The Terrible Texts: The Attitude of the Bible Toward Women - Part II

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 31 December 2003 0 Comments
Please login with your account to read this essay.


Recently on the Australian Radio I heard you link terrorism with poverty, injustice and inequality in the world. Why is it that these obvious connections seem to have escaped the attention of Western leaders?


Sometimes our tribal minds keep us from clear thinking. When a nation is attacked by terrorists, the natural tendency is to strike back, to make terrorism so expensive that no one will ever try it again. The only problem with that is that it doesn't work. Why should a terrorist fear the military strikes that bring death if they volunteer to die in the terrorist act itself?

The question our leaders must ask is what brings people to the despair of suicide? What has made their lives so hopeless and their future so bleak that they choose death and the opportunity to inflict pain on those they blame for their plight rather than a chance to live in a new world?

Terror is the last violent gasp of hopelessness. The terrorist views heroic death as a better option than meaningless life. Look at the life of a typical Palestinian or at the economic disparity between the rich and the poor in every Islamic country. Remember the violence of America's urban riots in the 60s. That was not solved with appeals to law and order. Terrorism will never be solved with military strikes. The cause of violence must be addressed. Hope, education, training, jobs and a real hope will make them want to build the future rather than destroy it.

Do not mistake what I am saying. A nation must defend itself from aggression from any source. But when the aggression comes from suicidal individuals organized in terrorist cells, someone needs to ask what created this despair and move to address the causes not the symptoms. When hatred is driven underground, it does not disappear. If we have learned anything in this dreadful war in Iraq, it should be that winning this war was easy. Mr. Bush pronounced it concluded early in May. Yet no one will think that this military adventure has been successful until genuine peace has been achieved and the people who are terrorists today wake up tomorrow to dream of a better world with themselves as part of it.

The cost of bringing hope to hopeless people by addressing their pressing needs is considerably less expensive than the cost of building a nation we have destroyed militarily. When will we ever learn this basic human lesson?

-- John Shelby Spong




Leave a Reply