Peace & Justice

Fear: 20th Annual Peace Essay Contest

Reaching beyond our fears and taking action can go a long way to preventing conflict and creating an atmosphere of trust and hope in our communities and the world.

The 2006 Peace Essay Contest topic is fear.

Students, grades 5 through 12 in Stanislaus County, are invited to reflect on how giving in to fear can get in the way of efforts to create understanding and peace in our homes, our communities, and our world.

Fear can be a powerful force in our lives. In a positive way, fear can warn us of danger and motivate us to act, thrill us with a rush of excitement, or push us to work harder to overcome obstacles. In a negative way fear can dominate the decisions we make and the actions we take. Being afraid can immobilize us when we need to act or drive us to react in a way that makes a situation worse.

In addition, others may play on our fears to lure us toward choices that may result in mistrust and the escalation of conflict. The natural human hesitation in relating to people and situations that are unfamiliar to us can be magnified out of proportion to become a weapon for those who want to create contention for their own purposes.

Contest flyers are now available  and will be included in the October issue of Stanislaus Connections.  To download the flyer (rules and application form) now, click here (these are pdf files, you will need Adobe Acrobat, a free download, to read and print them).

The Peace Essay Contest is a project of the Modesto Peace/Life Center.

The Harvest Supper, a benefit to the Peace Essay Contest will be on Saturday, October 15th.

ACTION: For a 2006 Peace Essay Contest flyer, please contact the Modesto Peace/Life Center at 529-5750 or, or download it now by clicking here


Peace Camp carries on traditions


This year we were enlivened by a whole new crop of teenagers and their sponsors/parents. When Tory Bobo registered 12 young people and recruited her own pastor and his wife, camp was suddenly infused with enthusiasm.

Woven into our days was a deep sense of community building, one of the primary goals of Peace Camp over the years. We also paid tribute to our founders of 23 years ago for their vision in beginning and continuing the camp at Peaceful Pines near Clark Fork on the Stanislaus River.

We welcomed the leadership of the Tuolumne County Citizens for Peace, who took on many of the leadership tasks. Co-chairing the camp were Katy Wheeler of Sonora and Richard Harvey of Modesto, with  committee members from both places: Marilyn Dungan, Sonora, in charge of crafts; Tim Smart, stars and constellations; Katy, registration at camp; Ken Schroeder, outreach and other tasks; Sam Olson, film; Lorrie Freitas, workshop; Richard, supplies of all kinds; Indira Clark, Pam Franklin, and many others, cooking; Program, Dave Fromer, folk singer from Berkeley; Hike Leaders, Patrick McGinnis and Dorothy Griggs, and Myrtle Osner, registration.

For those new to camp, you should know that Peace Camp values its history. The memories of people and places that we have loved are very much with us. We have had such famous speakers as David Brower of the Sierra Club and Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine.

Experiencing another perfect sunrise from the top of Sunrise Rock is special. Hiking till you drop is the satisfaction of those who tackle that event. Hearing a woodpecker at dawn, singing your heart out at the campfire, seeing the stars far more clearly than we do in the valley, making new friends and greeting long-time friends, and re-inventing new ways to find joy in life with each other: that is the glue that holds us all together the rest of the year as Peace People.

“If we are to reach real peace in the world we will have to begin with the children.” — Gandhi.

Peace Campers recommend books


In a time of uncertainty and dissatisfaction with what is happening around us, sometimes books can give us some clues. We often are frustrated and don’t know how to respond as peaceful people to a society which seems bent on destruction. Peace Campers, when asked what were some of the sources they use to look for solutions, came up with ideas thick and fast. You may wish to look for some of these books, most of them recent.

Many websites speak to progressives, among them, Iraq veterans against the war:; (only a beginning).

If you have read a book or seen a program recently that you would like to recommend, send it to us: Jim Costello, ,Indira Clark, Myrtle Osner.

Hiroshima remembrance: Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab and Modesto


The Modesto Peace/Life Center was one of hundreds of organizations to sponsor the Rally and March to the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab on Saturday August 6, 2005. About ten people from Modesto attended. This event commemorated the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and said, “We want a peaceful world.”

The meeting place at William Payne Park was filled with booths, people and food provided by the Bay Area’s Food Not Bombs. There were many speakers and music.

The march to the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab was more like a funeral march. Somber music and a giant plastic warhead led the way. At the gate, sunflowers were put in the ground and along the fence. Actors put on a play and classical musicians played. There was singing, meditation and a woman making paper crane necklaces. Our audience at this very peaceful event was the hundreds of marchers, highway patrol and military police.

Meanwhile, 12 people gathered at Modesto’s Tuolumne River Regional Park for a potluck meal and to light candles and throw flower petals into the softly moving river in remembrance of those who died in the atomic bomb’s first use.

San Joaquin PJN workshop: From Violence to Wholeness

The Peace and Justice Network of San Joaquin County will hold a workshop entitled “From Violence to Wholeness” targeted at deepening understanding of nonviolent peacemaking for personal and social transformation and providing learning tools and developmental skills to practice nonviolent peacemaking in everyday life.

The workshop will be held Saturday, September 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, September 18 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Peace and Justice Center, Bedford Place off Pacific Ave. (Miracle Mile), Stockton.

Sessions will include group discussions, interactive exercises and presentations on the practice of active nonviolence led by Paula LeVeck, Adrian Nichols, John Morearty and Linda Whittock.

The cost is $10 and is limited to 12 participants. A light continental breakfast and Saturday lunch will be provided, and limited scholarships are available.

ACTION: Register (first come first served) by emailing or by calling (209) 465-4043.  For a printable registration form, click here

Last words to our young ones old enough to hear hard thoughts from an old teacher who has seen war


Paul DuNard, an Orange County Veteran for Peace and a Vietnam veteran,  retired from 30 years of teaching after delivering this address to an assembly of over 1,000 high school students on June 1, 2005 at Lynwood High School, Lynwood, California .

War is crime. In particular, war is always a crime against humanity; it always perpetrates terrorism against the innocent.

The people who instigate war invoke Hell on earth.

The violence of war is an addiction for them; it is their form of crack cocaine.

These instigators are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Pestilence, Famine, and Death; and some also maintain that they are the Antichrist.

They are cannibals; they devour the souls, the hearts, and the minds of the young and the innocent.

They use words like honor, freedom, protecting the nation, the godless enemy, democracy, patriotism, liberty, peace, terrorist or enemy to confuse the well-meaning, to beguile the unthinking, and to abuse the trust of us all. Learn from history how these words drip from the tongues of scoundrels. When needed, learn how to unspin the Newspeak embedded in these Orwellian verbal concoctions of deceit into their true meanings. Understand how they use honor to mean dishonor; freedom to mean despotism; protecting the nation to mean putting the nation at risk; the godless enemy to mean the men, women, children, and infants marked for the slaughter; patriotism to mean crime in the name of the flag; liberty to mean oppression and slavery; peace to mean war and fighting terrorists to mean summoning up more and more terrorists to mortally threaten the homeland and ensure the forever war. Learn how the users of these words always maintain a safe personal distance from the Hell they conjure up, how they always offer up the children of other fathers and mothers to the sacrifice. Smell the essential moral rot of their cowardice and the blood on their hands.

They are the real enemy. They live in the White House. They wear uniforms with five, four, three, or two stars, or one; they are draped with absurdly pretty and colorful ribbons. Some wear more gold than others, and, consequently, have more kill authority. Some wear suits and ties, and no gold, but, instead, little lapel flags; they wear well-polished shoes with dark silk hosiery. Their kill authority is immense, historically unprecedented. They all believe in the medieval practice of torture. They all believe the rule of law is quaint. They have ill-begotten titles like Commander-in-Chief, Vice President, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Attorney General. They are the true engineers and authors, the true begetters of wars, torture, and terrorism against the peoples of the earth. They are the assassins of history’s will and demand for real democracy, real freedom, and real liberty.

They thrive on the death and the blood of the innocent: fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, grandpas and grandmas, and our dear little ones, all of whose faces they won’t see, whose names they won’t hear and whose sacred being they so summarily dismiss.

If you do not carefully attend to their machinations, their kidnappers will beguile you into a machine of murder and rapine, a hyper-gangster, nation drive-by machine. You may dishonor your soul and spirit and sadden your loved ones if you succumb to these kidnappers’ lures and temptations and outrageous lies

For the love of your life, for the love of your own people and for the love of the peoples of the earth, Run! Do not look back! Escape these madmen, these monstrous, maniacal haters and violators of life!

Remember, if these Hell Hounds catch or capture you in their nefarious nets of death and deceit and deliver you to their prison house of horrors, broken spirits, and lost souls, we will ever be here to remember you and to hold you in our hearts, your faces, your voices, and your names. Our every effort will be to rescue you and deliver you safely into the arms of the ones who begot and love you and to return you to your Beloved Community, your home and to all those who will never cease longing for your most speedy return.

Modesto teacher returns from Interfaith Delegation to Israel & West Bank

Modesto resident Dan Onorato has returned from a visit to Israel and Palestine as part of 12 member Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation organized by the Fellowship of Reconciliation-USA. The purpose of the delegation, the 16th to make the trip since 2001, is to educate North American citizens about the region, and to deepen their understanding of its conflicts.

Dan, a long-time Modesto Junior College English and Spanish professor, joined the delegation to learn how Israelis and Palestinians perceive their conflict and their prospects for peace.

Beyond meeting Palestinians and Israelis, and observing the situation first-hand, the trip provided delegates with a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, examined the effects of United States foreign policy in the region, The delegates expressed support for Israelis, Palestinians, and others working for a just and sustainable peace.

Dan welcomes interviews with the media and other interested organizations in order to share his insights and impressions from his trip.

On Thursday, September 29, Dan will speak on the “Journey Towards Peace” about his trip at 7 p.m. at Modesto Jr. College in Forum 110, East Campus. Free to the public invited, his talk will be the first in the series of Modesto Junior College’s Civic Engagement Project.

Contact Dan at: 209-526-5436, or

Visit FOR Interfaith Peace-Builders at

Muslims, Jews and Christians invited to Family Peacemakers Camp

Muslim Jewish and Christian families and singles are invited to share in the 3rd Annual Palestinian-Jewish Oseh Shalom-Sanea al-Salam Family Peacemakers Camp September 16-18 in the Sierra near Yosemite Valley.

The camp experience will include a compassionate listening workshop, relationship building, music, family photo and history corner, arts and crafts from diverse traditions, campfires, gourmet international cuisine, Tuolumne River nature walks, high adventure challenge course, lake boating, children’s activities and adult dialogue.

The camp will host youth and parents from Israel and Palestine, including participants from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, Misgav, Ramallah, Sakhnin and Jenin.

ACTION: Registration and information are available at and or from; 415) 543-2267

Opt Out your child from military recruiting lists!


Under a little known provision of No Child Left Behind, public high schools must hand over personal information about students — including minors — to local military recruiters. Parents can take their kids off this list by submitting a request in writing to their school district superintendent.  Click here for a copy of this form.


(Information courtesy of Grandmothers for Peace International, Elk Grove, CA

Recruiter and Students

• Students have a choice on recruitment interviews. They do not have to submit to an interview. (See back page for opt-out form.)

• Ask your school about their procedure once the opt-out form is turned in. Specifically, ask what is done with the form, where the information goes, and who is notified.

Schools receiving federal funds must, by law, allow military recruiters on campus. Schools have the right to set reasonable rules for recruiters to follow. Ask what the rules are at your school.

Insist that the school set rules and monitor overly aggressive recruiters contacting students on campus or at home.

Recruiter Promises

• Ask if your school has a monitoring system for recruitment promises. Reports have surfaced that indicate recruiters have misrepresented requirements and benefits of military service, such as length of enlistment, health and education benefits, and training possibilities.

• Parents should talk to recruiters themselves to make sure the student has not been bullied or pressured, and that all information is truthful and understood by the student.

Making Enlistment Decisions

• There is no cooling-off period for enlistment. It is not possible to legally change one’s mind after signing.

• Be aware that the basic military commitment is subject to change and can be extended at the discretion of the government. The enlistee has no rights in the matter, regardless of what recruiters claim.

• Students and families should take as much time as they need to make a decision. All school and career options should be considered. Enlistment is a long-term obligation and the student should enter his/her contract with a clear understanding of the commitment and responsibility.

Ten Points to Consider Before Signing a Military Enlistment Agreement

1. Do not make a quick decision by enlisting the first time you see a recruiter or when you are upset.

2. Take a witness with you when you speak with a recruiter.

3. Talk to veterans.

4. Consider your moral feelings about going to war.

5. Get a copy of the enlistment agreement.

6. There is no period of adjustment during which you may request and receive an immediate honorable discharge.

7. Get all your recruiters promises in writing.

8. There are no job guarantees in the military.

9. Military personnel may not exercise all the civil liberties enjoyed by civilians.

10. Many other opportunities exist for you to serve your community and enhance your skills.

Courtesy of American Friends Service Committee, National Youth and Militarism Program

ACTION: You can help change the law that lets military recruiters prey on our minor children without the parents' explicit permission. Sign on as a citizen co-sponsor to US Representative Mike Honda's Student Privacy Protection Act at

Email for more information. Also visit the Leave My Child Alone website,

Click here for a copy of the opt-out form

Book Review


Other Lands Have Dreams: from Baghdad to Pekin Prison by Kathy Kelly, Counterpunch, 2005

When Kathy Kelly was in Modesto, she told of her years with Voices in the Wilderness in using non-violent protest, and of her care for the children of war torn countries in the Middle East. The book is Kathy’s account of her time in Iraq from the first Gulf War of 1991, through the misery of 12 years of economic sanctions, to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq that began with Operation Shock and Awe and continues to the present.

Catching Courage, the first chapter, lists all the times she has been in jail; it takes two full pages. Her account of her time in federal prison for protesting at the School of the Americas, the torture and assassin training-ground at Ft. Benning, Georgia, is chilling. Kelly recounts in vivid detail the miserable conditions inside US prisons, where young mothers are sealed away in the name of the merciless war on drugs.

Told in short dated chapters, it is as if these are excerpts from diaries over the years. She begins with her beliefs: “We live in a world where inordinate amounts of power are concentrated in the hands of a few people, whose visions and goals are deeply flawed. Non violence and pacifism can change the world; the poor should be society’s highest priority; people should love their enemies, and actions should follow conviction, regardless of inconvenience.”

This stunning book is available for $15 at the Peace Center. Contact Ken Schroeder, 526-2303, , or Myrtle Osner 522-4967 to get a copy.

Nicaragua: reflections on July 19

By CHUCK KAUFMAN, National Co-Coordinator, Nicaragua Network

Today is the 26th anniversary of that day in 1979 when Nicaraguans flooded the streets and crowded into the Plaza of the Revolution to greet the victorious Sandinista army of national liberation which had freed the country from 45 years of US-backed dictatorship by the Somoza family.

It is difficult today to recall the emotions, the hope, of that day now a generation past. What would the world be like if that unique model of Latin American socialism -- nonalignment, a mixed economy, and political pluralism -- had been allowed to flourish rather than been snuffed out by the heavy hand of US imperialism?

Today, we mostly look elsewhere for hope. We look to the continued courage of the Cuban people who have withstood the American behemoth. We look to the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela to see what a people with a thirst for freedom and equality can accomplish when they have the resources and the will to do so. We look to the Zapatistas and the new Lacandona Principles and to the Bolivians who have said no longer will you steal our resources. We look to Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil where they are saying that the so-called Washington Consensus of neoliberal economic domination will no longer be allowed to keep them enslaved.

There are also more urgent struggles that command our attention: The struggle of the Palestinian people against years of occupation and settler colonialism and their quest to return to their homes and homeland. The struggle of the Iraqis to free themselves of foreign occupation and to protect their natural resources from colonial expropriation. The struggle of the Haitian people to recover their democracy, stolen from them by a US-sponsored coup and to protect themselves from the daily, unreported massacres by the Haitian police and the UN "peacekeepers." The struggle of the Colombian people to free themselves from generations of oligarchic rule. All these struggles command our solidarity.

Yes, today we mostly look elsewhere for hope, and our struggles against US Empire and corporate globalization have many foci.

And yet, Nicaragua should not be forgotten nor ignored, both for the lessons of the past and the example it provides for the future. Nicaragua is humming with exciting experiments that provide alternatives that give us encouragement that A Better World is Possible.

One alternative is the CIPRES peasant agriculture model which through an impressive mix of animals and plants, all depending on a circle of recycling, allows a family to provide all its food needs on less than an acre of land. When the oil runs out, we'll all be studying CIPRES' biodigester, which converts cow dung to methane cooking gas. FEDICAMP and others are addressing severe water shortages and desertification caused by years of unrestrained deforestation and agro-industrial irrigation through an integrated program of water conservation and watershed reforestation to Let the Rivers Run. Grupo Fenix and Solar Cookers International are using solar and photovoltaic technologies to provide power and non-carbon based cooking and are thereby making communities healthier and slowing deforestation. The Consumer Defense Network has mobilized Nicaraguan citizens to stop the privatization of drinking water, that most precious of resources, into the hands of rapacious transnational corporations. Banana and sugar cane workers who were poisoned by the pesticide Nemagon are pursuing justice against Dole, Dow, and Shell, the companies that destroyed their lives. Indigenous peoples are defending their cultures and their lands.

These are just a few examples to indicate that Sandinismo still lives and still gives me hope. Those who learned and benefited from Sandino's dream still strive to provide a model for the rest of the world.

Nicaragua Network has produced a new video, "We Have Other Plans: Communities Implement Alternative Development." Visit to learn more.

Federal Judge fines Voices in the Wilderness

On August 12, 2005 U.S. Federal District Judge John Bates ordered payment of a $20,000 fine imposed against Voices in the Wilderness. Voices was fined for bringing medicine to Iraq in a classic campaign of open nonviolent civil disobedience to challenge the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the U.N. against Iraq. The U.S. Treasury Department initially imposed the fine in 2002, days after Voices participated in international actions to oppose the U.S. buildup for war against Iraq.

Voices in the Wilderness has vowed not to pay a penny of this fine.

For information: Jeff Leys or Kathy Kelly, 773-784-8065;