2 December 2005
IRAQ: Most recent reflection by Tom Fox, "Why are we here?"
[Note: The following reflection was written by Tom Fox the day before he was
The Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) Iraq team went through a discernment
process, seeking to identify aspects of our work here in Iraq that are
compelling enough to continue the project and comparing them with the costs
(financial, psychological, physical) that are also aspects of the project.
It was a healthy exercise, but it led me to a somewhat larger question: Why
are we here?
If I understand the message of God, his response to that question is that we
are to take part in the creation of the Peaceable Realm of God. Again, if I
understand the message of God, how we take part in the creation of this
realm is to love God with all our heart, our mind and our strength and to
love our neighbors and enemies as we love God and ourselves. In its
essential form, different aspects of love bring about the creation of the
I have read that the word in the Greek Bible that is translated as "love" is
the word "agape." Again, I have read that this word is best expressed as a
profound respect for all human beings simply for the fact that they are all
God's children. I would state that idea in a somewhat different way, as
"never thinking or doing anything that would dehumanize one of my fellow
As I survey the landscape here in Iraq, dehumanization seems to be the
operative means of relating to each other. U.S. forces in their quest to
hunt down and kill "terrorists" are, as a result of this dehumanizing word,
not only killing "terrorists," but also killing innocent Iraqis: men, women
and children in the various towns and villages.
It seems as if the first step down the road to violence is taken when I
dehumanize a person. That violence might stay within my thoughts or find its
way into the outer world and become expressed verbally, psychologically,
structurally or physically. As soon as I rob a fellow human being of his or
her humanity by sticking a dehumanizing label on them, I begin the process
that can have, as an end result, torture, injury and death.
"Why are we here?" We are here to root out all aspects of dehumanization
that exist within us. We are here to stand with those being dehumanized by
oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are here to stop
people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God's children, no
matter how much they dehumanize their own souls.