Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stop the war

Photographs by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad



You can see details and more of Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's photographs from Iraq here.





Augustine - writing about 1,500 years ago - says things which seem outrageous, outdated, ludicrous, bizarre and even damaging or dangerous. He also says things which suggest sharp insight into human nature and the operations of societies and governments, things which might have been written yesterday, and with specific reference to current global politics.

"The city of man...is a single community. The simple truth is that the bond of a common nature makes all human beings one. Nevertheless, each individual in this community is driven by his passions to pursue his private purposes. Unfortunately the objects of these purposes are such that no one person (let alone the world community) can ever be wholly satisfied. The reason for this is that nothing but Absolute Being can satisfy human nature. The result is that the city of men remains in a chronic condition of civil war in which those who win oppress those who lose." (Augustine, The City of God 18,2)

"Thus it is that all men want peace in their own society, and they all want it on their own terms. When they go to war, what they want is to make, if they can, their enemies their own, and to impose on them the victim's will, and call it a peace. Even when wicked men go to war they want peace for their own society and would like, if possible, to make all men members of that society, so that everyone and everything might be at the service of one head. O course, the only means such a conqueror knows is to have all men so fear or love him that they will accept the peace which he imposes. For, so does pride perversely copy God. Sinful man hates the equality of all men under God, and, as though he were God, loves to impose his own sovereignty upon his fellow man." (Augustine, The City of God 19,12)



.... plus ca change....





Blogswarm in protest against the war, more details here.

17 comments:

Trac said...

The area in that top picture was featured on Newsnight yesterday.
Each piece of rubbish being a 'gravestone' to a shallow grave for an unidentified person.

There are no words that I can think of to sum up how awful it all is...
****
Have a great time away!
See you when you get back.
x

mouse (aka kimy) said...

in reading these passages from augustine, my feminist bells started ringing and here are a couple thoughts pop to mind:

when patriarchy and sky gods reign supreme augustine's take on human nature (or is it really human nature) seems inevitable.

what happens if instead of 'the city of man' where man is allowed to pursue his passions, we create a gentle world of cities of women, men, and children - where everyone is taught and nurtured to embrace, celebrate and rejoice in the equality of all men (sic) under god?

peace on dear lettuce!

have a great holiday.

namaste!

deb said...

Augustine got it right.

Akelamalu said...

It's shocking, truly shocking :(

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

I look at the pictures and hear the song "Tell me, where do the children play?"
I read Saint Augustine's words and agree with kimy - creating a better world starts at home.
best to you, Letty.

Sally Crawford from London said...

DEAR Lettuce,

Augustine could only and would only envisage the city of man (oh, don't get me started).

Briefly, hence '.... plus ca change....'; hence determinism if that's the word.

Don't sign up to all that stuff.

We need the city of man . . . and (underlined)(you guessed it) WOMAN.

PS: the photographs are wrenching.

PPS: Iraq / Tigris and Euphrates was the cradle of Mankind? It figures.

Enjoy your break.

PPS: I am not a feminist, but Kimy got it right!

Gledwood said...

urgh! is Iraq really in such wreckage??

plus I'd like to know what on EARTH our govt is doing spending BILLIONS on bloody Iraq when they're cutting back on our hospitals and underfunding schools how on EARTH do they justify that? just get the HELL OUT of Iraq, Brown, else we'll SO MUCH enjoy voting you out when the time does eventually come round...

hey Lettuce, have a happy Eggster!!

;->...

Steve said...

Lettuce: Brilliant post. I love how words from so long ago can still be so accurate.

Kim: My mom always used to say there would be no wars if women ran the world!

Gary said...

Augustine sure had some powerful words! It seems as though the most powerful words are the ones that are also very simple. Comments on the nature of the human mind/soul that hit on truth seem to click for me. These words 'clicked'.

lettuce said...

trac i ended up using someone else's words for that reason. and, on a rather trivial note, isn't this crap weather? we hear you have snow in london!!!

Kimy you're right, a lot of his assumptions were extremely patriarchal. THough he was significantly less misogynist than many of his peers. and i think his alternative vision (the city of god) could have a lot in common with yours.

hi deb and lamalu, hope you're having a good weekend.

yes lee, i agree. best to you too. :o)

dear sally - fear not, i definately DON'T sign up to Augustine's world-view. But quite a lot of what he said has such a contemporary ring - in terms of his insights into certain aspects of human nature.
PS i AM a feminist.

but gled,if we vote Brown out - what is the alternative???? happy eggster to you too. (hoping to get some cut price left over eggs now the weekend is over)

Steve at times i believe that (about women running the world) and at times i think thats just as dangerously stereotyping...

gary i'm glad they clicked. some of Augustine's words could have almost been written today.

la bellina mammina said...

Truly sad...

Anonymous said...

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d. chedwick bryant said...

I thought I had already commented here. This post along with Kimy's and Merle Sneed's have made me wonder why so many out there do not care. Bravo to those who create these posts...I am working on one, as is Dennis but it is difficult.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Powerful pictures and sadly, deeply insightful words.

Debbie in NC said...

New visitor here from David's blog. This post caught my eye and is the first read.

I just watched "Why We Fight" this week and Eisenhour also had it right.

I am sick inside with what we are doing and it can't stop soon enough.

Right on post...

dennis said...

Dennis says NO WAR.

Britannia said...

This is great info to know.