2012: The Year of Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone

Dear Friends, As we near the end of the old year and prepare to move into a new one we celebrate our good works while mourning our losses.  Through the struggles and sorrows we perservered, never wavering from our nonviolent task.  And, the lessons of the past year will carry us well into the new one.  Anabel Dwyer has written a poem – looking back and looking forward –  to carry us into the new year.  It’s title contains dear Jackie Hudson’s constant reminder that we can (and must) all take those steps (no matter how small) outside of our comfort zones.  May the New Year find each of us stepping a little further outside of our comfort zone as we continue the struggle for a Nuclear-Free World at Peace with Justice.  Peace, Leonard

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2011 Solstice Lessons of the Year Past for
2012 “The Year of Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone”

http://current.com/shows/countdown/videos/occupy-seattle-octogenarian-activist-dorli-rainey-on-being-pepper-sprayed-by-seattle-police-importance-of-activism

OWSo 99% (plus 1%) Do Heed   ( With love, Anabel and David Dwyer 12/21/11)

Acute threat of people-planned elimination from nuclear weapons we do not need
Nor do we want chronic harms and dangers of human-produced radiation
Nor environmental degradation from common resources exploitation
Our basic rules of survival and principles of continuity for humanity are flouted
Gross criminality’s been outed and then still most oddly touted

As we’re Stepping Out to solve this mess entrenched by years of hubristic largess
Please note some past year’s observations at our behest

The Disarm Now Plowshares Five (DNP), so beautiful and couth
In a peaceful tack took a sign to the Strategic Weapons Facility of the Pacific, SWFPAC
Which said “Trident: Illegal and Immoral”, a straightforward truth
No lawyer or prosecutor (only just Mark Ratner of the Seattle Times) found
A problem of Marines torturing our DNP gems handcuffed and hooded face down
For four hours on cold damp ground
Was this just too metaphorical to expose
“the law” of violent enforcer of dead-ends as basically unsound?
At DNP’ trial (US v Montgomery, Bischel, Kelly, Crane and Greenwald) we could not gaze upon
Our Tridents’ annihilation preparation or even blame a violent God in adulation
Rather Judge Settle[d] the Trident as unfathomable, unthinkable classification
Formalized in “Knowing’s” negation

While DNP and Y12 13 used the courtroom as further demos of their kindness and caring
Inertia and negligence rages unsparing
Jackie Hudson died, cancers rampant, Bix ticks on, no thanks to BOP’s cruelties glaring
And Steve, Susan, Bonnie, Steve and Mike at prison walls still staring

Who or what wants this fool’s course?
Eureka! It’s B&W (Babcock & Wilcox LLC in myriad spinoffs), SAIC (Strategic Apps Int’l Corp), Strategic Systems Programs SSP, Wackenhut et al, perforce…
The US (DOE, NNSA, DOD, NRC, Navy, etc.) in false name of security
Protect us not just some certain weapons-corps peculiarly.
When Courts start recognizing the obvious absurdity and we focus with clarity
Such like Alliant Tech (DU) and Lockheed (in UK) pull disappearing activity to keep from losing their suicidal short-term surety.

So with song, dance and young band together now all realists, humanists, environmentalists, activists and unionists!
Step out with cures and antidotes. Bolster votes with systemic corrections beyond elections

We can can Keystone XL and can can UPF, EHW2 and new Trident, NTS, CMRR and KC Plant as well,
With Fukushima in sight the Mother Jones map of Nuke US Sites
None is shining light but dangerous blight that needs shutting down and putting aright

Perhaps at the Washington v. Hall and Rogers, et al trespass trial on the third of January
We can out the Trident’s and B&W, SAIC and SSP and spell out their necessary and systematic obituary
“From Tridents’ and all nuclear weapons’ grotesque violations
of the rules and principles of humanitarian law
No One nor Corps may Profit,” can quickly become an old saw
Please stick that in all our holiday craw
OWSo Tis the season for stepping out with facts and reason
Get with it! Working and workable “rule of law” is through nonviolent agreement
For, inter alia, complete nuclear disarmament

Y-12: David Corcoran enters plea agreement

(From the Editor:  Here is a Y-12 Resistance update from Ralph Hutchison of OREPA)

as expected, David Corcoran entered a plea agreement in federal court in illinois on wednesday, december 28. the agreement is a simple plea of guilty for his july 5, 2010 action at the Y12 nuclear weapons complex in oak ridge, tn. dave’s record places him in the 0-6 months sentencing range. no word on the sentencing date.

as most of you know, dave’s health prevented him from joining his colleagues and co-defendants at trial and sentencing in tennessee. we are pleased he has been able to have his case moved, but we sure miss him and barb!

please continue to hold dave and barb in the light as they move forward through this process.

The Grinch tries (unsuccessfully) to steal Christmas…

Friends,

It’s Christmas Eve.  As we prepare for the coming of the Prince of Peace many of our comrades are spending Christmas in prison for following in His nonviolent ways.  Meanwhile, the Grinch has scheduled yet another trial for Y-12 resister David Corcoran who was unable to be tried with the rest of the group earlier this year.  Here is an update from Ralph Hutchison of OREPA.

We have received word from the Corcorans that Dave’s trial is scheduled for wednesday, December 28. He is represented by a family friend and intends to enter a plea of guilty. Dave expects to be sentenced in january. I am not sure what his point range is, but he indicated he expects he might receive as much as 6 months. We’ll send more information when we know it.

May you all find Peace in this season of miracles, and may we all find strength to continue the long struggle for a nuclear weapon-free world in the coming year.

On the journey together in Peace,

Leonard

Preparing our hearts for the Prince of Peace

(Written by Susan Crane, December 22, 2011, Dublin Federal Correctional Institution)

There’s a lot of kindness here in prison, but there will be a relief when the holiday season is over, at least for me.

Many of the women are having a hard time; Christmas seems to be a major time marker in our lives.  “I won’t be here next Christmas” a few women say, and the silence of the others says, “I’ll be here for 11 more Christmases”, or for the lifers… a real silence, and I’m not sure what they think.

There is always a hope of getting out as a result of something that might develop. For example, we hear there’s a bill in congress that would release anyone in federal prison who has done half their time if they were here for a nonviolent crime, and are over a certain age, maybe 65.  Many women are getting immediate release for the cocaine/crack equalization resentencing law that passed.

But, all that to say, Christmas is a hard time to be here for most of the women, and of course it’s a time of missing family gatherings, or what the culture tells us we should be feeling.

Yesterday Alan, from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, came for the regular thursday meditation. I like when he comes, we sit for a good half hour, and then walk in silence. It is a very sweet time; I find myself looking forward to it. He asked us each to talk about how we were feeling, about the holiday season and so on. After the silence, after the trust that’s built up, it was a good sharing.

I shared that in my tradition Advent is a time of preparing our hearts for the compassion and nonviolence of Jesus, and that the Advent readings ingup to the coming of the Prince of Peace help us with that preparation, helping us open our hearts so that we can receive that deep peace.

There is, however, an understandable tendency to not live life here, but to live life looking forward to what will happen when released. I try to do my time realizing that this is part of my life; no matter where I am, our purpose is to love others, be compassionate, do what we were created to do.

Of course I fail all the time, but that’s no surprise.

Remembering our way in these dark days…

Friends,

In this time of Advent, and with the Winter Solstice just a day away, I find myself looking for light in everyday encounters and finding the center wherever it presents itself.  I learned from Ciaron O’Reilly that just this morning Fr. Martin Newell was released from Pentonville/London after serving a sentence for cutting into Northwood Headquarters on the Feast of Innocents 2008 in resistance to the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.

I subsequently checked in on Ciaron’s blog to see what else is going on and found a post by the title Mixing it with the Catholic Chaplain for British Military Land ForcesIt was, for me, the perfect antidote to the sanitized institutional church activities that take up the better part of this time of year.

In this season in which we prepare for the birth of the Prince of Peace while simultaneously embracing the societal/cultural messages of violence, Ciaron summarized for us the essential,central problem(s) of the Church from a historical context (which the Church ignores at its own peril or perhaps at the risk of losing what is left of its soul).  Here are what he points out are the 3 responses to the issues of war and violence in church history.

1. Pacifism for the first 3 centuries, practised and taught by Jesus living under the Roman colonisers and the Herodian collaborators – embraced by the Catholic Worker movement and other remnants of radical discipleship.

2. The Just War theory thought up by Augustine after the 3rd. century Constantine shift when the church was legalised, patronised by the emperor and was fasttracked to become basic to Roman citizenship. This “Constantine Shift” turned christian ethics on its head. The ethical question of how do you run the Roman (British, Portugese, Spanish, any empire ) in a Christian way? should never have been our problem…like how do you run a firing squad in a christian way? is not our problem either.
 Both recent popes have mused that given the nature of modern warfare technology the a just war may now be an impossibilty (eg. you’re not supposed to kill civilians for starters!)

3.  Crusades – “kill em all and let God sort them out”.  Theologically discredited in the Catholic tradition but is very much the theology of nuclear weapons, aerial and naval bombardment which is basic to the present wars on Afghanistan and Iraq.

For me, Ciaron’s post is an important reminder to us that although the Church is supposed to be the conscience of the society (rather than the tool of the Empire), we as people of the light must be the conscience of the Church.  And who knows where – such as Ciaron O’Reilly’s “debate” with a military chaplain – opportunities might arise to remind the Church of its errant path for the past roughly 1700 years.

May we continue to seek light in these dark days, and may it help us remember our way.

Peace,

Leonard

Remember a Resister this Holiday Season

Holiday Greetings People of Peace,

Oh what a year it’s been! For those of us in the Anti-Nuclear and Anti-War Resistance Movement it has been a year of continued struggle against an ever growing (and out-of-control) Military-Industrial Complex. From drones to nuclear weapons and more, dedicated peacemakers have steadfastly resisted the dominant culture of war.

At places like Fort Benning, Y-12, Kansas City, STRATCOM, Hancock Field, Downing Street and Jeju Island, resisters stood their ground taking a stand for justice and peace. They spoke out against a host of immoral and illegal actions by their governments. And for their actions many were arrested, tried and put in prison.

Acting on conscience, they have become prisoners of conscience. Some serve a few days or weeks, while others serve months or years. Helen Woodson was recently released after serving nearly 27 years for the Silo Pruning Hooks Plowshares action!

All are jailed unjustly; it would be inconvenient for governments and the corporations they serve to face the truth and let real justice be served.

They may be out of sight, but they are not forgotten. Consider spreading a little extra Holiday cheer this Christmas. Send a message of support to one (or more) of these prisoners. Include some news from the outside. I frequently print articles from the progressive press – Common Dreams is a great source – and include them with my letters.

You can find addresses for prisoners of conscience at the Nuclear Resister’s Inside & Out page. The Nuclear Resister also keeps us up-to-date on what’s happening in the anti-nuclear and anti-war resistance movement in the U.S. and around the world.

Finally, a BIG SHOUT-OUT to all who support resisters – including those who support them during actions, to legal teams, to prison support teams – on their journeys. We’re all in this together.

Here’s to the Next Year in Resistance.

Peace,

Leonard

P.S. – Don’t forget that prisons have rules about what you can and cannot send.  Letters, of course, are no problem.  In many cases – such as Federal prisons – magazines must come directly from the publisher, and books sometimes must come from a bookstore.  Prison mail regulations are generally found in their

A Prayer for Peace

One year ago, on December 13th, the five members of the Disarm Now Plowshares were found guilty of multiple charges associated with their 2009 Plowshares action.  In honor of their collective sacrifices for peace we share this Prayer for Peace, adapted by Fr. Steve Lantry, SJ.

To You, Creator of nature and humanity, Author of all truth and beauty, we pray:

Hear our voices, for they are the voices of all prisoners of conscience.
Hear our voices, for they are the voices of the victims of all wars and violence
among nations and individuals.
Hear our voices, for they are the voices of all innocent persons who suffer now and
will suffer when people put their faith in weapons of war.
Hear our voices, when we beg you to instill into the hearts of all human beings the
wisdom of peace, the strength of justice, and the joy of fellowship.
Hear our voices, for in prayer we speak for the multitudes in every country and
every period of history who do not want war, and are ready to walk
the difficult road of peace.
Hear our voices, and grant your knowledge and strength so that we may always
respond to hatred with love, to injustice with total dedication to justice,
to need with sharing of self, and to war with peace.
 O God of all the peoples of all the ages of humankind, fulfill now the hope that
does not disappoint; let this be the time when your Spirit
changes human hearts, and you grant to the world your everlasting peace.
Amen.

–adapted by Fr. Steve Lantry S.J. for the Disarm Now Plowshares Five
from a prayer of Pope John Paul II

Put Trident On Trial!!!

Dear Friends,

Just one year ago today the five members of the Disarm Now Plowshares, along with their legal team and supporters, packed the courtroom in the Tacoma Union Station Federal Courthouse for their trial resulting from the 2009 Disarm Now Plowshares action.

As I sat through that trial with our courageous brothers and sisters who were (and still are) willing to risk everything for the sake of humanity I marvelled at who was on trial.  It was Trident, the most horrific, abominable, omnicidal weapon ever conceived – and also a weapon that our government refuses to give up –  that should have been on trial.

Early morning, December 8, 2010, at the Tacoma Federal Courthouse

Had our justice system been functioning as it should, the members of Disarm Now Plowshares would have been able to do just that – put Trident on trial.

The outcome of that December trial only strengthened our resolve to continue the struggle against the merchants of death and speak out for life.  Bix’s reflection today reminds us that “in the stillness and early shadows of Advent” we may find an opening.  May we be open to the Spirit, and walk in its “hope and light,” and may we continue the journey of resistance until one day these weapons are no more.

In Thanks, Peace and Hope,

Leonard

An Advent Message from Bix

December 2, 2011 (Written in SeaTac Federal Detention Center)

Today we mark the 31st anniversary of the four US churchwomen martyrs, slain in El Salvador. Lay Missionary Jean Donovan, Ursuline sister Dorothy Kazel and Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, gave their lives that the light of Christ might shine unto the gloom and darkness of this world.

I am struck by how the themes of light and blindness shine out so brightly in the scripture readings.

In the first reading, Is. 29: 17-24 it is written: “On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.”

The responsorial psalm, Ps. 27, begins: “The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear?”

The gospel, Mt. 9: 27-31, is about the two blind men who come to Jesus to be given sight.

What strikes me first about the gospel is Jesus asking them: “… do you believe I am able to do this?” It’s like he needs and wants their affirmation. Through their faith he brings about what they deeply want. They become signs and messengers of the healing work of Jesus which comes to them through their faith.

This teaching and healing event of Jesus moved me to put his question “Do you believe I am able to do this?” explicitly in other events and healings in his life.

To the woman taken in adultery (Jn. 8: 1-11) his words can be: “Do you believe I am able to stop the capital punishment imposed on you?” To us in the 21st century his words could be: “Do you believe I will work with you to eliminate the death penalty?”

To Peter, whom Jesus told to put away his sword (Jn. 18: 11) his words could be: “Peter do you believe I can call you out of your violence to be a person of non violence?” To us today his words could be: “Do you believe that I can teach you to be non-violent? Do you believe I will work with you to teach others to do away with weapons? Do you believe I will work with you to teach universities to give up training for war by eliminating ROTC programs? Do you believe that I am able to work with you to eliminate nuclear weapons?”

To the rich young man whom Jesus counseled to give his wealth to the poor and follow him (Mk. 10: 17-22), and who was not able to follow Jesus because of his riches, Jesus’ words could be: “Your riches hold you and people who need help in bondage; unless you can let go, you will not be free or be able to share the richness of the human community.” To us, in our day, Jesus’ words could be: “Do you believe that I am able to accompany you on a journey in which you give up status and privilege and work to resist forces and policies which deprive people of a full human life?”

In the stillness and early shadows of Advent, the faithfulness and blood of the four churchwomen and the restored sight of the two blind men open my awareness to the presence of the Spirit.

The Spirit’s presence comes with energy and life-generating power which circulates hope and light in which we can walk. We can walk through fences, over borders, through Wall Street and Lockheed Martin, through Grumman and Boeings, through a corporate-person Supreme Court, through a bought out legislative body, and a sold out administrative head. All of this energy can come to us in the stillness of night. It’s the time of stillness, the time when we are aware that the promise of Peace can come to us in the night. And – all of this is free. We don’t earn it. We can be quiet and be open to it.

(Editor’s Note: Thanks to Joe Power-Drutis for transcribing Bix’s reflection.)

Advent: Walking in the Light (a reflection by Susan Crane)

Here in the federal prison (FCI Dublin), as Christmas approaches, the women are carefully painting the windows in the housing unit lobby. They are painting festive winter scenes–the instruction from the Warden is that there can’t be any religious themes. We live here under clear instruction from the Bureau of Prisons, the Lieutenants, the guards, the staff. Obey, or else! The “or else” includes being put in the Special Housing Unit (SHU), loss of good time, commissary, phone, or transfer to another prison.

The Advent readings encourage us to get instruction from God, not from the culture. On the first Monday of Advent, we hear about all nations climbing God’s mountain, and getting instruction from God (Isaiah 2). Sometimes, we have to get away from the culture to even hear the instruction that God is giving to us. In this reading from Advent, we are instructed to convert the weapons of war into something useful for human life. A simple instruction — hammer those swords into plows.

On Christmas day, we have another reading from Isaiah (Isaiah 9), where the people who walk in darkness see light! Every military uniform or clothes stained with blood from warmaking, every pair of military boots will be fuel for a big bonfire, because the Prince of Peace is coming.

The teachings of this Prince of Peace are simple to understand, and hard to practice: Love your enemies, love one another. And for whatever definition of love you have, as a bottom line, love has to mean sharing with others and not wishing them any harm. Sharing our wealth, power, and knowledge with others is what is being asked of us.

The culture instructs us to be fearful – fear the Afghan people, fear Al Quida, fear anyone who is different. Jesus teaches us to love the one who is different. That means, at the very least, that we don’t kill them, or deny food or medical care.

The same instruction that God gives to us as individuals applies to us as a group when we gather. As a community of people, we aren’t allowed to kill others. As a nation, we aren’t allowed to kill others. Yet here in the US, we spend over half of our federal tax dollars on figuring out different ways to torture and kill others.

Every pair of military boots keeps building the pyre ever larger, yet the Prince of Peace is coming. Who’s footsteps do we follow?

Where do we get our instruction? Do we obey God or the culture? God or Empire? Do we walk in the darkness of fear, confusion and violence? Or the light of love and compassion? Are we under the banner of the Prince of Peace, or the banner of the Father of all Lies?

Is it that simple? Darkness or Light? War or Peace? Imposing life or death on others?

There is no shame in saying NO to warmaking. There is no shame in saying NO to drones or nuclear weapons. We all need to raise our voices and welcome the Prince of Peace into our hearts, and in doing so we will melt away the violence that has been instilled within us by the culture. We will break the shackles of darkness and walk in the light.

Despite the terrible injustice of this prison, despite the tragedy that the justice system imposes on the lives of the women here, there is some goodness, and the music program is a ray of that goodness. It’s very hard to talk about something good in the middle of such injustice. Sort of seems like I’m making light of the gross injustice (I don’t have the words to talk about Leonard Peltier, or the men in the SAMS units, or Steve in the SHU, or the day to day degradation) if I mention something good here. But life is full of contradictions.

Though we continue to live with the greatest contradiction of all – nuclear weapons – we do not cease shining a light on that which is capable of darkening our world forever.

So we continue our preparations for Christmas at FCI Dublin. As I gaze at the light streaming in through the painted windows of the housing unit lobby I am mindful of the light manifested through acts of nonviolence in our world, and I give thanks.

Thankfulness for the Occupy movement, with its horizontal, nonviolent approach and its connection with people around the world who want a cooperative, horizontal, mutual, lifegiving world.

Thankfulness for all my fellow peacemakers engaged in acts of nonviolence, many of whom also reside behind prison walls this Advent for their acts of resistance to the violence of the State.

Thankfulness for the letters, prayers and encouragement sent by peace-loving people around the world.

Thankfulness for the wonderful diversity of women here, of so many cultures, races and spiritual traditions who get along together.

Thankfulness for the goodness of my roommates, Tammy and Tiffini, for the prison orchestra, for the students in the ESL program, and for so many women here who let the spirit of compassion, nonviolence and forgiveness into their hearts.

In the spirit of thanksgiving,

Susan

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