at conclusion of 11 day Fast to Close Guantanamo (11/1/11-22/1/11) on
It is hard for us to believe that we have reached the final day of our time together here in DC. And it is even harder to bear the thought that with the recent headline news, our work ahead seems to become both more difficult and more urgent.
We are not here to make “angels out of men” as Luke Nephew so powerfully began his poem that first day of the fast. But we insist, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., not to give into the “tragic death wish," but to work to create a choice. The choice for nonviolent coexistence, however, does not simply make itself available; it must be constructed little by little.
This morning we heard of a true light of the spirit of nonviolence in the midst of overwhelming darkness with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. They are a group of young men in the Bamyan province of Afghanistan that dare to study and speak out about peace. We first made contact with these young men last year through a phone call coordinated by Bob Cooke. And then with the hope to foster a stronger relationship, Kathy Kelly and Jerica Arents visited them during a recent delegation to Afghanistan. What courage these young men have.
Over these two weeks, we too discussed what this choice for coexistence really means, and attempted to live by it within the little community that was formed here. It is difficult. Knowing that torture is but one example of the failings in the larger system, Dr. King was right to demand a “radical revolution of values.” And Mary from Chicago added in tonight’s reflection, “True revolution will not come through the court system, but through communities like this one.” Many echoed her sentiment by saying that in these past two weeks we consciously worked on creating a space for that change to happen, if at least first in our own hearts. As Matt Daloisio reflected last Sunday at the Peace Oasis, “Witness Against Torture is not group of twenty-five people who traveled to Cuba, but an ever evolving and expanding space in which people can try to do what they are called to do.”
UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez spoke of mandates, and afterwards we appropriated his language as our own. Nonviolent coexistence is our mandate, may we live by it at every moment and draw others in by our work and love.
In peace and solidarity,
Witness Against Torture
Witmess Against Torture