Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Where Love Calls

I thought I might include a video in my post to honor Archbishop Oscar Romero. When I went to search on youtube, I came across a video of the massacre that occurred during Romero's funeral. I didn't know about that massacre. I can't bear posting the video here. If you want to find and watch it, do so at your own risk.

About a month after the massacre, Fr. James L. Connor from the U.S. was present and shared his reflections from that day. These are this opening words:

Inside the national cathedral in San Salvador
The U.S. Government's official position toward El Salvador is badly misguided. Of that I am now convinced. Prior to March 30, I would not have said this so confidently. But that day I got a fresh perspective on the question as I huddled with 4,000 terrified peasants inside San Salvador's cathedral while bombs exploded and bullets whistled outside in the plaza where we had gathered to celebrate the funeral of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

And later in his article he wrote: 

Social analysis, they say, depends basically on your starting point: from where and with whom you view the social situation. As I sat huddled in the San Salvador cathedral with thousands of terrified peasants, I found myself viewing the Salvadoran social situation with the poor and from their perspective of weakness, terror and oppression. I was given a vivid experience of the power of evil that can permeate the institutions and behavior of who fight to uphold an unjust system.


Plaza of people who came to honor
Archbishop Oscar Romero 
The U.S. Government maintains that support of the present junta in El Salvador is the best guarantee of peace (whose peace?) and stability (again whose?), whereas I know that to support the government militarily is, in effect, to support the dominance and the aggression of the oligarchy. It is to maintain institutionalized violence. We are not, therefore, guaranteeing peace, but are continuing the silent, inexorable warfare of an elite over the peasants whose death toll was over 900 in the past 90 days. Even if there were no actual bloodshed, we are effectively denying access to basic human rights to millions of peasants by supporting the continuance of a social situation which is basically unjust, whatever the personal convictions or rationalizations of its upholders.
In choosing to sustain this situation, our Government is failing in political assessment and moral sensitivity ....

And yet, despite his witness, despite the witness of many others,  the U.S. government continued to give money and money and weapons and training to the Salvadoran government and its military that was slaughtering its own people. 

And today the U.S. government continues to give money and money and weapons and training for "the best guarantee of peace (whose peace?) and stability (again whose?), whereas I know that to support (insert current government of choice; for me- Israel) militarily is, in effect, to support the dominance and the aggression of (insert your choice; again for me- Israel over Palestine).  It is to maintain institutionalized violence." 

Reading his reflections, I return to the words of Fr. Gregory Boyle: All Jesus asks is, "Where are you standing?" And after chilling defeat and soul-numbing failure, He asks again, "Are you still standing there?"           

Oscar Romero gave his life because he chose to stand in the right place. Those who mourned his death paid the price because the stood in the right place. 

Sometimes I have the courage to stand where Love calls me to stand. I wish that in those times I've had the guts to stand in the right place, I had not been so often looking at destruction that my own government supported. 

I hope to more faithfully stand in the right place, next to those whose lives and liberation may look different from my own, but are intimately tied to mine. I hope that someday I will not have to stand facing destruction that in any way can be attributed to the complicity of my government. I hope that I will also have the willingness to look at my own complicity in supporting structures, corporations, and institutions that commit egregious injustices and to change my ways so that I may better stand with Love. 

May we all better stand where Love calls us.  

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