"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Disarm Now Plowshares - Bake Sales for Bombs


When was the last time we had to vote on a bond issue to fund the construction of new Trident submarines or nuclear warheads???  "What?!?!", you say.  Of course the U.S. government would never do such a thing.  That's for schools, hospitals and sewers.  Funding (or defunding) nuclear weapons is up to our elected leaders, and therein lays the rub.  If we leave it completely up to Congress and President Obama (for all his good intentions and rhetoric), nuclear weapons could well be with us (and the rest of the world) for a long time to come, assuming no one finally uses them.

Susan Crane and Lynne Greenwald of the "Disarm Now Plowshares" Five spoke with Mike McCormick this morning on KEXP (90.3) Radio about the November 2, 2009 plowshares action in which Lynne, Sue and the others entered the Trident submarine base known as Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and made their way into the secure nuclear warhead storage area before being arrested.  They were able to hang a banner saying, "Disarm Now Plowshares", poured their own blood on the fence and road, and pounded on the road with hammers in what is known as a plowshares action, inspired by the Biblical prophet Isaiah who said that it will up to us to beat our swords into plowshares, and make war no more.

Susan spoke of the symbols they brought with them.  As for the simple, household hammers, they are a powerful symbol of Isaiah's call, and she made the point that, "they in the scriptures are us."  "We brought baby bottles that had our own blood... sprinkled some of the blood on the road along the way and also at SWFPAC [Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific]."  Besides the symbolism of shedding their own blood so that others may live, it was also referring to "the rivers of blood that are starting there[Bangor]."

One other symbol they carried on their journey was sunflower seeds that they sprinkled along the way where they will lay waiting to grow next season as a symbol for a world free of nuclear weapons.  After Ukraine gave up its last nuclear warhead, the Defense Ministers of the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine met on a former Ukrainian missile base, June 4, 1996. They celebrated by scattering sunflower seeds and planting sunflowers. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry said, "Sunflowers instead of missiles in the soil would ensure peace for future generations."

When asked about their senior citizen status - the Disarm Now members range in age from 60 to 83 - Susan focused on their being, "old enough to know that nuclear weapons are a danger," and that the U.S. has still not pledged to No First Use."  Lynne said that as an adult, human being and parent, she has a duty to see that nuclear weapons are never used again.

One of the final questions related to the point that many critics of the action have made.  Mike asked, "Why didn't you try proper measures", like going to lawmakers in Washington, D.C?  Susan said, "I have spent half my life trying these other ways."  The problem is that not enough people have done so.  We MUST engage (and educate) other citizens to get involved.  When given pennies to put into cups labeled War, Schools, Healthcare, etc., - an exercise that Susan has used to educate and build awareness) - "people don't put half their pennies into war making."  They put them into schools and other positive endeavors that build up society and the world!  But alas; in the real world, roughly half of U.S. taxpayer dollars go to war, while we struggle to fund even the most basic services.  You certainly won't be hearing about bond issues to fund war and nuclear weapons.

So what should listeners to this morning's program get from this?  That we must each do all we can to create a nuclear weapons-free world, and nuclear disarmament starts at home.  Here are a few of the steps Susan mentioned at the end of the interview.
  1. Tell President Obama to take nuclear weapons off hair trigger alert
  2. Adopt a No First Use policy.  China has done so; why can't we?
  3. A formal refusal to attack non-nuclear weapons nations with nuclear weapons.
  4. Remove all remaining nuclear weapons from Europe.
  5. Work towards disarmament - START, CTBT, NPT, etc.  The president must make good on his promises made in his speech in Prague earlier this year.
You can help support these (and other) steps by getting involved in local, national and international organizations working to abolish nuclear weapons (see the listing in this blog under "Hot Links").  Right now you can take action on a number of issues (see the list of "Actions" at the top of my blog). 

While the Disarm Now Plowhares five don't yet know what is going to happen to them as a result of their plowshares action, we all CAN do something to help abolish nuclear weapons.  We don't have to be senior citizens to know that nuclear weapons present an unacceptable danger to humanity (mind you, these plowshares activists began their work decades before becoming "senior citizens."  Here's to bonds and bake sales to fund nuclear weapons; I certainly don't want stale baked goods.   



Hear the entire interview with Lynne and Susan by clicking here.  Then enter the time (7:31am) and choose your bandwidth.

You can read all earlier posts about Disarm Now Plowshares by clicking here.

Lynne Greenwald is a member of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.
Susan Crane is from Jonah House.  Note: The beautiful sunflower photo is courtesy of Jonah House.

The bronze statue (in the top photo), representing the beating of a sword into a plowshare, was donated by the Soviet Union to the United Nations in 1959.

Other members of the Disarm Now Plowshares action are Father Bill "Bix" Bischel, Anne Montgomery, and Steve Kelly.

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