Plowshares: Disarming our Hearts


The five members of the Disarm Now Plowshares Action (on Nov. 2, 2009) carried with them a number of documents as they made their way deep into the heart of darkness, the Strategic Weapons Facility – Pacific (SWFPAC).  Among those documents was one written by Susan Crane.  Susan wrote Some thoughts about going onto Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor, and in her letter reminded us that, “There is no ‘us’ and ‘them.'”  This reminded me of something once written by Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? (from The Gulag Archipelago, 1973)

It was the thinking of the “us” and “them”, the “evil people”, in our hearts and minds that drove the arms race that drove humanity ever so close to the brink of self destruction, and ironically it is those same hearts and minds that can (and must) undergo a sea change in order to bring us back from the brink.  As Susan stated in her letter, besides the blood, hammers and sunflower seeds they brought with them that cold, clear morning under a bright moon, they brought something far less tangible, and yet perhaps much more important, “disarmed hearts in hope of a disarmed world.”

As we approach the two-year anniversary of the Disarm Now Plowshares action I thought it timely to spend some time looking back so that we can continue moving forward in our resistance to the machinery of death.  Susan’s letter is, I believe, a good starting point for this journey.

May we all hope and pray (and work) to disarm our own hearts so that we may begin the hard work of disarming the hearts of others.  Here is the entire, unedited text of Susan’s letter.




Some thoughts about going onto Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor

All Soul’s Day, Nov. 2, 2009

Today in the US more and more people are coming to food pantries, needing food for their families. The numbers of home foreclosures increase, leaving families homeless; unemployment increases; and many, even those with health insurance, can’t get their basic health needs met. Class size increases as teachers are laid off and dropout rates increase. Many returning vets must struggle for benefits. States are near bankruptcy, and our infrastructure is falling apart. And day by day climate change threatens us all.

As a nation, we know all this. We experience it personally, and hear it on the nightly news. But what we don’t hear is that there may be solutions to these problems. We need to look at where, as a nation, we are allocating our resources: where do our federal tax dollars go? Where do our brightest and best scientists find work? Where do our idealistic and dedicated youth end up? We know that over half of every federal tax dollar is used for warmaking. And we know that the American people never have a chance to vote on a bond issue for the next fighter plane or nuclear weapon. Every dollar that is used for warmaking, killing or planning to kill other people, is a dollar that is not used for human needs, or healing the earth.

Here in Washington state, I was thinking about the Trident submarines which have nuclear warheads on them, and are constantly roaming the oceans. There are 8 subs homeported here at Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor. And each of these subs carries 24 Trident II D-5 missiles, and each of the missiles carries multiple nuclear warheads. Some of the warheads are 32 times the explosive heat and blast of the bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

The Trident subs are stealthy, and at sea their location is secret. They can launch nuclear weapons to anywhere in the world in 15 minutes, which is a constant threat to people in other nations. Here in the US we don’t live under a threat like that.

My faith tradition teaches me that we are to love our enemies, to love one another. Planning to kill others is not an act of love…Indiscriminate killing of whole cites of people, animals and plants is not an act of love.

Here in the northwest where the Trident subs are homeported, the land is beautiful; the trees are aromatic; the water is healing. And I hope that we come to our senses and experience this land we live in, and realize that we—and people all over the earth—are brothers and sisters. There is no “us” and “them”. As individuals and as a nation; we all have good in us; we all have a shadow side. We can all work together if we choose to.

With hope for peace and disarmament, the five of us, Steve Kelly, S.J, Lynne Greenwald, Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, Bill Bichsel, S.J. and myself, go to Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor on All Soul’s Day. We remember the 150 million people killed by warmaking and related consequences of war in the last 100 years. It is in solidarity with all who live in lethal force zones that we enter the lethal force zone on the naval base.

We bring our own blood to pour on the missiles, nuclear weapons, trident subs, or perhaps on the railroad tracks that carry the weapons. We pour our blood to remind us all of the consequences of warmaking. We bring hammers to enflesh the words of Isaiah to hammer swords into plowshares. We bring sunflower seeds to sow to begin to convert the base, and we bring disarmed hearts in hope of a disarmed world. I go onto the base with the support of all at Jonah House, in Baltimore, carrying their prayers in my hip pocket.

Susan Crane

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