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, November 11, 2014

Peace on Jeju: Day 1

Editor's Note: The Peace Delegation to Jeju Island from the Puget Sound region has arrived, and is immersed in the resistance to the naval base. Here is a reflection from Mira Leslie after the first day there.

Jeju is known for '3 manys'- women, wind, and stone  and '3 aren't anys'- no burglars, no beggars, no doors.

The daylight has turned to stars on our first day here. Our peace delegation   has had  breathtaking magnificent, moving experiences today-- 100 bows in front of the naval base construction site, communal Korean meals, tangerines galore, walks through the village, a meeting with Frontiers- a Korean based international peacemaking team,  celebrating mass while doing civil resistance, being carried in a chair  to the side of the road many times, singing and dancing in the street, a food market in the city... traditional Korean bean and rice dessert.

At the construction site entrance (photo by Eunmi, Hosu)
There seemed to be endless daylight yesterday as we flew west-- the hours passed and the day went on and on like a summer day in the north but without waning sun -- long beyond reason. Nine of us travelled together over the dateline,  glimpsing the Aluetians and Northeastern Siberia , by air,  foot, subway and bus,  arriving weary and intact late in the evening. We met Jean at the Jeju airport -- so now we are 10.   By 6:30am we were all at the Naval base gate doing 100 bows to prayers spoken and sung over a loudspeaker in Korean-- how could we keep from praying? 

Father Bix is in good form, despite extra long distance walking yesterday . The community here reacts to him very warmly as communities and individuals do everywhere .

Bix getting carried away... (photo by Eunmi, Hosu)
We   heard from Brother Song and Emily   about the group Frontiers working on solidarity among  Jeju, Taiwan and Okinawa  ; to reunite East and West Timorese families; and   to work in refuge camps in several countries to break the chain of violence, anger and revenge by showing a way of peace-- like the Christian peacemaker teams who they collaborate with. They have been core to the radical direct action here in Guangjong village where many have spent time in prison. To sustain the struggle they are  not  doing things that land them in prison as much right now. My admiration for their fortitude, creativity, and strength is massive. There is something powerful here that I have never imagined.  

 The work to stop the naval base from being built has been ongoing here since 2007. Today, there are several unfinished  two story concrete buildings visible behind a new large   entrance gate, the coral reef is destroyed, the sacred rock blasted away. The  village is adorned with yellow protest flags and beautiful murals promoting peace. At the intersection in the center of the village, a table  draped with flags and artwork is manned all day by Father Moon and other activists holding vigil. They have  successfully blockaded the construction entrance to  the new naval housing building site and from the  corner a couple of blocks away, they prevent construction trucks from getting close.  Meanwhile construction has  started on a new four story Peace Center..  a vision for the future.

Brother Gilberto bowing to the Peace Center under construction (photo, Mira Leslie)
I am the last one awake in our guest house of 6 women. Its difficult to digest so much in one day, and very hard for me to come down from the energy I get from being in a place like Korea for the first time. New smells, sights, language, faces,  experiences stimulate  me  and I crave, explore and savor every moment-- all my senses open and magnified .   Lights out...

Peace and gratitude,


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