Quotable

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)

Friday, July 4, 2014

NUCLEAR WEAPONS: THE ELEPHANT IN OUR ROOM (Wrap-Up)

Dear Friends,

Last Saturday activists from around Puget Sound came together for a day-long workshop on nuclear weapons.

The workshop theme, NUCLEAR WEAPONS: THE ELEPHANT IN OUR ROOM, was an appropriate theme in as much as we continue to live under the constant threat of nuclear holocaust. There is minimal dialogue and debate surrounding the topic even as our government continues to modernize the nation's nuclear weapons complex, weapons and weapons systems.

When will this madness stop??? Only when enough pressure is brought to bear by a groundswell of citizen-based action.

Saturday's workshop was intended to plant seeds that hopefully will one day bear fruit to help bring about an end to nuclear weapons.

The day began with presentations by three speakers who presented diverse and compelling perspectives.

David Hall, MD presented the essential case against nuclear weapons. A member of Physicians for Social Responsibility (as well as Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action), Hall understands that there is no meaningful medical response to nuclear war; essentially there is no cure, only prevention. Focusing on the Trident nuclear weapons system that exists in the heart of Puget Sound, he stated that the "Trident system is probably the most effective mass murder tool ever devised."

Hall reminded us that policy makers are used to making decisions that result in the slaughter of vast numbers of people (millions), and therefore it requires a citizen-led movement to abolish these horrific weapons. We must "change the mindset that we inherited from a century of extreme mass slaughter."

David Price, PhD is a cultural anthropologist with a deep understanding of the significance and impact of militarism on our lives. Honoring the theme of the day, he got us focused on "thinking about the cultural invisibility of nuclear madness." Price helped us better understand how we are socialized in such a way that we don't even notice the vast reach of militarism into nearly every facet of our lives. He shared some of the work of other anthropologists whose work delves into militarism and nuclear weapons.

Hugh Gusterson, author of "Nuclear Rites"; Joseph Masco, author of "The Nuclear Borderlands"; Holly Barker, who has done extensive field work in the Marshall Islands; and Barbara Rose Johnston, author of "Half Lives & Half Truths" and "Life and Death Matters." As Price explained, the anthropologist's role is one of story telling, and the stories these anthropologists are tell are compelling.

Price reminded us that we need to "focus on the costs of militarization on the worlds we work in", and that we also need to break the silence. "Resistance is not futile." History is full of social movements, and we can (and must) question budget priorities. "Continuing the current rate of military spending is unsustainable."

From his anthropological perspective Price stated that by nature we [as human beings] are neither violent or non-violent; that we have the potential to be one or the other."

Diane Tilstra is a Community Action Advisor at the Center for the Study of Community & Society, UW Tacoma. Tilstra brought a unique perspective to the topic of the American dream with her topic, "Military Spending and the American Dream." Reiterating the previous speakers focus on the unsustainability of military spending, she reminded us of the recent 325-98 vote in the House of Representatives to pass the 600.7 billion FY2015 budget request for military spending.

To restore the dream we must cut war spending, reduce the Pentagon budget by $1 trillion over the next decade, and underwrite a domestic Marshall Plan using the savings. Again, Tilstra echoed the fact that only "we the people" can make this happen; without pressure lawmakers will continue writing blank checks for war (and nuclear weapons).

She also focused on the need to engage young people in these issues. The issues that are affecting young people - student loan costs, cost of living/housing, and jobs - are directly and indirectly affected by military spending.

Following the speaker's presentations we broke out into small working groups to discuss topics for further action - Actions (general), outreach to faith communities, news and publicity, educational needs, planning for upcoming interfaith service at Bangor, and personal response to the speakers presentations.

When we came back together someone from each group summarized that group's results and action items. I will be summarizing those in a future post on this blog.

At the end of the session I summarized progress on the NO To NEW TRIDENT campaign and the need for everyone to get engaged in this important effort.

A short while before we ended three members of the 15 Now Tacoma campaign joined us; they were at the church for a planning meeting. We finished the day hearing from them and learned about the campaign. It was energizing to hear from them, understand their focus and feel their passion for their work.

May we all be so energized in our work.

Thanks to the speakers, thanks to the Micah Project of Tacoma First United Methodist Church, thanks to Fr. Bichsel and all the workshop planners, and thanks to all who participated.

May this be a building block toward a nuclear weapons-free future!

In Peace,

Leonard

End Notes: Fr. Bichsel is planning an interfaith service at the Bangor Trident base. Originally scheduled for July 26th, it is in the process of being rescheduled to a later date. We will post that information on the Local Events Calendar as soon as we have it.

P.S. - Speaking of ACTION, One of the workshop attendees, Brother Fred Mercy, SJ, just organized a petition at MoveOn.org to release Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli & Greg Boertie-Obed from prison for their acts of Civil Resistance. You can click here to learn more and sign the petition.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

NUCLEAR WEAPONS: THE ELEPHANT IN OUR ROOM, Tacoma, June 28th


A Workshop on nuclear weapons

Nuclear Weapons are in our backyard…
 What have they done to us and where are they leading us?

Come and consider this peril with us.

When: Saturday, June 28, 2014, 9:00AM to 4:00PM
Where: Tacoma First United Methodist Church, 621 Tacoma Avenue
The event is free and includes a light lunch
Free will offering

Nuclear weapons have been called the taproot of violence in our world. Their continued existence of expropriates precious resources for destruction rather than for sustaining life. What has their continued presence done to us as human beings? How does the nuclear Sword of Damocles hanging over us affect our well-being as individuals and as a society?

Nuclear weapons are truly the elephant (or herd of elephants) in the room; we ignore them at humanity’s peril. We, as human beings and citizens, can and must do something.

Join us on June 28th for a day-long workshop on the presence of nuclear weapons among us, and what we can do to bring about their abolition.

SPEAKERS
David Hall,MD—psychiatrist, member of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, and former president of Physicians for Social Responsibility
David Price, PhD—cultural anthropologist and professor of anthropology 
and sociology at St. Martin’s University
Diane Tilstra—Community Action Advisor, Study of Community and Society

The workshop will lead off the Summer of study, prayer and action working toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. Events will include one or more days of further reflection in July, and an interfaith service at the Bangor Trident nuclear ballistic missile submarine base. 

Co-hosted by the Micah Project of Tacoma First United Methodist Church, Pax Christi Tahoma, and Tacoma Catholic Worker

Endorsed by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent action – Tacoma Dominicans - Tacoma Jesuit Volunteers – Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility – Veterans for Peace, Tacoma Chapter – Jewish Voice for Peace - Tacoma Wages … 15 now – Kerry Watrin, MD – Tacoma Peace Prize – Peter Karlin, MD – Anna Colombini, ND -- Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia (Tacoma)

Click here to download the event flier.

SCHEDULE

9:00 am Coffee and rolls and Sign In

9:20 am Welcome: Bill Bichsel of Catholic Worker – what the day is about
Tom Karlin of Pax Christi
Matt Pattera of First United Methodist Church
Prayer: Sr. Mary Pat Murphy, OP
Song: James Morgan

9:45 am Presentation: Dr. David Hall, MD - psychiatrist, member of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, and former National Chairperson of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
A penetrating view of nuclear weapons and what they are capable of doing. Questions to follow.

10:30 am Presentation: David Price, PhD - cultural anthropologist and professor of anthropology and sociology at St. Martin’s University
The militarization of our culture and what it has done to us. Questions to follow.

11:30 am Lunch (Share lunch with people you don’t know.)

12:30 pm Presentation: Diane Tilstra - Action Advisor to the Study Group of Community and Society.
Questions to follow.

1:30 pm Leonard Eiger, facilitator for breaking into small, designated groups.
Groups with facilitators:
 Actions to take (Mark Bubenik)
 Outreach to other churches (George Rodkey)
 News and publicity (Leonard Eiger)
 Need for education (Patricia Hoppa)
 Interfaith Service at Bangor July 26 (Bix)
 Overall Personal Responses (James Brecht and Tom Karlin)

2:20 pm Break

2:30 pm Reporting back from each interest group

3:00 pm Panel of 3 speakers will give thoughts and responses to reporting back.
Leonard Eiger will make the connections between responses and upcoming actions.

3:45 pm Closing prayer and song.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Join Ground Zero for a Tea Party at Bangor this Saturday!!!

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (GZ) is expanding its annual Mothers Day weekend activities in an effort to wake others up to the real meaning of Mothers’ Day.

We invite you to join us on Saturday, May 10th, as we recapture the original intention of Mother’s Day (for Peace) and continue our work in resistance to Trident and towards the abolition of all nuclear weapons. We also invite you to share our creative Mother’s Day leaflet with people all around Puget Sound the week before the Mother’s Day weekend to raise awareness and invite people to join us.

The leaflet contains excerpts from Julia Ward Howe’s famous Mothers’ Day Proclamation and an invitation to a special Mothers’ Day tea party at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Silverdale, Washington the day before Mother’s Day. Information on (and a link to) the leaflet is at the end of this announcement.

On Saturday, May 10th, people will gather at the Bangor gate at tables with table cloths, cups, saucers, tea, and cookies. The gathering will involve a reading of Julia Ward Howe Mothers’ day Proclamation and much more.

The Seattle Raging Grannies will incite the gathering to (nonviolent) action with their wonderful and catchy tunes around noon!

8:30 AM – Coffee and tea will be available for early arrivals

9:00AM – The day begins, and will include an orientation to Bangor and Trident, nonviolence training, entertainment, and preparation for the festivities at the gate.

Please bring an item to share for potluck lunch. We also invite you to bring cookies or cupcakes to share at the event at the gate–we anticipate offering to drivers and guards, as well as others.

The fun at the Bangor gate will take place after lunch, and we will be back at the center to end the day by 4:30 PM.

We invite everyone to distribute our Mother’s Day leaflet over the course of the week before our event to make people aware of the original intention of Mother’s Day and to invite them to our Mother’s Day weekend event. You can download the leaflet by clicking here.

The leaflet (see example below) is a PDF document, with two leaflets per page. Printing suggestion: Print a test page first to be sure it lays out properly when you cut the sheet in half. When printing in Adobe Reader we printed “Actual Size”, and the document fit the page perfectly when cut in two.

You can print them, cut them in half, and voila, you’re ready to hand them out wherever you wish – at work, at the bookstore, coffee shop, bus, ferry, or just about anywhere you can think of. You can even tack them up wherever you find a bulletin board.

Click here to download the leaflet for printing.

If you have questions about our Mother’s Day event or the leafleting you can send an email to either gznonviolencenews@gmail.com or info@gzcenter.org.

Click here for directions to Ground Zero Center.

Please Note: If you are concerned about the risk of arrest, please rest assured that only those who choose to risk arrest by engaging in direct action on the roadway either blocking the entrance gate or crossing the line onto the base are at risk for being arrested. Our events are always of a nonviolent nature and assisted by trained Ground Zero Peacekeepers who help ensure a peaceful vigil and the safety of all participants.

Bring your nonviolent spirit and join us for a great day of nonviolent resistance to Trident!

This year's GZ Mother's Day leaflet

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter Sunday Eucharist at the Bangor Trident Base

Dear Friends,

Approximately 20 people gathered at the Main Gate of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor on Easter Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist. It was a most appropriate place for a celebration of The Resurrection as the Bangor Trident base represents the largest operational concentration of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal, a horrific concentration of the dark forces of empire that threaten humanity with extinction. 

The Eucharist was led by Fr. Bill "Bix" Bichsel of the Tacoma Catholic Worker, and the attendees, mostly from Tacoma, including some Jesuit Volunteers. 

The Navy personnel at the gate were respectful and "friendly" according to one participant; they greeted the participants upon arrival and engaged in conversation afterwards.

Reflecting on the Easter Eucharist, Bix said that he felt it was was "very prayerful and meaningful," and that it also felt like the participants were "reaching across the [blue] line [which indicates the transition onto Federal property] with the power of the resurrection."

Here are a few photos from the gathering (Thanks to Mira Leslie for sharing them).




Bix & Rodney Herold at Ground Zero Center

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Transform Now Plowshares: A Trumpet Call to All of Us

by Bill "Bix" Bichsel, SJ

On July 28, 2012, Sr. Megan Rice, shcj, 84yrs, Michael Walli, 64yrs, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 59yrs hiked a ridge and cut through four fences to reach the new U.S. storehouse for Highly Enriched Uranium, which is needed for the production of thermonuclear weapons. These weapons, used to threaten other nations, are in violation of the U.S. Principles of Nuremberg (U.S. Law), in which citizens are directed to resist illegal acts by their government. The refurbishing of the weapons is in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in which the U.S. pledges complete nuclear disarmament.

(l to r): Michael, Megan and Greg (artwork by The Washington Post)
They name their lawful act of resistance: Transform Now Plowshares Action, following Isaiah’s injunction, “They shall hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” With faith in following the non-violent Jesus, they poured their blood, painted words of justice and hammered on the walls of the HEU Building.

They were convicted of sabotage (threatening the security of the U.S.) and depredation of government property and were sent directly into jail as terrorists to await sentencing (which took place ten months later). They were charged with $52,000 of damage- mostly to the fences. One of the attendees of the trial drew a parallel, “Would anyone let fences surrounding Auschwitz stand? Much less should we let fences guarding nuclear weapons stand.”

Sr. Megan Rice was given 35 months imprisonment, both Michael and Greg were given 62 months. Jack and Felice Cohen-Joppa, editors of the “Nuclear Resister” stated: “As the Hibakusha (survivors of the terror from Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings)”; so do Megan, Michael and Greg offer their lives to prevent similar massacre.

Ralph Hutchinson, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, stated: “Though their bodies are in prison, their voices are free reminding us that the central issue of this action and trial have not been resolved- as long as the government continues to produce thermal nuclear weapons of mass-destruction in Oak Ridge or anywhere, people are required to resist.”

Lynne Greenwald of the ‘Disarm Now Plowshares Action’ (DNPA) at Bangor in 2009 reminds us that the day of this sentencing is the same day, Feb 18th, as the sentencing to death (by guillotine) of Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and six other members of the White Rose Resistance to Nazi Germany’s fascism in 1943 and also the day in 1985 when Lynne and six activists carrying white roses sat on the tracks leading into the Bangor Naval Base blocking the white train carrying nuclear weapons into the base.

Sr. Megan Rice who has spent her life living among and teaching the urban poor of our country and Western Africa, while also resisting U.S. militarism for the last 25 years, when questioned by Judge Thapars: “Do you have any regrets?”, responded: “Only for not starting 70 years earlier.”

Greg Boertje-Obed has been most faithful in his quiet powerful witness against all weapons through many selfless actions of resistance. He has been separated from his wife and daughter for ten years.

Michael Walli is a Vietnam Vet who received a bronze star. After the service his life changed to caring for the homeless and marginalized people in a number of our cities. At the sentencing he asked Judge Thapar to look at his face and see the face of the future~ the many who will follow in resistance.

Fr. Steve Kelly, sj, another member DNPA (Nov-2009) said that the judge’s sentence gave great help to the U.S. in its efforts to categorize peace activists and whistle blowers as terrorists. The guilty verdict is meant to instill fear in the citizens. In contrast to this, Jesus says to Megan, Michael, and Greg: “Be Not Afraid.”

Fr. Bill Bichsel, sj, also of DNPA says that the possibility of redress of grievances, from any of our branches of government, is blocked. The heroic action and subsequent sentencing of the three is a trumpet call to all of us.

###

Bix lives and works at the Tacoma Catholic Worker