It is time to stop our killing to stop the killing.

It has been one month since the Boston Marathon bombing. United for Peace and Justice is deeply saddened by the attack and hope that the families and victims are finding some healing and peace. UFPJ stands in solidarity with them and all victims of political violence and war around the world. UFPJ strongly condemns this act of terrorism.  We call for an end to the use of violence, terrorism and war as a means to resolve conflicts. As our nation struggles to make sense of this horrible attack on innocent people, UFPJ believes we must take a step back and ask questions and reflect not only about the alleged bombers’ actions but also about our own.

Many questions remain unanswered, but a few things are clear. For the past twelve years the U.S. government has conducted military operations in Muslim countries displacing millions of people, and maiming and killing thousands. Many of the victims have been women and children. This has led many to believe that the U.S. has declared war on the religion of Islam. Today the U.S. military is possibly gearing up for an attack on another predominately Muslim county Syria.

As we mourn the loss of U.S. lives we must ask ourselves what the loss of Muslim lives means to us? Should we expect Syrians, Yeminis, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Afghans and others to accept loss of life in their countries as a result of attacks that are ostensibly to keep our country safe? Do we believe that these military operations can continue and there will be no repercussions for the “collateral damage” of their loved ones’ deaths?

The news media, pundits and officials ask who radicalized the Tsarnaev brothers. But they never analyze or ask what role U.S. foreign policy may have played in pushing the brothers to violence. And we must consider how many others are simmering with rage over the deaths of innocent people caused by U.S. bombs, bullets, missiles and drones? In the 1980’s the U.S. government supported Muslim “radicals“ then called freedom fighters by fanning religious ideology and zeal against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The same logic and fervor U.S. policy makers manipulated as a strategic tool then is being directed as a religious war against the U.S., the West and its supporters, and anyone who does not agree with them Muslim and non-Muslim. Today citizens around the globe are facing the “unforeseen and unwanted effect, result, or set of repercussions” known as blow-back from the past 30 years of depraved U.S. polices in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and the greater region.

Our national leaders call for moderate Muslims to control the “radicals” and stop the terrorism. Yet war is the primary means by which our government has chosen to relate to the Muslim world. These same leaders call for an end to the epidemic of gun violence killing thousands of people in the U.S. each year, but simultaneously support kill lists and the assassination of alleged terrorists, even U.S. citizens including a sixteen year old boy, with drones. We cannot call for the end of violence in our lives while we use violence and engage in war repeatedly as the primary instrument of U.S. foreign policy. We cannot rely on violence to end violence. “Do as I say and not as I do,” is not a recipe for effective leadership.

The cities of Newtown and Boston both need support and time to heal from the ordeals of violence and terror they have experienced. These communities just like communities in Yemen and Pakistan must overcome tremendous pain and sorrow due to the killing, maiming and suffering they have experienced. Parents, here in the U.S. and abroad, mourn their children; friends grieve for coworkers and hangout buddies. Human life is precious here and there. The grief we all feel is the same. More killing will not end the suffering. It will only bring new pain, new anger and the urge for more violence.  We need a new approach to foreign policy that does not rely on destruction and death, but on building communities and the affirmation of life; supporting and promoting diplomacy, conflict resolution, and dialogue as alternatives to war and retributive violence.

The billions of tax dollars spent on war can be used for development, education and promotion of human rights. They could be invested in communities to support mental healthcare programs and job creation. The resources used for killing could be used to build bridges between peoples, not widen the gulfs that separate them. The cycles of violence and death will end when we realize killing begets killing, while dialogue and restorative justice can break those cycles. Both Gandhi and King warned us that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. When will the U.S. see that our bombs are blowing out the light in thousands of children’s eyes? Some of them are own. The light is replaced by anger and darkness. It is time to stop our killing to stop the killing.

Take action today to support peace:
No U.S. intervention in Syria
End Drone Warfare
Redirect money from war spending to human needs, jobs creation and community building and development

Michael T. McPhearson, UFPJ National Coordinator, Veterans For Peace
Lisa Fithian, UFPJ National Convener, Alliance of Community Trainers
Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation
Cole Harrison, Massachusetts Peace Action, United for Justice with Peace (Boston)
Terry Rockefeller, 911 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Siri Margerin, Civilian Soldier Alliance/IVAW, Bay Area UFPJ
Michael Eisenscher, US Labor Against War
Rusti Eisenberg, Brooklyn for Peace, Legislative Working Group
Gael Murphy,  Legislative Working Group
Lee Siu Hin, National Immigrant Solidarity Network

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