Political Theology: Catholic Spirituality and Drones

At every intersection of political examination of conscience, I come to the word peace and rummage in my mind for an spiritual reasoning that explains why I have never heard the word “drone” in any Catholic space or conversation. ?I suppose because most Catholics, ?sitting upon the words “political” and “reflection” come to the two areas that the church is most infamously known to brush scandal: sexuality and gender. ?Anything that has to do with, as NCR columnist Jamie Manson describes, “the pelvic region” is cause for Church debate and media sensationalism.

But nothing about drones.

Drones, like so many other facets of foreign based news and political chatter, seem like a topic outside my understanding. I don’t know when drones were built, or by whom, or what (other than terrorizing other countries) their purpose is. ?Based from general and cursory reads of current events, I surmise that the overarching goals are to “keep the peace” (surveillance) and limit the risk to US American lives. ?And yet, as a US American, I can’t say that I feel any safer than I did a decade ago. ?Drone strikes, or any US military tactic that sends machines of steel instead of human life, further deploys the global message (read: illusion) of an American Invincibility; where the cost of life will rarely be American and the mental neuroses of paranoia and terrorism will impact us all.

I think about how removed most Catholic consciences are from this issue, how removed my own conscience is from this issue. ?I wonder if when Catholics pray they are only praying for peace of mind. Sure, no one wants a worried mind, but what price comes to believing in peace? ?To believe in peace, we have to believe that all life is sacred, even those whom we label “enemy.” In nearly every passage of scripture I have ever studied or contemplated, the word enemy is used to describe the further advancement of love; manifesting forgiveness and painful growth of inclusion.

None of this is simple. ?There are some acts in the world, ribboned with terrifying violence and unthinkable hate, that I can scarcely put words to fully encompass the horror. But I wonder about today’s passage and what is left for Catholics to ruminate in a time when we divorce ourselves from the responsibility from the callous calculations of our government. ?How long do we continue to focus on issues of sexuality and gender to the negligence of the crime we are also witnessing on a global level?

I often hear from aging and aged Catholics that we have to pick and choose our battles, we must discern where in the world we want to try to help make a difference and focus on the good so we do not burn out or become hardened to the point of inactivity. ?My focus and passion has always been issues of radical understanding of human divinity – of all persons – and I can’t reconcile the truth that peace does not exist and I, very likely, cannot undo that.

So what is left for me today, after these lines in today’s reading:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

I have more questions.

Is it enough to create peace in the world in the spaces I occupy? No, but it’s a start.

Does it really matter how I love people and whether I prize their full human being? Yes, because everything stems from here.

How do I participate in the disordered values that are perpetuated by the idea and military execution of drones strikes? I think what I choose to express about power, understanding, and love either challenges the idea of drones or uplifts it. The world I love is drowning in violence. ?Where, on this ship, can I puncture a hole to release some of those rough waters, knowing this is will not save me, but done in the daily practice of what I so fervently believe is what we all seek: peace.