“The only people who should be allowed to govern countries with nuclear weapons are mothers, those who are still breastfeeding their babies." -Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.”
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.
I am a student and practitioner of nonviolence, working for the abolition of ALL nuclear weapons. I coordinate media & outreach for Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (www.gzcenter.org), and also coordinate the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (psnukefree.org) and the NO To NEW TRIDENT Campaign.