Peace in Iraq seems infinitely more remote this morning with the news of the murder of Christian Peacemaker Tom Fox whose body was discovered in Baghdad yesterday several months after he was kidnapped along with other members of the Christian Peacemakers team. Fox knew that he was risking his life to give witness to peace and justice in Iraq. But he felt called to work among the people of that shattered land to do what he could to give comfort, hope and relief to the families so devastated by the violence of each day’s struggle. On his blog, Tom Fox posted an entry that gives some insight into his personal motivation: He was reflecting on the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the manmade disasters of war and violence, and he starts with a quote from the pioneering doctor Elizabeth Blackwell:
” ‘I must have something in life which will fill this vacuum and prevent this sad wearing away of the heart.’- Elizabeth Blackwell … This was the quote today in my planner as I considered the tragedies both great and small, personal and global we are all dealing with. … We have seen again and again in the last one hundred years the evolution of warfare to the point now when the first two parts of war that have been in play for centuries, that of middle-age men sending out young men to fight and die to keep the middle-age men in power, has added a third component. Still the young fight and die to retain the power of the middle-age men but now most of those who lose their lives in the conflict are women and children. Four months ago the UN commissioned a study to look at Iraqi casualties since the beginning of the U.S. led invasion. …The study stated that 40,000 Iraqis have probably died from violence since March of 2003. That includes death from U.S., Iraqi and insurgent violence. And 70% of those casualties were innocent non-combatants, mainly women and children.
The only “something in my life” I can hold onto is to do what little I can to bring about the creation of the Peaceable Realm of God. It is my sense that such a realm will always have natural disasters. It is the “man-made” disasters that we are called upon to bring to and end.”
Let us pray for Tom Fox and his family, for all of the peacemakers in Iraq, for our soldiers and for the families who must live with the consequences of violence each day.