There Never Was and Never Will Be the Day

March 10, 2003

Craig S. Barnes
An address from the steps of the State Capitol of New Mexico, March 10, 2003

The United States is about to launch an invasion to search out weapons of mass destruction, and to build a democracy. And as we plunge down that road, from Pakistan to Berlin to South Africa people are objecting because they know war better than Americans. They are saying that there never was and never will be the day when war will build a road or a hospital, a school or a factory. There never was and never will be a day when a soldier could search out a weapon of mass destruction from a tank. You cannot see anything from a tank. You cannot find growth media for biological weapons from a tank. You cannot get through the door into the laboratory in a tank. You cannot see chemical weapons through a little slit in the armor. Mr. President, they are saying, you say that you cannot trust the leaders of Iraq to help you find their canisters and tubes and laboratories which might be used for weapons of mass destruction. Try finding canisters and tubes and nuclear labs from a fighter plane. You will be speeding through the air at the speed of sound, making so much noise you can't hear anything or anyone in a fighter plane. You say you will use smart bombs. But smart bombs are not smart enough to see people singing songs in their basements, huddled in prayer and fear. Smart bombs don't see people looking into each other eyes, clinging to each other, or couples holding the hands of their children. There never was and never will be the day when we can see into any man's heart from a fighter plane.

In January, the president complained about 12 unused, empty canisters in a warehouse which he and the Secretary of State said were a material breach of Resolution 1441 and therefore the president of the United States now will drop bombs to end that breach. But there never was and never will be the day when we end a breach with a greater breach. Mr. President you cannot build relationships between men and women of color and men and women of no color, you cannot build a future between Islam and the west with mortars and shrapnel. You cannot build a new Palestine looking down the barrel of a rifle. You will be squinting; you will have one eye closed looking through a little peep hole at the end. You cannot see your Jesus of Nazareth when you are looking through a peep hole into Bethlehem. There never was and never will be the day when you will be able to conquer and understand the message of Bethlehem when you are squinting with one eye and malice in your heart. You will not be able to hear yourselves think over the screaming and moaning and crying of babies and little children running for their lives and if you cannot think, you cannot make peace.

Mr. President, you are betting that the war will encourage the economy. You will send all those bombs over to explode and they will explode, just as you want them to and no one will make another dollar or another dime off of those bombs. You put a book in the hand of a man and he will need a printer to print it, he will need a distributor to distribute it, he will need a bookstore to sell it, and he will give minds and hearts enrichment from that book. All those people will be put to work and all those minds will be opened, over and over, at every stage of the progress of that book through time. But you put a bomb in a plane and drop it on Baghdad and it will be over, no one will sell it again, and no one will build a house on it and no one will paint it or be put to work fixing it up. The only people you will put to work with your bombs are morticians and grave diggers. Oh, there never was and never will be the day when you can prepare for life, and spread life, and go on living, and making things, and growing things, and hoping the hopes that make things, when you spend your energy and money and time on bombs that go boom in the night and then are all gone except for the screaming.

And this too, is what America is saying. That there never was and never will be the day when civilization was built on destruction and fear and rage and revenge. And there never was and never will be the day when we will say yes to a foreign policy that does not say yes to our songs and our smiles our humility and our generosity. We are not that, Mr. President; we are not missiles and rockets and bulldozers in Bethlehem. We are this; we are people of life. We are not that; we are this; not of death and the past but of the future and the living. And there never was and never will be the day when we will forget who we are.