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Fear vs. Freedom in Guantanamo

[caption id="attachment_1769" align="alignright" width="200"]Blog by Associate Mary Beth Auletto, OPA Blog by Associate Mary Beth Auletto, OPA[/caption] In support of our congregation's membership in the "Win Without War" organization, I receive their email alerts (which, thankfully, are sent sparingly compared to a lot of organizations - but that's a topic for another blog). At the end of February, the organization sent an email that asked us to write to our senators and representatives to support the closing of Guantanamo Bay, a US interrogation site in Cuba. This request challenged me. Weren't the prisoners terrorists? I had heard there was talk of putting them in a prison somewhere in the United States. How would I feel if I lived in the community near that prison? In the time in between my initial reading of the email to today, I have contemplated and learned information that has shifted my reaction. I read the entire piece on the "Win Without War" website. The reasons WWW lists are tactical (terrorists use the existence of it as proof the U.S. wants to engage in war), financial, and moral (only eight of over 500 detainees prosecuted federally have been convicted, according to the ACLU). I watched with hope as Pope Francis encouraged, and President Obama responded, in visiting Cuba. However, the tipping point came when I watched Tavis Smiley interview British musician Roger Waters. Waters was doing an advocacy tour to protest the prison. He briefly shared the story of Shaker Aamer, a person from Afghanistan married to a British citizen with four children; Shaker had been sold for a bounty to American interrogators, and claims he was in Afghanistan doing charity work. He was imprisoned for 13 years, and finally released in October 2015. Upon his release, he commented: "I am overwhelmed by what people have done by their actions, their thoughts and their prayers, and without their devotion to justice I would not be here in Britain now." Fear is a real and justified emotion when acts of terror and violence occur. However, as followers of Jesus, we are challenged to render mercy and justice to all. Advocating for the closing of Guantanamo Bay is one way to put this belief into action.

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