justice


As a young teen living in Perth in 1981, the plight of refugees fleeing from Vietnam, or anywhere else for that matter, was not on my radar. But I had grown up in a loving church community called the Wembley Downs Church of Christ, it was here, and in my family, that I am sure the seeds of compassion for those in need were first planted. I know the people in the story below personally. I’ve eaten with them and (not for a while now) spent quality time with them. My passion for seeing desperate people be given a chance in this great country, no doubt, was borne in the following story;

DN-SN-84-09736

(Google Images)

In 1968, two years after qualifying to become a high school maths teacher, Kiem Do was conscripted at the age of 21. He successfully passed an exam that qualified him to join the Air-force and he quickly rose through the ranks to become the Chief Air Terminal Controller in Danang airbase with the rank of Lieutenant.  During this time the war between Vietnam and the United States (depending on who you ask) was raging and continued for 20 years.

Kiem was in the Airforce from 1968-1974 and during this time, in 1973 he met Ky-Anh who was a school teacher, they got married in the same year (it was love at first sight)! They welcomed their first child, Do Dinh Dang Khoa, the following year.

 

In 1974, when North Vietnam took over South Vietnam many allies were captured and placed in “re-education” camps – these camps were really prisoner of war camps (enduring extremely harsh physical and mental conditions).  The minimum sentence for all Prisoners of War (POW) was 3 years and the higher the rank the greater the solider would be held, some cases up to 15 years.

 

One of the things the prisoners were required to do was to write down details of their involvement in the war every month. If a prisoner’s story changed from month to month, their term of stay would be increased. Imagine the mental state of the prisoners required to divulge details of their “disloyalty” regularly.

WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  KOREAN WAR/PRISONERS

(Google Images)

Due to Kiem’s high ranking position in the South Vietnamese Army, Kiem was treated very poorly in the camp – his living conditions were horrific.  With little to eat and forced to do continual hard labour under harsh conditions, Kiem lost a considerable amount of weight. By way of example, POWs were forced to clear forests for farming and harvest lumber for furniture making. Sadly, quite a number of POWs died from illness, starvation, exhaustion and purpose to live. These POW camps were designed to strip their prisoners of dignity and their will to live – their biggest torture method was to slowly diminish their prisoner’s hopes. During his time in the camp, Kiem found it hard to imagine that there could ever be a bright future for him and his family.

 asddd (Google Images)

Ky-Anh and Khoa during this time were refuged back in Saigon at Ky-Anh’s family home where all her nine siblings and their families lived under one roof.  With food, resources and money being scarce, you can imagine the family squabbles Ky-Anh would have had to deal with. Saigon during this time sustained a great deal of destruction and loss. Ky-Anh lived in fear and saw terrible effects of the war first hand, including human casualty.

 

After three long years, Kiem’s name was called out for release. While detained at POW camp, prisoners wanted to hear their names called out on two occasions. The first is to announce the prisoner’s release, and the second was to clean the pots that the rice was cooked in because it meant that the prisoner could eat the burnt rice stuck to the bottom of the pot. Kiem was never told why he was released and he certainly did not want to hang around to ask!

 

Kiem slowly made his way back to Saigon, walking majority of the way.  Kiem was met with yet another hurdle. All districts of Saigon were controlled by the North Vietnamese Communist Party. The Communist authorities still considered Kiem as a POW and did not permit him to reside in the city. Unable to live in the city, Kiem continued to be separated from Ky-Anh and his son Khoa.

 

He was forced to live on the outskirts of the city and was only allowed to hold menial jobs. As a POW, Kiem was constantly told that his children would not be allowed to attend any form of higher education and there would be no opportunities for them. He and his children would be barred from holding any job with any social high standing of influence.

 

Ky-Anh and Khoa’s living conditions were getting desperate as their living arrangements had not improved and Ky-Anh’s siblings had begun to quarrel. Imagine living with 9 adults and 4 kids, all needing to be fed and clothed with little resources to do so.  Her family were on food rations and she was unable to significantly contribute to the household as she had no means of earning money, she had a young child to look after and a husband who was considered a pariah by authorities. And to make matters worse, Ky-Anh was being ostracised.

 

Kiem managed to secure a job at a pineapple plantation on the outskirts of Saigon. Desperate to see Ky-Anh and Khoa, Kiem would often sneak into the city, walking all the way from the plantation.

 

After working on the planation for 1.5 years, Kiem met a man of Chinese and Vietnamese decent who asked if he knew how to use a compass and read a map. Fortunately due to Kiem’s training in the Airforce, he had acquired the skills of using a compass and reading maps.  However, during this time owning a compass or even talking about a compass would put one’s life in danger. Luckily Kiem had a friend who he knew would be willing to sell this man a compass. This set things in motion and they agreed to work together to escape Vietnam.

 

Escaping Vietnam was not something for the faint hearted. The Communist Party thoroughly patrolled the waterways and kept a close watch on residents living in regions surrounding the waterways closely for suspicious activity – mainly the shipyards where boats were constructed. Even moving Ky-Anh and Khoa from the city into the region to prepare for the escape was extremely dangerous in itself.

 

Kiem, Ky-Anh and Khoa attempted to escape Vietnam 7 times. But each time they were about to attempt their escape, a whistle blower would raise the alarm and they would not get very far. On their 8th attempt, with a new crew and a 11 meter boat installed with a repurposed engine from a wheat grinder, they successfully fled Vietnam.

 

The details of the escape was delicately planned and kept a secret. Kiem himself did not know when the family would be travelling until a core member of the crew informed him a week out from the day. The family had less than a week to prepare for the potentially life ending journey. The fact that Kiem, Ky-Anh and Khoa could not disclose to their extended family members of their plans to leave, made it even excruciatingly more difficult.

 

In the darkness of night, the family sadly left their home and made their way down to the Mekong region to the town of Tra Vinh, to meet up with the organisers. People travelling out of Saigon were required to have documentation issued from the Government outlining their travel. Kiem, Ky-Anh and Khoa had no such documentation, so every bus and ferry ride was extremely stressful.

 

Anyone who was found to be travelling to the Mekong region for the purpose or suspicion of escaping Vietnam were imprisoned, regardless of gender or age. During the family’s travel to the Mekong region they had a few close encounters with the authorities. However, luckily for the family there was usually a large movement of people in this region so the Communist patrols could not check everyone in the region. The family stayed in Tra Vinh at a acquaintance’s house while they awaited for favourable weather condition to travel.

 

Once they received the signal, the plan was to load thirty adults and ten children onto the eleven meter boat, docked halfway downstream at the mouth of the river. This area was usually well patrolled by the authorities especially during calm nights, so the plan was to move small groups of 5-6 people at a time, by rowing small boats to the main boat docked downstream. This operation was extremely risky as these waters were well patrolled, not only by the Communist authorities but also desperate locals seeking to claim reward money if they notified the authorities of escapees. The most difficult part was ensuring that the children were kept extremely quiet during the transfer.

 

Once everyone was transferred into the main boat, Kiem and the crew slowly navigated the boat out towards the open sea. The noise of the engine was smothered by sandbags and channelled into the water. About 100 meters into the journey a patrol boat headed up stream towards their boat. The crew agreed that if they were spotted that they would make a dash for freedom, even though they all understood the potential risk and consequences of getting shot at. They all knew that it was suicidal because their repurposed engine was not going to be able to out run the patrol boat, they had no choice at this point. As the crew held their breath, the patrol boat brushed passed them with no more than 5 meters between them. It was truly amazing that they were not intercepted, shot down or captured during this close encounter.

 

Once out of the river into the open seas, they headed in the direction of Malaysia.  March was the most favourable time of the year to escape Vietnam as the waters were much calmer. This was particularly important given that the boat they were travelling on wasn’t built to withstand poor weather conditions.

 

They travelled for 5 days and 5 nights. What an ordeal for Khoa, a little boy just 6 years of age! They had to survive on small portions of rice, but with a combination of the cramped conditions, anxiety, fear and sea-sickness no one ate.

vietnamese-asylum-seekers

(Google Images)

On the 5th evening, Kiem noticed a light beaming from a light house off the coast of Malaysia. Uncertain about the depth of the water and whether there were large rocks at the base of sea, Kiem directed the crew to anchor the boat in a little cove. They watched the path taken by fisherman in hopes that they could lead them safely to shore, but Kiem knew that the fishing boats were too fast for them to follow.

 

The following morning, the crew got long bamboo sticks to probe the water to estimate the seabed depth whilst looking out for protruding jagged rocks. The crew navigated the boat as close to shore as possible. When it was safe enough, the crew and passengers jumped into the water and walked to shore. A local Malaysian from the island stood at shore and welcomed them. Everyone was exhausted, relieved and overwhelmed with so many mixed emotions. Some of joy and others of fear, but one thing they all knew was that they now had freedom. At this point, Kiem, Ky-Anh and Khoa finally saw a future for themselves as a unified family which they had been deprived of for so long.

 

The Immigration Department of Malaysia had predicted that Vietnamese refugees would be arriving from the east coast. The Malaysian government were happy to welcome Vietnamese refugees and agreed to process the refugees’ documentation.

 

All the crew and passengers were transferred by bus to their refugee processing camp in Malaysia. The camp was very basic, but everyone recalled it to be a place filled with positive energy. People had found a renewed sense of hope and aspiration for brighter futures. Meaningful traditional Vietnamese music was played over the camp speakers every day during sunset, whilst it sadly reminded everyone of home and loved ones they left behind, everyone knew how blessed they were to be given the opportunity to wake up each day with the knowledge that they had a sense of control over their destiny. This was a privilege that so many others have sought and lost their lives trying to pursue and for others will never have the opportunity to know freedom.

 

The camp was built with a few small temporary classrooms for the kids and adults to study basic conversational English. Whilst awaiting for processing both Ky-Anh and Khoa attended the school. Having worked with American soldiers during the war, Kiem knew basic conversational English. Instead Kiem assisted in the wood workshop which a Vietnamese refugee had established as he had been at the camp for a very long time. The local camp workers supplied thin plywood and small hand saws for the workshop. The workshop produced plywood pictures (before the likes of 3D printing and laser cutters) and ornaments, including timber replica model boats, which were sold to the local markets in return for small amounts of money.

s-l1000

Given Kiem’s service in the Airforce with the United States allies, him and his family was given priority to migrate to the United States. However, Kiem felt that United States always seemed to be involved in conflict (he’s not wrong there) and he did not wish to see his family go through anymore wars, so he waited to see if other countries would offer his family the opportunity to resettle.

 

As side note, Kiem recalls an interview he saw on television in Vietnam during the war. He remembers watching Henry Kissinger the then Secretary of the United States under the President Richard Nixon. In this interview he said that if he could live anywhere in the world he would live in Australia. From this point, Kiem knew he wanted to raise his family in Australia because for a prominent diplomat like Kissinger who was well travelled, highly educated and informed, to publically announce that Australia was the best place in world was something significant. Australia was no doubt in Kiem’s mind and heart a place of peace and hope.

 

Kevin Sharp (who, the Do Family, now endearingly refer to him as Uncle Kevin) – was a member of the Wembley Downs Church of Christ. He had read and seen something about boat loads of refugees escaping war torn Vietnam and heading to the east coast of Malaysia and was disturbed by what he saw.  It was in 1981 when he was moved to do something about this tragedy.

 

Kevin presented his case to the Church and suggested we rescue a family and bring them to Australia from the Refugee Camp in Malaysia. He wanted to give a sponsor a family to give them the opportunity to start a new life, a life that we all at some point take for granted.

 

The Australian Immigration Department (under Malcolm Frazer’s Prime Ministership) was involved in sponsorship process. They selected 3 family profiles who were residing in the Malaysian refugee camp to the Church – the Church was to choose 1 family to sponsor. The Church was faced with a hard task and made their decision purely on the photographs that they were provided. The Church chose a family comprising of a well-educated man, along with his wife and son who were in desperate need of a new beginning in a country that could offer many opportunities and possibilities. The Do family had been selected.

 

It took 3 months for the Wembley Downs Church to get the Do’s house in Scarborough organised.

On the 11th of July 1982, the Do family were notified that all was prepared in Perth and they were to leave Malaysia and head to their new life in the land of hopes, dreams and freedom, Australia.

 

Three days later on the 14th of July, the Do family arrived in Perth. Kevin and Fay, [my Aunty], nervously waited at the airport to meet the family that they had sponsored. The flight was filled with refugees who had been successfully sponsored by different churches and organisations.

 

Kevin and Fay distinctly remember seeing a little family coming towards them with all their worldly possessions in a small torn suitcase and under Kiem’s arm was a timber boat, a handmade replica of the boat that they left Vietnam in, which he presented to Kevin as a small token of his gratitude.

 

Perth welcomed the family with one of its coldest winter nights! Coming from humid Malaysia, they were not adequately prepared for such cold weather. Warm clothing was given to the family as they were bundled into a bus with the other refugees and was transferred to Graylands Immigration Centre to start their new life in Australia. At that time, Graylands was used as a holding place for quarantining newly arrived refugees. Here the refugees were involved in an orientation and assimilation program covering language and culture for a period of 6 weeks – this was supposed to be a soft-introduction to living in Perth, WA. After the 6 weeks, the Do family were free to take up residence in the home the Church prepared for them on Scarborough Beach road. When they were transported to their new home, their first reaction was of astonishment and disbelieve that this little flat was so gracefully and generously provided for them.  And it was from that moment this family the Do’s become part of my family.

Over the years I came to see this family as just another family connected to my family, but beautifully different;

  • We had fun with the language barriers.
  • My Mum drove Ky-Anh to the hospital when she was in labour.
  • Ky-Anh learnt to swim in our pool.
  • Khoa went off to school, not being able to speak a word of English.
  • He played basketball in our church team with Dad as the coach.
  • We had fun eating delicious authentic Vietnamese food before there was any of these authentic Vietnamese Restaurants in Perth.
  • We had fun watching their three children grow up, awarded university degrees, getting married, having children, receiving professional recognitions and national education awards.

 

Our little Church with a big heart gave a family a new start in life.

Khoa is now married with three kids: Zachary (10), Amelia (8) and Elysha (2). He currently holds the position of Associate Professor at Curtin University within the School of Built Environment and Design.

 

The middle daughter born in Australia, Gina is married with one daughter, Emily (6) and is currently residing and working in Geraldton. She is the Deputy Headmaster in Nagel Catholic College High School.

 

Christina, the youngest daughter also born in Australia is married and recently had a baby boy Noah only 8 months ago. She is a qualified lawyer and Lecturer in the Curtin Law School. She is due to commence her Doctorate at the University of Western Australia next year.

 

It has been a truly amazing journey to date for the Do family and those who have been involved in the whole process. It is a story of how a little kindness goes such a long way, if we only dare to care.

 

There is an old Chinese proverb that: “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, others build windmills”. The Do family would like to publicly thank the Wembley Downs Church of Christ and all our church family for their unconditional generosity, kindness and love. Kiem says;

Thank you for building windmills and not walls. Your kindness gave a little refugee family hope and a future where there was none. We are forever grateful that you chose us and we found you!

img_0129

Ky-Anh and Kiem Do in October 2016.

 

*Postscript – At the time of publication there are 1233 people in Australia’s off shore detention centres Nauru and Manus who have been told there is no hope of ever placing their feet on our great land. I wonder if there are families with stories like our friends – The Do family, amongst them? I’m sure there are. I wonder if there are any churches and community groups in Australia who will ‘carry’ refugees (no matter how they get here) through the tough years of settlement in a new land? I KNOW there are!

6a00e54ecc070b883301b7c78443ea970b-115wiBeyond the Walls by Brad Chilcott

Who would’ve thought that one photo could cause so much trouble?

It wasn’t the first time I’d been criticized for my friendship and solidarity with the Muslim community, in fact I’d had some threats of violence when I spoke up about Halal certification but this one took it another level. Had I renounced the gospel? Sure, being friends with Muslims, but praying in a mosque? Did I even believe in Jesus anymore? The beard didn’t help any.

Had I taken the instructions “love your neighbour as yourself” and “love your enemy” too literally? Too far?

1 John 3. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

We know what loves looks like by only one measure. Jesus Christ. We only know what loves looks like because we know Jesus and what it looked like for him.

And if I had a Bible for every time I’ve heard a Christian use their love for everyone as an excuse to be bigoted, hateful, insular, selfish, fear-mongering, greedy and self- interested I’d be the library at the Vatican.

You’ve heard it like I have. This flippant Christianese about loving people for whom we hold our deepest prejudices and ugliest hatreds.

Let me say this –

If it sounds like hate, feels like hate and makes people feel hated then it’s certainly not love

There’s not some special form of love that only Christians get to know about that looks and feels a lot more like hate for those that it is directed towards, but in some super spiritual secret way is still love.

If it looks like prejudice, feels like prejudice and keeps us as far away from people as prejudice does, then it’s prejudice.

There’s not a special form of Christian love that looks like prejudice, feels like prejudice and distances and dehumanises people like prejudice but in actual fact is some secret kind of love that only Christians know of.

There’s no special kind of love where you get to be horrible to people, or pretend they don’t exist, a kind of love where you stay in your insular and ignorant world, judge people you’ve never met, protect yourself from difference and religiously maintain your privileged way of life and self-righteously sheltered paradigm.

There’s a reason that doesn’t sound a lot like love.

Because it isn’t love. It’s prejudice wrapped up in faith.

It’s ignorance wrapped up in religion.

It’s bigotry masquerading as Christianity.

It’s selfishness appropriating the name of the selfless one to excuse greed and insularity.

It’s our rampant desire for a comfortable, self-interested life using the one who gave up the trappings of heaven to set us free as an excuse not to give a damn about anyone except ourselves, our situation and our perspective.

That’s not love it’s blasphemy.

But seeing as that little rant doesn’t relate to anyone here in this room I want to move on and talk about some things that are a bit more insidious, a bit less overt and obvious but are nevertheless important to reflect upon if we are to apply this wild measure of love to our work in the community and world.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus laid down his life for us.” There’s a CS Lewis quote that I find helpful to explain it in practice

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” ―C.S. Lewis

Another way of putting that could be “good intentions are not the same thing as love”.

Why? Because if we don’t do the hard work of turning good intentions into real outcomes for people then it’s likely that the “good” in “good intentions” is more about how good we feel about what we’re doing.

There’s a danger that we’re in fact congratulating ourselves for the intention to do good deeds, the videos we made to celebrate them and the likes on our Instagram account of ourselves with poor children rather than doing whatever it takes for the good of the people we say we love.

The phrase in CS Lewis’ quote “As far as it can be obtained” is key for us, I think. Love seeks the ultimate good of the loved person “as far as it can be obtained”.

Here are some very practical things that love does when love has the intention to work for the “ultimate good … as far as it can be obtained”.

1. Love intentionally escapes the echo chamber. In love we realise that it is easy to be surrounded by people, ideas, books and stories that affirm what we believe, the way we think, our theology, missiology and ecclesiology and we end up in a situation where we think anyone who isn’t doing it like us, or with us, must be naive, uneducated or willfully incompetent.

The echo chamber is when we find a bunch of like-minded churches, with similar culture to our own, and so do what they’re doing – it must be the right thing because they had a sick video and their people love it.

Love is not an excuse to be uneducated, or narrowly educated. Love is a steady wish for the loved one’s good as far as it can be obtained. As far as it can be obtained means being aware of the danger of the echo chamber where all our ideas, practices and projects are constantly being affirmed by those who we have become mirrors of.

2. Love is teachable and actively seeks out learning and critique. Love makes sure we’re at the cutting edge of community engagement, aid and development and have made every endeavor to learn from the best practitioners in the world about how to maximize our engagement with the people we say we love.

Love is not an excuse to do things badly. Love is not an excuse to be ten years behind. What I mean by this is that love won’t just send money, people and hours to any foreign aid and development project, or local community development work, driven by an emotional response we call love.

Love will, in seeking the loved one’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained, actively seek to understand what it world’s best practice today and invest in that best practice.

If you don’t know what results-based accountability, asset-based community development or collective impact mean, it’s time to learn.

When we’re still behaving like the white Saviours who can solve all the world’s problems for them the photos look great but It’s not love.

3. Love maximizes outcomes no matter what the cost – because it’s about the recipient and what they get out of our love acting towards them and not about us and our desire to feel like we’re good people.

In a small church community like mine, hundreds of people hours and thousands of dollars are invested in helping the people we love. In larger churches it’d be thousands of hours and tens or hundreds of thousands.

Across this room, across Australia, it’s incredible to think how much human and financial resource flows from our love for others.

Love, seeking the loved one’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained, pays the price of ensuring this investment does the most good it possibly can. That sometimes leads to conflict when we learn that our favorite projects aren’t aligned with good development principles, or that our community engagement isn’t helping but is feeding a dependency mindset.

Love sometimes means educating people that there are better organisations, projects, activities to invest their time and money into, and others that need to be abandoned, or radically re-imagined.

Love is not an excuse to avoid the conflict that comes from assessment, accountability and education. In fact, love makes those things essential because love doesn’t ask, “How does this activity benefit me and my church?” or “How does this keep people in my church happy and comfortable?” love says, “How can I best obtain the ultimate good for these people we say we love?”

This is how we know what love is – Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. What would you give up for love of people?

Changing the way it’s always been done? Escaping the echo chamber and being challenged by new ideas and paradigms? Being willing to take your people on a journey towards world’s best practice despite the uncomfortable changes on the way?

Maybe it’s risking your reputation, like Jesus being seen with sex workers, tax collectors and sinners as we do whatever it takes to make our community engagement about them and not about us and our church-culture measures of success.

This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. Thanks.

Brad Chilcott

[Source: World Vision’s National Church Leader’s Summit – February 2015]

 

Been thinking about ‘death’ since ANZAC Day and the discussion that took place around some of my posts and links on Facebook. Not only that, Scott McKintyre (Sports commentator) was sacked from SBS for making ‘insensitive comments’ around ANZAC Day and death on Twitter. Then, just days after ANZAC Day, two Aussies and their mates were put to death in Indonesia for drug smuggling, Nepal fell over in a massive earth quake and in the US riots have made the news almost every day.

But it’s something of the tricky stuff around death, the ethics of death, that has me scratching my head.

So let me get this right;

[In general] Australia is not happy that Indonesia killed 2 of our citizens for committing a crime that was (and still is) punishable by death. 

Some questions on this; The USA still has the death penalty in a few states (see facts sheet here), so would we still feel as outraged if the it was the U.S. killing Aussies? Maybe.

I note we have withdrawn our Ambassador to Indonesia, at least temporarily, to make a statement. Would we do the same to the U.S.?

So, are we saying as nation that the death penalty irks us, or just when it is our people…or just our people who have shown clear signs of rehabilitation? These guys certainly have done this. In a predominantly muslim country these guys, particularly the Rev Andrew Chan, have shown clearly that they are committed to Christ and living reformed lives. He DID organise the heroine smuggling ring, and was guilty as charged. Could this be religious persecution? Or in fact was this ‘fair’, they did the crime in a country in which they knew they would face death if caught. The questions still remains, is death ever the right punishment for a crime. Since 1973 140 people have been released from death row in the US as a result of further evidence coming up proving their conviction to be wrong.

So for whatever reason, the popular opinion from us Aussies (at least our politicians?) is that these folks should not have been punished with death. Left in prison maybe, but not killed. *There was some criticism toward Triple J for releasing the findings of a pole suggesting 52% of Australian supported the death penalty but the SMH said this;

A poll finding a slim majority of Australians support the death penalty for Australian drug traffickers – seized upon by the Indonesian government to justify the killing of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran – is crude and misleading, according to critics.

So maybe it’s close, but certainly the public/political voice from Australia is that we dont support the death penalty placed upon our citizens in other countries.

What about the one who enters a house and kills someone? Prison? Unless it is your house, right? Then its personal – death penalty? This kind of question unfortunately can never be personal. It ends with everyone making different rules based on their personal experiences and feelings. So lets keep it at arm’s length? The twin towers, the Bali bombings – death penalty for any guilty parties? If we say yes, then why not for the Bali 9? Their smuggled drugs were surley to take a life/s down the road some where, so and eye for an eye?

How is the death of the Bali 9 different from a death in war?

Take Gallipoli – for whatever reason, justified or otherwise, we land on the Turks beach with the Kiwi’s and the Poms and start killing them…on their beach. We have 8000 of our folk dead before moving the living to another battle field to continue the war effort. Are the killings in Turkey in that battle okay? It was not self defence, no one was smashing down my door to kill my wife and kids, we were smashing down their door! There are rules and ethics around killing in war. Just watch the movie Breaker Morant to see how confusing it must get. Augustine created the “Just War Theory” which Bush used in Iraq version 1 to justify his invasion…”God told me to“. And so went the justification for our early Christian Crusades. So that’s ok? But Jihad (a holy war because Allah told them to) is not ok? (unless you are a Jihadist!). Some people shudder to think of the damaged caused when [we] the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs in Japan in our WWII effort (like Australia/NZ and the Brits in WWI, we had a coalition going with the U.S. in WWII). So it was a kind of retaliation for the Japanese invasion of our collective space (Pearl Harbour, Darwin, Sydney etc). Is this different on a personal scale from a house invasion? Did they deserve that response on all those civilians, or even the military? And if so – who says so, where are the boundaries here? Particularly in the example of Turkey in WWI and Japan in WWII.

Come to the house invasion, the hypothetical that people always use. “What happens when a guy busts into your house and wants to kill your family?” Well truth be told it really DOES happen.  Would you kill to save? Take a life to save a life?

If Jesus really intended us to live in non-violent ways, as he indeed lived out his days and taught in his teachings (turn the other cheek, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you) then do we just invite the killer at the end of the bed to kneel down and pray with us? My wife Christine suggested in no soft way that she was hoping for more from me than jumping up and loving the intruder, she suggested that she feels quite unsafe with this theology sleeping next to her! I made the comment to her and the kids that “I would die for you, but I’m struggling with the idea of killing for you.”

What about just maiming? Could I try to harm not kill? But is that not an act of violence for a person who believes in non-violence? Or is it justified in that circumstance? But that takes me back to Gallipoli. If we can agree that Jesus taught (no I’m not bringing Old Testament angry God into this conversation!) to love your enemies and the only thing that caught his rage was a table in a temple…yes and a herd of pigs suffered under his ministry but … he WAS a Jew!🙂

So;

Death penalty bad, yes? Or only under certain circumstances…who makes up these circumstances?

Gallipoli good or bad? Or we just can’t talk about this right? Too sacred.

Terrorist sending planes into buildings…death penalty?

A holy war – good or bad? Depending on if it is a Jihad or a Christian Crusade I guess, or I guess that then depends on if you are a Christian or a Muslim!

Me defending my family from attack with my life or by me taking a life?

Harming the aggressor in the process of defending instead of killing – Okay?

I kind of can’t help coming back to Jesus every time…I do try to base all my ethics and values out of his life and teachings. WWJD is such a cliché – but seriously WWJD? Look at the teaching. Look at the cross, look at the sword in the hand of Peter and that rebuke – “We don’t do it that way!”

The sacrificial lamb – Jesus, the ultimate scape goat was all about an end to a system of violence and sacrifice, of war against one another, against our enemies and against ourselves. The whole ‘new Kingdom’ was about Lambs and Lions laying down together, it was about swords of war being beat into tools of life or farming – plough shears. These words are not prophesies for the future Kingdom when Jesus returns, lets not miss the fact that on his first visit, he pronounced the beginning of this new way of life. He didn’t paint this picture of peace and say…

“so, if you like this idea of a new Kingdom of peace with me as the new Prince of ‘Peace Kingdom’, then just wait around for 2 or 3 Millenia and I’ll come back and set it up.”

No, it began in him and continues in us! We are his agents of peace, not war, love, not hate, reconciliation, not separation.

We need to bring life, not death…in our words, and our deeds.

Life, not death.

*Disclaimer – As I have said in the past. I’m no writer, in fact I’m not even sure what I fully believe when I write half the time. I humbly put out this text in the hope that others might read, think a little or a lot. Maybe engage in conversation, not always with me responding, but with anyone in this open forum. Maybe I will change my opinions and ideas, maybe I could change yours.

 

– This is an edited version of a post made 3 weeks ago.

Here are some challenges to Dept Of Immigration and Border Protection in court from Human Rights Commission…food for thought!

TITLE: Delegate of the President reports on Charlie v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) [2014] AusHRC 90 | Australian Human Rights Commission

PORTFOLIO: Attorney-General’s

URL: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/media-releases/delegate-president-reports-charlie-v-commonwealth-australia-department

SNIPPET: A delegate of the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission has found that the failure of the former Ministers for Immigration to exercise their powers to make a residence determination in respect of Mr Daniel Charlie during the period from November 2009 to September 2011 when he was detained at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre (VIDC) was inconsistent with his right to liberty in article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and arbitrarily interfered with his family in breach of articles 17(1) and 23(1) of the ICCPR. Mr Charlie was released from VIDC on 20 September 2011 when he was granted a Removal Pending Bridging Visa. The Commonwealth denied that his detention was arbitrary and states it was appropriate as it was both (a) based on legitimate concerns about Mr Charlie’s character and the risk his release could pose to the Australian community, and (b) for the purpose of removing him from Australia.

TITLE: President reports on AH v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) [2014] AusHRC 88 | Australian Human Rights Commission

PORTFOLIO: Attorney-General’s

URL: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/media-releases/president-reports-ah-v-commonwealth-australia-department-immigration-and-border

SNIPPET: The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, has found that the Commonwealth’s failure to detain Mr AH in the least restrictive manner possible is inconsistent with the prohibition on arbitrary detention in article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The President was not satisfied that the ongoing detention of Mr AH in an immigration detention centre was proportionate to the aims of the Commonwealth’s immigration policy. The President also recommended that the Commonwealth pay financial compensation to Mr AH in the amount of $200,000.

TITLE: President reports on AQ v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) [2014] AusHRC 84 | Australian Human Rights Commission

PORTFOLIO: Attorney-General’s

URL: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/media-releases/president-reports-aq-v-commonwealth-australia-department-immigration-and-border

SNIPPET: The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, has found that the Commonwealth’s failure to release Mr AQ from closed immigration detention for a period of 27 months was inconsistent with the prohibition on arbitrary detention in article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (at that time known as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship) had assessed Mr AQ to be a refugee on 23November 2011.. A copy of this report: AQ v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) is online.

TITLE: President reports on FA, FB, FC and FD v Commonwealth (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) [2014] AusHRC 83 | Australian Human Rights Commission

PORTFOLIO: Attorney-General’s

URL: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/media-releases/president-reports-fa-fb-fc-and-fd-v-commonwealth-department-immigration-and

SNIPPET: Four men denied refugee status were held in closed immigration detention facilities for prolonged periods despite meeting the criteria for community detention. Mr FA, a Vietnamese man was first considered for community detention after 2 years in immigration detention. A copy of this report Fadhel v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) is available online.

TITLE: President reports on Fadhel v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) [2014] AusHRC 82 | Australian Human Rights Commission

PORTFOLIO: Attorney-General’s

URL: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/media-releases/president-reports-fadhel-v-commonwealth-australia-department-immigration-and

SNIPPET: The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, has found that Mr Fadhel’s detention in an immigration detention centre is arbitrary within the meaning of article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The President also found that Mr Fadhel’s continued detention has caused him a level of mental impairment such that it amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment within the meaning of article 7 of the ICCPR.. The President found that Mr Fadhel’s mental health has significantly deteriorated whilst he has been detained in closed immigration detention. Mr Fadhel has repeatedly engaged in self-harm. Mental health professionals assessing Mr Fadhel have repeatedly recommended his release into the community, stating that this was essential for his treatment. The Department has also been advised by a psychologist who has assessed Mr Fadhel on a number of occasions that if Mr Fadhel’s detention were to con tinue, he

TITLE: President reports on HA, HB, HC, HD and HE v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) [2014] AusHRC 87 | Australian Human Rights Commission

PORTFOLIO: Attorney-General’s

URL: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/media-releases/president-reports-ha-hb-hc-hd-and-he-v-commonwealth-australia-department

SNIPPET: The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, conducted an inquiry into complaints by five men who are or were in closed immigration detention. Messrs HA, HB, HC, HD and HE arrived on Christmas Island as irregular maritime arrivals between late 2009 and early 2010. Each of them sought asylum in Australia and was transferred from Christmas Island to Villawood Immigration Detention Centre (VIDC). A copy of this report HA, HB, HC, HD and HE v Commonwealth of Australia (DIBP) is available online.

TITLE: President reports on Jafari v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) [2014] AusHRC 85 | Australian Human Rights Commission

PORTFOLIO: Attorney-General’s

URL: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/media-releases/president-reports-jafari-v-commonwealth-australia-department-immigration-and

SNIPPET: The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, has found that the Commonwealth’s failure to detain Mr Samad Ali Jafari in the least restrictive manner possible was inconsistent with the prohibition on arbitrary detention in article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The President was not satisfied that the detention of Mr Jafari in an immigration detention centre was proportionate to the aims of the Commonwealth’s immigration policy. A copy of this report: Jafari v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) is available online.

TITLE: President reports on MG v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) [2014] AusHRC 86 | Australian Human Rights Commission

PORTFOLIO: Attorney-General’s

URL: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/media-releases/president-reports-mg-v-commonwealth-australia-department-immigration-and-border

SNIPPET: The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, has found that the Commonwealth’s failure to place Mr MG in a less restrictive form of detention than in an immigration detention facility was inconsistent with the prohibition on arbitrary detention in article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).. The Commonwealth maintained that Mr MG’s detention was justified to prevent risk to the Australian community. President Triggs found that to the extent Mr MG posed any such risk, it could have been mitigated. It did not justify holding Mr MG in a closed detention facility for a period of 42 months.. A copy of this report: MG v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) is online.

This list goes on…

Another great word from David Timms

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
~ Matthew 5:9

—————————————————————————————-

Peacemakers

Violence confuses us. We fear it and we embrace it. It horrifies us and it entertains us.  On the one hand, the thought of a violent home invasion scares the daylights out of us. On the other hand, we spend lots of money on entertainment systems and video games that turn violence into fun. We hate the idea of a physical beating but we’ll watch as others kick, punch, and beat each other in a ring—strangely thinking that the ring somehow justifies or sanitizes the brutality.

The bloodlust of our culture has never been higher. Listen to the violent language. Watch the violent images. Experience the aggression on the roads and the fierceness in the stadiums.

And in such an environment, peacemakers—or even peacetalkers—are persona non grata. Nobody likes them. They’re soft. They’re weak. They’re out of touch. Theodore Roosevelt’s old foreign policy of “speak softly but carry a big stick” has become a common personal mantra. We’re willing to talk for a while (perhaps) but always ready to fight when provoked.

Everyone knows that peacemaking is for fools and idealists.

Everyone except Jesus.

When Jesus honors peacemakers (for they shall be called sons of God) He calls all of His followers to turn peacemaking into a life pursuit.

The challenge, of course, is simply this: Can we be peacemakers while we share the passion for violence that pervades our culture? This advent season calls us to grapple seriously with this question.

The Son of God came into a violent world, without violence. He confronted the established order not with swords and weapons but with words. He came not with bloodlust but a willingness for limited bloodshed—just His own.

Contrary to some distorted views, the “cleansing of the Temple” does not justify everything from berating abortionists to shooting Islamists.

The ancient prophet Isaiah described the promised Christ as “Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) Perhaps as we celebrate His coming we’ll consider our Christmas gifts (and our values) with a fresh thoughtfulness … something befitting sons of God.

In HOPE –

David

You can find back issues of “In HOPE” (2005-2009) at http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/ .

David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. “In HOPE”, however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board. “In HOPE” has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.

Next Page »