Reflections on Holy Thursday and Five Years of War

In the Christian Calendar today is Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday, depending on your tradition. We Catholics read from the 13th Chapter of John’s Gospel where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Tonight at mass Fr. Jairo spoke eloquently about the need for leaders to be in service and not dominate.

Alas, this would have been a good sermon for President Bush to hear. As I reflect back on the 5 years we have been at war in Iraq I grieve for the 3992 of our brave men and women who have died (if you’re keeping track it’s 1675 since this time last year) but I also grieve for what our nation has become. It goes without saying that since the collapse of the Soviet Union nearly 20 years ago the United States stands alone as the world’s largest superpower. But in the last 8 years we have not used that power well. We have not been servants, but tyrants. We have treated our allies as subjects (and are puzzled when they do not cooperate with us). We have treated countries like Iran, North Korea, and others as blights on the world worthy only of destruction. And we have treated ourselves as the only country worthy of respect.

Our next president will have an immense job. He (or she) will have to reach out to our allies and mend fences; will have to reconcile with old enemies and prevent making new ones; will have to understand that science is not the enemy and we really do need to face up to global problems like warming and pollution. Our next president will have to see our economy as part of a larger world economy that ultimately should serve everyone, not just the wealthy.

We swear in a new president in 305 days and that day can’t come fast enough for me.