(Jail reflection from Transform Now Plowshares activist Greg Boertje-Obed, originally published in issue #167 of the Nuclear Resister newsletter)
~from Blount County
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.
– Psalm 118.22-23
When Megan, Michael and I were preparing for the witness that became the Transform Now Plowshares, we discussed this passage and were struck by how it might apply to the action we were considering. We learned of government and corporate plans to build a new factory for making “modernized” nuclear weapons, called the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF). Peace activists called for a campaign to halt the plans for this $7.5 billion death factory whose projected costs kept increasing. We knew that many of our international treaties committed us to stop building nuclear weapons and to reduce to zero our weapons of mass destruction.
When studying the above scripture, we read that Jesus quoted it in a parable in which he was the stone rejected by the religious and political leaders of his day. He was to become the cornerstone for followers of the Holy One. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the early disciples quoted this verse, applying it to the rejection of Jesus and his rising from the dead. A thought that came to us was that the builders of nuclear weapons have rejected the teachings and example of Jesus. Our leading was to seek to act in the tradition of plowshares actions, to bring hammers and blood, and to attempt to hammer on a cornerstone of a building used for making nuclear horror weapons. We knew that a recent structure was built that was intended to be a counterpart to the proposed UPF.Our intention was to reject nuclear weapons as a cornerstone of our national policy by symbolically and actually hammering on a cornerstone of the new building. We also intended to explain that our action was a rejection of the U.S. role in the world. We knew that our nation functions as an empire that viciously oppresses weaker peoples around the world. Nuclear disarmament and rejection of imperial oppression are both necessary for justice and life.
We believe God clearly guided us through the fences to the uranium building where we put up banners, poured blood, spray painted, put up crime scene tape, and began to hammer on a lower corner of the wall beneath an imposing guard tower. After a few blows, the wall began to crumble. After a few more strikes, the hole widened. A short while later, Megan came with her tiny hammer and swung a few times. The wall continued to crumble.
We give thanks for the miraculous leading of the Spirit, which is how we understand the action occurred. If God can raise people from the dead, then God can lead people past forces of death to continue the process of transforming structures of death to become structures for life-enhancing purposes.
We continue to pray for more transforming and are encouraged by the Spirit that sings: This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24
[Greg Boertje-Obed is in jail pending trial for the Transform Now Plowshares disarmament action at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Tennessee.]