We must not turn away or stop speaking out
Its a matter of opinion whether the world needs more words about Kosovo, the Balkans, ethnic-cleansing Serbs or Albanian refugees. This same dilemma rises to meet us in many directions. The experts say there are 30- or 40-odd wars in progress just now but even the experts cant agree. Anyway, its easier not to bother noticing. Such conflicts are all a nuisance: so complicated. For starters, its hard to lay blame for old hatreds that go back a thousand years. Eventually we run out of clarity and patience and resort to the even-handed but unfair prayer: a plague on all their houses.
Yet NCR sent Special Report Writer Patricia Lefevere off to the Balkans to write more words. Conscience says we cant hide from the wars until peace comes. Lefeveres account sifts again amid the rubble for winners and losers and causes and casualties, for hints of hope. This is an excellent account of the misery, but light on hope.
And that may be the challenge for now: not to solve what centuries have failed to solve, but at the very least not to turn away. People of conscience must bear witness. Suffering is one thing, but abandonment greatly multiplies the suffering. We owe it to our common humanity not to abandon those suffering this years misery. Injustice, violence and pain will have won when good people stop noticing and stop speaking out.
The testimony will be more worthwhile if the reader feels the same obligation to read.
At the Plowshares trial , Judge James T. Smith Jr. refused to allow expert testimony. One such expert was Sr. Rosalie Bertell, who wrote as follows to the judge:
You must be somewhat disturbed over the trial of Philip Berrigan, Susan Crane, Stephen Kelly, SJ, and Elizabeth Walz. Your sentencing was so excessively vindictive that I would guess that the action of these men and women deeply challenged your "faith" and belief that Catholic doctrine supported U.S. military activity, regardless of the judgment of the churchs more prophetic members.
Another barred witness, Francis A. Boyle, professor of international law, wrote: "Smith gave Phil Berrigan 30 months. May the mark of Cain be upon Smiths head for the rest of eternity should Phil die in jail!"
-- Michael Farrell
National Catholic Reporter, April 7, 2000