In these closing days of lent, April 1-11 I will be joining a vigil at Creech Air Force Base west of Las Vegas. On March 27 national news reported stepped up drone (Unmanned Arial Systems, UAS) missile attacks directed at villages in Western Pakistan and Eastern Afghanistan. The attacks are now reaching further to the South and increasing in number. We are gathering to vigil at Creech because the UAS air missiles are controlled from there by specially trained pilots and navigators who huddle in front of vast rooms of monitors and send digital signals of instruction that both bomb and collect information as the drone hovers over villages.
I believe the attacks are not just killing people but they are making enemies in a time when people need to be talking to each other in the sectors where attacks are happening. The attacks spread suspicion in the Pakistani and Afghan community. “Who is telling the Americans to do this?” they ask.
Drones like the MQ-1 Predator which is used for these unmanned raids are the most recent instrument in the long search for a cleaner, safer battlefield where attacking an enemy involves less risk. Crossbows, poison gas, aeroplanes, nuclear weapons, agent orange, smart bombs and other vessels for combat light up the history of this search for the perfect weapon. With less risk for “our” soldiers, these digital weapons are popular with politicians.
By joining with people of faith in this vigil at the place where these weapons are commanded I hope to deepen my own consciousness about the state of violence in the world. I also hope to jump start my own imagination in three areas. How do I understand and communicate the danger, risk and ethical implications of digital warfare? How do I awaken my own sensitivity to villagers’ travail of danger and death in Afghanistan and Pakistan? How do I integrate all of this to the central theme of Lent, overcoming violence through sacrifice and new life?
I look forward to your own questions and Lenten messages as this vigil unfolds. I will be pleased to share them as appropriate with my companions in the desert. Vigil sponsors include Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Nevada Desert Experience, the Des Moines Catholic Worker, Strangers & Guests Catholic Worker Farm, Catholic Peace Ministry, Iowa Peace Network, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service. You may contact me by leaving a comment at the end of this blog or by sending me an email at email@example.com.
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