there were some, and I knew of them. We embraced. We cried. Tears flowed. That is the first step of reconciliation—admission of guilt and forgiveness. Pray to God that others will find this way to peace.

All religions have taught brotherhood. All people want peace. It is only the governments and war departments that promote war and slaughter. So today again I call upon people to make their voices heard. We can no longer just leave this to our leaders, both political and religious. They will move when we make them move. They represent us. Let us tell them that they must think and act for the safety and security of all the people in our world, not just for the safety and security of one country. All countries are inter-dependent. We all need one another. It is no longer possible for individual countries to think only of themselves. We can all live together as brothers and sisters or we are doomed to die together as fools in a world holocaust.

Each one of us becomes responsible for the crime of war by cooperating in its preparation and in its execution. This includes the military. This includes the making of weapons. And it includes paying for the weapons. There’s no question about that. We’ve got to realize we all become responsible. Silence, doing nothing, can be one of the greatest sins.

The bombing of Nagasaki means even more to me than the bombing of Hiroshima. By August 9, 1945, we knew what that bomb would do, but we still dropped it. We knew that agonies and sufferings would ensue, and we also knew—at least our leaders knew—that it was not necessary. The Japanese were already defeated. They were already suing for peace. But we insisted on unconditional surrender, and this is even against the Just War theory. Once the enemy is defeated, once the enemy is not able to hurt you, you must make peace.

As a Catholic chaplain I watched as the Boxcar, piloted by a good Irish Catholic pilot, dropped the bomb on Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki, the center of Catholicism in Japan. I knew that St. Francis Xavier, centuries before, had brought the Catholic faith to Japan. I knew that schools, churches, and religious orders were annihilated. And yet I said nothing.

Thank God that I’m able to stand here today and speak out against war, all war. The prophets of the Old Testament spoke out against all false gods of gold, silver, and metal. Today we are worshipping the gods of metal, the bomb. We are putting our trust in physical power, militarism, and nationalism. The bomb, not God, is our security and our strength. The prophets of the Old Testament said simply: Do not put your trust in chariots and weapons, but put your trust in God. Their message was simple, and so is mine.

We must all become prophets. I really mean that. We must all do something for peace. We must stop this insanity of worshipping the gods of metal. We must take a stand against evil and idolatry. This is our destiny at the most critical time of human history. But it’s also the greatest opportunity ever offered to any group of people in the history of our world—to save our world from complete annihilation.

This article is excerpted from a speech George Zabelka gave at a Pax Christi conference in August 1985 (tape of speech obtained from Notre Dame University Archives). The first two paragraphs are from an interview with Zabelka published in Sojourners magazine, August 1980.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

HELP the Police SERVE and PROTECT by funding additional money for a RESOURCE Psychologist for Calls of Domestic Violence and Drug Abuse

HELP the Police SERVE and PROTECT by funding additional money for every large police department to have a RESOURCE psychologist-social worker to travel with the officers to all domestic violence, drug abuse, etc. calls.

IF one had been with the infamous Derek Chauvin attack during the arrest of the law-breaker George Floyd, probably, Chauvin wouldn’t have gotten away with killing Floyd. Nor would have Floyd resisted arrest when he became paranoid because of the large amount of illegal drugs in his system. The RESOURCE officer could have calmed the dangerous situation.

Then Floyd, who had tried to cheat (by using a fake bill) at a store could have been dealt with in a moderate, calm matter rather than with a fight.

In the LIGHT of Justice, Compassion, Protection,

Dan Wilcox

Monday, August 2, 2021

My Response to “Friends, Racial Justice, and Policing” by Cherice Bock

First, let me give a few notes on my past that have to do with Cherice Bock and with Friends Committee on National Legislation.

#1 I’ve been a part of the Quaker movement since my first visit to a meeting in 1967 in Philadelphia, PA. That occurred when I was serving my conscientious objector service in a mental hospital for children and teens, after I was drafted.

#2 My wife and I have read information on racial reconciliation, justice, and peacemaking by FCNL for many years. We always found FCNL to be a voice for justice with a moderate tone, emphasizing compassionate listening and peace-making, unlike many groups which have sometimes been strident, ideological, and inaccurate in their writing.

#3 When Cherice Bock was part of Freedom Friends in Salem, Oregon. I regularly read her informative articles because of her emphasis upon spiritual reflection and her concern for the environment. Even though my wife and I were members of the Sierra Club for years, etc., Cherice Bock’s articles helped me to gain new understandings of ecology.

As I recall, her articles were warm-hearted, fair, and passioned. Kudos for her.

HOWEVER, she seems to have changed. At least her article for FCNL is disheartening, makes false ideological claims, and contradicts the many news sources I followed when studying the protests in Portland last year.

Side note: It is possible that all the news sources and news videos—including ones from the Portland TV station—that I watched are incorrect. Maybe, they were all wrong, and I failed to see news accounts that were more true to the actual crises there in Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, etc. But I doubt it.

Please readers, if you have contrary video evidence of police in Portland or elsewhere attacking peaceful and civil protestors, please send me url and I will watch it.

PART #1: I am thankful that Cherice Bock started out by acknowledging/referencing the historical evils that were done to Indigenous people of Oregon.

Too, often very few Americans now living know anything about the immoral and unjust actions of early Oregonians toward people of color (including Native Americans, Asians, and Blacks).

From “The Kalapuyans are a Native American ethnic group. Many of their contemporary descendants are members of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon. The Kalapuyan traditional homelands were in the Willamette, Elk Creek, and Calapooya Creek watersheds of Western Oregon. They hunted and gathered as far east and west as the Cascades and Coast ranges and traded with the Chinookans to the north and Coos peoples on the coast. Their major tribes were the Tualatin, Yamhill, and Ahantchuyuk at the north, the Santiam, Luckamiute, Tekopa, Chenapinefu in the central valley and the Chemapho, Chelamela, Chafin, Peyu (Mohawk), and Winefelly in the southern Willamette Valley. The most southern, Yoncalla, had a village on the Row River and villages in the Umpqua Valley and so lived in both valleys. The major tribal territories were divided by the Willamette River and its tributaries.”

One needs to keep in mind however, that like ALL of us humans, indigenous natives of the America were immoral and unjust at times. Evil isn’t only lived out by only white Europeans. (Heck, over a million white Europeans were enslaved by North Africans and the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries!)

While the Kalapuyans were stolen from, oppressed, killed, and displaced by whites invading from the east coast of the U.S., the Kalapuyans also engaged in wrong actions before white Europeans ever showed up, including enslaving others:

“As was the case for many tribes of the Pacific Northwest, the Kalapuyans practiced slavery, with slaves generally obtained through trade or as gifts. Northern Kalapuyan groups, such as the Tualatin and Yamhill, would obtain slaves through trade with other tribes. Slaves would be obtained by raids on distant tribes or through servitude related to paying off debts. Slaves were considered a form of wealth and were used for the purchase of desired commodities, including beads, blankets, and canoes.”

#2 Charice Bock: “I think it is incredibly important for white people to tell these stories and do the emotional labor of trying to communicate about police brutality, its links to racism, and the bigger links to economic access and natural resources.”

In this short sentence, Charice Bock combines truth with inaccurate claims. First, I agree that European-Americans, including those who live now (such as myself, of Scottish, Scandinavian, German, and English ancestry*) ought to research history to understand what has been done wrong, (as well as right) and make diligent efforts to correct any evils of the past that still shadow the present.

Second, in contrast, her next phrase is an example of inaccuracy and ideological untruths that are contrary to the facts of this last year.

Related to these false statements, is her inaccurate claim that “Police forces emerged in this country as a way to return escaped slaves to their masters.”

Based upon my extensive reading of scholarly books and teaching American literature for many years, I think it is valid to state that some police forces in slave states did at least partially come from slave patrols.

But policing in the U.S. came because of many other reasons as well. It is a distortion of history to make the claim that American police came from slave patrols. Some of it did, but in many cases it didn’t.

Boston allegedly established the first city police force in 1751, in Boston in 1838, and New York in 1845. None of those were established as a slave patrol!

Boston’s police force was established to protect the harbor, etc. from criminals.

“…by the late 1880s, all major U.S. cities had police forces. Fears of labor-union organizers and of large waves of Catholic, Irish, Italian, German, and Eastern European immigrants, who looked and acted differently from the people who had dominated cities before, drove the call for the preservation of law and order, or at least the version of it promoted by dominant interests. For example, people who drank at taverns rather than at home were seen as “dangerous” people by others, but they might have pointed out other factors such as how living in a smaller home makes drinking in a tavern more appealing. (The irony of this logic, Potter points out, is that the businessmen who maintained this belief were often the ones who profited off of the commercial sale of alcohol in public places.)

As for “police brutality,” some officers do fail their duty and engage in brutalty. All professions have those who do what is immoral and unjust. It happens with medical malpractice, biased court decisions, religious leaders' acts of molestation, unfair teachers, etc.
HOWEVER, it is not the present action of the vast majority of police in the U.S.

On the contrary, when many thousands of BLM demonstrators attacked police last year, including injuring about 50 Chicago police officers, the latter being greatly outnumbered by the violence of the protestors, most police actually were praiseworthy for their limited defensive actions.

In my own educated judgment, law enforcement oficers were way too lenient, letting violent demonstraters get away with assaults, destruction, and even arson!

IF in doubt, for instance, watch the YouTube video by the Black Chicago Police Chief who documents moment by moment the planned intentional violent attacks of the protestors against a few Chicago officers trying to do their duty.

Watch the news videos, again, of the many violent attacks by Portland protesters all last year!

Many of these demonstrators are NOTHING like the peaceful civil rights workers of the early 1960's and late 1950s such as at Birminghan where even when viciously attacked by police and their dogs and fire hoses, those prptesters continued to live by nonviolence.

Have you read the accounts from multiple sources of all the violence by demonstraters in various cities across the U.S., watched the tragic videos of them breaking laws and attacking police, etc.?

In Portland, repeatedly for over 100 days, violent protesters attacked police, committed vandalism, some even arson and did many thousands of dollars worth of damage to the Federal Court House in Portland.

It appears, based upon many news accounts of those horrific days that the violent protesters in Oregon misbehaved like the violent protesters who attacked police and broke into the Capitol on Jaunuary 6th.

The destruction of thousands of businesses in Minneapolis, and other cities, IS violence!

Haven’t you read about the many business owners who have lost everything?

Small stores operate on very thin margin. Vandalism against them by protesters harms the owners, some of whom are Blacks and other people of color.

Even IF, no humans suffered great loss, protesters using violence in the pursuit of justice is a severe violation of moral realism. The “end” never justifies the means.

Furthermore, violence of all sorts is immoral and unjust, like Martin Luther King emphasized.

As for the claim that U.S. police are guilty of racism, it’s partially true. In my own limited life, I’ve met racist cops. Their prejudice is appalling!

HOWEVER, most law enforcement officers aren’t racist. Heck, many of them are Black, Asian, and other minorities, and they are dedicated to fair treatment, equality, and justice.

During my teaching career, I taught at least 2 high schools that were mostly minorities. In our classes we had Black, Mexican-American, Filipino, Arab, Hmong, Vietnamese.

Tragically we also had gangs including at least one white gang.

When over 100 students of 2 different minorites started a horrific fight on the high school field in California, we had 11 squad cars on campus.

Those officers did an amazing job of protecting innocent students and stopping the violence!

And here is one powerful example: When my wife and I were members of a BIC church (part of Mennonite world) in Tulare, California, one of the elders was a Mexican-American police officer. He came from a poor family, his older brothers were in gangs, and when he got to his early teens, he broke the law.

HOWEVER, unlike so many tragic cases like this where teens have bad families including gang members, who themselves then go down that crooked path, a police officer, rather than only do his duty and arrest the teen, took a personal interest in him for himself. By that police officer’s interest, the teen left crime and gangs, and eventually became an officer himself. (It’s a wonderful testimony he shared one Sunday to the congregation.)

Of course, there are plenty of true stories of police officers being prejudiced.

But most police aren’t racist nor are they unfair.

That doesn’t take away from the facts that there are some racist officers who harm innocent individuals. Those officers need to be arrested and strongly opposed.

To be continued--

In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Becoming Mindful--listen to Thich Nhat Hanh's words of wisdom

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Engaged Buddhist monk. During his difficult life in Vietnam, he endured all sorts of hardships, including the killings of family members and friends by the French, American, and Vietnamese military.

An orphanage that he started was bombed!

And yet, he is a walking example of joy and gratitude, despite the horrors and tragedies.

During the long conflict, he led many thousands of Vietnamese young people in reconciling work among civilians harmed by the fighting.
Martin Luther King nominated Nhat Hanh for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize for his work of nonviolence and peacemaking.

In the mid-70’s, he helped rescue Vietnamese escaping from Vietnam.

Even in the worst events, Nhat Hanh would ask himself what he could be thankful for even if it was only the blue sky and brown earth, and that he was still breathing.

“Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful. How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural—you need to smile at your suffering because you are more than your sorrow.” Thich Nhat Hanh