Bix and Gilberto are nearing the end of their stay on Jeju Island. Here is a photo showing them in solidarity with the people of Jeju, in opposition to the construction of the naval base there.
October 3, 2013
Re: News from JeJu
We began the day once again with the 100 deep bows. After that Gilberto and I sat in blocking action at the gate with three nuns, our deep bow leader, and Iffka, a young, compassionate woman from Berkeley.
As we did the deep bows facing into the yard, huge trucks ready to exit would stop before us and the drivers would rev the motors so the trucks quivered and clanked–much like a bull before its charge. However, the trucks would be forced to turn to another exit.
During the two hour blocking action I felt a deep grandfatherly affection for the three young women who are the main organizers. The time at the gates is a time of deep contemplation and prayer as the cement trucks come to enter. By then many police are assembled. The head policeman reads the warning to move. We remain seated there. They carry us, sedan chair style, to the side. Once the squad of trucks is in, the police leave and we return to the middle of the gate. This is repeated 3 or 4 times in the morning.
I felt a deep connection with all there: the nuns, organizers, villagers. This feeling of connection spread to the young policepersons who are held in bondage to this system. I felt a great connection and compassion for the nuns who were carried to the side and circled by the policewomen. I also felt a poignancy and compassion for the policewomen who probably didn’t like what they were doing and probably felt some of the same things the nuns were feeling.
Word has come that a typhoon may hit Jeju tomorrow. What is most striking about this is the fact that the farmers of Jeju also pray for the typhoon to come. The typhoon will rip up their fruit, vegetable, and tangerine crops as well as destroy their green houses where most of the crops are grown. Jeju is a basic agricultural island. Yet farmers will pray for this howling and uprooting force to hit the island because the last time a typhoon hit, it carried away and destroyed a good part of the naval base construction.
So deep is the opposition and resentment at the building of the naval base that farmers will suffer the loss of their livelihood with the hope the typhoon will carry away this monster from its peaceful shores.
However, I feel that this spirit of resistance that has been nurtured and grown in this faith filled community has more power than the typhoon or American militarism.
Blessings to All
Note: Jeju is 16 hours ahead of Northwest time
Bix and Gilberto are to arrive back at the Seattle/Tacoma Airport
Monday Oct 7th at 2:55 PM
In March 2012, at our yearly gathering of the Pacific Life Community, Dennis Apel of the Guadalupe Catholic Worker first introduced to PLC that US naval ships/subs were soon to be stationed on Jeju Island.
True to form of all actions and involvements the US is into and doesn’t want the American people to know about, don’t look for too much information about JeJu in the US press. These next two web sites can provide a lot of information most folks have no clue about.
You can see the photo’s Dennis took of his trip to Jeju on http://vpan.org/resources/Jeju-Island-of-Peace
Bix has been very focused on wanting to respond to the call of the religious and lay community on Jeju. Daily vigils and resistance actions have been in place for quite some time with the hope that one day the construction will end and this very dangerous American Funded Naval base 300 miles from mainland China will cease to be.
On September 23rd Bix, and Gilberto Perez flew from Seattle to Seoul Korea. They spent one day in Seoul and then directly onto Jeju. They have joined in with the resistance community on Jeju and the following reports give a lively report of his and Gilberto’s activities.
They are due back here in Seattle on the 8th of October. In the meantime the following are some thoughts from Bix and Gilberto.
Van-den-berg vigil September 26, 2013 From Bix
You would see and feel the holiness of this island; after returning from the regular daily practice of 100 bows (stand-kneel-deep bow) in front of a main gate of the construction site–with a view of the great sea beyond the site. The woman who started this deep bowing practice two years ago was there and today she was assisted by Gilberto and I, two Korean Notre Dame Sisters, a young woman from the US and two Korean women from Jeju. One of the ND Sisters said to me, “Your country has done this to us”!
Very much wish Steve Kelly and Louie Vitale would have been able to make this trip. Their life experience, and ability to absorb and appreciate another culture would be solidarity plus. We have been greatly welcomed by all Jesuits and well provided for and well scheduled.Fr. Kim,S.J. lives on Jeju Island in a small house rented by the Jesuit Order. He lives in community with two other Jesuits; one, Brother Pamk, is in jail for resistance to the naval base; the other, Fr. Lee is presently on trial for resistance activities. Fr. Kim has been jailed on different occasions for resistance. Jeju resistance and village -building is his assigned apostolate.
We began this day with Eucharist being celebrated at the gate leading into the construction site. We were four priests, five nuns, and four village women. The village men sat in chairs in front other main gate.
The police showed up in droves (high employment). When the time came for the construction trucks to enter the building site, the police surrounded us, asked us to leave, then carried all of us in our chairs to the sideline. Best chair- sedan ride ever. This happened four times. No arrests. Eucharist was being prayed and sung all the while. We all received communion.
September 27, 2013
We are living in Gangjeong Village here on Jeju Island and the village life is wonderful. Daily Eucharist and rosary is ended with high spirited Korean dance and song. We then have lunch in the community meal long-home. Fr. Kim had arranged for Gilberto and me to attend the ongoing investigative trials of Brother Park, S.J. (who lives in community with Fr. Kim) and Doctor Song who were being held in jail for their resistance work against the naval base.
Signs of community solidarity are clear to see; however, there is division also with some of the islanders. After the court visit Fr. Kim drove us to the hospital to visit a village woman resister who was struck many times by a villager who disagreed with the resistance. Though most of the people of Jeju Island and South Korea don’t want the base, there are those that support it.
This division was made manifest when the coordinator of the community meal hut was brought into the emergency room with multiple facial injuries while we were at the hospital. He had made a remark to a villager opposed to the resistance and the villager struck him in the face many times. Many members of the resistance community showed up and were very vocal in their opposition to the police, who were investigating the victim rather than the perpetrator. Sometime after midnight we left the hospital with Fr. Kim who drove us to our guest house.
After the 100 bows, Eucharist and rosary, dancing and singing, and lunch in the community meal hut, we traveled to Jeju City to visit Brother Park, S.J. in jail. His spirit is strong and he is very alive and committed to his justice work.
I’m experiencing this time as a real retreat. The oneness of the Eucharist unifying all people in a live background stirs me. The signs of resistance and the dancing and singing give life and vibrancy to the Eucharist. What I’m experiencing is a church alive with a bishop calling for resistance.
September 29, 2013
Great conversations today with two Korean Jesuit Priest, each named Kim. This is the most alive and vibrant faith community I’ve ever experienced. Daily Eucharist is the foundation of the ongoing acts of resistance which also occur each day. Everyday priests, nuns and villagers sit in chairs blocking the main gate while the sung Eucharist up the road is being broadcast. After the Mass and rosary there is very vibrant Korean dance that knocks your socks off and fills you with joy. After this there is lively song. This is followed by Korean lunch—kim chi style- that is held
in the community meal house that has free and open meals every day. The atmosphere is light and alive with communication. At 7AM the day starts with a village lady who leads us in 100 deep down on your knees bows in front of the gate. Different blocking actions take place in the afternoon. Each order of nuns sends two nuns every week to vigil and resist. They stay in a guest house that is rented by the diocese. Four Jesuits are assigned to full time resistance work. The bishop is fabulous and calls villagers to resistance as well as assigning priests to work for peace.
At 4pm the bishop of Jeju will lead the Eucharist gathering in front of the main gate where Gilberto and I with other priests and nuns will block the gate. It is not yet clear to us but we are talking about an action on St.Francis day to call Pope Francis to join the opposition and resistance to the naval base at Jeju Island. However, today the regular resistance community expects hundreds to show up. Gilberto and I will be blocking all day.
More later—love Bix
From: Gilbeto Perez September 29, 2013
Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo,
We bow hundred times in front of naval construction site with nuns and Fr. Bix. Very tough nuns, just like Sr. Junsan. Oliver Stone was here about a month ago and also prayed and bowed at local sacred location where US and Korea police massacred over 30,000 left wing peoples, mostly farmers and whole families, burned villages just like Vietnam..began 1946 ended in 1948. US called Jeju a “Red” island during this period. After freedom from Japanese, Koreans did not want another colonizer, therefore the arguments and massacre.
We all continue to pray. Yesterday and today over 75 Catholic nuns, 45 Jesuits and even the Bishop performed Sunday Mass. With over 300 local peoples and big dinner party at the village center. Reminds me of Cuba and Mexico where everyone in town is invited. Many of the nuns, priests and Bishop came from Seoul.Yes, Koreans are very passionate about peace and prayers, many studied in Berkeley, Boston and even the Philippines too. Two young Americans are here but not able to block gate, as they want to return to Korea. We sit in front of gate while Mass is said and police carry us off to let trucks and cars on/off the base and then we just return again. Police are thus far been pretty gentle. They remove us and lots of filming while this is performed, about five time each day.
Fr. Bix becomes like a young teenager when he is resisting the empire and very funny and happy with all…A baby Buddha.
Being near ocean means fresh fish and wonderful vegetables, cheese…No cows! Yes, US has taken the most beautiful location for the naval nuclear site, with approval of government (Eminent Domain) and destroyed the coral reed too.
So much to say about the Koreans, very respectful to elders and all participate in actions with joy and dancing after mass…I like the dancing in front of the gate the best.
Gassho, love to all and much peace, – Br. Gilberto
The Nonviolent Life
A new book on peacemaking
By John Dear
These are the questions John Dear—Nobel Peace Prize nominee, long time peace activist and Pace e Bene staff member—poses in this ground-breaking book. John Dear suggests that the life of nonviolence requires three simultaneous attributes: being nonviolent toward ourselves; being nonviolent to all people, all creatures, and all creation; and joining the global grassroots movement of nonviolence.
After thirty years of preaching the Gospel of nonviolence, John Dear offers a simple, original yet profound way to capture the crucial elements of nonviolent living, and the possibility of creating a new nonviolent world. According to John, “Most people pick one or two of these dimensions, but few do all three. To become a fully rounded, three dimensional person of nonviolence, we need to do all three simultaneously.” Perhaps then he suggests, we can join the pantheon of peacemakers from Jesus and Francis to Dorothy Day and Mahatma Gandhi.
In his new book, John Dear proposes a simple vision of nonviolence that everyone can aspire to. It will help everyone be healed of violence, and inspire us to transform our culture of violence into a new world of nonviolence!
To order The Nonviolent Life:
Visit – www.paceebene.org
P.O. Box 1891 Long Beach, CA 90801
Editor’s Introduction: Dear Friends, Art Laffin, of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington D.C., wrote the following remembrance of our dear friend (and co-conspirator in the creation of God’s vision of a world at peace and with justice for all) Anne Montgomery, who died last year on August 27th. It is, as is appropriate, mostly in Anne’s own words. Anne’s words and witness in her life live on long after her passing; may they give us all strength for the long journey. In our common humanity and in Peace, Leonard
Today is the first anniversary of Anne’s home-going to God. I/we give thanks for Anne’s life and for all she did to make the Word flesh! We know Anne is advocating for us as she is among the cloud of witnesses in paradise.
Below is Anne’s letter that she sent out describing her cancer and expressing gratitude to all those she walked with and accompanied in the earthly vineyeard.
In light of the Empire’s ongoing violence, past and present, including now the latest US military threats against Syria, the below poem by Anne speaks to the heart of the matter.
With gratitude, Art
March 1, 2012 letter Anne wrote to friends describing her cancer and really a final farewell:
“I have been on chemotherapy for cancer, and it seemed to be helping, but, last weekend I had breathing problems and tests showed a lung full of fluid and that continuing any chemo, etc. would not help. I have been blessed by so much support, personal, and medical, that I know I must share that in some way with all those across our world who lack so much and are near desperation, especially for their children. I also know that the Spirit prays at the heart of the universe and that creation is an ongoing journey of death and resurrection, however mysterious that process is. Because it is energized by Love, we can enter into it rather than count on our own weak efforts and vulnerabilities and worry about failures. When I made my final vows, our group was named, “Joy in the Faith,” I am coming to believe that must somehow be possible since it is promised in the Beatitudes and that those who have nothing show us the way.
I am constantly filled with gratitude to you all who have done the nitty-gritty work of peace and nonviolent action and invited me to join you. I hope to be able to do so in a new way. As Phil Berrigan said in his last letter, that work must come from our own vulnerability. Much love, Anne.
FEAST OF THE INNOCENTS:1991
In Memoriam: Mass Graves
by Sr. Anne Montgomery, RSCJ
A voice in Ramah — a voice in Panama, Iraq–
as yet again, Herod proclaims new birth
the young expendable,
bulldozed into ditches,
shoveled into unmarked graves,
cast into the sea,
or flamed to ashes.
But in the sand and sea,
grass and cinders,
the question will not die:
“Where is the one who is born?”
the child who sees with one eye__
or not at all,
who walks with one leg–
or never again,
whose dreams were shattered by shrapnel,
hunger stilled by pain.
The year’s death reminds us of an old story,
a nightmare that will not go away,
but, dragon-like, rises from the sea,
blinds the dawn,
blasphemes God’s name and dwelling
with fire from heaven
on those, uncounted, who do not count:
“You the nameless, do not exist.”
So it has been decreed,
for to allow the naming,
to confess reality and promise,
means new birth,
Sr. Anne Montgomery, Plowshares leader against nuclear weapons, dies; National Catholic Reporter Online; Aug. 29, 2012
Editor’s Note: This is an article I was asked to write for St. Patrick Church, Seattle. It was recently published in the Summer 2013 Roots of Justice, the parish Social Justice Newsletter. Click here for the PDF reprint.
Abolish Nuclear Weapons: Choose Life
by Leonard Eiger
“In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims. The truth of peace requires that all – whether those governments which openly or secretly possess nuclear arms, or those planning to acquire them – agree to change their course by clear and firm decision and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament. The resources which would be saved could then be employed in projects of development capable of benefiting all their people, especially the poor.” (Pope Benedict XVI, World Day of Peace, 2006)
Decades before, the Archbishop of the Seattle Archdiocese, Raymond Hunthausen, was active in resistance to the U.S. stockpiling of nuclear weapons and the new Trident submarine-based nuclear weapons system, which included the Bangor Trident submarine base in Puget Sound just 20 miles west of Seattle. In 1981 Archbishop Hunthausen referred to the Trident submarines based there as “the Auschwitz of Puget Sound.”
The Church’s condemnation of nuclear weapons is grounded in the Church’s respect for life and the dignity of the human person. People of faith have been active throughout the movement to abolish nuclear weapons, and the struggle to resist Trident mirrors this history. Even before the first Trident submarine sailed into Bangor, people were coming together to build a resistance to it.
The Pacific Life Community (PLC), a small intentional community, formed to resist the coming of Trident to the Pacific Northwest. Two years later, out of the initial PLC experience, Jim and Shelley Douglass co-founded Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (GZ). The GZ community purchased land adjacent to the Bangor base, laying the groundwork for the long work ahead.
As the submarines came and the base grew, so did the resistance. In the early years resisters handed out leaflets at the Bangor entrance gates. When the first Trident submarine arrived it was met by thousands of protestors on land in addition to a small flotilla of boats.
Next came rocket motors, and then nuclear warheads, transported by trains to Bangor for assembly to complete the Trident nuclear missiles. These trains were met by huge numbers of people, many of whom risked arrest blocking the tracks leading into the base. Archbishop Hunthausen was present at some of these actions in solidarity with the resistance.
The Douglasses later moved to Birmingham, Alabama to start a Catholic Worker House, and GZ’s work continued. Today that work is as strong as ever. A new Center House has risen from the ashes of earlier structures on the grounds. Three annual actions ground our continuing resistance to Trident – Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Mother’s Day weekend and the Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration.
This continuing resistance, deeply rooted in nonviolence, is absolutely necessary in this time of renewed pursuit of nuclear weapons as a foreign policy tool. Besides the US Government’s buildup of its nuclear weapons research, development and production infrastructure, it is pursuing new nuclear weapons systems – among them a new generation of Trident submarines.
The new submarines, currently in research and development, are intended to replace the aging Trident nuclear weapons system, a relic of the Cold War. Twelve submarines will cost $100 billion just to build, in addition to hundreds of billions in operational costs.
Beyond the costs – For people of faith killing is simply wrong, and nuclear weapons, which are omnicidal by design, are an abomination in the eyes of God. His Holiness was clear in his 2006 statement – Nuclear weapons must never again be used; they must be eradicated, and we must dedicate ourselves to life-affirming ends.
May we choose life.
Click here to view the postcard to Judge Thapar on behalf of the Transform Now Plowshares. Download it (PDF file) and take it to your local printer, get a stack of them made and take them to events and get people to sign them or just print off one copy for yourself, sign it, stamp it, and put it in the mail. We are hoping to get thousands signed and sent.
Greg Boertje-Obed, Michael Walli and Megan Rice are currently in the Irwin County Detention Facility in Ocilla, GA, awaiting their sentencing on September 23, 2013. The three were found guilty by a jury in Tennessee in May on two counts; interfering with or obstructing the national defense (sabotage) and depredation of government property. Both counts are considered violent acts and fall under the definition of “federal crimes of terrorism”
The maximum sentence that each of the three can receive is 30 years. Likely not to happen, however their sentencing guidelines which is often what judges use, can vary up to about 10 years.
At this point, the 3 have asked for their supporters and friends to write to the judge asking for justice to be brought back into their case in this sentencing phase. They are asking for downward departures from the high guidelines based on recognition that theirs was an act of nonviolence, hope, and love and NOT terrorism. There has been legal precedence for downward departures in at least 2 other plowshares cases where the defendants were convicted of “sabotage”.
The http://transformnowplowshares.wordpress.com/ blog site has posted 3 basic talking points for people to use in order to write a letter to Judge Thapar. The address for sending letters is also posted (see under “write the prisoners” tab on website). A personal letter to the judge will likely have a high impact on his discernment process.
Under the tab “write the prisoners” are 3 basic talking points for people to use in order to write a letter to Judge Thapar. The address for the where to send the letter is also there. A personal letter to the judge will likely have a high impact on his discernment process.
In order to make things even easier and in hopes of generating many letters to the judge, we have developed a postcard which has the letter and the address already written. All you need to do is sign it and put it in the mail. There is a bit of space for adding a sentence or two if you want.
So, download it and take it to your local printer, get a stack of them made on postcard stock and take them to events and get people to sign them or just print off one copy for yourself, sign it, stamp it, and put it in the mail. We are hoping to get thousands signed and sent.
We NEED to get thousands signed and sent!!!
Michele Naar-Obed, firstname.lastname@example.org
This will make a difference and the TNP needs your help with this. Thank you for your support.
PLEASE NOTE! The PDF document has two pages; one side is the text of the postcard, and the other is the address side.