Letter: Are we taking steps toward peace and justice?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Again, I wish our local churches were more visible in our area and across the United States. There have been some signs since Mountain Xpress published an opinion piece in October 2023 asking, “Where Are the Involved Local Churches?” I’ve noticed actions of locals calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. I don’t know if they are affiliated with with any specific church, but the silent prayer vigils for Israel and Palestinians were attended by Christians and Jews. And I’m thankful as the Resist Raytheon and Veterans for Peace groups continue to vigil for peace and justice.

I do know that Land of Sky United Church of Christ in Asheville is making itself visible in the call for love and peace in the world, calling us to stop the killing of innocent people and children in Gaza. They are demonstrating for a cease-fire on Thursday afternoons. And, equally important, Land of Sky hosted a Palestinian from Gaza, Hani Almadhoun, on March 9. Almadhoun shared his personal experiences of tragedy, famine, faith and hope along with some historical background. I estimate about 200 or so people attended the session.

Here’s a blurb from Land of Sky: “During the season of Lent, we will join with others across the globe by walking in solidarity for those suffering in the Holy Land. We will meet at the French Broad Park, walk approximately 3.2 miles each week and commit to calling our representative or writing.”

But, on the whole, mature spiritual religious values are not at the forefront of our Disunited States of America. Perhaps it’s impossible to number how many different religions are on this planet, but in our country, there are some 2,000 different Christian denominations. That’s a lot of churches, but basically invisible.

There is much that is right about a mature religious spirituality. In the Asheville area, there are many people supporting others with hearts of compassion and kindness to relieve suffering and nonviolently stand up for justice. But that’s not enough. For example, our Asheville Council we elected has not approved a proclamation calling for a cease-fire in Gaza that would favor both Israel and the Palestinians. The count is over 31,000 killed, including 4,100 children.

Recently, Rabbi Arthur Waskow spoke of Aaron Bushnell, an airman in the U.S. Air Force who set himself on fire while shouting “Free Palestine.” The rabbi said, “What I learned from Aaron is not to do the act he did but to act in the spirit of his action: I will increase and strengthen my own work to end this bloodshed of utter destruction in which my own nation has become a major part.”

This reminds me of the monks, nuns and laypeople in Vietnam who set themselves on fire to end the Vietnam War — a war that ended in defeat for the Disunited States. And in Afghanistan, the return of the fundamentalist Taliban to power is another example of an American defeat.

A government or religion that calls people to a commitment to the highest ideals is needed to highlight the best of human values as a way of life.

The evil of war-making will not drive out evil. Kindness, respect, toleration and cooperation will create a better world. Not perfect, but better. Let us all pray, read, study, reflect and act with others to create a more peaceful and just world.

“Many of us like to ask ourselves, ‘What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?’ The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.” — Bushnell before he set himself on fire to protest Israel’s bombing.

— Ed Sacco



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3 thoughts on “Letter: Are we taking steps toward peace and justice?

  1. Peirce

    They will be no peace and justice until Hamas surrenders. But god forbid anybody say that with their fake outrage.

  2. T100

    Hamas has vowed that there will be NO PEACE until the land from the river to the sea is purged of die Juden. Why can you not bring yourself to believe them??

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