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Celebrating Freedom by Seeking Peace

Monday night my husband and I watched the documentary “Why We Fight” which opens with Eisenhower’s farewell speech warning the American people of not becoming beholden to the “military industrial complex.”  Much of the film is about situating our current national obsessions with war in historical and economic context.  Essentially, the war machine is profitable, so it will keep being fed.  It was one of those films that fueled my anger at this war we are engaged in because of its compelling and precise arguments.

Then all day yesterday I was in a bit of a funk, in part because I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing on July 4th, also in part because I have been making some hard decisions these last few days.  Last night, as I lay in bed and listened to the sounds of fireworks exploding over Lake Union, for a few moments with my eyes closed, I could almost imagine the helicopters whirring and the explosions of gun powder were what it must be like living in a war zone.  I lay there listening closely and imagined what it might be like to live in that kind of fear.  Certainly my brief imagining is nothing close to the real experience, but it felt sobering.

Then I woke up today and read Rachelle’s wonderful blog, she has a post about Independence Day that sums up so well what I have been thinking and feeling.  She writes: “I don’t know how to celebrate this; I don’t know how to say “Hurrah!” when so much of our whole consists of war craft and killing, manipulation and assumed ownership. These terrible habits are deeply embedded in our cultural be-ing.”  How does she celebrate Independence Day?  By seeking peace.  “If only this day could be a day to seek peace, to protest violence. If only our parades featured the Mennonite Central Committee, Peace Corps volunteers, Cindy Sheehan.”  Amen Rachelle.

I have been making some difficult personal decisions these last few days which come down to seeking peace for myself and my body.  In this quest for peace I have found some internal freedom.  And really the spiritual life is about becoming more and more free both individually, but also as communities.  Free from our internalized patterns of destruction, free for living into what God imagines for all of Creation.  It is a challenging freedom and a risky one, but nothing less is worth celebrating.

-Christine Valters Paintner (sacredcenter at aol dot com)

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