A New Year's Greeting of Hope from Nicaragua

by Joseph E. Mulligan, S.J.
Christmas 2005 / New Year's 2006

I hope this year has been a good one for you -- with peace and joy even in the midst of the challenges and difficulties I'm sure you have encountered. Let us continue to find hope in the struggle.

First of all, let's take an unblinking look at some of the bad news! Evil seems to be growing in many ways -- the suffering of the poor in the U.S. and throughout the world, the widening chasm between rich and poor, the opening up (by military means if necessary, as in Iraq) of "free-market" areas dominated by the megacorporations (with galloping for-profit privatization of natural resources and human services which are thus put further out of the reach of the world's majorities), state terrorism including the torture of prisoners by the U.S. and British armies and the ongoing military occupation of Iraq with its large daily toll of civilian deaths, the proliferation of non-state terrorist groups, the creeping undermining of the U.S. Constitution and of the Geneva Conventions, the Bush administration's irresponsibility toward global warming and other environmental issues, etc.

And the devastating "natural" disasters of this year were exacerbated by the unnatural, inhuman, and criminally negligent response of government -- most obviously in the case of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

So should we all just become navel-gazers and "angelical" religious types, trying to create some impossible "spiritual" or private realm to live out our days while the world disintegrates around us? No. My hope at this time of year is nourished by two historical developments.

First, the lies are being exposed, the false patriots in the service of their own selfish corporate interests are being unmasked. Patriotism is often (if not "usually," as Mark Twain said) the refuge of the scoundrel. But they can't fool all the people all the time. Signs like "No Blood for Oil" are seen even on some network coverage of demonstrations.

Secondly, the people of Latin America, and others with them, are encouraged in recent years by the victories of political movements in SouthAmerica, most recently Bolivia -- governmental forces which are defending the continental sovereignty, dignity, and economic possibilities of Latin America against the Colossus of the North, which Simón Bolivar (the Liberator of South America) said in the early 19th century -- seems destined by fate to plague the Americas with misery in the name of freedom." The especially crude interventionism and bullying by the Bush administration, as well as the evident incapacity of "free-market" economics to improve the lot of the majorities, has provoked a strong and spreading people's movement of socialism and national self-determination. This becomes even more hopeful when we consider that these liberation movements have their nations' vast natural and industrial wealth as resources.

These trends in Latin America, along with the growing commitment to action of folks in the U.S. and other regions of the world who are saying "We're fed up, not gonna take it any more" and who are heeding the advice of the labor organizer -- "Don't mourn, organize!" -- are historical, visible signs to me that the Spirit of Truth and Justice and Love is loosein the world. As the martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero (San Salvador, 1980) reflected in his Christmas message of 1977:

"With Christ, God has injected himself into history. With the birth of Christ, God's reign is now inaugurated in human time.... His birth attests that God is now marching with us in history, that we do not go alone.... The builder of a reign of justice, of love, and of peace is already in the midst of us" (THE VIOLENCE OF LOVE, compiled and translated by James R. Brockman, S.J. -- Plough Publishing House, 1998, p. 25).

Because of his respect for and dialogue with those people of good will who are not so sure about this religious dimension of their work and struggle, Romero understood and affirmed that God is marching with all people who struggle for a better world, no matter how they conceptualize themselves: "Everyone who struggles for justice, everyone who makes just claims in unjust surroundings, is working for God's reign, even though not a Christian. The church does not comprise all of God's reign; God's reign goes beyond the church's boundaries. (Dec. 3, 1978).

"Even those who call themselves atheists, when they are humane, fulfill the essence of the relationship that God wants among human beings: Love" (Sept. 10, 1978).

Let us work together, as brothers and sisters in the one human family, in mutual respect, toward our common goals.

At the start of 2006, we look forward to an exciting year of creative and militant resistance against the occupation of Iraq. One of many new initiatives is the GLOBAL CALL FOR NONVIOLENT CIVIL RESISTANCE TO END THE U.S.-LED MILITARY OCCUPATION OF IRAQ

This involves legal demonstrations and civil-disobedience actions at U.S. and British installations around the world on various dates during 2006, beginning on March 19-20, the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

The Call has been issued by Nobel Peace and Literature Laureates along with Cindy Sheehan and other peace and human-rights activists, religious leaders, and others. The signers, from 16 countries, "invite peace-makers throughout the world to participate in an international campaign of massive, nonviolent civil resistance to stop the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. These actions could be organized to include both non-violent civil resistance and legal demonstrations."

The proponents of the Call include Harold Pinter, the 2005 Nobel Laureate in Literature, and Nobel Peace Laureates Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland (1976) and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina (1980).

The first date of international actions is March 19-20, 2006, the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. (Subsequent action dates are presented in the Call.) The group envisions that "some would participate in legal demonstrations while others would stage sit-ins, die-ins, and other nonviolent methods of blocking business as usual at government buildings or installations (including military bases and recruiting centers) or at corporate offices of war profiteers in the U.S., Great Britain, and other countries which are taking part in the deadly and unjust military occupation of Iraq."

As for peace-makers in countries whose governments are not at war in Iraq, they are asked to "consider U.S. or British embassies, consulates, military bases, or appropriate corporate offices as sites for legal demonstrations and nonviolent civil resistance."

The signers of the Global Call emphasize that "the Number One message of every action would be: END THE MILITARY OCCUPATION OF IRAQ. Proponents of the Global Call hope that it will dovetail with other important national and international initiatives. If you want more information or would like to get involved, please contact dm@aglobalcall.org. In struggle, hope. In unity, strength.

Joe Mulligan
Colegio Centro America
Managua, Nicaragua