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, February 11, 2011

The Path of Most Resistance


Water is truly the essence of life. It is likely from some primordial soup whose primary component was water, that life began on Earth. Our bodies are largely composed of water, and it sustains us in so many ways. And, of course, water flows, finding its way without resisting. And to what effect; consider the Grand Canyon.

Members of the Pacific Life Community, which held its annual retreat over the two days before its March 2009 vigil and action at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, brought water from various places from which they came. On the day of the action they poured all their water offerings into a single glass vase, after which they took conifer boughs whetted with that water and sprinkled each other, and also sprinkled water in the direction of the base and soldiers standing guard while singing "Peace is Flowing Like a River."

After this blessing of the waters, a group of resisters from the Pacific Life Community walked onto the roadway and crossed the blue line onto the base. They kneeled down, and Chris Rooney poured the remaining water onto the roadway, and as he described it, "watched it run towards the earth by the highway."

Here is the poem Chris wrote for this ritual, followed by the personal mantra of one of the other resisters, John Owen.

These waters have come from many places to mingle here but the truth is they have mixed and separated countless times before now. They have traveled many miles through time, and air, and sand, and rock, and wood, to be with us. We ask God the creator of water, to bless our resistance to the evil of men and to cleanse the land of their crimes.
To that God who’s name is Peace, Love and Justice we pray for healing to fall like rain and wash away the sins of greed and violence, and nourish the flowering of love within all people.
Be like water, seek the lowest places. Water, by resisting nothing, overcomes everything. - John Owen

I am often asked if our resistance to Trident makes a difference. I generally explain that although we hope to someday see the end of Trident and all nuclear weapons, whether or not we "make a difference" is not so important as our choosing to resist. Our knowledge makes us accountable, and we make a moral choice to resist, because to do otherwise would be to become part of that which we resist - weapons so inhumane and genocidal .

In reflecting on the ritual performed by members of the Pacific Life Community at the Trident base, I begin to see our resistance to Trident as much like the action of water. Water occasionally demonstrates its power in dramatic fashion, causing unimaginable changes due to the magnitude of its force. But most often it works slowly, steadily, imperceptibly (as in the example of the Grand Canyon), creating extraordinary effects that we marvel at today.

Whether or not we see the effects of our resistance in our lifetime is (to me) not important, and out of my control. Whatis important is that we choose to act, and much like the water, never give up. Individually, we are small streams, but we flow together to become a mighty river, picking up others along the way, slowly doing our work, often barely noticed, until one day, perhaps, we will have created a world free of nuclear weapons. And what a day that will be.

May we all (in our nonviolent resistance) be as gentle, and yet as strong as water.



Thanks to Chris Rooney for sharing his poem, and to John Owen for sharing his personal mantra. Chris Rooney (and Karl Germyn) publish The Christian Radical blog, a Catholic Worker information and resource service run by the Catholic Worker community of Vancouver Canada.

As for the title of this post, it comes from the 2009 War Resisters League calendar, The Path of Most Resistance: A U.S. Radical History Tour.

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