It’s Memorial Day here in the United States (and hence all over the world). Not a day for a picnic in my book. I want a day devoted to remembering militarism’s civilian dead instead of its late conscripts and enlistees. Soldiers can be victims too, but there is something that feels more “wrong” when I hear about civilians killed by some armed “actor” (as combatants are often named in the literature). God only knows how many dead civilians are wrongly counted as dead “enemies”?
Selfless, life-risking heroism doesn’t distinguish a soldier from a civilian. Isn’t boot camp primarily about learning to follow orders instantly and without question, including to fire weapons and kill people? Civilians aren’t in a position to do that, but civilians still risk and sometimes lose their lives being brave without threatening the lives of others. Military preparedness means learning to kill on order, trusting leaders and commanders to tell us right from wrong. Before Trump, this problem already existed. Now, it seems absolutely wrong for anyone to subordinate their will to the sociopathic government of the United States.
The ethical thing for U.S. service members to do is to dessert now; go AWOL or UA “unexcused absence.” I know that is easier for me to say than for someone to do. The GI Rights Hotline provides accurate, helpful counseling and information on military regulations and discharges, AWOL and UA, and GI Rights. They have very useful fact sheets on different topics for each branch of the military. https://girightshotline.org/ 877-447-4487.
Anti-nuclear Updates: The Kings Bay Plowshares and Me
At long last, a KBP 7 SENTENCING UPDATE:
Clare, Martha, Mark, Patrick, Carmen, and Fr Steve have sentencing dates currently set for June 29th and 30th. Liz McAlister will be sentenced remotely via video on June 8th at 9 am (EST). It is likely that there will be a phone number that supporters can call to listen to the sentencing. We don’t know the phone number at this time, but we will post it once we find it out. We will continue to provide updates as we become aware of them. Thanks for your continued support of the KBP7!
From Martha Hennessy’s Affidavit:
“What was temporarily damaged on the base doesn’t compare to blasting whole modern cities and killing millions of people if or when the purpose and preparedness of the base is carried out. It is near impossible for citizens to emphasize and prove this point in an alternative setting. If one were to cut the lock or fence to a concentration camp, the act of entering such a place would not become more of a crime than the purpose of the lock/fence to protect what is being done on the other side. I did not go to the base with violent intentions to put anyone at risk of harm. I went to expose the nuclear arsenal for what it is, a violation of God’s will for us to love one another as His has loved us (John 13:34).” #swordsintoplowshares #kingsbayplowshares #COVID19
Meanwhile, on the left coast, my three compatriots with whom I crossed the line at the entrance to the Kitsap-Bangor Trident sub and missile base outside of Seattle in March have received notices of an August arraignment date (August, not august). I have heard nothing. Strangely, I was treated with kid gloves up there once before for no apparent reason. Not sure how this will play out yet. Stand by.
God bless Cuba. Keep it (and the rest of us) safe from the United States!
Whenever I hear news stories about work on a covid-19 vaccine, I always listen for mention of Cuba and their trials of Interferon alpha-2b. The absence of mention of their research and testing is telling of bad journalism. Newsweek gets a shout out for their March 24 piece by Tom O’Connor. The rest of the world knows of Cuba’s efforts and research, but it is almost as though news media here can’t be bothered, or are afraid to include them. Their groundbreaking research on treating many diseases including cancer, diabetes, viral outbreaks and their historic leadership in biotech innovation and gifting front-line “medical revolutionaries” (rather than “heroes” some say) to places in need. Help nominate them for a truly deserved Nobel Peace Prize through this CODEPINK petition. Sanctions and covert actions against Cuba from the United States must end now!” Check out the Saving Lives Campaign today for work on joint Cuba-USA-Canada work to stop covid-19.
Researching Cuba and its global covid-19 effort led me to the Monthly Review Online piece linked above. That, in turn, led me to their relatively brief but outstanding interview of Noam Chomsky.
To be informed and act on covid-19 responses (or lack thereof) for people in cages in the United States (prisons, jails, detention centers, etc.) please check out the Humane Outbreak Response campaign #HumanityNotCages initiated by Color of Change with many other outstanding co-sponsoring organizations.
And globally, as David Swanson of World Beyond War so rightly pointed out in his May 24 update, The UN’s Global Ceasefire Must Circumvent the UN.
Why Am I This Way?
Why do I refuse to turn away from the horrors of the day, even though they can make me pent up, agitated, unhappy? I blame great teachings and loving, conscientious upbringing. (Thanks, mom!) All of these brief passages of wisdom have made me who I am starting with the adage by Abraham Joshua Heschel featured in the above image: “In a free society, few are guilty. All are responsible.”
My last Missive featured Martin Luther King Jr.‘s sermon “Love and Forgiveness” (May 20, 1964). In it he interpreted Jesus’s prayer uttered during Their agony on The Cross: “Then, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”” The following passage became rather famous; variations of it are in other talks of his. It makes me feel connected to struggles of other people, not just my own pain, or even that of my family and friends. Hundreds of millions of people seem destined to a. starve, b. risk being infected by and spreading a deadly virus, or c. stand up against violent, repressive governments that would rather they didn’t even exist. Therefore, as King said:
We must come to see that as long as some of God’s children are poverty-stricken, we are all insecure, because we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny, and whatever effects one directly effects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. John Donne caught it years ago and placed it in graphic terms: “No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” And then he goes on toward the end to say, “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind. Therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”
Holly Near in “It Could’ve Been Me”, a memorial song written for the first anniversary of the 1970 Kent State murders (the 50th anniversary just passed on May 4):
It could’ve been me, but instead it was you. So I’ll keep doing the work you were doing as if I were too. I’ll be a student of life. A singer of songs. A farmer of food and a righter of wrongs. It could’ve been me, but instead it was you. And it may be me, dear sisters and brothers, before it’s all through. So if you can (depending on the stanza) die for freedom/sing for freedom/work for freedom/live for freedom, I can too.
Hillel, probably the most quoted and revered Talmudic rabbi, from my Bar Mitzvah ‘drash (and any of yours?) This is always a tough balancing act requiring constant reflection, though we need to beware being “mesmerized by uncertainty” (another precisely poetic MLK-ism): “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”
It is currently between Passover and Shavuot, the time when I and my people fled Pharaoh, made it across the Red Sea and wandered in the desert for seven weeks, arriving at Mt. Sinai for Moses to receive the Torah from God. It is customary each morning to read our way through a book from the Mishnah called Pirkei Avot (Teachings of the Fathers, or Ethics of the Parents). One of the first passages is especially short, but sweet: “You are not obligated to complete the task, but nor are you free to desist.”
I fear self-servingly forgiving my own hypocrisies, but I also feel like the question of scale effects forgivability and what is necessary for real repentance. I only found “The Three Evils of Society” three or four years ago, but Martin Luther King Jr. (again, I know), spoke forcefully against racist, deadly and blatant hypocrisies in a way that sadly transcends time:
We cry out against welfare hand outs to the poor but generously approve an oil depletion allowance to make the rich, richer. Six Mississippi plantations receive more than a million dollars a year, not to plant cotton but no provision is made to feed the tenant farmer who is put out of work by the government subsidy. The crowning achievement in hypocrisy must go to those staunch Republicans and Democrats of the Midwest and West who were given land by our government when they came here as immigrants from Europe. They were given education through the land grant colleges. They were provided with agricultural agents to keep them abreast of forming trends, they were granted low interest loans to aid in the mechanization of their farms and now that they have succeeded in becoming successful, they are paid not to farm and these are the same people that now say to black people, who’s ancestors were brought to this country in chains and who were emancipated in 1863 without being given land to cultivate or bread to eat; that they must pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. What they truly advocate is Socialism for the rich and Capitalism for the poor.
Dorothy Day, co-founder with Peter Maurin (look up “Easy Essays”) of the Catholic Worker Movement which inspired the creation of Martin de Porres House of Hospitality (or “Martins” for short): “Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”
The Last Few Days, Ramadan 2020
by Shukri Abu-Baker
One- of- a- kind Ramadan, indelible. In the thick of a pandemic, believer found solace in connecting with their Lord. Amidst all the chaos, nightly prayers ascended uninterrupted and Allah’s blessings found their way into the homes of the devout as they chanted softly in supplications and sang His praises with hearts that pulsated with unquestionable submission.
Down to the last few nights. Nights packed with heavenly power as the angels roam around ready to encircle the deep-in-the-night worshipers. The wise believers don’t waste a moment of this wondrous time and do not look beyond what awaits them on the other side.
Soon though, Ramadan will be gone. Tears will be shed, and hearts will feel the pang of separation from the magnificence of solitude__ and the magic of awakenings when everyone else in deep asleep.
O Allah, let these last few days not be the last few times we connect to Your glory, feel Your presence, and receive Your blessings.
Shukri 5/21/20 [https://notesfromshukri.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/the-last-few-days/]
Eamon is almost a year and a half!
Yup, Lacy says his personality continues to evolve as he gets closer to two than one, and he toddles faster than imaginable, in a blink of an eye! They’re still a smiley, giggly wonder, but they do get opinionated at that age, didn’t we? Good thing I outgrew that! (Hah!)