Letters - 8 October 2021

From Whitewash and tar to Meaningful ‘conscience’

Whitewash and tar

Simon Webb (24 September) does a service in reminding us of the ‘whitewashing’ of our African church fathers in our Christian art. I fear, however, that the whitewash has gone farther than anticipated. 

Our church fathers have inflicted enormous harm on women and on our concept of human sexuality. Augustine, son of a libertine father and a prudish mother, has imposed his unresolved sexual issues on all of Christian culture. If he and the other patriarchal dudes – Athanasius, Jerome, Tertullian – were writing today they would be in jail for incitement to hatred.

Just look at what happened to the image of Mary of Magdala: from first witness of the Resurrection and being the New Eve (cf John 20:14-17) to a former prostitute (without any textual evidence). Maybe the whitewash needs a coating of tar. That may be putting it too strongly, but not too mildly.

Frank Regan

Cuba and sanctions

It is heart-wrenching to hear of shortages of food and medicine as a direct result of increased sanctions on Cuba (news 30 July), by Donald Trump, and fully supported by Joe Biden. These sanctions have led to the fact that there is no legal way to send money or medicine to Cuba from the US or other countries.   

We are truthfully advised that ‘if the embargo doesn’t stop, we will not survive… we call for peace, understanding and dialogue… we believe in the Spirit that takes away the occasion of all war’. We read about schools now being turned into makeshift hospitals with little medicine because of these brutal sanctions.

We know that sanctions kill and starve women and men and even babies and children, and know how a population is brought to its knees by this type of violence against humanity.

We have learned from Iraq that up to one and a half million Iraqis died as a result of sanctions alone, about half a million of them were children under the age of five. This is possibly what Cuba faces now under the impact of US sanctions on the civilian population. We know now that the general health of the population will drastically and steadily deteriorate as a direct result of this embargo. It is obscene to continue imposing these deadly sanctions against Cuba. Sanctions punish the entire population.

In 1995 the United Nations General Assembly voted against the blockade of Cuba with 117 votes against the blockade, and only three countries – Uzbekistan, Israel and the US – in favour. The blockade clearly defies world opinion.

We need to challenge the use of sanctions as a means of trying to exert control over poor nations. We need to strive to end militarism and forced impoverishment as a means of control. Is it acceptable by any human standard that we would permit for one minute for one child to die because of sanctions? Yet thousands and thousands of children have died because of sanctions, for example in Iraq and Yemen. We must end this war weapon of hunger, which we are told is essential ‘to bring about regime change’. Sanctions kill people. Our concern is, what does all this mean for humanity, and Love of our sisters and brothers on this planet? Mother Teresa said that all this misery in the world is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

Where is the respect for international law? Is there no restraint on violence, or any accountability for crimes, and glorification of superior violence? The cycle of violence and tragedy and the misery that sanctions cause must be acknowledged by Quakers everywhere. We must truthfully honour our Peace Testimony publicly, so as to unite in a vision of peace and compassion. Cuba has been isolated politically, socially and economically for too long.

We must strive to see with eyes of the heart, hear with ears thirsting for the truth and speak the language of our Peace Testimony every day. The world is weary of the threat of more war. The Cuban people will face what Iraq faced if we don’t unite in prayer and with peace organisations worldwide, seeking to end sanctions. We must seek opportunities for constructive engagement, so as to build better relationships worldwide. ‘Let’s see what Love can do’ as we truly all belong to each other.

Miriam Ryan

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