Perhaps this is a vision.
I have prayed to know what to do and how to be at this eleventh hour. There is an outcry from everywhere in the world. People everywhere are coming forth to say No to a war that could annihilate everything. But we do not yet see the way to stop this war.
Here is one way that we can walk for the sake of all living things. A way with a heart and with great possibility.
I have asked how we have come to this? How we have come to the place where one can imagine inflicting the equivalent of another Hiroshima? How have we become so mad?
The madness is everywhere. It is not in the United States alone. Such dreams of power and annihilation, of revenge and rage, of total destruction inhabit all corners of the globe. Dreams intoxicated with Armageddon and the ecstasy of apocalypse.
This madness is in the White House and in the Palaces of Saddam Hussein and other dictators. In Congress, in Parliament and in Al Qaeda. In rebel armies, among terrorists. The same. In the scientists who imagine the bombs and the other weapons of mass destruction. In those who manufacture the weapons, who create nuclear weapons, biological and chemical warfare, and horrors yet undisclosed. The madness of the military people who will use these weapons and will sacrifice the soldiers and the civilians to use them. It is in the press who have both glorified and disguised the madness, in the filmmakers who have gleefully entertained us with the gore of battle and the extremis of suffering, in everyone who is making a profit from the business of war and in the dark fantasies and nightmares that inhabit our secret moments. The madness is everywhere.
This is the madness of fear and terror and rage, the madness of the closed heart. It is the madness of those who look away.
This madness was conceived over time but was born into the twentieth century and has multiplied, increased in potency and spread like a scourge and plague everywhere. It is the affliction of those who refuse to know in their hearts the reality of suffering and the reality of war.
This comes from ignorance, not innocence. From turning away from what must be known. This comes from refusing to hear the stories, from refusing to bear witness, from refusing the intelligence of the heart.
We could speculate on the cause and way of this affliction, but we do not have the time. We do, however, have the time to remove the barriers to the heart at this eleventh hour.
This is a call to everyone who knows war and suffering to tell the stories of this suffering now. This is a call for everyone to tell the stories, to seek out the stories, to bear witness to the stories. This is a call not to turn away, but to take the stories into our hearts and then to disseminate the stories so that those who must know these stories in their hearts and souls will be surrounded and inundated by them until they too cannot turn away from them.
This is the vision:
Let us each gather all the stories we can. Let us. All of us. Each of us. This is a call to everyone to seek out, listen to, tell and broadcast the stories so that we can pierce the hearts of those who would wage war without knowing what they do.
These are some of those to whom we must turn for the stories:
Speak to those who experienced World War I and World War II. Gather the stories, the real moments, the particular events, the exact experience of what it was like to be in a foxhole in World War II or to have landed at Normandy or Iwo Jima, or to have been evacuated from Dunkirk. To have been betrayed in Spain or been terrorized in Warsaw, to be firebombed in Dresden or rounded up in Czechoslovakia and Moscow. To be tortured and frozen in the gulag, or set on fire at Hiroshima. It is a call to finally hear the stories of what drove the soldiers mad in Vietnam; the stories we refused to hear when they returned. The stories of what is still afflicting the soldiers of the Gulf War. It is a call to the soldiers and the victims of the soldiers.
These stories contain the essential information and understanding we need in order to know what to do at this time. These stories carry the wisdom of healing if we truly listen to them. This is the information that is essential for everyone in the world because everyone in the world is involved at this moment. It is the eleventh hour for everyone and every living thing.
Let us make known the stories of Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, Sierra Leone, the Congo and Rwanda. Of South Africa and Zimbabwe. Of Chile, Argentina, El Salvador and Guatemala. The stories of Leningrad and the blitz of London. The stories of Palestine and Israel, of Lebanon, Algiers and Tibet. The stories of the Death Camps, the Internment Camps and the Long Marches, the forced relocations and the death marches. Of slavery and genocide. The stories of the violence and horror of the Inner Cities, of the hopeless slums, of lynchings and gang wars, child prostitutes and childrenŐs armies. The stories of birth defects and monsters caused by DU and other fiendish weapons. The stories of the wars against the earth of oil spills, poisoned oceans, defoliated forests, of culls and of Chernobyl. The stories of exile and statelessness, displaced persons and starvation. The stories of the Disappeared and the stories of torture.
We are being asked to gather these stories and to disseminate them. To gather the stories from everyone but particularly those who experienced them and are not able to speak them. The stories that have been too awful to bear. The stories that people thought would drive them mad. These stories that have been festering in the unholy silence that has brought us to the unthinkable.
Let us really listen to these stories so we can tell them to each other and to those who would participate in any way in the kinds of wars that are being contemplated. If those who tell the stories cannot record them, then we can record them one way or another and send them out everywhere.
Who shall we send them to? Send them to the President Bush and to Vice President Cheney and to Secretaries Rumsfield, Ashcroft and Powell. Send them to Congress. Send them to Tony Blair and to the British Parliament. To Kofi Annan and all the representatives of the United Nations. To Germany and France and Russia and China. To Turkey, India and Pakistan. To Israel and Sharon and to Palestine and Arafat. To South Korea and to North Korea. Let them go everywhere. En masse to the war research labs and the weapons manufacturers in every country. To the scientists and the military. To the Pentagon and to the Generals everywhere in each country. To the media in every country so they can be transmitted everywhere. These stories must be told in all the languages that the tragedies of the last hundred years have been suffered.
Gather the stories and tell them to the mothers and fathers of the young people who are being sent to the Gulf. To the mothers and fathers who will soon be told by the Pentagon that their childrenŐs bodies may not be sent home but will probably be incinerated or buried in mass graves because of the kind of chemical and biological warfare that is being planned. To the mothers and fathers of terrorists and suicide bombers. Tell them to all the soldiers and fighters who are being trained and readied so that they will know what they will be asked to face and what they will be asked to do and what they will be asked to bear and what may kill them and what and who they will kill.
We cannot turn away. We must bear witness. Hear the stories. And tell them and tell them and tell them until the hearts of those who would turn away from such truths and anguish are opened.
There has never been such a time in human history. There has never been a time when the people of the entire world have come forth to speak against the unspeakable. In the past the horrors were enacted in our name but without our knowing what was being imagined, created, enacted. But now we know. We hear the threats. We are informed of the horrors that are being planned.
We cannot remain ignorant. We cannot turn away from what is being contemplated in our name and, as we are being told, on our behalf.
If this madness comes to be, then it will come to be with our knowledge and consequently our acquiescence. Let us face what we are about to perpetrate with full knowledge. Let us know then what it is that is being done in our name. Let us know what has happened in the past so that we will know the future. Let us not turn away. Let us instead open our hearts and open the hearts of those who think these wars will save us.
There is no time to organize this but we must, nonetheless, gather the stories and send them out. There is no central place for the stories to be received because they need to be received everywhere. Send them everywhere whether the doors are open to them or not. These stories can open the doors that are closed.
We must do this now. Today. Tomorrow. Immediately. Without waiting or hesitating. Gather the stories and send them out.
Go to the veterans and veteransŐ hospitals, the temples, churches and mosques, the sanctuaries and shrines, the prisons, the homeless, the exiled, the injured, the maimed, the maddened and the desperate, the silent and the silenced. Let us gather the stories of the unimaginable anguish and the torture of this century and let us listen and open our hearts.
These stories will be gathered by each of us and sent out to do their work. They will descend like living angels on Washington and Baghdad and everywhere else that anathemas are being conceived. These stories will descend in their terrible beauty and their awful truth.
Then a great No will rise from the earth and break open the heart of everyone in its proximity. A great No that states:
I see the devastation of the past and I refuse the devastation of the future. I will not participate in this madness. I will not inflict this suffering on anyone or any living thing.
We believe that a terrible wisdom will emerge from the million upon millions of tellings of these stories. We believe that through these tellings we will know what we do not know now. We will know something of how to go forth toward what someday we will be able to call Peace.
Let us disarm the barricades to the heart at this eleventh hour. Let us do this now.
In peace and hope,