Friday, February 10, 2012

the known and the unknown

Peter has had a restful, stable day in the ICU. He started it by initiating a phone conversation with an encouraging friend. The remainder of the day he has mostly rested.

We don’t know the cause of yesterday’s blood pressure drop. We do know that liver function continues to improve. Based on this and doctors’ recommendations, we (Peter’s kids: Irene, Joe, Janice and I) authorized an endoscopic procedure, scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. It may provide a clue about, and potentially a means to cauterize, an unknown lesion in his upper gastrointestinal tract (should there be one).

Acting on what we know, we approach the unknown.

The other day, Peter awoke and shared a dream. In it, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was bombing some land. “Louie, we have to stop him,” Peter half-joked with Fr. Louie Vitale.

The other half was serious. We know the beast is poised to pounce. We know Secretary Panetta is being pressured to smother cities, towns and hamlets in Iran, Syria and God knows where else under bullets, bombs and mortars in our name or with our “foreign aid” munitions, to poison their creatures with kilotons of “depleted” uranium munitions in our name, and to terrorize their families in nighttime raids in our name – or to offer a few words of toothless disapproval, while someone else does these things.

We know not the day nor the hour, nor what forms of deceit, shame and brutality will confront those who dutifully dissent. But the unknowns must not stop us from acting on what we know. We know that war is wrong, that to prepare for, fund or supply war is sin, that Leon Panetta can be held accountable to the Gospel of Jesus* and that we have an opportunity to communicate clearly to him what actions he may and may not rightly authorize in our name.

Peacemaking requires acting amid many unknowns. One who reminds Christians that they must love their enemies does not know whose heart will be stirred. One who caringly corrects another after an interaction tainted by oppressive habit does not know what future harm they may have prevented. Farmers torn from their lands in Colombia or Indonesia who are jailed, threatened or killed for trying to bring their communities back do not know which beatitudes their risk and sacrifice fulfill. But in case others did not know, their actions show the hand of God is at work in the world.

*Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was raised in Catholic schools, received political science and law degrees from a Jesuit-run university, and has served on the Board of Directors of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management.

This post is written by Duane Ediger. He recognizes that it is a departure from those that preceded it and wishes to avoid any implication that its proclamations represent the views of any other particular family member or the family as a whole.

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