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)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August Greetings from Ground Zero Center

Greetings Friends of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action,
It's Summer time at Ground Zero Center, and the resistance is easy. OK, so it's not that easy, but sometimes it seems that way as we become so immersed in the spirit and practice of nonviolence that it flows like a river, albeit a slow meandering one.  
The historic deal with Iran is held in the balance even as very powerful interests seek to crush it before it has a chance. Fortunately the UN Security Council voted unanimously for it, and most of the world is behind it. That being said, there are some - and you know who - that just don't like it. John Oliver gave a brilliant analysis of the situation.
Under our agreement, Iran will not be able to produce even the minute amount of  material necessary to strap onto a suicide hamster, which could then be placed in a mailbox. To a man, Republicans stridently complain, and maintain that there must be a ‘better deal’ out there!  A ‘better deal’ than what?  Of the 90 pertinent pages of the deal, they have read exactly – none".  Lindsey Graham deserves some points for honesty. After complaining about the Iran deal on an interview program, Graham was asked if he’d read the deal, and admitted he had not. John Boehner too, skipped straight to complaining and nay saying without reading a single word. Thery're like a four-year-old who claims he doesn’t like broccoli. He hasn’t tasted it, he just knows he isn’t going to like it.  Maybe we should call it The US-IRAN Broccoli Deal?
So now you know! Ironically, Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Israel is not. And who, in the Middle East, already has nuclear weapons??? The future of the Middle East and that of non-proliferation efforts lie in the balance.
Meanwhile, we continue to work toward a vision of a nonviolent world without nuclear weapons. The Peace Fleet once again sailed into Seattle's Elliott Bay for the annual parade of warships during Seafair. This year Peace Fleet made a fine showing with 13 Peace Fleet sailors in six kayaks, a 32-foot sailboat, and a 16-foot open boat. About 25 Peace Fleet supporters met on Piers 62/63. Thanks to Veterans for Peace for their strong presence for peace on the shore. The Interfaith Peace Walk is currently on the road, having started this year's walk in Salem Oregon, home of the largest presence of Marshall Islanders outside of the Marshall Islands. And of course GZ people are working hard to create a warm welcome to all for our annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki weekend of remembrance and action. So what can we all do this August to help move humanity toward a nuclear weapons free future? Read on and see; there is, quite literally, something for everyone!
*Join an event/action near you. If you are in the Puget Sound Region join Ground Zero Center from August 7th through the 10th for our annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki weekend of remembrance and action. Click here for the full schedule and more. If your are not from these parts find an event going on near you by clicking here. You can still join the Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk, even for a day. Click here to find the latest detailed schedule and contact information for the walk. More actions by other organizations further on in this email.
*Pass out leaflets with some very interesting facts on the bombings of HIroshima and Nagasaki. The leaflet was prepared by Ground Zero Leafleteers, and also invites people to join us for our annual event. Click here to download the leaflet
*Write a Letter to the Editor. Click here for some ideas from Physicians for Social Responsibility. Click here for submission guidelines for a host of newspapers around the country.
*Send a message to President Obama to keep his promise! It was President Obama who created the expectation that our country would lead a global effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  In his Prague speech in April, 20009 he committed the U.S. to this goal: “I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
*Join the International Fast commemorating the atomic bombings. Click here for all the details and contacts for more information.
*Join in the 70th anniversary "Thunderclap!"  PSR has partnered with Nuclear Threat Initiative and other sister organizations in a massive social media campaign to raise awareness about nuclear weapons. Check it out if your a TWITTER user.
"Little Boy (folded)" at Seattle Asian Art Museum. On Wednesday, August 5th In honor of the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility is facilitating the exhibition of a powerful sculpture on the front steps of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. It will be on display all day on Wednesday, August 5th, 9:00AM to 6:00PM, and the artist (whose grandfather was a Nagasaki survivor) will be on hand to speak with visitors. Please read the press release to fully understand this exhibit. There is a Facebook page for the event.    https://www.facebook.com/events/813325002119564/
Hiroshima to Hope lantern ceremony at Seattle's Green Lake, August 6, starting at 6:00PM. Many from Ground Zero and the Peace Walk will participate. Click here to learn more at their website. Click here for their Facebook page.
Bike Around the Bomb on Sunday, August 9th at 2:00 PM at the International Fountain, Seattle Center, Seattle. Join Global Zero on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan as we cycle what would be the edge of a “small” nuclear blast in Seattle and call on President Obama to keep his promise to “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The event will be one of many corresponding events around the world, serving as a powerful reminder that nuclear weapons were designed to wipe cities like ours off the map. Click here to RSVP for the event.
The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action Facebook page is the place to be to keep up with everything we're up to and lots more. We also have a Facebook page dedicated to the NO To NEW TRIDENT campaign, and the campaign has its own website as well at NOTNT.ORG. And for now, until the Ground Zero website is rebuilt you can get all the details on events at the Puget Sound Nuclear Free Zone blog's "Local Events Calendar." Send your questions or suggestions to either info@gzcenter.org or gznonviolencenews@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.
Toward the "peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,"
Leonard (for everyone at Ground Zero Center)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This Day in History - Transform Now Plowshares

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.

The scene of the (non) crime

July 28, 2012 – The alleged airtight security of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, promulgated over the decades by numerous U.S. government representatives from the Oval Office, the nuclear weapons laboratories, to include the Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission, that unauthorized access to and theft of U.S. nuclear weapons was virtually impossible suffered yet another blow when a small group of Christian pacifists belonging to the anti-nuclear Ploughshares movement (an organization involved in dozens of protests over the years at the Nevada Test Site and other components of the U.S. nuclear complex) breached the Y-12 National Security Complex  in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  On this Saturday evening, Sister Megan Rice, 82 years old, Michael Walli, 63, and Gregory Boertje-Obed, 57, cut through the barbed-wire fences at the Oak Ridge complex, which holds enough highly-enriched uranium to make thousands of nuclear warheads, and proceeded to splash human blood on the windowless uranium processing building’s walls, spray-paint peace symbols, and drape the access doors with crime-scene tape.   After being convicted in May 2013, Sister Rice and the two men spent two years in prison before a May 8, 2015 appellate court ruling held that the U.S. government had overreached in charging them with sabotage and ordered them released.  Comments:  Sister Rice follows in the footsteps of a long line of other nonviolent anti-nuclear activists, both religious and secular, who feel that the U.S. and other Nuclear Club members are violating global disarmament pledges and unwittingly threatening the world with nuclear disaster.  “It’s making countries feel compelled to have weapons.  If you have them, we have to have them.  We don’t want to end the (nuclear) industry.  We want to transition it into something that’s useful.  What could be better than making something that’s life-enhancing rather than life-destroying?” (Source:  Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, http://www.wagingpeace.org/july-this-month-in-nuclear-threat-history-2/  Original source: William J. Broad.  “Sister Megan Rice, Freed From Prison, Looks Ahead to More Anti-Nuclear Activism.”  New York Times. May 26, 2015.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/27/science/sister-megan-rice-anti-nuclear-weapons-activist-freed )

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

July Ground Zero Newsletter just released!

Hello again from Ground Zero Center,
The Fireworks are over, and now it's time to declare our independence from (and speak out against) every injustice, including war and nuclear weapons!
Besides a couple of items I forgot in the last email newsletter, our Editor in Chief, Alice Zillah, just released the mid-Summer issue of the Ground Zero Newsletter. Don't miss it - a great way to stay connected with our work. Click here to read the July 2015 issue!
Ground Zero resister Brenda McMillan is scheduled to appear in Kitsap County District Court on Wednesday, July 22nd for a mitigation hearing resulting from her blocking the entrance road to the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base during Ground Zero Center's Mothers Day weekend nonviolent direct action. Brenda is scheduled to appear on Wednesday, July 22nd at 1:15 PM. If you are in the area, please help us pack the courtroom to witness Brenda telling the Judge her reasons for her action. The courthouse is located at 614 Division Street in Port Orchard. Click here for a campus map with parking information. The courthouse is also served by public transportation.
We have a poster for the upcoming August weekend Hiroshima/Nagasaki weekend of remembrance (and action). Thanks to Ed Digilio for creating this year's poster. Click here to view or download the PDF version of the poster. Please print and post them wherever you think they will generate interest (AND participation) in the event.

If you've finished reading all the articles I referenced in my last email, I have some hot new ones for you. Street Spirit is a publication of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) San Francisco that reports extensively on a wide variety of important issues. The June 8th issue contains three extensive historical articles on Ground Zero, including an interview with Jim Douglass. Click here to read Life at Ground Zero of the Nuclear Arms Race. There are links for the other two articles at the end.
And don't forget to join one of the upcoming events on this the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Besides the events around Puget Sound, there will be many other events around the nation and around the world. Physicians for Social Responsibility has a listing of events in many cities around the country. Click here to find one near you.
The Tacoma Catholic Worker's "Retirement Party for Nuclear Weapons" got it right! It is high time to retire nuclear weapons after 70 years. Based on the U.S. government's current modernization efforts, it's not looking like the President, Pentagon or Congress got the news. Of course, recent headlines don't help - "New Pacific Russian Nuclear Missile Submarine Facility Could Open by October" was the recent headline in the US Naval Institute News. As I said when I posted it to the NO To NEW TRIDENT Facebook page, that headline likely has the Pentagon and Congress screaming "The Russians Are Coming!" But let's not lose perspective. One paragraph in this article reminds us of the real reason behind the Russian ballistic missile submarine resurgence:

"At the height of the Cold War, the Russian Navy based more than a dozen SSBNs at the Kamchatka Rybachiy Nuclear Submarine Base but that number dwindled following the collapse of the Soviet Union." Of course, the U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarine fleet never "dwindled" after the Berlin Wall fell. In fact, Trident patrols continued at near Cold War levels and still do. Is it really such a mystery why the Soviets are rebuilding their fleet?

We certainly don't need another "foolish and wasteful arms race that dominated the Cold War period," to quote Walter Pincus in a recent Washington Post article. And Trident (particularly New Trident) is front and center in this new and rapidly developing arms race. We must keep Trident, and particularly New Trident, front and center in the debate about nuclear weapons.

I've never been a fan of forced retirement, although in the case of Trident and all nuclear weapons I will make an exception. Scrap Trident for humanity's sake!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mid-Summer Online Newsletter from Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

Warm Summer Greetings from Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action,
The days are long and bright this time of year... and yet, we live in dark times. The madness of fear, hatred, bigotry, militarism (and more) fuel a maelstrom that - thanks to what Fr. Richard McSorley once called the "taproot of violence" (nuclear weapons) - threatens to suck humanity into its deadly vortex. I am therefore so thankful for the light of nonviolence that burns brightly for all (who have open hearts) to see. And yet, that beautiful and powerful light does not burn by itself; it is NOT self-sustaining. It requires a sustained and faithful effort on all our parts to reach out to the world with love, strength and persistence in what Walter Wink referred to as Jesus' Third Way. And so we continue the work of active nonviolence...
Members of Ground Zero Center have been active this Summer on many fronts. You can watch Mary Hanson and Bernie Meyer discuss the posturing of nuclear war with Russia over the Ukraine on Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation Television. Click here to read a thorough program description by Glen Anderson, producer and host of this TV series.
Glen Milner wrote an OP-ED: The Real Problem with Defense Spending, and David Hall wrote A Brief Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons. Click here to read both these compelling pieces.
Over this past week we have seen two extensive newspaper articles on the military's reach/footprint here in the Pacific Northwest, much of it related to the Navy AND the nuclear ballistic missile submarine force based here. These are really eye openers and the kind of investigative reporting we need to see more of in the corporate press. Read Navy enjoys Northwest building spree but faces lawsuits and other challenges in the Tacoma News Tribune. Navy stealthily targets Hood Canal development is from last Sunday's Seattle Times. Perhaps it will move you to write a letter to the editor on the subject.
Of course, Summer isn't just a time to sit in the shade reading and watching documentaries (although we can learn much from them). There is also much to do, and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Here's what we have in store for you:
2015 Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk

Join the 2015 Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk July 26 to August 10 as it travels from Salem, Oregon to Portland, Hanford, Olympia, Seattle, Ground Zero Center, and many other cities. The walk will finish at Ground Zero Center in time for the weekend event ther. You are welcome to join any portion (or all) of the walk. Click here for the schedule and everything you need to know, including contacts.
14th Annual PEACE FLEET

 Join the Peace Fleet on Wednesday, July 29, as it sails into Seattle's Elliott Bay confronting the the US Navy and saying No to Militarism!  For the fourteenth year, peace activists will address the public display of warships and warplanes in our community. Click here for more information, including a Fact Sheet.

What: Peace activists at Seafair. This is the fourteenth year for this demonstration.
When: Wednesday, July 29, noon, Peace Fleet in Elliott Bay. Demonstration on land at Piers 62/63 at 1 PM.
Where: Elliott Bay, near Pier 66. Demonstration on land at Piers 62/63.
Contacts: Glen Milner (206) 365-7865, Mary Gleysteen (360) 265-1589, or on the day of the event (206) 979-8319. You can also email questions to info@gzcenter.org.

Affirm Life/Abolish Nukes! A weekend commemorating the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki: Never Again!

Join us for our weekend of events commemorating the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from Friday through Monday, August 7-10.  It will be a full weekend of fellowship, fun and creative, active nonviolence. You are welcome to join us for any or all of the weekend. There are great camping spots around the beautiful GZ Center grounds. Put together a carpool and help pack the house. Click here to view the entire weekend schedule.
But wait; that's not all. There is even more going on around Puget Sound this Summer.
Fellowship Of Reconciliation's 57th Annual Northwest Regional Conference is coming to Seabeck, Washington July 2-5. This year's theme is “Peace, Justice and Sustainability: Strengthening the Links.” Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, and Rev. Osagyefo Sekou who has been working on the ground in St Louis since mid August on behalf of the Fellowship of Reconciliation will be the keynote speakers. I recently heard Rev. Sekou speak in New York at the Peace and Planet Conference; he is an extraordinarily powerful speaker! Click here for all the details.
The folks at the Tacoma Catholic Worker are throwing a Retirement Party for Nuclear Weapons on July 18th from 4 - 9 PM "to really celebrate the 'work' that nuclear weapons has done." It will be full of satire, celebration, art and music. This is a retirement party you don't want to miss. Click here for more details and to download the event flier.
The annual Hiroshima to Hope Lantern Ceremony is happening at Seattle's Green Lake on Thursday, August 6th beginning at 6:00PM. Click here for the event website. They also have a Facebook page.
What's New with NO To NEW TRIDENT
And now, on to what's new with Trident. Everyone knows (or should by now) that the Navy is moving ahead with plans to build a new generation of ballistic missile submarines to replace the aging Trident fleet (why not just go for mandatory retirement?). At an estimated construction cost of $100 billion, it's caused some concern around the Pentagon about just how the Navy will be able to afford to build any other ships (you know, the one's it really needs). Well, have no fear; leading the funding charge are Rep. Joe Courtney (D-General Dynamics Electric Boat) and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Newport News Shipyards)*, who introduced the novel idea of creating a slush fund to keep New Trident funding out of harm's way (or at least traditional budgetary funding methods). Who says bipartisanship is dead. The National Sea Based Deterence Fund is just that; an end run around the accepted Congressional budget process. Talk about fiscal irresponsibility!
Some in Congress tried to get rid of the fund, but weren't able to get enough votes. Yet for all the talk in Congress about how to fund New Trident, there has been no debate about why Congress should fund this archaic, Cold War nuclear weapons system at all. It is simply being pushed forward because of those other pesky nuclear weapons nations that are "modernizing" their arsenals and, of course, building ballistic missile submarines. Well, what should we expect when we have deployed Trident at near Cold War levels since the fall of the Berlin Wall and have upgraded the W76 warhead that is deployed on the Trident II D-5 missiles (in addition to all the other modernization of our nation's nuclear weapons infrastructure). That, in combination with our pressure on Russia (via NATO and more), has pushed Russian Bear up against the wall (not a wise move).
Unless the US and Russia come together in serious good faith negotiations to get the disarmament ball rolling, global nuclear weapons proliferation will be all but guaranteed to go through the roof! And then the US nuclear modernization merry-go-round will become a perpetual motion machine that will be virtually unstoppable. We must prevail!
Back to the subject of letters to the editor - these letters have an impact. Even though newspapers publish only a fraction of our letters (and they do occasionally publish them), they have multiple impacts. When published, they reach the intended audience. When newspapers receive enough letters on a particular subject - New Trident for instance - they are more likely to pay attention to the topic and be prodded into publishing one or more articles (or even op-eds). If you like to write, send in your letters and send us a copy so we know what people are writing about.
Keep up with the continuing New Trident saga and stay involved in our efforts to stop it at our NO To NEW TRIDENT campaign website - NOTNT.ORG! NO To NEW TRIDENT is also on Facebook, as is Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
Please note (and our sincere apologies for this) that the Ground Zero website is still just a shell of its former self (after the unfortunate hack job). Again, we're a bunch of volunteers; please bear with us while we try to get it back up and running full speed. For now I am maintaining the full GZ events calendar at psnukefree.org. Just click on the "Local Events Calendar."
Questions? Email us at info@gzcenter.org or gznonviolencenews@gmail.com. You can also email me directly at subversivepeacemaking@gmail.com with questions, concerns and suggestions (or to update your email or unsubscribe to these pesky newsletters).
Thanks to all who support our work. This is truly a labor of love, and it's NOT our day job. I am honored to work with such a dedicated bunch of abolitionists. Keep spreading the word and invite new people to check out our work. Share and "Like" us on Facebook; DON'T underestimate the power of social media!
From all of us at Ground Zero Center - Keep that light burning.
In Peace, 
* Note: In the original email message I incorrectly referred to Rep. Randy Forbes as representing Electric Boat, which is in Connecticut. Forbes is from Virginia.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Remembering William "Bix" Bichsel

The celebrations are over, and we continue to process through the loss of our dear friend William "Bix" Bichsel, SJ. I've put together the following references for those who haven't seen Bix's obituary or many of the other relevant documents.

On a side note, Bix and Tom Shea were my co-conspirators in creating the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. The photo at the top of this blog is of the sign outside Jean's House of Prayer in Tacoma where Bix conducted peace operations.

Please note that there is a "Memories of Bix" Facebook page, where we can share stories and post pictures -- remembering and celebrating the life and love of our dear Bix.

References and More (in random order):
Dancing with Dorothy Day A music video made a week before Bix died - Bix is part of this dance!!!
Music for Bix - a video taken the night Bix came home to Jean's House to begin hospice care, surrounded by his loving community and music.
Lethal Force, and the Road to Conversion - on the Eucharist at Bangor honoring Bix, featuring his essay "Lethal Force."
Remembering Father Bix, son of Tacoma - a reflection on Bix by UW Tacoma professor Michael Honey

Love is the Most Powerful Force in the World: Remembering Fr. Bix - another reflection from Peter Gallagher, Seattle Catholic Worker

Old vs. Navy - A satirical video on the Disarm Now Plowshares action of November 2009, by Mark Rahner of the Seattle Times. Bix is interviewed throughout the video. It's great stuff!!!

Break-In at Y-12 - Eric Schlosser writes about Dorothy Day, Catholic Worker, Plowshares (with a focus on the Transform Now Plowshares), and of course Bix and Disarm Now Plowshares.

Bix and others travelled to Jeju Island in the Fall of 2014. Jeju and the struggle of its people was very near to Bix's heart. You can read a number of posts and see video from various members of the Pacific Northwest Peace Delegation at the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone blog at psnukefree.org.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sixth circuit orders immediate release of Transform Now Plowshares

In an amazing turn of events, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals this evening ordered the immediate release of Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, the Transform Now Plowshares activists who were serving time in federal prison for their action at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, TN to protest plans for a new multibillion dollar nuclear bomb plant there.

Things unfolded rapidly this afternoon.

At 4:00pm word came from Bill Quigley, attorney for MGM, that the government had filed a notice that it would not oppose the release of Greg, Michael and Megan pending resentencing. The government’s notice was interesting—it included notice to the court that, when resentencing did happen, the government would not be seeking terms of imprisonment greater than the time already served. But, the prosecutor said, the court could not release the defendants unless it determined their were “extraordinary circumstances.” The government’s brief went on to note the issues cited by the defendants did not constitute ordinary circumstances. There was a way, though, the government pointed out, under a different statute, and then noted that another court had ruled keeping a defendant unjustly incarcerated beyond the time they would be expected to serve would be an extraordinary circumstance. “We defer to the Sixth Circuit” said the government.

Then, just after 7:00pm this evening, the Sixth Circuit ordered the immediate release of Megan, Greg and Michael on their own recognizance. The order is not available at this time, but the word from Quigley is reliable. In a delightful serendipity, Monday is Greg Boertje-Obed’s birthday—with any luck, he will be home to celebrate it with his family!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Eulogy For Fr. William Jerome "Bix" Bichsel S.J. (by Dotti Krist-Sterbick)

Editor's Introduction: Those who attended the funeral Mass for Bill "Bix" Bichsel on Saturday, March 14, 2015 experienced one of the most extraordinary and uplifting eulogies that I can remember. Dotti Krist-Sturbick, friend of Bix's and member of the St. Leo's and Tacoma Catholic Worker communities, wrote and presented the eulogy. Afterwards, my wife said that it [the eulogy] needed to be shared widely, as it represents a guide of sorts for us - to help us be in the world in some small way as Bix lived. May you find something here for the journey. In Peace, Leonard 


For Fr. William Jerome "Bix" Bichsel S.J.
with Love for his Beloved Family and Community:

A Eulogy by Dotti Krist-Sterbick

I would like to invite you to say Presente after I name a person or a group of people who were among the many who were a part of his life and work. He would never tell stories without mentioning people who had been significant to him.

Let's practice…
For those who wish fullness of life for everyone…Presente
For those who long for peace…Presente

Before his death, Bix said he wasn’t sure what would happen afterwards but that he hoped he would join a Cloud of Witnesses. Perhaps we refer to this reality as Our Ancestors or the Communion of Saints.

Cloud of Witnesses….Presente

We are one community today of people from various religions, non-religions and history, some of us have known Bix all our lives,  call him uncle, great uncle, brother, Godfather and friend the who was always there for us, but a little late. And some of us went to school with him, watched the strapping young man play football, called him Fr. "what a waste" when he entered the Jesuits right after high school; some of us are Jesuits who have shared with him the life of the Society of Jesus, brotherhood, priesthood,  its particular vows, challenges, sorrows and graces. Some of us have gone to prison with him, engaged in Buddhist drumming while praying people over the line, shared ancestral prayers and smudging with him. Some of us have studied theology and German with him, washed dishes, argued, cussed, drank, got sober, laughed, and sung with him. And we heard last night, some have planted trees with him, and some(actually perhaps one) have wrestled with him over the tree several times, thereby killing the tree planted in honor of his Godson. Some have lived in the same G street community and Catholic Worker House with him. Many here have been baptized by Bix or celebrated their marriage with him. With some he has journeyed during a loved one's death and funeral. Outcast by society because of ability, ethnicity, addiction, mental health or orientation, some of us found an ally who, on our behalf, would not back down. Some of us built houses, programs and community with him. Some of us have had our lives radically changed through Bix's help or just by his simple presence. Some of us have never met him, but he has somehow touched or intrigued us, inspired our imagination. We are here because Bix’s heart was full of love and yeses. He lived a fullness of life that included all of us.

We can look to his mother and father and see the rich soil in which they gave him to grow. His father was a a union organizer. His mother would feed working poor  during the depression.. A strong Catholic family, the Bichsels followed the precepts at that time which included abstaining from meat on Fridays. Men would come up from the train tracks and have breakfast on the porch of the Bichsel home. His mother would always fix the same meal everyday--fried potatoes, bacon, and eggs, homemade bread. Even on Fridays. And young Bill would tell his mother not to feed them meat on Fridays because it was a sin. And young Bill would try to convince her that she was wrong. She assured him that this was OK with God and they didn’t have to worry about, quote, “that kind of a thing”. He also would tell you of stories of rock throwing wars in the neighborhood, boys forming gangs, anger and revenge. I think Bix wanted to be sure no one mistook him for a saint. He also loved his family very much.

Let us recognize some of his family from the Cloud of Witnesses.
 Sarah “Sadie” Bichsel…presente
George Bichsel…presente

Mary Theresa Twohy…presente
Dick Bichsel…presente
Bob Bichsel…presente
Jim Bichsel…presente
Tom Bichsel…presente

We can look to his life in the Society of Jesus to see bits of the Bix we know today. As Bix moved into adulthood, into his priesthood, his discipleship, he began reflecting on fullness of life. What is fullness of life? In his Gospel studies he encountered Jesus who promises the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom we can encounter now. Bix often referred to this as the Kingdom of Peace. But how to attain it? Jesus seems to be clearer on how not to attain it--do not seek power/control, wealth/possession, esteem by your peers. One needs to be free to love, free of attachments—free to receive the unconditional love of God. Free to love one another as God loves us—to love our neighbor as ourselves. Bix studied that we must will the one thing We must attach ourselves to the one desire--to love as God loves us. Any other attachments make the task much more difficult and ultimately unsuccessful.

This is a difficult task, to embrace this unconditional love. Regardless of our spiritual beliefs and to search for this kind of love takes practice. Takes lots of practice that one takes up every day. And one soon discovers that it takes a letting go of one's very self. (Grain of wheat.) Bix seemed to think this was a very important part of his own discipleship, priesthood.

 In 1988 Bix wrote a poem honoring a friend, a Jesuit priest working in Alaska, Bob Corrigal SJ who died young. He is saying in it basically, may I be a priest like you. And eerily we can notice that Bix actually is describing himself.

"Your spirit call
led you to those
who were broken,
rejected, and without hope
or future.
In obedience to your call
you were fashioned into a Servant and let fall away
any clerical structure
or stricture
that gave you
rank and privilege
and divided you
from your people."

Let us recognize some of the priests Bix loved who went before him.

Fr. Bob Corrigal … Presente
Fr. Robert “Rock Reckofki… Presente
Fr. Jimmy Boyle… Presente
Fr. Bill Houseman… Presente
Fr. Dick Mercy… Presente
Fr. Gerry Morin… Presente
Fr. Jack Morris… Presente
Fr. Pat Hurley… Presente
Archbishop Oscar Romero… Presente

During the turbulence of the 60's and 70's Bix becomes especially present to those who are being denied fullness of life. He marches for Civil Rights in the south and works here for African Americans; he works against the Vietnam war which is wiping out people and the land, he experiences his first arrest of 46; he reaches out to the mentally ill, with others he builds The G Street Community, the Martin Luther King Center, the Hospitality Kitchen, the Neighborhood Clinic. He is willful and tireless. By the late 80’s he cofounds the Tacoma Catholic Worker and has his first heart surgery…and throughout he has been struggling with his own demons.

Let us recognize some of those from during those times who are now a part of the cloud of witnesses.

Sr. Anne Flagge… Presente
Alberta Canada…Presente
Jean Sheoshimee Mura… Presente
Mary Jo Blenkush… Presente
Fina Chouinard… Presente
Mary Russo… Presente
Lewis Jones… Presente
Eva Hill… Presente
Irma Gary…Presente
Bob Galluci…Presente
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. … Presente
Dorothy Day…Presente

We know what it is like to struggle with our own demons. What human doesn’t? WE know too well our anger, fear, resentments, greed, competition, our desire for security, our apathy. These create an unhappiness in us that can fill us, spilling out to those around us. We no longer experience fullness of life, nor do those around us. Through the years, Bix became ever more honest with himself; he knew this was important to cultivating peace within himself and around him.

A well-educated Jesuit and an observer of society, Bix also noticed that when these human desires and unhappiness become part of our institutions, it is the vulnerable who pay the price.  Someone without power becomes the victim or is to blame. Systems are created that exclude, judge and separate people. As a culture we do not allow fullness of life for everybody. Bix would underscore all the time the need to work for justice so that all would have fullness of life which includes health care, education, employment, housing and a place in community.
Bix would word it this way in a reflection for the St. Leo bulletin:

"Well, on this September day I said goodbye to Paper Man, Red and George and headed down the sidewalk. What will become of them? In the ordinary course of life in our cities and towns I know they will never receive the resources needed for a full human life. They will not be recipients of health care, education, employment, or housing. Nor will they become respected members of an established community. They will drift and die--unknown and unhonored."

For Bix, the ultimate symbol of institutional injustice, of humans creating a system that works against fullness of life is the Atomic Bomb. The Atomic Bomb represents our country’s whole military industrial complex and its ultimate priority.

He came to know the government’s military priority as he watched officials train foreign governments to kill their own people. He saw the resources that go to our military spending that could go to who he called "the vulnerable ones." He saw the horror of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, how ultimate and final these bombs were in robbing people, animals, plants, trees, all of creation of fullness of life, let alone life itself. And yet, we say these bombs make us more secure. We barter away our own fullness of life in the name of security, in the name of preserving "our way of life."

Bix wrote: "These thoughts led me to an inner feeling of futility; thoughts of how deeply embedded American people are in this culture of death when we allow our vulnerable to disappear and consent to the use of nuclear weapons which will bring global death to millions."

The feeling of futility would come and go for Bix. Many of you here who have faced prison, or dedicated your life to justice and helping the vulnerable ones probably know this feeling intimately. The question haunts, what can one person do in the face of such principalities and powers?

During a particularly difficult time Bix was also not getting good news about his health. His heart was not predicted to last very long, he was going to die.

How did he not give up?

Bix ultimately received consolation at the gravesite of Chief Joseph in Nespelem, Washington. He encountered a feeling he called "Resurrection". He felt the earth beat in concert with his own heart beat; he felt tremendous peace.

Speaking of this experience and of Chief Joseph he wrote: "His spirit speaks quietly and strongly to my soul. I wanted to spend some days there on retreat living in the Jesuit parish church next to the graveyard. Much of my time was spent being quiet next to his grave. The spirit of the chief who quit his heroic struggle with the US cavalry in order to save his people rises out of the earth. With his words, "From where the sun now sets, I will fight no more forever." He stopped the violence of the US cavalry and the violence that comes out of battle. His compassion, humility, and strength lighted his path of nonviolence."

From the cloud of witnesses:

Chief Joseph…Presente

Later, during his Plowshare action when he and four others cut through a fence at Bangor, sprinkled sunflower seeds and got incredibly close to the nuclear weapons, he wrote "We all experienced a great joy after being arrested, cuffed, hooded, and forced flat onto the cold earth. It came to me that beyond my furthest hopes, we were witnessing to the power of the Resurrection. Even in this place of fear, death, and hopelessness, the power of life, hope and love can rise."

Let also recognize the Plowshare and other peace activists who have recently gone before him:
Sr. Jackie Hudson…Presente
Sr. Anne Montgomery…Presente
Lynne Greenwald…Presente
Philip Berrigan…Presente

Bix believed strongly that love is stronger than hatred. Love is always looking to infuse new life even in our darkest hours. He told the National Catholic Reporter:  "I know it sounds idealistic, but I do feel very strongly in the Resurrection and how we can act together…I believe strongly in my heart in the power of God and the power of creation and the Resurrection. They are much stronger than the powers of death,"

As Bix entered his last week of life it was no less full of this powerful love. Community like today, gathered around his bed at Jean's House, told jokes, stories, sang songs, held silence, held the love for Bix that he had so freely given. All of you who couldn't be there were there in spirit. And the cloud of witnesses was also there. The community found it hard to let go of him, so the vigil continued as he fell more deeply into a coma. But, ultimately the community had to let go of the physical Bix, so Bix could do his own letting go. He did not want to leave his community. He did not want to leave his family. But ultimately he let go with great peace.

And so here we are, together again, the beloved community joined with the Cloud of Witnesses. And Bix is alive in our hearts. And we get to sing love songs to him. We get to claim for him the words and poems he meant for another.

"In a world cold and frozen
you hugged warmth
into our brittle bodies
until suppleness returned,
you breathed hope
into our sagging
and desperate spirits, and
you reflected our worth
in your moon-lit face.
You bid us to sell
the pearl of great price
to use so that
no one stand in need.
You taught us
not to hinder
the work of the spirit
in any life, and
that we can learn
to take wing
and soar together."

In the Cloud of Witnesses:

Fr. William Jerome ”Bix” Bichsel…Presente.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Old vs. Navy revisited

See William "Bix" Bichsel interviewed by Mark Rahner of the Seattle Times in this video - Old vs. Navy! It's a satirical look at the Disarm Now Plowshares action that took place on November 2, 2009 (All Souls Day).

This is really, really funny, even as it poses serious questions. Bix's responses are right on!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


To conclude the 2015 gathering of the Pacific Life Community, 80 activists held a colorful and lively demonstration on Monday, March 2 at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, California, protesting nuclear weapons work and other weapons for war.

(photos courtesy of Gilberto Perez)
After sharing poetry, litany, dancing and songs, twelve of the protesters spread across the entrance roadway with a 50 foot banner that read “Lockheed Weapons Terrorize the World” to stop traffic going into the weapons plant.

They carried a letter with them that read:

"To All of Us Who Pay Taxes or Work at Lockheed Martin,

"Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest weapons producer. The nuclear missiles that Lockheed Martin designs and builds are a threat to all life on earth. We ask you to evaluate the morality of profit from world-wide death and suffering. 
"This is the time to transform Lockheed Martin’s reliance on weapons production into new technologies that help the earth and benefit the common good."
The group was arrested and charged with blocking traffic. Four of the protesters were released that afternoon, and one later that evening. Seven who refused to sign papers for their release are in jail until they can be seen by a judge.

Those arrested are: Peggy Coleman, Betsy Lamb, Ann Havill, Fr. Jerry Zawada, OFM, John Yevtich, Katie Kelso, Susan Crane, Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ, Larry Purcell, Elizabeth Murray, Ed Ehmke and Mary Jane Parrine.

Many of the activists wore a photo of Fr. Bill “Bix” Bichsel, in remembrance of the long-time nuclear resister, Jesuit priest, Catholic Worker and member of the Pacific Life Community (PLC) from Tacoma, Washington who died at home on February 28.

The Pacific Life Community is a network of spiritually motivated U.S. activists from the Pacific Coast and other western states committed to nonviolent action for a nuclear-free future.
Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest military contractor. They make the Trident D-5 nuclear missile, a first strike weapon.

Since last summer’s Israeli devastation of the Gaza Strip, California PLC activists have also been educating themselves and the public about Lockheed Martin’s role in supplying Hellfire missiles, Apache Longbow helicopter parts and F-16 jets to Israel, all of which have caused immense civilian casualties and war crimes against the Palestinian people, according to numerous international and Israeli organizations (including the United Nations and B’Tselem).

For more information, visit the Pacific Life Community blog at https://pacificlifecommunity.wordpress.com/

This report is posted here: http://www.nukeresister.org/2015/03/03/twelve-nuclear-disarmament-activists-arrested-at-lockheed-martin-in-california/

Photos will be added later to The Nuclear Resister and Pacific Life Community Facebook pages.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Across Generations

Dear Friends,

The creative and compassionate juices keep flowing for Rodney Herold as he continues to produce weekly videos following his participation in the Pacific Northwest Peace Delegation to Jeju Island in the Fall of 2014.

In this video, titled "Across Generations", Rodney looks at the connections between generations and our obligation to care for the world we leave behind for future generations.

From Jeju Island, to the Keystone XL pipeline, to scrapping the Trident nuclear weapon system - these are all ultimately questions of youth - what we do to create a sustainable, peaceful and just world for the younger generations; how we engage with young people; and ultimately, how young people take on the challenges we all face together.

Here's to the future!


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