Iraq: last message from peacemaker before abduction

 The day before he was abducted, with three other members of Christian Peacemakers, Tom Fox wrote the following reflection. Many thanks to CPT for sending it to us. Why are We Here? by Tom Fox The Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Iraq team went through a discernment process, seeking to identify aspects of our work here in Iraq that are compelling enough to continue the project and comparing them with the costs (financial, psychological, physical) that are also aspects of the project. It was a healthy exercise, but it led me to a somewhat larger question: Why are we here? If I understand the message of God, his response to that question is that we are to take part in the creation of the Peaceable Realm of God. Again, if I understand the message of God, how we take part in the creation of this realm is to love God with all our heart, our mind and our strength and to love our neighbours and enemies as we love God and ourselves. In its essential form, different aspects of love bring about the creation of the realm. I have read that the word in the Greek Bible that is translated as "love" in the word "agape". Again, I have read that this word is best expressed as a profound respect for all human beings simply for the fact that they are all God's children. I would state that idea in a somewhat different way, as "never thinking or doing anything that would dehumanize one of my fellow human beings." As I survey the landscape here in Iraq, dehumanization seems to be the operative means of relating to each other. US forces in their quest to hunt down and kill 'terrorists' are as a result of this dehumanizing word, not only killing "terrorist", but also killing innocent Iraqis: men, women and children in the various towns and villages. It seems as if the first step down the road to violence is taken when I dehumanize a person. That violence might stay within my thoughts or find its way into the outer world and become expressed verbally, psychologically, structurally or physically. As soon as I rob a fellow human being of his or her humanity by sticking a dehumanizing label on them, I begin the process that can have, as an end result, torture, injury and death. "Why are we here?" We are here to root out all aspects of dehumanization that exists within us. We are here to stand with those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God's children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls. *Last night, Mrs Pat Kember, the wife of Norman Kember, the 74 year old British hostage, spoke on Al Jazeera TV to appeal for the release of her husband. She said: "Throughout his life he bravely fought against all kinds of injustice." "He went to Iraq to help the Iraqi people to stop the spread of abuse and to understand the situation in order to make Iraq a safer place. Please release Norman and his colleagues so that they can continue their work for the sake of peace in Iraq. They are friends and allies who want to help you to overcome evil by engaging in a humanitarian action." Over the weekend the kidnappers threatened to kill Mr Kember and his colleagues American Tom Fox, 54, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32 by this Thursday, unless all prisoners in US and Iraqi detention centres are released. Peace envoy Anas Altikriti has been sent to Baghdad by the Muslim Association of Britain, Stop the War and CND in an effort to seek the release of the men. Source: CPT/BBC

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