Second Open Letter to Barack Obama
Honorable Mr. President, dear Barack Obama!
A few days ago we sent you an open letter with the request to put the lives of the people in Syria above all political power calculations. We are grateful that the military strike has been put on hold for the time being. Now we want to move to a second stage of our intercession; we once again pray that you will use your authority to call out to the world public for definitive peace – including an end to all weapon distribution. Thus, you could be named among Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
We know that this must seem naïve to you and your advisors. However, we, the undersigned, are far too familiar with the political processes of our time to offer naïve proposals. All those involved, even your own citizens, would agree with relief if they had the chance to be honest. It is not the hearts of the people that prevent the peace initiative; it is economic and military power groups that aim to prevent a war-free scenario in their own interest. Here we have arrived at the decisive point.
In our times, a life without war is no longer thinkable. Words like “weapon industry” and “defense ministry” belong to our daily vocabulary. When a war begins somewhere, it is just one “event” among many others. We no longer dare to really look. A single glance into the misery of devastated villages and cities would suffice to prohibit any war, any weapon industry, and any and all arms trade, immediately and forever. On television, we see torn limbs of children on the street, burnt humans, mutilated bodies – we quickly reach the limit of what we can bear. We can have compassion for the pain of a dying animal. However, we are no longer able to develop compassion for the infinite pain that is inflicted upon entire peoples today. We human beings are no longer able to bear what we ourselves have caused. We have gotten into a lethal dead-end.
The creed “Thou shall not kill” stands out in stark contrast. In Cairo you said, “The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind.” The children who die on the battlefields today could be our own. The children who die in a military strike in Syria might as well be your own. The tears which an American mother cries are the same as the tears of a mother in Syria. Here and there, exists only one humanity seeking its freedom and its right for life, love and solidarity. Never must a people be punished for the crimes of their leadership. You know, as precisely as we do, what a horrible wildfire could spread if more fuel was added to the Syrian blaze.
After everything that happened in history, including everything your own nation has done in the last 250 years, we can no longer believe there are “better” nations which have the right to punish the “worse” ones. There is a thread of aberration that goes through all of humankind. Perhaps we share the same ethical values as you, perhaps we can refer to the same source which spoke to us 2000 years ago, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.” And didn’t the noble words, “Thou shall not kill,” also come from that same source?
Could it be that this One Spirit of the One Humanity – once gathered in Jesus Christ – would repeat the same words today? Would we seriously respond, “My dear Jesus, we know that you speak in the name of God, your commandments might be good and correct, but they are unrealistic because if we do not kill then the other will”? Do we really want to deny the existence of a world order without killing?
When we get serious about renouncing revenge and violence we make a landmark decision that stands above all political power considerations. Only when we have made this decision can our squalid world regain order. You would not be alone with this decision; billions of people will be on your side. With constant intentions for a future without war. Thank you and amen!
Dieter Duhm and Sabine Lichtenfels