(from an article by Kathy Galloway, ‘Hope in a time of war: a religious perspective on peacemaking’, Annual Public Lecture of the Movement for the Abolition of War, London, November 11th 2008)
and see also www.for.org.uk/files/hope_galloway.doc
The Japanese-American theologian Kosuke Koyama writes:
What is love if it remains invisible, inaudible, intangible. ‘Those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.’ The devastating poverty in which millions of children live is visible. Racism is visible. Machine guns are visible. Slums are visible. Starved bodies are visible. The gap between the rich and the poor is glaringly visible. Our response to these realities must be visible. Grace cannot function in a world of invisibility. Yet in our world, the rulers try to make invisible the alien, the orphan, the hungry and thirsty, the sick and imprisoned. This is violence. Their bodies must remain visible. There is a connection between invisibility and violence. People, because of the image of God they embody, must remain seen. Faith, hope and love are not vital except in what is seen. Religion seems to raise up the invisible and despise what is visible. But it is the 'see, hear, touch' gospel that can nurture the hope which is free from deception.1
Bearing witness is about more than just making violence visible. David Stevens, the Leader of the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland, writes, (Christians) are called to make this reconciliation visible – visible in terms of a quality of relationships, visible in terms of openness and hospitality. It is a visibility which serves the same purpose as Christ’s visibility, namely, to reveal God and God’s reconciling love. This is true holiness and is the ministry of reconciliation.2 Bearing witness is also about making reconciliation visible, about making alternatives visible.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission,
April 1996, East London, South Africa
On the first day
after a few hours of testimony
the Archbishop wept.
He put his grey head
on the long table
of papers and protocols
and he wept.
and international cameramen
filmed his weeping,
his misted glasses,
his sobbing shoulders,
the call for a recess.
It doesn’t matter what you thought
of the Archbishop before or after,
of the settlement, the commission,
or what the anthropologists flying in
from less studied crimes and sorrows
said about his discourse,
or how many doctorates,
books and installations followed,
or even if you think this poem
There was a long table, starched purple vestment
and after a few hours of testimony,
the Archbishop, chair of the commission,
laid down his head, and wept.
That’s how it began.3
1. Kosuke Koyama, from an address given at WCC General Assembly, Harare, 1998.
2. David Stephens, from ‘The Land of Unlikeness: Explorations into Reconciliation', The Columba Press, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, 2004
3. Ingrid de Kok, from 'Terrestrial Things: Poems', Snailpress, Plumstead, South Africa, 2002.