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)

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

Saturday, February 1, 2014

John Dear speaking on "The Nonviolent Life" in Seattle on March 16th


NOTE: Click here to see the video from John Dear's talk in Seattle.  It was a wonderful evening!!!

A Talk and Book-Signing with Activist, Author and 
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Fr. John Dear 

7:00 PM, Sunday, March 16, 2014 

University Temple United Methodist Church 

(Free Parking in University of Washington Bookstore Lot across the street from the church)

"How can we become people of nonviolence and help the world become more nonviolent? What does it mean to be a person of active nonviolence? How can we help build a global grassroots movement of nonviolence to disarm the world, relieve unjust human suffering, make a more just society and protect creation and all creatures? What is a nonviolent life?"

These are the questions John Dear--Nobel Peace Prize nominee, author and long time peace activist--poses in his new book, The Nonviolent Life. John Dear suggests that the life of nonviolence requires three simultaneous attributes: being nonviolent toward ourselves; being nonviolent to all people, all creatures, and all creation; and joining the global grassroots movement of nonviolence. Come hear John discuss his vision of nonviolence, and meet him and get a signed copy of the book.

John Dear is an internationally known voice for peace and nonviolence. He is a popular speaker, peacemaker, organizer, lecturer, retreat leader, and the author/editor of 30 books. He has organized and participated in nonviolent campaigns for over three decades; been arrested some 75 times in acts of civil disobedience against war and injustice; and spent nearly a year of his life in jail for peace. Recently, John was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He works with www.paceebene.org, and writes for the National Catholic Reporter at www.ncronline.org. For further information, see www.fatherjohndear.org.

“John Dear has walked where holy words lead: to a high mountain of instruction, into the desert of forty days, into the garden of anguish. He has poured his blood on nuclear weaponry and has paid up in kangaroo courts and unspeakable jails. He has trekked about the world bearing the gospel in hand and heart, a wing-shod messenger of peace. He has lived in solidarity with the wretched of the earth--whose plight, as he well knows, is the mean feat of abominable economics and killer instincts on rampage. In this century, in this land, cleft in fragments of gigantic disorder, what a witness!”--Daniel Berrigan, author of To Dwell In Peace, The Dark Night of Resistance, Isaiah, and No Bars to Manhood

“Some teachers are all theory and some are all practice. John Dear has earned ability to be both. Some teachers are very orthodox and some open new ground. John Dear puts the two together knowing they are the same.”--Richard Rohr, author of Falling Upward

“John Dear has been arrested in the cause of peace and human decency more times than anyone else I know. I am honored to consider him a friend.”--Joan Baez, folksinger and author of And a Voice to Sing With

“To take care of each other should be our primary concern in this twenty-first century, and John Dear is steady on this course.”--Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist leader and bestselling author of Peace Is Every Step

“How John Dear arrived at such an enviable level of moral and physical courage—reflected in numerous acts of civil disobedience, carried out with disarming nonviolence and joy, and often met with harsh consequences—is simply astonishing. Even more astonishing is that his life’s commitment to peace and justice appears instinctive, springing from an unfathomable source. Surely it is a reflection of John’s deep spirituality.”--Martin Sheen, actor and activist

Free will offering

Co-Sponsors (list in development):
  • Church Council of Greater Seattle 
  • Fellowship of Reconciliation, Seattle Chapter 
  • Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action  
  • Our Lady of the Lake Justice & Peace Committee 
  • University Temple United Methodist Church ·
  • Wedgwood Justice & Peace Coalition
For more information about the evening, contact Lorraine Hartmann: 206-367-1518; lorrainehartmann@comcast.net. Learn more about John at his website, fatherjohndear.org.