"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

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Photo Credit:  Photograph by Momatiuk-Eastcott/CORBIS; NationalGeographic.com: Hikers in 2005 sculpted this enormous peace symbol into the bleached landscape of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. White Sands is home to a U.S. missile range which houses the Trinity site, where the first nuclear weapon was tested in 1945.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Light in the Dark Days


Today is the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year (for those of us in the northern hemisphere).  These are dark times, indeed, as nations still worship the false (nuclear) idols they believe provide security (through "deterrence") and bolster national pride.  Nuclear weapons are truly a dark cloud hanging over humanity, and it has become increasingly clear that it will take a massive people's movement to convince our governments to take real steps to abolish these omnicidal weapons.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference that will take place in May 2010 is a make-it-or-break-it gathering that will demonstrate either real resolve, or as in the case of the recent Copenhagen gathering, business as usual.  In both cases, the world can no longer afford business as usual.  We the people must pressure our governments to make the NPT a valid treaty with real and binding deadlines for disarmament.

There are many ways to get involved, through national and international coalitions (such as the Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World), organizations (such as the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation) and local organizations in your area.  Here in the Seattle, Washington area we have Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (GZ), which has resisted Trident and worked for abolition for over 32 years.  Over the next few months, leading up to the NPT Review Conference, there will be many opportunities to get involved.

In the next few weeks there will be a couple of events addressing the Trident nuclear weapons system.  A group is planning to ring in the New Year in a novel way with a vigil at the gates of Kings Bay (Georgia) Trident nuclear submarine base.  You can learn about the Alternative New Year activities by clicking here.  On the opposite side of the U.S., GZ will honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. on Saturday, January 16, 2010 with a day of nonviolence training, planning, and a vigil and nonviolent direct action at the gates of the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base.  Click here for the poster and schedule.

Whatever you may do on New Year's or around the MLK weekend, be sure be engaged on some level in the coming months, and be sure to keep the pressure on as we approach the NPT Review Conference.  We cannot be complacent; we have seen how things play out (Copenhagen) without massive grassroots political pressure.  Let's start preparing now for May 2010.  The stakes are high, but the rewards are great!  Keep your light shining!



Sunday, December 13, 2009

Who or What is the Danger?


I have, through my peacemaking journey, learned patience (and hopefully some other things as well).  I have learned that, as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."  Even with a deep understanding of the temporal uncertainty of the struggle for true and lasting peace and justice, I know that I cannot utter the words, "perhaps not in my lifetime," because that is an excuse, and excuses are not acceptable if we truly committed (as Dr. King was) to working for a world at peace.  Of course, we do our work knowing (on a certain level) that we may not see the fruits of our labors in this life; we do it knowing that we may not change the world, but if we choose to not do this important work, that the world will change us, and that is an unacceptable proposition.

Enter Lynne Greenwald; mother, grandmother, social worker, peacemaker, nuclear weapons resister.  Lynne, who moved close to the Trident nuclear submarine base in Kitsap County many years ago based on a deeply held belief that nuclear weapons were an abomination, and that Trident (designed as a first strike weapon) was an abomination of monumental proportions.  She has engaged in the long struggle to abolish Trident and all nuclear weapons as a member of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.  Lynne is one who understands the long arc, and chooses to put her deeply held faith into action, manifested as resistance to omnicidal weapons that the U.S. government (and other nations) continue to embrace.

On Dec. 9, 2009 Lynne appeared in United States District Court in Tacoma, WA for a detention hearing related to an August 10 trespass charge when she crossed the blue line onto Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor NBKB), Washington. This arrest occurred during Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action's recognition of the 64th anniversary of the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Lynne (and companions) carried a banner stating, "Abolish Nuclear weapons: Resist Trident." (Refer to the October 2009 issue of the Ground Zero newsletter for full article and photo. The charge is a misdemeanor trespass violation 18 USC 1382.

(Watch the slideshow of the vigil and ecumenical service before Lynne's Dec. 9 hearing.)

You may ask why the government would want to jail Lynne until her trial for a misdemeanor.  Well, since the August 10 event, Lynne (and others) engaged in an epic plowshares action in which they went a bit beyond the usual blue line crossing.  They were able to get all the way in to the secure nuclear weapons storage area of the base before getting arrested.  Click here for the full details of that action.

After the prosecutor presented the state's case, the judge stated that, in the U.S. peaceful protest "is allowed and encouraged", but violating the law is not. He concluded that, based upon the actions brought forth by the prosecutor, Lynne constitutes a risk to the community. He cited the fact that entering the lethal force area (inside the nuclear warhead storage bunker area at Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFCAC)) creates a situation where Marines may have to use deadly force. Interestingly enough, not once during the proceedings did the government use any terminology relating to nuclear weapons, even when referring to the high security area in which nuclear weapons are stored; it was only referred to as the "secret area" (definitely a Monty Python moment).  The judge ordered that Lynne be released, but ordered that she not enter the base, and if she does so a warrant for her arrest would be issued.

Susan Crane and Sue Ablao outside the courthouse on Dec. 9

For me, it all boils down to the question in the photo: Who or what presents the real danger???  A nonviolent mom or nuclear weapons???  I will leave that for you to decide.  In the bigger picture, this story speaks to me of the potential that exists within each of us to seek truth and act on conscience.  It may not be crossing the blue line or cutting fences, but there are many layers of engagement with matters of peace and justice, and nuclear weapons are no exception.  Each of us must determine how much we are willing to do and how far we are willing to go to build a peaceful and just world.

Advent, a time of year when we hear so much about the birth of the Prince of Peace, is a wonderful time to reflect on our actions in the world, and to what we are willing to commit.  Lynne's journey is an example to us all.  May we all encourage the peacemaker within.