|Cape Cod FOR|
Bearing ON justice blog
After Beirut and Paris, after the U.S., UK and France all ramp up a "war" on ISIS, after Colorado Springs and San Bernadino -- what's a pacifist to do?
It's a time when a sense of hope for a peaceful world is hard to maintain. It's a time when those of us who urge, even plead for non-violent responses are dismissed as hopelessly naive at best, traitors at worst. It's a time when it is easy to sink into despair.
Fortunately, at times like these, people smarter than me provide a way of thinking, and acting, that give balm to my soul.
Here is a fortifying piece by Johan Galtung, Norwegian sociologist, mathematician, and founder of the Transcend Network for Peace, Development and the Environment. The article was circulated to some CC-FOR members by Jim Gould, historian and elder of the peace community on Cape Cod, who calls Galtung the "father of nonviolent studies. " Google agrees, calling Galtung the founder of the modern discipline of peace studies. Now 85, Galtun reflects on our current situation. It is well worth the read.
For a more action-oriented guide, look to Code Pink, the woman-founded peace organization that specializes in both practical and spectacularly provocative action toward peace. Spend some time at their website ( http://www.codepink.org )and you'll catch the flavor of how Code Pink operates. Spending time at their website gives me hope for the future, and confidence in how younger generations are carrying forward the vital peace work that we baby boomers (and beyond) have yet to achieve.
This week, Code Pink circulated a very practical suggestion for hosting "Pop Up for Peace" conversational gatherings -- in our homes or more broadly in the community.
As a resource guide and template for such conversations, they offer "A Menu for Peace."
Try it. I'm going to!
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
~Rev. Martin Luther King
My heart has been broken all week for the victims of all the senseless violence in the world, brought into sharp painful view these 2 past weeks -- the Russian airplane full of tourists returning from Egypt; Beirut with terrorist bombings that killed more than 40 and injured hundreds; and then Paris, where the death toll is now 129 but the toll in heightened fear is incalculable. That's what terrorists do, teach us to fear.
France has already begun retaliatory airstrikes: striking ISIS targets but do not doubt that many innocents are also killed. Many politicians in the U.S. are calling for military action -- "boots on the ground" is the evil metaphor they use, it sounds so neutral, doesn't it? In cold, hard reality, those boots have humans in them, mostly young men, whom we are sending to kill and be killed.
Many public officials, notably the Republican governors of many U.S. states, are calling for the US to stop receiving refugees -- people who have nothing but the drive to begin a new life, people fleeing the same violence we fear. And virtually all of these politicians call themselves people of faith. What happened to the call for us to care for one another?
When will it end? When will we ever learn? I feel utterly helpless. I pray, but the prayers just crumble in my parched throat. I don't know what to do about ISIS and others who perpetrate violence, but I cannot imagine that "returning violence for violence" is the answer.
For the love of Godde, can't we stop the cycle and refuse to use violence in response?
Many of you know the story of 80-something-year-old Sr. Megan Rice and two male colleagues who cut a chain link fence and simply walked onto a U.S. Federal nuclear weapons facility in Tennessee. They walked around for more than an hour, writing anti-nuke and anti-war slogans in various places, before they were detected, and arrested. All three were tried by the federal government which was sorely embarrassed by the lack of effective security that was thus revealed. All three were convicted, and sentenced to jail. All served in prison until a pro-bono lawyer got some of the charges dropped and the three were all released last summer.
All three have been life-long peace advocates, and now we have an added bonus: Sr. Megan emerged from prison as a staunch advocate of prison reform as well!
The following letter-to-the-editor was published recently by a Knoxville, Tennessee newspaper, the News Sentinel … it is powerful, and deserves a read. Feel free to share with others who might gain strength for anti-war efforts through these words:
Y-12 protesters like the abolitionists
I write to comment on the restriction of freedom handed down by U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar to three citizens who crossed a security fence to protest the making of nuclear bombs at the Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge. As they saw it, they were logically exercising their constitutional right to petition the government to stop building devices of mass destruction they consider evil. The government disagreed.
In the 1840s citizens petitioned governments in England, France and the U.S. to abolish slavery. They could imagine a day when no one was enslaved, a day that arrived a few decades later. Slavery fell because it is a fundamental evil. It had to fall, or civilization would have given way to barbarism.
The three citizens who crossed the security boundary at Y-12 see a future free of nuclear devices used as instruments of war. That day will also arrive, because like slavery, weaponized nuclear devices are evil. No sane person wants to destroy our country in order to save it. Nuclear devices cannot be used sanely as weapons, so they eventually have to be abandoned or civilization as we know it will cease to function.
Some of the penalties handed down by Thapar make the three protestors look like a clown show. For example, they are forbidden by judicial order to tour a nuclear facility in the U.S. unless the president of the United States issues a personal invitation for them to do so.
This is a farce. Such rulings ridicule the honest efforts of three people to abolish nuclear weapons, the way abolitionists were ridiculed in the 1840s. One day there will be no weaponized nuclear devices. They will be abolished as instruments of war, and these three brave people will look like the visionaries. They are on the right side of history.
G. Douglas Cox, Tallassee, Tennessee
Letter to the Editor of the Knoxville News-Sentinel
It's not as if I haven't worried before about homelessness on Cape Cod, and tried to help in ways that I could, volunteering and donating money for Champ Homes, Housing Assistance Corp., and Habitat. But the news articles of the past several weeks have raised a new anguish in me, as I read about homeless camps being destroyed, for instance, with no plan for the people who lived there except to tell them to go to shelters (which are already filled and had no beds for them).
I tried to imagine what it must be like to be homeless and ill, and then to see what few possessions I had swept up and called garbage by people who have nice, secure homes.
It's time (again) for reasonable people to sit together and have reasonable conversations about what to do -- not to just shuffle the problem down the road, or move the homeless out of sight, but to find real solutions to house those who are homeless, and care for those who are mentally ill or addicted.
If you haven't seen it already, please read my new column in this week's Barnstable Patriot at http://www.barnstablepatriot.com/home2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=39869&Itemid=30
My column is short, so no room this month to discuss potential solutions. I plan to do that with next month's column, though, so I urge you to send my way any examples of solutions implemented in other communities.
I'll give you an example: I saw a news report a few years ago about a community in the northwest U.S. that built "tiny homes" for the homeless -- really tiny. http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/tiny-house-villages-for-the-homeless-an-affordable-solution-catches-on
Someone else told me about such tiny shelters built to the size of a parking space, towable, and placed on the parking lot of an abandoned mall. In fact, malls are closing all over the U.S., I read in the business pages, so why not convert some of those malls to housing for the homeless?
Please post here, or send me via email or snail mail, any other solutions you've heard about. Let's begin to solve this problem for Cape Cod, once and for all.
I am sick at heart to see the developments of the past couple months. Have we lost our compassion and humanity? How could the police move in to destroy the camps of the homeless with no plan whatsoever on what would become of the people living in these camps? Those of us with safe, comfortable homes cannot imagine what it must be like to live in such a camp, but to the homeless living there, these grounds were the best they could do, the only possessions they had, spaces that -- however meager -- were the only "home" possible. Now what will they do? Trudge the streets all day, all night… sleep in sheltered doorways until the local police officer shoos them away? It is unbelievable that in the richest nation on Earth, we could allow such things to happen.
Watch for my "Community Counts" column in the Barnstable Patriot next week on this topic...
“Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.”
~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Forgive me while I learn this software! I've been in Manila for a couple weeks and just getting re-oriented! More on that later.
I see that no one commented but a couple people clicked "Like" for the Ferlinghetti poem. I thought the FOR public might be interested in this response when I posted this to my Facebook page: a very well-educated gentleman, successful businessman, who happens to be a member of my Rotary club, commented that he was glad he doesn't live in such a nation! I was flummoxed! Where to even begin with that?? Fortunately for me, one of my cousins answered him before I did, saying, "yes, but most days, we do live in such a nation!"
So I was saved from a potential conflict with my fellow Rotarian. What do you do when a neighbor or colleague or member of your church reacts with a comment you think is so far "out of the ballpark" that you don't know what to say?
After 14 years as President