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Christmas challenge for a nonviolent Australia

  • 22 December 2011

When the nonviolent Jesus was born into abject poverty to homeless refugees on the outskirts of a brutal empire, angels appeared to impoverished shepherds singing, 'Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth!' Peace was coming. They were so excited, they couldn't contain themselves.

That child grew up to become, in Gandhi's words, 'the greatest nonviolent resister in the history of the world'. He taught peace, lived peace and blessed peacemakers. 'My peace is my gift to you,' he said. When we refused to learn 'the things that make for peace', he broke down and wept.

He took action to end systemic injustice, in a nonviolent way. For his civil disobedience he was brutally executed by the empire. When he rose from the dead, he came back not seeking vengeance, but once again, offering his gift of peace. 'Peace be with you,' he said over and over again.

Two thousand years later, the world remains stuck in the old cycle of empire, war, poverty, and injustice. This time, however, the empire's weapons have the power to destroy the planet. The money spent funding our wars and weapons bankrupts us and leaves millions in hunger.

On top of that, our greed and systemic violence destroys the environment. Catastrophic climate change is our own fault, and may bring unprecedented 'war on earth'.

In the US, many of us work daily to resist the American empire. We pray, protest, write, and speak out. We stand up, sit down, camp in, occupy, cross the line and go to jail. In short, we do what we can to welcome the Christmas gift of peace.

This year, America's deadly outreach has come to Australia, a place I have grown to love during my visits and speaking tours. I think the US military presence there could mark the beginning of the end of your hallowed land.

My advice? Don't welcome the American military. Don't let them stay. Don't let them plan future wars in Asia from their new Australian base. No good can come of its presence in Australia. It will only lead to further wars, greater insecurity, more death and destruction. Resist the American war machine.

That's actually the message and challenge of Christmas. If the birth of the nonviolent Jesus heralds the coming of peace on earth, then each one of us is called to join God's global peace movement and do what we can to welcome that gift of peace.