Returning To Our Deepest Values
After September 11, the Bush administration ignored the voices
of religious leaders who urged our nation to turn this tragedy into an opportunity for good. As the entire world turned
to us with empathy and concern, the United States had a unique opportunity to lead the world's response from a position
of great moral strength.
Had we responded out of our nation's best and deepest character, we might have
motivated a world-wide mobilization to bring healing and goodness out of our suffering. We could have called for something
like a global Marshall Plan and focused the world's response toward an attainable vision of eliminating extreme poverty
and many of the ills that feed the resentments which breed potential recruits for violence and terrorism. We could have
used our moral credit to call Israel and Palestine back to the table to leverage a workable two-state solution and bring stability
to that conflict.
We could have acted out of our deepest values. We are a generous and peace-loving people.
But the Bush administration betrayed our values and directed us down the dark side of domination and unilateral, pre-emptive
violence. This angry, childish reaction has not worked. But more than that, living in the darkness has produced
As we learn more about the inner workings of the Bush administration, we see consistent patterns
of misinformation, lying, and a disregard for the rule of law. We now know that this administration systematically manipulated
the truth and engaged in unethical behavior on many fronts. They have compromised our traditional civil liberties.
They have choreographed a systemic rationalization for torture and for unaccountable detention. Some believe their actions
may one day provoke formal charges of war crimes. They have spent money irresponsibly, sending our nation's debt
soaring, while favoring the interests of the wealthiest elite. In the tradition of history's worst leaders, they
exaggerated fear in order to consolidate power for the sake of policies of domination.
As a result, the
U.S. is now weaker -- militarily, economically, and morally weaker than we were eight years ago. The only winner in
this sad mismanagement seems to be Iran. We have eliminated their regional rivals and emboldened Shiite allies in Iraq
and their Hamas friends elsewhere. We've lost much of our credibility as a world leader and now find it hard to
persuade even our friends to join us. Religious leaders warned of these things. Fear, lies and violence produce
This presidential term will be marked not only for its incompetence, but more memorably for its immorality.
As a nation, we bear responsibility for what has been done in our name. What has been done is tragic and
wrong. It is time to repent.
We've listened to the bad advice of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice team with
their fear and domination tactics. It's time we listened to some of the religious voices that we ignored seven years
Two spiritual leaders, Christian evangelical pastor Tony Campolo and Jewish Rabbi Michael Lerner, have authored
a path for an ethical way to end the war in Iraq. Like the great prophets of the Hebrew Bible, they have called for
our nation to reverse its direction. They offer a message of hope: "Generosity Beats Domination as a Strategy
for Homeland Security." Almost three thousand religious and secular leaders have signed their statement at www.tikkun.org/iraqpeace.
They intend to publish the statement nationally as a newspaper ad.
Campolo and Lerner anchor their appeal in a
reclamation of American values -- to treat others with generosity, kindness and genuine concern for their well being is a
better path for safety and security that domination and control of others. Repentance is the return to one's highest
values after we have gone astray and betrayed those values. The scripture teaches us: "If my people, which
are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear
from heaven and forgive them their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
This pastor and rabbi
are calling for us to action that will turn us away from our destructive path. They call for us to replace U.S. and
British forces in Iraq with an international peace force acceptable to the Iraqi people. They urge us to rebuild Iraq
and to commit to launching a Global Marshall Plan to help heal the world and rebuild the trust we have lost. Repentance
and generosity is the ethical way to end the war in Iraq.
We've walked the dark path long enough, and it has
not been fruitful. The Bush strategy of lying and exaggerating fear in order to rationalize violent domination is a
failed and morally bankrupt policy that has compromised America's integrity, credibility and soul.
and violence have failed. Why don't we try the moral option for a change.