I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bruce Gagnon Speaks Out on US Militarism

Bruce Gagnon, Co-founder and Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, traveled to Washington State in January to participate in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Walk led by the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Monks. He joined Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action for its weekend event honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., and was also interviewed by Mike McCormick on KEXP Radio. You can watch the videos of Bruce's talk at Ground Zero and the interview below.

Be sure to check out the Global Network website. Bruce also writes an extremely relevant and incisive blog called Organizing Notes.

Bruce Gagnon speaks to the gathering at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action on Saturday, January 17, 2015. Thanks to Rodney Herold for providing this video.

Mike McCormick, KEXP Radio, Seattle, interviews Bruce Gagnon, Founder and Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space recorded January 18, 2015.

Friday, January 16, 2015

From Gangjeong to Bangor: Building the World House

The [Peace] Walk for M.L.King Jr’s Dream 2015 has been on road since its departure from Olympia on January 12th. With participants stretching from Korea to Maine, the walk has been a wonderful opportunity for all people to walk and learn together in a nonviolent, spiritually-motivated action to ensure a better future sharing with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s dream.

The following video conveys a sense of the walk and what it represents. It weaves video from the recent visit to Jeju Island with different aspects of the current Peace Walk. Walk participants chose to engage in solidarity with this week's protest in Tacoma against the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The Peace Walk will arrive today, January 16th, at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in time for tomorrow's all-day event honoring Dr. King. The day will include a vigil and nonviolent direct action (in the spirit of Dr. King's legacy) at the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base.

The tentacles of the Empire stretch around the globe, strangling justice and peace in its wake. We, as citizens of Dr. King's "World House" must link arms together from Gangjeong to Bangor, and beyond, to break the grip of this monster in order to create a world with peace and justice for ALL.

To do this we must (in Dr. King's words) "recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism."

May we make it so.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Jeju Island: Bows -- Against the Tide

Dear Friends,

The people of Jeju Island continue their ceaseless struggle against the Naval base being constructed on their "Island of World Peace." The tragic history of Jeju Island, together with it having been called "the most idyllic place on the planet", should have been enough to preclude any consideration of building a military base (that will host U.S. Navy warships central to the Asia-Pacific Pivot) there.

Many people from around the world have traveled to Jeju Island to learn about and participate in the struggle of the people of Jeju against the onslaught of militarism that is destroying their island and lives. Recently, a group from the Pacific Northwest traveled to Jeju Island and spent two weeks there immersed in the life and struggle of the people.

Videographer Rodney Herold was part of the group, and he chronicled the group's time on Jeju. This video is the first of a series that Rodney is publishing in which he hopes to tell the story... convey a sense of the struggle... stimulate interest by those not yet in touch with the struggle.

This first video could well be titled "Bows Against the Empire," for it IS the Empire that threatens to swallow up this tiny island and put it at the center of the Empire's continuing quest for power and global domination. After you watch this first video, I recommend reading the article by Elizabeth Murray in Consortium News. Elizabeth was also a member of the Pacific Northwest Peace Delegation, and her article titled Resisting a Naval Base on China's Periphery is an excellent introduction to the Jeju struggle.

Elizabeth is a former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council, and is now member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). Both Elizabeth and Rodney are involved in the work of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

Watch for upcoming installments in Rodney's series on Jeju Island, coming soon to the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Blog.

In Peace,

Coordinator, Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Resisting Empire on Jeju Island: Homily by Gilberto Perez

Editor's Note: We previously shared one of the Homilys given by Elizabeth Murray, a member of the Pacific Northwest Peace Delegation (aka: Jeju 10) to Jeju Island. These homilys were given at the Masses at the daily vigils at the entrance gate to the naval base in construction on Jeju Island. Here is another homily by Br. Gilberto Perez. Gilberto is a monk from the Bainbridge Island Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple. Gilberto traveled to Jeju previously with Fr. Bichsel.

Gilberto bowing to the Peace Center in construction in Gangjeong Village
(photo courtesy of Mira Leslie)
"Resisting Empire on Jeju Island"

My name is Gilberto Zamora Perez. I was born on a Caribbean Island similar in beauty to Jeju Island€”and raised in the slums of the American Empire.

To my brothers and sisters of Gangjeong Village and Jeju Island: I arrived at Gangjeong eight days ago, having always lived as a stranger in the strange American Empire. I have now come home to my family of peacemakers, and to love of Lord Jesus, in Gangjeoung Village.

The American Empire is a merchant of death selling weapons of murder to divide people and nations of color, truly the policemen of the world. It is the greatest military industrial complex of power and racism.

The American Empire claims to bring peace and security to Korea, yet only 60 years ago, 3 million Koreans sacrificed their lives, and still Korea is still divided into North and South. Starting on April 3, 1948, American lead military and South Korean forces murdered some 30,000 villagers of Jeju; this still burns in my heart. Yet what kind of peace and security is it when after 36 years of Japanese occupation, another empire raises its flag of domination and murder?

The Islands of the Caribbean have become a resort destination for the rich of the world. The original Island peoples are all gone, and African slave descendants cater to the rich foreigners. Beautiful Gangjeong Village and Jeju Island may become a play land for wealthy foreigners as well. Our mothers, daughters, and children will be disrespected and treated like trash.

Just observe what has happened in the Philippines, Guam, and Japan, which between them have 45 military bases!!! Since the U.S. military occupation began in Okinawa, Japan, there have been two rapes a month by US personnel and in one case, a 13 year old was raped by three marines...and many more who will not speak of horrors for fear of bringing shame to their families. And all the while, the generals and high officials of the U.S. military have great housing on the best beaches, and play golf.

It is the same destruction the Native Americans experienced, their most beautiful lands stolen. And they brought Africans slaves over, now with four hundreds years of suffering to slave over resources for the rich.

The empire and the Korean government say the navy base will bring peace, security and employment to Jeju Island. A big lie! All governments lie, and the corporate leaders and he rich will never go to jail!

In Gangjeong village as well as the United States, many have been imprisoned as peace makers, and continue to struggle for the poor, because we are not afraid of the empire's power and injustices. Gangjeong Village will be not be a slave, or be forced into serfdom for the empire.

Yet still many peoples of the the world are blind and stupid by materialism and fear of poverty. But not on Jeju. The peace makers of Gangjeong Village know of the Lord's Kingdom. It is alive with the presence of Lord Jesus.

A story from India: There once lived a little parrot in the forest. One night, the friction of strong winds caused bamboos to ignite into a great fire. All the animals in the forest were frightened and ran in confusion with great fear. The little parrot knew that his friends were in danger. The little parrot flew to the nearest pond and soaked his feathers and flew over the great fire with a few drops.

He did this over and over again, and his feathers were burned by the heat of the fire. A heavenly god noticed the little parrot and asked, "What can you do with a few drops of water on such a great fire?" The little parrot answered "These are my sisters and brothers of the forest and I
will do it again and again in this life and the next."

The heavenly god was impressed by the little parrot's courage and helped put out the fire.

May the grace of God be with Gangjeong Village. Thank you.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Homily at the gates of the Empire (Jeju Naval Base)

Editor's Note: During the daily vigils at the entrance gate to the naval base in construction on Jeju Island the people celebrate Mass. Elizabeth Murray, a member of the recent Pacific Northwest Peace Delegation to Jeju, was privileged to be invited to deliver a homily during one of these daily Masses, and we share it with you here.

With special thanks to Bishop Kang and all of the Korean priests and nuns who have demonstrated the best of the church as they translate their deep faith into action. 


My dear brothers and sisters of Gangjeong Village,

I am blessed and honored to have this opportunity to say a few words to you today. For the past week I have been inspired by the courage and conviction of your resistance in the face of a vicious Empire and military-industrial complex that respects no laws and will stop at nothing to satisfy its insatiable greed for power and resources.

Of special significance is the special role of the Catholic Church -- specifically your own Bishop Kang, Father Kim, and other Korean priests and nuns -- in confronting the construction of an illegal naval base which will serve the interests of the Empire, and not the interests of the people of South Korea or Jeju island.

These courageous men and women of faith have joined together with the people of Gangjeong village in carrying out Prayer in Action -- embodying the life that Jesus Christ lived -- who, by his example of speaking truth to power, has shown us the kind of life that we all ought to live.

Was not the life and message of Jesus Christ a direct challenge to Empire (in those days the Roman Empire) and those who collaborated with the Roman occupation? Isn't this the reason why the religious and civil authorities conspired to torture Jesus and sentence him to a painful death on the cross?

Had Jesus Christ simply gone along with and accepted the Empire and its well paid lackeys -- had he chosen to separate his vision of peace and justice from the prevailing politics of those times -- he could have easily led a comfortable life and died peacefully in his bed.

We could all easily do the same. All we would need to do is convince ourselves that Jesus did not really mean to say what he said; that he did not really mean to do what he did in challenging the authorities of the day and exposing the evils of Empire. We could all leave the entrance of this Naval Base right now, and go back to the comfort and safety of our homes and families.

But instead, we stand here together -- including a group of 10 Americans led by Father Bill Bichsel. We have traveled a great distance to be here in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in resistance -- risking arrest, injury and even possible deportation.

As Americans, we believe we have a special duty and obligation to be as one with the people of Gangjeong village in resistance to Empire. For there exists a great gap between our feelings of kindness, compassion, and caring toward your community, and the ruthless way in which American Empire is being experienced, directly and indirectly, by your village. We are here to confront the evil of Empire shoulder to shoulder with you, and to bear witness to the fact that the oppressive American Empire does not represent the will of its people.

Although many of us here profess the Catholic faith, there are also many who do not. Good people do not have to be of any particular religious denomination to stand against the violence of militarism, the destruction of capitalism, or the soullessness of materialism.

At the same time, it does seem appropriate that we Catholics and other Christians who claim to follow a courageous dissident activist (Jesus Christ) -- who was tortured to death for challenging an oppressive system -- have a special incentive to do all we can to confront evil and prevent others from being subjected to injustice and oppression.

May God grant us the peace, courage and strength to continue confronting evil in this world, and may we always love and care for one another - friend and enemy alike - as we struggle together in these troubled times. Amen.