Saturday, November 07, 2009

Speaking out

Today is the birthday of Albert Camus (1913-1960), French philosopher, novelist, journalist, and activist who was born in Algeria. His writings have had a major impact on my life. In the mid-1960s I came across this quote from a speech of his, “The Unbeliever and the Christian,” at a Dominican monastery in 1948:
“What the world expects of Christians is that Christians should speak out, loud and clear, and that they should voice their condemnation in such a way that never a doubt, never the slightest doubt, could rise in the heart of the simplest [person]. That they should get away from abstraction and confront the bloodstained face history has taken on today.”

His novel The Plague is one of my favorite pieces of fiction. Interestingly, it was written during World War II while Camus was staying at Le Chambon-sur-Lingon, a French village notable for its efforts to save Jews, led by the pacifist Protestant pastor, André Trocmé, and his wife Magda.

This novel, set in Algeria, explores how people respond to a plague. Written during the Second World War it is hard to see that this is not a metaphor for Nazism and anti-Semitism. I heartily recommend the novel and the set of essays, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, to challenge people and institutions to respond directly to the evils around us and to be straight-forward, not mincing words, when faced with evil.

I just wish that some sections of the church here in Honduras and the US government were more direct in confronting the evils found here.

What has especially bothered me has been the one-sidedness of the condemnations of the Cardinal and others against Zelaya and the failure of the US to condemn the human rights abuses that have been noted by international groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

This is not to say that Zelaya is exempt from critique. Anyone who knows the history of the last few years here will recognize that he has done enough to deserve judicial proceedings and that Bishop Santos and Jesuit Ismael Moreno and others who oppose the coup were also critical of many of the policies and actions of Zelaya, and even more critical of the way that the Honduran Congress, led by Micheletti, opposed some major changes, especially in the mining law.

What I long for, though, are clear voices, like our bishop and the statements of the priests of our diocese.


Anonymous said...

I am going to take at face value your commitment to the poor there.
It is admirable and I commend you for it.
You know the answer to that question.
The Cardinal, as Romes front line soldier is not going to side with a man that is fully committed to ally himself to Hugo and his anti-church politics.
They are being put in a situation where they have to defend the least worst option.

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

siding with a man - whether he be Zelaya or Micheletti. the question is commitment to the poor and speaking out against violations of their lives. The lives of the poor are more important than any politician or any institution.
For me, some of the worst moments of the church's recent history were the occasions (e.g., in Argentina and Germany) where the hierarchy failed to speak out against abuses of human rights, sometimes for the sake of preserving the institution.

phoenixwoman said...

I'm not sure I see the justification for saying that Zelaya deserves judicial proceedings... certainly not by those who want to judge him, even though they are more guilty than he. Indeed, Zelaya was not only in the power of the coup at the time of the expulsion, he placed himself in their power twice more, once when he tried to land and once when he crossed the Nicaraguan border. The coup refused to arrest and try him. Could there be any clearer evidence of his innocence?

A lot of accusations have been made against Zelaya. Most of them strike me as baseless, and some are simply laughable. Legal scholars like Edmundo Orellano have made mincemeat of the charges relating to his conduct in office.

That leaves miscellaneous charges of financial misconduct. Did Zelaya use state funds to feed his horse? Was he involved in promoting gray traffic in telephones? Etc. If Zelaya is to be tried for that, fine-- as long as the rest of the business and political class is tried as well. Otherwise, it would be hypocrisy, the sin against the Spirit (Truth), the one sin that God cannot forgive... because the hypocrite is unable to ask.

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

It would be good to have any charges made against Zelaya cleared up - by legitimate and unbiased authorities (which may be very difficult to attain in Honduras at this time.) But I also believe that Micheletti and the authors of the coup and the elite also need to be held accountable. What is important is that truth comes out - including any US involvement in the coup.
What is needed is the WHOLE truth - not all the rumors being thrown about as "truth".

Anonymous said...

I agree. I also assume you are curious as to the role Venezuela played also?
Strange that a country that doesn't even share a border can be so outraged that they can threaten invasion to support a mediocre politician.

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

The role of the US and the role of US organizations in the coup needs to be considered. I believe the role of Venezuela in Honduras has been overplayed. Read what former US Ambassador White wrote about this: