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 Joan Chittister:  From Where I Stand

 April 8, 2003
   Vol. 1, No. 2 

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"The spirit we have, not the work we do, is what makes us important to the people around us."


A Benedictine Sister of Erie, Sister Joan is a best-selling author and well-known international lecturer.  She is founder and executive director of Benetvision: A Resource and Research Center for Contemporary Spirituality, and past president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.  Sister Joan has been recognized by universities and national organizations for her work for justice, peace and equality for women in the Church and society.  She is an active member of the International Peace Council.

* The Web link to Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA, is provided as a service to our readers.

A New Moment in Time

by Joan Chittister,OSB

They say that out of every war comes something useful, something that advances the quality of human life. In the Second World War, for instance, it was Teflon and microwave ovens and TV dinners. And, oh yes, the United Nations, a body of international politicians designed to make the will of the world’s governments prevail.

This time it may be very different.

However dangerous the present world situation, however dire the present political climate, however obscene the effect of any attack on the innocent people of Iraq, in the final analysis Iraq may stand as a turning point in world history. Whatever the implications of this US-led war on Iraq for the future of the U.N. and for the credibility of the United States, one thing is sure: This situation has changed the world -- has changed politics -- in ways no one could even have imagined before it all began. The world has found its voice.

Even democratic countries locked their people out of the discussion of whether or not a preemptive attack on an independent nation with an eye to regime change and reorganization by an outside power coincided with traditional notions of national sovereignty and international law. But in this situation, the governments of those countries themselves have received a solemn warning: People intend to be part of the decisions taken in their name, whether anyone invites them to participate or not. What’s more, they can’t be stopped from being heard anymore.

And what is the proof of that? The proof is you. And your computer. And your Internet connection.

Almost instantaneously people came together on the Internet from around the world to sign petitions, to write to politicians, to lobby the U.N. Security Council itself., an Internet anti-war site, raised over a million signatures overnight to ask for tough inspections, not war. Then they delivered them personally, in 12 boxes worth of paper, to every member of the Security Council. They raised vast amounts of money for advertising campaigns around the country. They organized simultaneous and massive candlelight vigils around the world, 1,605 of them in 77 countries in three days, if fact.

Never before in the history of the world have average people been able to be mobilized to this extent, with this kind of clarity, toward this kind of goal. Let the people who plan wars beware. There may be a non-territorial country growing right over, around and even under the very countries they think they lead.

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