Suheir Hammad on War

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFbE8RBhSDw] I'm often puzzled by how easily American Christians get swept up and overpowered by nationalistic narratives of war. Going beyond the debate about pacifism and just-war theory, I would at least expect Christians to be more suspicious of the grandiose narratives that nation-states use to justify violence. To be sure, we cannot underestimate the power of these narratives. Usually clothed in utilitarian language, and endorsed by most of the news sources available to us, they take on an aura of objectivity. They simply make sense. It becomes hard to resist them. One way to resist such narratives is to recognize that they are just that--narratives. They represent one way of looking at things. By no means are they absolute. Once this is realized, they are able to be called into question. "Perhaps, this story has missed the picture. Perhaps, its focus has sidelined important obligations that we should have never forgotten."

Resistance to a nationalistic narrative of war requires an alternative narrative to counter it. And given the hegemony that militaristic narratives enjoy, any counter-narrative will almost always be a marginalized narrative. Christians need to recognize that the Gospel itself is a marginalized narration of the state-of-affairs, one in which the King of the cosmos conquers through death on a cross. So Christians do have the resources for resistance. But the question is, do we still have the imagination to question the primacy of militaristic narratives? Can we re-imagine things in such a way that there is room for us to love our enemies?

It seems as though many Christians remain quite comfortable with the mainstream narratives of war. But we need to resist; we need to remember our story. In the mean time, maybe we will have to find inspiration from Muslim, Palestinian poets in Brooklyn.