This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
C A T H O L I C
d’s Mercy & Gospel Resis icing Go tance Pract
W O R K E R S
Faith & Resistance Update 2011
by Eric Garbison. Cherith Brook CW, Kansas City The book of Acts continues the resurrection story in ways that trouble those captivated by the power and prestige of Christendom. In Acts 5 the apostles are arrested for disturbing the peace. Well, they’re not actually disturbing the peace, they’re proclaiming it. These early Jesusfollowers have been given a new life mandate—proclaim Easter Hope! This proclamation gets them in trouble. Those in power will have none of it. Not only are they insulted by being implicated in Jesus’ crucifixion, they will conspire to secure the profit and privilege rewarded them for being chaplains of the cover-up. So they jail the disciples. But “God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” The disciples are miraculously released and go right back out to preach some more. The authorities confront them again, “We gave you strict orders not to teach this!” To which Peter replies, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” They have seen the suffering of the cross and embraced it; they have witnessed the power of the Resurrection and will not be silenced. On May 2, 2011 a large gathering of witnesses stood at the construction site of the new nuclear weapons plant being built in Kansas City proclaiming “The Hope of Easter and a Disarmed World!” There we were holding signs, performing theatre, engaging workers and police, praying, participating in the liturgy, singing, breaking bread, and blocking the entrance to the construction site. In each of these, we were laying claim to the Easter memory; that same Easter Spirit that had breathed life into the early church is alive today. When the powers of death attempt to silence the Hope of Easter, people of faith must “obey God rather than human authorities”; we must practice gospel obedience. This is a significant moment in the history of Life-after-Easter. This special edition of our newspaper includes various reports and reflections on this event. We trust you will read it carefully. How the message is heard depends on many factors, including your prayerful interest and the movement of God’s Spirit. There are a few things, however, we would highlight for your consideration. Notice, first of all, the masthead of this paper. It communicates that the communities of Holy Family and Cherith Brook Catholic Workers have labored in tandem to organize the event and publish this account. But the picture is still not complete. This event points to the work of a community of communities, the Catholic Worker houses across the Midwest and their many companions. To put it another way, the voices and images herein represent a chorus of living communities from South Dakota to Indiana, Wisconsin to Omaha. the work of The People. Indeed, it depends on us common folk. We are not empty, lifeless receptacles waiting for bishops or ecclesial administrators, priests, ministers or preachers to grant permission or disseminate spiritual authority (after all, where were they?). No, the truest liturgy is the work of The People stirred, like troubled waters, by the Spirit of God. This paper is also an opening of the heart, a sharing of the inner work of those who took risks, jeopardizing reputation and personal comfort; those who faced being stereotyped as “hippies,” “protesters,” or “malcontents”; those who risked being arrested, sleeping in jail and going to court. I am often concerned that bystanders see our willingness to take such risks as flippant. If you get anything from this edition, you must understand the sincere discernment that was done to ensure our action was an expression of that same faith that inspires us to stand as Jesusfollowers amidst the steeples of civil religion. Finally, we have been battling this nuclear weapons plant in Kansas City for some time already. I am still caught off guard when I hear people from this proud Midwestern city surprised that a plant is being built or that such a plant has been here for several decades already. But the lack of outrage is even more surprising (disheartening at times). If this is the first you’ve heard of the construction of this Leviathan in the Heartland, then we pray that you will be stirred and awakened; that you will arise, step out of the tomb and join this witness for Resurrection Living.
Photo by Eric Bowers, www.ericbowersphoto.com
This is not merely footnoting information. We hope you will hear and see that, at its best, the Christians call to a life of active peacemaking is a communal engagement. We stand on the shoulders of others and we link arms together. Second, in these pages you will read about faith at work. Augustine once said, “Work as though everything depends on us and pray as though everything depends on God.” Work and prayer: Both are vital. Planning, picketing, petitioning, strategizing, and speaking, we must do this work. But it cannot be divorced from prayer; it is a matter of faith. Besides, prayer and liturgy are essentially
Faith & Resistance 2011
The Hope of Easter & A Disarmed World
by Art Laffin. Dorothy Day CW, Washington DC [The following are some excerpts taken from Art Laffin’s keynote address given on April 30, 2011.] The question that is central to Mark’s Gospel is: Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Suffering Servant that Isaiah foretold and the long-awaited Messiah. He is the great I AM, the Incarnation of God, the Word made Flesh. He is the Son of God and Savior of the world. Teacher, healer, community builder, who lived and ate with sinners and tax collectors, who broke the laws and customs of his time to establish God’s reign of love and justice. Jesus was a victim both of torture and capital punishment. Jesus proclaimed the reign of God and he was killed because the powers could not accept it. But as we know this is not the end of the story. God raised Jesus from the dead, thereby overcoming the forces of evil and death. * * * * * The late Jesuit peacemaker Dick McSorley, writes in his classic book The New Testament Basis for Peacemaking: “We cannot seriously imagine Jesus pushing the button to launch a nuclear bomb, or registering for the draft, or wearing the uniform of any nation-state, or paying taxes for nuclear weapons or working in a plant that manufactures weapons of death.” Violence, killing and war are incompatible with the commands of Jesus. To kill another human being is to kill what has been made in God’s image—for we humans are all created by the same God. Jesus calls us to love our enemies, not demonize, bomb and kill them! Jesus instructs his followers to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom for all who are oppressed, to practice unconditional love, forgiveness and reconciliation, to put away the sword and to give our lives as he did on the cross, rather than to kill. On the cross, Jesus shows us how to live and die by asking God to forgive those who are murdering him. Jesus said: “I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). He declares: “Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn. 15:12-13). Yet our blindness as individuals and as a church to Jesus’ way of nonviolent love has led to the creation of a culture that sanctions violence, killing, and genocide and glorifies war. Through Jesus’ cross and resurrection, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have been liberated from our moral blindness. We have been given new eyes of faith to see. We need only to believe. I submit that active nonviolence, most powerfully exemplified by Jesus, is the only way out of our culture of violence and death and our greatest hope to attain a disarmed world. * * * * * Christ has Risen! In the face of all the bad news, we can stake our lives on the Good News, indeed the Great News of Jesus Christ. Jesus has overcome death and the powers of this world and has shown us a new way to live! The Holy Spirit is present, here and now, inspiring individuals and communities of faith to boldly witness to the Gospel in the same way the first Christians did. Wherever violence, injustice, and war occur in our world, there are also people witnessing to the truth of Easter. The Acts of the Apostles continues throughout the world as sisters and brothers are persecuted, imprisoned and killed for witnessing to the truth. In Mark’s Gospel we hear the words: “He has been raised up, he is not here. See the place where they laid him” (Mk 16:6). To believe that the crucified Nazarene has been raised to life gives us resurrected hearts. Our fears and amazement slowly dissipate, giving way to the profound realization that Jesus is alive. This newfound hope revives our deadened hearts, and our faith is revitalized. We become empowered to journey with Jesus beyond the empty tomb. Jesus’ journey beyond the tomb takes him back to Galilee, the place where his ministry began. It is there, the place of outcasts and the neglected, to which Jesus returns to continue his mission of servanthood. Jesus journeys ahead of us to this remote place and invites us to join him there. He promises us that if we embark on this pilgrimage of faith we will see him. This promise gives us new hope. In this nuclear age, we can face the challenges before us and be sustained in times of trial. We can fearlessly risk proclaiming with our lives that the way of the cross is the means to true peace and new life. For Jesus, the Lord of life, has gone ahead of us into the Galilees of our world and will be with us through our most perilous moments. The promise of new life awaits us beyond the cross. The challenge is to accept his invitation to discipleship and to journey with him wherever he calls us. * * * * * With all our struggles and weaknesses, we are trying to create a new society in the shell of the old. Violence and war will end when we recognize that we are all sisters and brothers, that under no circumstance can we kill. Disarmament and the abolition of weapons—from handguns to drones to nuclear warheads—will occur when we disarm our hearts of fear and violence and refuse to fund and support in any way the making of weapons. If we as individuals and as a church can be filled with the hope of Easter and radically embrace Jesus’ way of nonviolent love, God’s reign of justice, peace and jubilee can and will be established. But it will not come without great sacrifice and a willingness to change our lives and place our complete trust in God. Let us, as Catholic Workers, pray for and encourage each other to persevere, to be faithful to the promises of Christ as we strive together to practice resurrection and create a disarmed world. For the reign of God is at hand—right here, right now.
Art Laffin (foreground) and 52 others blocking the entrance to the new nuke bomb plant
Jesus’ resurrection was the ultimate act of resistance to empire. Bill Wylie-Kellermann writes: “The chief priests and the pharisees asked Pilate’s troops to guard the tomb. Pilate does so and authorizes them to set the seal. The seal over Jesus’ tomb was a legal seal. Cords would be strung across the rock and anchored at each end with clay. To move the stone would break the seal and indicate tampering. To move the stone and break the seal is a civil crime. The resurrection is against the law.... When the seal is broken in the resurrection, it stands among the signs that the power of the powers (death in all its forms) has been broken. The dominion of political authority... and imperial authority has been cut to the heart.... The imperial powers would like to have us believe that the resurrection never was.” Despite all that the powers did to coverup the resurrection, the risen Jesus has forever triumphed over the powers and principalities of this world.
Faith & Resistance 2011
Planned Nuke Facilities Raise Concerns
by Joshua J. McElwee. National Catholic Reporter In the wake of sharply focused protests against U.S. nuclear weapons facilities over the past month, weapons analysts appear divided on the intent of U.S. weapons’ policies, raising as many questions as providing answers. At a time of pressing budget deficits, President Obama last May pledged $80 billion over the next decade for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. That money was the price for winning key Republican support in the U.S. Senate for the ratification of the New START treaty, aimed at reducing the U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons arsenals to 1,550 deployed warheads each. On the surface, the breach in logic of paying billions — including an estimated $1.2 billion over two decades to build a new weapons production plant in Kansas City, Mo. — while cutting back on the nation’s nuclear arsenal has not escaped the most vociferous weapons’ critics. Calling attention to that very fact, 53 people were arrested at the construction site for the new Kansas City facility May 2. Holding signs calling for the “transformation” of the complex to green energy use, the group blocked a gate to the site before being taken into custody. The act of civil disobedience came after a three-day conference that saw 150 gather from as far away as South Dakota to raise awareness of the facility, which will replace an existing one responsible for the production of 85 percent of the nonnuclear parts of each of the weapons in the nuclear arsenal. In a similar gathering, more than 160 people came together April 16 in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to protest a proposed new uranium facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Activists there marched two miles through the downtown area of the city, hosted a vigil, and placed peace cranes on the fence surrounding the complex. The new Oak Ridge facility, estimated by the government to cost up to $6.5 billion, is said to be needed by the National Nuclear Security Administration to “support production and surveillance of highly-enriched uranium components.” A third proposed complex at the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico is set to join the Oak Ridge and Kansas City ones. Called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility, it is to increase U.S. ability to produce plutonium pits — the “heart” of the nuclear weapon — from approximately 20 to 80 annually. The actions at the Oak Ridge and Kansas City facilities highlight a series of questions nuclear weapons analysts who spoke to NCR raised about the need, scope and direction of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex. Much of the U.S. nuclear weapons program remains cloaked in secrecy. Meanwhile, nuclear weapons analysts themselves are divided on whether the U.S. will use the new facilities to upgrade its existing arsenal, or to go forward with the building of a new generation of nuclear weapons. Within a Catholic moral context, the difference is not a mere matter of semantics. According to the 1983 U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter on war and peace, “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response,” U.S. nuclear deterrence is “justifiable only in conjunction with resolute determination to pursue arms control and disarmament.” While most of the analysts interviewed by NCR agreed that new projects of some scope may be needed to replace aging, World War II-era facilities at the project sites, they disagreed on whether the planned replacements would fundamentally shift the nation’s nuclear weapons posture away from the eventual disarmament promised by Obama in a speech in Prague, Czech Republic, in April 2009. Two of the key questions raised by analysts: • If the United States is planning to reduce the number of its nuclear warheads following passage of the New START treaty, are the new facilities necessary? If they are necessary, what impact will their construction — and reinvestment in our nuclear weapons program — have on perceptions abroad about our intent to reduce our nuclear weapons stockpile and eventually disarm? That framework was put forward in the Bush administration’s 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, an assessment of the roles and missions for U.S. nuclear forces put forward by every president since the end of the Cold War. Excerpts from the review that were submitted to Congress in December 2001 described the framework as the “ability to respond to large strategic changes” by looking for “new approaches to development and procurement of new capabilities” for the nation’s nuclear weapons force. Placing the planned new facilities in the context of the nine-year-old review, Shaw said they put a point on the idea that we may need to be able to produce new nuclear weapons to “deal with [an] uncertain future.” The Obama administration’s Nuclear Pos-
Photo by Eric Bowers, www.ericbowersphoto.com
The key breaking point for agreement between some of the experts is whether the new facilities represent a restarting of the nation’s nuclear weapons production capability. Speaking to that question, Douglas Shaw, an assistant professor of international affairs at George Washington University in Washington, answered: “That’s a conclusion that I think is hard to avoid.” Shaw, who also held a position at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Clinton, said the construction plans at the three facilities fall under a framework outlined by President George W. Bush’s administration, known by the term “responsive infrastructure.”
ture Review, released in April 2010, makes no mention of the “responsive” nuclear weapons framework. Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said that review made clear that “we’re not going to develop new types of nuclear weapons.” Yet the head of the nonprofit organization admitted there is a “risk” that the new facilities, once completed, could be used to increase the number of weapons in the U.S. arsenal. “There is a possibility that, yes, a future president could change the existing policy,” Kimball said. “We pay more attention to what [U.S.] policy is. I’m not quite as concerned about that risk if the policy remains that the United States is not going to develop nuclear weapons.” (continued on page 6)
Faith & Resistance 2011
An Act of Strange Love:
by Amy Nee. White Rose CW, Chicago Monday morning, May 2, 2011, on a construction site outside Kansas City, fifty-three men and women stood in a makeshift circle--hands clasped, voices raised. We were surrounding a truck with two wary workers inside. These men were momentarily delayed from their task of building a factory that will be used to create “nonnuclear” parts for nuclear weapons. This factory is intended to replace and improve upon the Honeywell plant already responsible for 85% of non-nuclear parts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. We intended to stop them. We were trespassing, and this is against the law. Until a few years ago, I didn’t see much point in getting arrested or in “activism” in general. Association with Catholic Workers and others of that ilk however, has served to soften my criticism of civil disobedience and symbolic action, broadening my perspective and my appreciation for ways of being a pacifist without being passive.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Defy the Bomb
through accident or ignorance or active hate. Protesting, and demonstrating and risking arrest does not fill in the gaps, but I do hope it draws attention to them. It is a way of saying, “I see this and I will not close my eyes to it, I will not accept it.” I continue to remember and be influenced by words I heard spoken in prayer at the 2010 Midwest Catholic Worker Resistance Retreat, “We do not act this way because we are sure we are right. We act this way because we are compelled by love.” Ultimately, love is the fulfillment of the law and the light of living. Still, I continue to feel an internal dissonance at the idea of acting in a way that to all appearances is soliciting arrest. I am wary of allowing the prospect of making a statement by going to jail to become a flimsy focus that becomes the priority of an action. These questions confront me: Am I entering the space of conflict, or creating a new one? Is this act a relevant means to a relevant end or a means to relieve my conscience and to stroke my ego? Am I presenting an alternative or only defying what is present? Thomas Merton writes, “nonviolent action must establish itself in the minds and memories of humankind# not only as conceivable and possible, but a desirable alternative [to force]…the temptation to get publicity and quick results by spectacular tricks or by forms of protest that are merely odd and provocative but whose human meaning is not clear may defeat this purpose.” I find energy and truth in the sit-ins of the civil rights movement, and the salt marches of India’s liberation movement. These actions seem so practical and relevant; almost obvious in their direct confrontation of laws so evidently unlawful and their intimate tie to the uplift of individuals and society. It makes sense to me to do what I believe is right even if there is a law against it, but does it make sense to purposefully defy civil law? The answer is not readily evident to me. I find though that a direct response to a real need is not always accessible. I cannot physically stand in the way of a bomb, nor can I put my body between the earth and the seeping chemicals contaminating it, or between a worker’s body and those same destructive elements. I can bring my body to a site dedicated to manufacturing nuclear weapons. I can get in the way of business as usual and let my little body—multiplied in size and force through union with those around it—speak a “no” to foolhardy, fear-based destruction. The Catholic Workers and other peacemaker groups in Kansas City follow a way reminiscent of Gandhi’s three-tiered approach of Constructive Programme, Noncooperation, and Spiritual Renewal. Geographically and relationally rooted with neighbors; their actions are not based on a theoretical idea of what is needed or what is right but a practical understanding and shared experience of the joys, sorrows, abundance and lack of those living in the city. The stands they take are carefully consistent and relevant to the concerns of those they live amidst. They not only defy loveless laws but live by, and illuminate alternatives; walking gently on the earth by living simply and sustainably, practicing the works of mercy, acknowledging our interconnectedness with God and others. In the context of this community, I felt an unprecedented confidence as I acknowledged the responsibility of my own complicity and moved forward with the plan to confront our culture’s worship of “the bomb,” of strength through destruction, by interrupting work at the construction site. This was not an isolated action. It was the extension of a lifestyle, of an understanding that noncooperation extends beyond a day of protest and is integrated into daily life—by sharing resources, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, resisting war taxes—by integrating beliefs with being. Monday morning, with these thoughts treasured up inside, I moved from contemplation to action. As I stood among those trespassing on the construction site, an officer approached, barely in my periphery. “You’re under arrest,” he said, sliding two thin, interlocked, plastic strips over my wrists. One slipped loose and he tightened both, severely inhibiting circulation in my left arm. “I want to thank you for wasting our time!” he said, oozing tension and frustration. The sentiment he voiced was not unusual, nor unreasonable. Whether such actions are a waste of time is something I ask myself continually, but he didn’t see our commonality. His distance from me and our intentions weighed heavy on my heart. Other officers were more open, if not to our cause, to our humanity. The two I approached about my cuffs apologized. The bus driver told jokes and tolerated our impromptu, uproarious, renditions of freedom songs. Passed from one officer to another, further and further from natural light and air—from an outdoor corral, to a bus, to a garage, to a “lobby” behind bars, to a holding cell—my compassion for these men and women, invested by the state with power to (continued on page 5)
(left ro right) Mark Bartholomew, Sharon Hannah, Josh Armfield, Kara Leibovich, Katie Cushwa, and Megan Heeney processing to the gates of the future nuke bomb plant
“Every choice,” Thomas Aquinas writes, “is a renunciation.” Active pursuit of just alternatives may mean active resistance to what has already, unjustly, been established. Active obedience to the law of love may mean active disobedience to laws that protect destruction, segregation, violence, oppression. Reframing the concept of resistance to injustice from civil disobedience, to “gospel obedience” and asking questions like, “who/ what am I being obedient to?” and “by what standard is this deemed correct?” is tremendously helpful in discerning whether or not an action is appropriate. I believe in making a gift of my life; tuning my thoughts, words and actions toward harmony with God and neighbor and with this generous, forgiving earth; filling in the gaps created
Faith & Resistance 2011
continued from page 4
ing an embrace with the sisters I was leaving. I was directed in reverse through halls, picking up the belongings I’d relinquished on the way in, and brought without explanation back to the garage. The door was opened and the light poured in. “I can just walk out?” I asked the woman standing stiffly in the shadows. She nodded. I walked like one waking from a dream, dazzled by the brightness that engulfed me. This small incident of obedience to conscience that required civil rebellion, offered a unique taste of liberty and shifted my relationship to societal ideas of what is normal and acceptable; what is right and wrong. I cannot say for certain what is absolutely good or just. I don’t know the most perfect way to respond in love to the brokenness of our earth that I, sadly, continue to contribute to. But I glimpse a good way in the image of life immersed in community, continually stirred to action, prodded to wakefulness. I feel buoyed by the perpetual promise of resurrection that assures me I can continue to pour myself out, to do what scares me to death, trusting in the assurance that I will be born again to life abundant.
enforce constructed law, steadily grew. They spent as much, if not more time behind bars than many inmates, pushing paper and people across dingy cement surfaces beneath the flickering glow of fluorescent lights. A middle-aged woman writing my ticket expressed her regret at not having retired sooner. A young woman who had been firing off routine inquiries slowed with dubious appreciation when I asked about her day. A weary male guard entered the women’s cell announcing blankly, “Male-entering,” moving in and out with evident detachment. I caught myself falling into the automaton mentality the environment induced. Bologna sandwiches had just been distributed. I picked at mine, deep in discernment about whether I should deviate from my meatless ways to consume this finely processed food-stuff. Suddenly, my name was called by an officer outside the cell. My immediate reaction was to hurriedly obey, handing off my sandwiches and heading out of the cell without so much as saying goodbye or shar-
Christian Brothers Denis Frank Murphy and Louis Rodemann being placed under arrest
by Br. Louis Rodemann. Holy Family CW Extended Community, Kansas City Just a week after Easter, on the morning of May 2, 2011, the annual Midwest Faith & Resistance Retreat concluded with the arrest of 53 of the over 150 persons gathered at the entrance to the construction site of the proposed new Kansas City nuclear weapons plant at the intersection of Highway 150 and Botts Road in southern Kansas City, Missouri. The weekend event took months of planning, hundreds of hours of community reflection, discernment, attention to details and logistics. The event was special because it drew members of numerous Catholic Worker communities from around the country who came to personally support and participate. The event was ordinary in several ways: it was the latest in a sustained movement of meetings, research, debates, prayers, vigils, protests and previous action stances, all focused on raising awareness of and heightening an educated and determined resistance to the relocation of the Honeywell managed KC Plant, now near Bannister and Troost; it was ordinary in that it grew out of, flowed from our daily lives of hospitality with our guests who graphically exhibit the effects of poverty and oppression that weigh so heavily on their lives and spirits, the burden effected by a growing culture of arrogance, greed, inequality and violence. We cannot not respond; our experience moves us to compassion which in turn begets solidarity. The weekend retreat invited participants to gather under the theme, “The Hope of Easter and a Disarmed World.” It was by design that this event happened during the Easter season, for it is our Christian faith and hope in the nonviolent resurrected Jesus that moved us to come together in community and respond to our professed Christian discipleship with an act of Gospel obedience. It is to Jesus particularly that we look for motivation, model and empowerment in out discernment and choice of nonviolence. His whole life was spent teaching, telling parables, and behaving in ways which raised questions about, offered alternatives to, and countered the violence expressed in the prejudice, inequality and oppression in the social, religious and political culture of his time. Jesus’ message and way of life attracted followers who were invited to listen intently, observe carefully. Their learning was slow, and then their hopes were shattered when their teacher was arrested, tortured and executed for the very lessons he had taught. They went into hiding, fearful for their conspiracy. But Jesus, true to his promise, rose from the dead, appeared to them in their hiding and encouraged them to wait in hopeful expectation of the coming of the Spirit. All through this Easter season the church offers us, it its daily liturgy, scripture reading from the Acts of the Apostles. This book is the account of the now fearless “con-spiritors” as they boldly proclaim and live the message of their teacher, often meriting them the same fate as he. We believe we live all of our lives in this post-Easter era. We trust our way of life is a continual writing of a contemporary “Acts of the Apostles,” our faithful response to the spirit of the resurrected Jesus.
Faith & Resistance 2011
The Lies We Tell Our Children Concerns
by Mark Bartholomew. Holy Family CW, Kansas City continued from page 3 “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” – Mark 10:15 I have a confession. During the years I spent working in an elementary school, my colleagues and I lied over and over again to our students about how the world works. We told them to treat others the way they wanted to be treated. We told them to ‘use their words’ to resolve conflicts. We told them that the bigger person doesn’t fight back. We told them that—no matter what the other has said or done to you—violence is never an appropriate response. Why shouldn’t we have told them these things? It seems to be a standard elementary school moral code—I know I heard it growing up. But were we preparing our children for life after school? Isn’t such a code laughably unrealistic when faced with the evils and dangers of the ‘real world?’ At least, that’s what I’ve been told. Unlike our children, we are told that we must use force to defend ourselves and to secure a better way of life for people around the world. We are told it is a sign of weakness not to fight back. We are told that it is an honor to fight and to kill for one’s nation. We are told that a superior stockpile of weapons ensures our safety. We are told, in some cases, that one who takes another’s life deserves death in return. We are told that it’s better them than us. We are told that justice is delivered through the barrel of a gun. What a shock it will be when our children enter the real world! A shock—I imagine—akin to the one I experienced upon my re-entry into the real world after the Faith and Resistance Retreat. Physically and emotionally exhausted, unbathed and unshaven, only just released from a night in jail, I picked up a newspaper—eager to discover how our experience was being shared with the rest of the city. All else gave way to deep sadness. Sadness not that our message of hope and transformation hadn’t received much press, but sadness for the fact that it was drowned in a roar of triumph and retaliation in the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s murder. Two narratives were put into practice that weekend. One calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to love our enemies. The other calls us to vanquish our enemies. One calls us to put down the sword and turn the other cheek, telling us that we must be willing to accept suffering before inflicting it. The other tells us it is better to kill than be killed. One calls us to take up our cross. The other calls us to take up arms. One is the nonviolent Way of Jesus. The other: the myth of redemptive violence. One resulted in 53 arrests while construction on a nuclear weapons facility hardly skipped a beat. The other sought out and killed a man responsible for thousands of lives lost, garnering praise and celebration across the nation. One is another step on the path of the saints, the early apostles, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The other is but another turn in the cycle of violence that may very well spark yet more acts of retaliation. So which was successful? How can I answer that question? As followers of Jesus, we are called not to pragmatism and efficiency, but to a life of faithfulness and hope. Hope in the Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. Hope in resurrection—in new life arising out of death. Hope in a new society in the shell of the old. Hope is why we open our homes and offer food to the poor and homeless among us. It is why reconciliation is a practice we engage in daily with our brothers and sisters—not just occasionally in front of a priest. It is why we seek justice that heals and restores rather than avenging. It is why we pray for and work toward disarmament not only of nations but of ourselves and our hearts. We fail over and over again, and still we hope. Faith and hope are why I chose to cross the line. I chose to offer myself, my body, as a sacrifice, fully aware and accepting of the possible consequences. I placed myself in the way of violence—much as I will place myself between fighting guests at Holy Family in order to prevent violence, to disrupt the cycle of violence, to say, “No, I will not stand by and allow this to happen.” I chose hope and faith: hope that another way is possible, and faith enough to work and make sacrifices for it. The questions will keep coming: What was the point—did you actually achieve anything? Don’t waste your time—nothing’s going to change. Isn’t it naïve—even irresponsible—to espouse nonviolence in such a broken, sometimes brutal world? Perhaps I am naïve: naïve to believe in alternatives to violence, naïve to believe in a world without weapons designed to kill and devastate indiscriminately, naïve to believe the lie we tell our children. If what we teach our children is a lie—a moral code that doesn’t work in the real world— why do we continue to teach it? Could it be that we want to see a world without violence? Could it be that, faced with very real pain and suffering, we’ve given up on seeing such a world for ourselves while clinging to the hope of a better way for our children? And if this is the case, which is the real lie: the one we tell our children or the one we tell ourselves? The question of whether the new facilities would give the U.S. the capability to produce new nuclear weapons raised concerns for other analysts about how they might affect the nation’s compliance with the recently approved New START treaty. That arms reduction treaty, which entered into force Feb. 5, obligates both the U.S. and Russia to enhance “predictability concerning the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.” The planned new U.S. production facilities may undermine that predictability by making cuts to the U.S. nuclear arsenal effectively reversible at any time, said Nickolas Roth, a policy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Reductions are accomplished by dismantling warheads,” Roth said. “If the U.S. has the capacity to build far more warheads than it takes apart, what does that mean?” That unpredictability in whether nuclear weapons reductions may at one point be reversed may have larger implications for the country’s ability to negotiate future arms treaties with other nations who may wish to bolster their arsenals, Roth said. “If the U.S. has 1,000 warheads, for instance, but has the capability to build 80-125 new ones per year, how is the U.S. going to be able to negotiate with other countries to reduce their total stockpile?”
Sketch entitled Follow Me by Mark Bartholomew
Faith & Resistance 2011
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
3308 East 12th Street Kansas City, MO 64127 (816) 241-8047 firstname.lastname@example.org http://cherithbrookcw.blogspot.com
Holy Family Catholic Worker
912 E. 31st St. Kansas City, Missouri 64109 (816) 753-2677 email@example.com http://www.holyfamilycwhouse.org/
Get Relevant Sites Involved
KC Nuke Watch http://kcnukeswatch.wordpress.com PeaceWorks, KC www.peaceworkskc.org Nuke Watch, New Mexico www.nukewatch.org Nuclear Resister www.nuclearresister.org Physicians for Social Responsibility www.psr.org Union of Concerned Scientists www.ucsusa.org Ploughshares Fund www.ploughshares.org Alliance for Nuclear Accountability www.ananuclear.org Voice of Hibakusha http://www.atomicarchive.com/Docs/Hibakusha/index.shtml There is plenty of work to be done in our efforts to convert the new nuclear weapons plant into a facility that is good for the workers, surrounding communities, and the environment. Below are a few ways to get involved; we’d also love to hear your ideas: • Help raise awareness. Many people in Kansas City have no idea a nuclear weapons plant has existed in KC for over 60 years, let alone that a new plant is being built. Talk to friends and neighbors, or come to any of our upcoming events to help spread the word. • Contribute to our ballot initiative campaign. In November, the voters of Kansas City will be asked to approve or disap prove the manufacturing of nuclear weapons components at the new site. Help out by going door-to-door, placing signs, or volunteering at polling places. • Speaking engagements. We would love to speak at your church, organization, business, affinity group, or backyard party. Contact Ann for more details (info below). The coalition KC Peace Planters includes PeaceWorks-KC; Physicians for Social Responsibility-KC; East Meets West of Troost; The Recipe LLC; Cherith Brook, Holy Family and St. Lawrence Catholic Worker Houses; KC’s Loretto Peace & Justice Network; Benedictines for Peace; Called to Purpose for Greater Works; and the Social Justice Office, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. Contact: Ann Suellentrop, 913-271-7925, firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 1, 11:30am Archbishop Chullikatt speaks about “The Nuclear Question” at 20 W 9th St. KCMO. Register at www.kcsjhumanrights.org July 19, 9am Court date for 53 arrested at Faith & Resistance Retreat in KC October 19 - 23 Alliance for Nuclear Accountability Grand Canyon Trek. Purpose of trek is to raise funds to help stop radioactive contamination of land, water, and air. www.ananuclear.org November 4 - 6 War Tax Resisters Conference. Contact Charles Carney (913) 514-2399 November 8 Election day! Get out and vote to prohibit nuclear weapons parts from being made in south KC.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.