Palm Sunday, Torture, and Peace

Palm Sunday could be, and I believe should be, one of our most important holidays. It is the day Jesus led a peace march into Jerusalem – a public demonstration – that included a joyful celebration of peaceful protest and a public lamentation that his nation didn’t know “what makes for peace.” (I explore this theme further in my upcoming book.)
What would happen if wherever Christians live, every year we made Palm Sunday the day for joyful public celebration of creative, nonviolent action and public lamentation for local, national, and global conflicts?
If we were leading such a day for celebration and lamentation today, we would pray for Syria where a dictator perpetuates atrocities, for Egypt where a peaceful protest movement was co-opted by a military coup, for Central African Republic where inter-tribal and inter-religious violence has reared its ugly ahead – echoing what happened in Rwanda twenty years ago. We would pray for peace in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Iran. We would pray that Israelis and Palestinians could live in peace with justice as neighbors – and that the occupation, colonization, and violence there would end.
Closer to home, we would lament and pray about violence in our cities and about the persistent presence of racism that expresses itself in so many subtle and not-so-subtle ways – including voter suppression, mass incarceration, and the ongoing “slow motion lynching” of our first African-American president. We would lament the unchecked and often unacknowledged power of the military-industrial complex. We would dream of ways to better employ human talent and material resources than in the proliferation and use of non-productive assets like weapons.
And most assuredly we would lament the use of torture by our own government.
In that regard, if you haven’t paid attention to the unfolding story about how our nation secretly used torture, and now struggles to admit and be transparent about what it did in secret … You could read this short article for an overview:

On April 3, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to release sections of an investigative report on the CIA, its use of torture, and its deceptive manipulation of Congress to gain approval for its actions.
The Intelligence Committee’s vote is significant because by refusing to suppress this information, we can begin to acknowledge and heal this moral scar on our national conscience.
I am a Christian, and I believe all people share the image of God … including the enemies of the nation in which I am a citizen. My faith requires me to treat all people – even enemies, even prisoners, even those who bear labels like “terrorist” (or heretic!) – with the dignity and inalienable rights bestowed upon them by their Creator. Because I would not want others to torture me, and am prohibited from torturing others – or approving of the use of torture. I believe that torture is wrong and immoral.
Thankfully, President Obama banned torture on his second day in office, but unless this report is fairly and fully made public, we decrease the chances that a needed public debate on our use of torture will occur, and we increase the chances that torture will be used again by our nation, in our name, in the future.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus wept for a city that did not know what makes for peace. Five days later, he became a victim of unjust arrest, torture, and finally execution in that city. May we who love and follow him join him today – joyfully celebrating “what makes for peace” and deeply lamenting all that undermines true, lasting, and just peace … for all.