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Okay, this evening's Meet the Author program features Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics: Why the Right gets it wrong and the Left doesn't get it. In God's Politics, Mr. Wallis postulates that the Right in America has hijacked the language of faith for its political agenda, and that the Left has largely ignored faith and continually separated moral discourse and personal ethics from public policy. To solve this dilemma, Mr. Wallis calls for American political leaders to hold themselves accountable to key values of prophetic religious tradition, that is, to make them pro-justice, pro-peace, pro-environment, pro-equality, pro-consistent in the ethic of life and pro-family. Jim Wallis is a leading figure at the crossroads of religion and politics in America today. He is a public theologian, a faith-based activist, and an international commentator for radio and television on ethics and public life. Wallis founded Sojourners, a nationwide network of Christians working for justice and peace more than thirty years ago and he continues to serve as the editor of Sojourners Magazine covering faith, politics, and culture. He's also the convener of Call to Renewal, a national confederation of churches and faith-based organizations working together to overcome poverty by changing the direction of public policy. Mr. Wallis has been an Institute of Politics Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and has taught on faith, politics, and society both there and at the Harvard Divinity School. He is the author of seven books, including Faith Works: The Soul of Politics, and Who Speaks for God? A New Politics of Compassion, Community, and Civility. Please join me in welcoming Jim Wallis. Thank you. It's good to be here, thank you for coming tonight, I'm looking forward to our conversation. You know when preachers marry preachers, it's good because you get a lot of new material. I married Joy Carroll, one of the first women ordained in the Church of England ten years ago, and I give her credit for this story. One of her colleagues was studying along with her to be a priest. He was very nervous about his first Sunday School class, where you have to speak to a lot of young people. He was young, but he hadn't been a kid for a long time, so he was trying to be cool and hip. He leaned against the podium, they're all waiting like you are, and he said, "What's grey and furry and gathers nuts and climbs up and down trees?" The kids seemed puzzled, a little boy raised his hand, he called on him and he was struggling with his answer. He said, "I-I-I know the answer's supposed to be Jesus... well it sure sounds like a squirrel to me." The moral to that story is, there are no easy religious answers to hard questions, yet new options for public life, and even political policy choices, can be inspired by our best moral and religious traditions, especially when some policies are failing, some fundamental ethical tests. For example, the biblical prophet Micah offers some deep insights that could be most critically applied to issues of national and global security. Micah is my favorite prophet of national security. And while there are no easy religious answers to hard questions, some people are turning to these biblical writers for new visions to help shape new political answers. After September 11th, instead of recognizing the vital nature of international cooperation and the wisdom of confronting the root causes of global unrest, including terrorist violence, the Bush administration asserted the right to pursue American security by any means it saw fit, including unilateral and preemptive war. The only path to peace and security would be through U.S. military supremacy. The dangers were the United States chose to shed the constraints of international relationships and institutions, even those of former allies. It became clear that the political leaders who run the foreign policy in our states now intended to also shape the rest of the world as well. Their intention was clear in the language they employed. But I would suggest their ambition is as dangerous as it is illusory. the run. up to the Iraq war, another head of state said to me one day, privately, "The question now is whether America will listen to any of us, or if the rest of us have to do all the listening?" It's important to recognize the assertion of American domination in the world is a moral claim and should be taken as such. It goes much deeper than those who accuse our leaders of merely shedding blood for oil. Bill Crystal and I were speaking at a conference once, and our plane was delayed, and so we had a long time to sit and talk. He shared with me, he said, I remember very clearly, "Europe is corrupted by secularism, therefore it does not have the moral framework to lead." The Third World, as he put it, is corrupted by poverty... does not have the framework, morally, to lead. Only the United States has the moral possibility to lead the world. This is a moral claim, not simply one made out of a desire for economic self-interest. So whose is a real factor, but if crude imperialism were all this was, the policy would be much easier to challenge, I would suggest. Rather, I think the proposition for American domination must be taken seriously as a moral assertion about the things that make for peace, peace being challenged at that level. It is American exceptionalism and to that, Bush as God. The real question becomes, "Is there another vision?" In particular, can the religious community play a role in helping to find a better way? Do the people of God have a vision in helping to find national security? When political leaders speak and act in this way, the issues at stake are more than just political. When you say peace depends solely on unquestioned military preeminence, you are in fact contradicting the biblical prophets. The prophets do not agree. Micah in particular has another view. He has another vision. Micah is making a contradictory moral assertion. I quote Micah, chapter 4. "He shall judge many nations and shall arbitrate between strong peoples far away. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid." Micah is here saying you simply cannot and will not beat swords into ploughshares, i.e. beat the threats of war, until people can sit under their own vines and fig trees, have some share in global security. Only then will you remove the fear that leads inextricably to conflict and violence. Military solutions are therefore insufficient to bring peace and security, claims the prophet. In fact, Micah's moral assertion directly counters the claim of political leaders who say that peace and security can only be found in military supremacy. Several millennia later, Pope Paul VI paraphrased Micah when he said, "If you want peace, work for justice." The prophet's insight is that the possibilities for peace, for avoiding war, depend also upon everyone having enough for their own security, having a little vine, and a fig tree. The wisdom of Micah, I would suggest, is both prophetic and practical for a time such as this. If the tremendous gaps on our planet could be leveled out just a little, people would not have to be so afraid, or desperate, or resentful, or hopeless, or angry. Micah understood it was the great imbalances and ambitions, both imbalances and ambitions, that lead to war. Anglican archbishop Roland Williams says it well. "There is no security apart from common security." There is no security apart from common security, I would suggest, is a good paraphrase of Micah which means the Israelis will never be secure until the Palestinians also feel secure. The developed world will never be secure until the developing world achieves some kind of economic security. America will not be secure until the injustice and despair that fuel the murderous agendas of terrorists have finally been addressed. It isn't just a political idea, it's a principle rooted in the prophets. There is no security apart from collective security, no national security apart from more common global security. Micah can help us all. Micah knew that we would not beat our swords into ploughshares, will not overcome war, will not be safe, will not protect our own families, will not prevent further wars or further terrorism until more people have their own vines and fig trees. You wanna be safe? Keep your family safe? This is the way. Everyone needs their own little piece of the global economy, some small stake in the world, some share of security for themselves and their families because when you have a little patch, just a little patch, with which to build a life for yourself and your family people, it's more difficult to make you feel afraid, or at least usually that is so. The eighth-century Micah understood there's no security for us until others also feel secure. Micah knew our weapons alone cannot finally protect us but only a world where more people feel safe. There are voices rising up, I think, in our world that speak directly to this challenge of Micah. They are modern-day prophets often coming from unexpected places. One, of course, is on tour right now with U2, I'm speaking of Bono, who, we were, one night, had a dinner in Washington D.C., an Africa dinner for 1500 or Washington's elites, and Bono said, "I'm sorry if I seem a bit nervous, but I'm not used to speaking to less than 20,000 people." But he made the connection between what was happening in Africa, HIV/AIDS, to both our humanity and to our security. He said "It's as if God is on his knees with us tonight, begging us, begging us," he said, to respond to the crisis of HIV/AIDS." Connected to our humanity, but also told the President, "Mr. President, it's also connected to our security, somehow connected to our overcoming the terrorists." Another Micah-like voice is from Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Great Britain, the most loyal U.S. ally, who will likely be Tony Blair's successor. Brown's call for a boost in global aid from the developing countries of $50 billion a year over the next decade, to provide a surge of funds to build hospitals, schools, sanitation facilities in the developing world, to meet the 2015 U.N. deadline world leaders have set for cutting extreme poverty in half. The chancellor says "What has happened in Afghanistan and elsewhere raises global issues of terrorism which we must respond with a resolution, but also about the integration of the poorest countries into our economy." Brown is the kind of leader who will say these days we for the first time have the technology, information, resources, knowledge to cut extreme poverty significantly. We didn't before, and now we do. We don't have, he said, the moral in the political limb... the moral and the political will. Then he looks across the table at religious leaders and says, "That's your job... To create the moral and the political will. I want this generation to remember, as the first generation in history truly made prosperity possible for the world and all its people. I want us to be remembered not only as a generation which, in the face of terrorism freed the world from fear, but the generation which finally freed the world from want, and he connects the two. The challenge is as new as today's crisis," he says, "but as old as the cult of Isaiah. to undo the heavy burdens and let the repressed go free." There is a principle here, and I would summarize it as this: Poverty is not simply the only cause of terrorism. It's more complicated than that, much more. But, unless we drain the swamps of injustice in which the mosquitoes of terrorism breed, we will never defeat the enemy of terrorism. An American-controlled New World based on unilateral instead of multilateral action in military power rather than international law will not create a framework the world can trust for peace and security. Unresolved grievances like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, corrupt relationships with Arab regimes protected by oil, globalization policies that give advantage, unfair advantage, to wealthy countries over poor nations will not only undermine justice, but also our own security. These enormous problems will not simply be overcome by the imposition of U.S. military superiority. I was in a meeting in Britain recently talking about Micah and Rumsfeld. I contrasted the two in their own words. no caricaturing, no demonizing, just what each was saying. One was saying that security will be achieved only through military supremacy and in one conversation with the Bishop of Washington, when John Shane raised the issue of poverty the Defense Secretary said, "Why do you raise the issue of poverty? This has nothing to do with poverty. This is about military supremacy." Micah says, "There is no security apart from common security." Afterwards, I was asked to have coffee with a British major-general, who I'll just say was deeply involved in the occupation of Iraq. He looked me in the eye and said, "I have been in a room with Rumsfelds for six months now. I'm a British major-general overseeing the occupation of Iraq and I want to tell you that Micah is right and Rumsfeld was wrong." We need a leadership for peace that will sow the seeds of justice. Listen to Micah. Micah makes sense and will make sense, I think, for national security. At the G8 meeting this year, before Edinborough, there will be a first-ever G8 church leaders' meeting hosted by Archbishop Roland Williams at Landon Palace. Gordon Brown is coming, Tony Blair is coming. Heads of churches here, relief and government organizations here and there and those meetings will be designed to raise the vision of the prophets on behalf of national and global security. My son, who I put on a plane this morning in Portland to go back to Washington, is six years old. And we always talk, when I'm not at home, and a closed little story from him. One day, he was four, and I was away from home, and he left a voicemail. And we'd talked twice that day already, but two hours had passed and lots of stuff had happened back home, and he had to fill me in, so he did. And he ended his usual way, by saying, "Daddy, I love you, I like you, and you're incredible," which is a wonderful way to end a phone call. But then out of the blue, my four-year-old said, "And Daddy, don't be afraid." Don't be afraid. The most frequent words of Jesus to his disciples were, "Be not afraid," because we are so susceptible as human beings, to fear. I contend our foreign policy is now being run by the politics of fear. It is the wrong moral foundation, and finally, it will not be an effective way to achieve security. Nor find with the rest of the world our common humanity. Thank you. Q & A