Peace & Justice
Tuesdays the Peace/Life Center will be open from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. Bring brown bag lunch. Come by for some coffee or tea or to chat or to see a film or browse through various books and magazines. Beverages will be provided.
We have a variety of items available at the Center including
-Kathy Kelly’s book Other Lands Have Dreams; From Baghdad to Pekin Prison
-the songbook Rise Up Singing, which we use in Song Circle. Now in regular or larger print editions with 1200 song lyrics and guitar chords.
-buttons and stickers
ACTION: Stop in the Modesto Peace/Life Center, 720 13th Street on Tuesday afternoons, 12 to 3 p.m. (call ahead 529-5750) or call Ken Schroeder at 526-2303.
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.
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. Contest flyers are now available.
The deadline for entries is December 9, 2005.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the Harvest Supper. The benefit for the PEC was as enjoyable as always.
The Peace Essay Contest is a project of the Modesto Peace/Life Center.
ACTION: For a 2006 Peace Essay Contest flyer, please contact the Modesto Peace/Life Center at 529-5750 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or download it www.stanislausconnections.org
(1. Educate yourself on the issues. Make a commitment to learning more about a part of the world or a country that has an antagonistic relationship with the United States Government. The more we humanize people we are taught to see as enemies, the harder it is for our government to persuade us to fight them.
2. Demand truthful media. The media is the voice of democracy. Pressure the mainstream media to cover events fairly and to be an outlet for a variety of voices. Give your local media a list of peace “experts” they should turn to. Complain, call, write, or organize a protest when the coverage is skewed toward war. Support indy news outlets that provide critical info & alternative viewpoints.
3. Communicate! After you educate yourself, don’t be afraid to speak out. Talk with your friends, neighbors, relatives, coworkers, classmates. Talk to people outside the choir and learn from people you disagree with. Call radio & TV talk shows, including the conservative ones. Write letters to the editor.
4. Hold your leaders accountable. Elected officials are civil servants who are supposed to represent you — so pressure them to do so. Develop a relationship with your local reps, setting up regular meetings between them and your allies in the community. When they take bad positions, make sure they hear from you loud and clear.
5. Help the United States kick our oil addiction. U.S. policy in the Mid-East & other regions is conditioned by our dependence on foreign oil. Use public transport, ride a bike, drive a fuel-efficient car and make your home and workplace more energy efficient. Volunteer with a group in your community that’s promoting local and state initiatives to decrease oil consumption, and join national campaigns like the Apollo Alliance (hwww.apolloalliance.org).
6. Build the peace movement. The massive outpouring of antiwar sentiment before the U.S. invasion of Iraq showed that there is a wellspring of support for our cause. Join a local group that speaks to you. Go to teach-ins, speak-outs, and marches. Learn from them & help organize new ones that reach to broader sectors of the community. Make sure you’re connected to United for Peace and Justice.
7. Support members of the military who are speaking out. Support military families who are speaking out against the war, and soldiers who are speaking out and refusing to fight. We need to support counter-recruitment efforts that provide youth with a truthful picture of risks & other options. Check out Military Families Speak Out (mfso.org) Vets against the Iraq War (www.vaiw.net) and (www.objector.org) for a list of counter-recruitment & support groups.
8. Protect our civil liberties & oppose backlash against immigrants. Be a community watchdog ready to speak out against repressive measures. Oppose bills such as the Patriot Act that erode our basic rights. Join civil liberties groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (aclu.org) and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
9. Support the creation of a Department of Peace. Thanks to U.S. rep Dennis Kucinich, there is a piece of legislation in Congress that would create a Department of Peace. Domestically, the department would address issues such as domestic violence, child abuse, and mistreatment of the elderly. Internationally, it would advise the president on addressing the root causes of war & interventions that can be taken before violence begins (www.dopcampaign.org).
10. Teach Peace. Encourage your public schools and libraries to carry peace curricula and create “peace places” in schools. For ideas contact Educators for Social Responsibility (www.esrnational.org), the National Peace Foundation (nationalpeace.org), or the Alliance for Childhood (allianceforchildhood.net).
--From CODEPINK at www.codepinkalert.org
Translated by ERIC SCHILLER
The following poems by Congolese children and young people appeared in Salam, a publication of the Center for the Peace for Children. Bukavu, a city in the eastern area of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the site of the Center, suffered a devastating assault in June 2004 by a Tutsi-based militia in which hundreds of Bukavu residents were raped and killed.
I am born of my parents
Today I am an orphan
I lived with my parents
Andre is an orphan of war
It’s you, war, who has done this
Because of you, my parents are dead
My brothers no longer speak a word
I am now without help
The earth has a poisonous look to me
War — give us peace!
Paulin has been killed so that his possessions can be
Seized — in Justice!
We are traumatized.
Why this catastrophe?— War—give us peace
During the night we are in the bush.
Justice no longer seems to work
Give us peace – authorities — give us peace!
— Pascal, sixth grade
Peace — where are you?
A high wall has risen in front of me
As if to eliminate the horizon of life
I am like a blind person in the dark
The darkness which has paralyzed our existence
Peace. . . I am looking for you.
You are ignored as though you no longer exist
That’s why there is a lack of conscience
We have been killed by small weapons and heavy blows
These men who massacre others
These men who imprison others and crush the innocent
Peace — where are you? I am looking for you
How many broken hearts, murders?
How many people dehumanized?
How many oppressed, without hope?
How many tortured for their religious opinions?
How many people smashed for having said the truth?
Peace — I am looking for you. . .
People are dying without saying anything,
because they don’t even have the strength to speak
Dear God give us peace
— Ntakwindja, eighteen years
Deliver our spirits from all hatred towards our brothers and sisters — Let us have a pact of wholesome living together — thus all together let us be engaged in the battle against xenophobia in order to create a new world
— Byanungu, third year, secondary school
Prayer for Peace
We thank you because you are long suffering
You are the God of peace
We know that you are just towards those who seek peace
Manifest yourself in the hearts of all those who sow discord
In those who cause divisions between communities
So that they may be changed to find the peace within
To live together in peace
That they find the divine reconciliation
— Author unknown
From Christian Peacemaker Teams, www.cpt.org
The Maps tell the story
The author, a long-time Modesto Junior College English and Spanish professor, joined a delegation last summer 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 Fellowship of Reconciliation delegates expressed support for Israelis, Palestinians, and others working for a just and sustainable peace.
One way to gain an understanding of the roots of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is to examine these maps (Click here for maps). The first map on the left shows the land of Palestine in 1947 when the United Nations voted to partition it. The UN voted to give the Jews 55% of the land and the Palestinian Arabs 45%.
The Jews accepted the partition but the Palestinians rejected it outright. In 1900 when the Zionist movement was organizing Jews in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to migrate to Palestine, 90% of Palestine‘s population was Arab. By 1947 Arabs still outnumbered Jews three to one, and Jews owned only 6% of the land. To the Palestinians and the surrounding Arab states, the UN partition was a blatant injustice.
Why, they reasoned, should the Palestinians lose their land so the Jews could have a state? Why should the Palestinians pay for Western guilt over the Holocaust? War broke out when Israel declared its statehood and Israel, far better organized than the often fractious Arab states, won and secured even more land. The middle map marks the new territorial borderline, called the Green Line, which is regarded internationally as the border for the two-state solution. In this new configuration of geography, Israel controls 78% of the land, and the Palestinians have 22%, made up of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
In the 1967 war Israel once again defeated its Arab enemies and took control of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula (returned later to Egypt), Syria’s Golan Heights, and the Palestinian territories. In the 1970’s Israel began a policy of establishing settlements in the occupied territories. In the 1990’s, during the supposed peace process of the Oslo Accords, nearly 125,000 Israelis set down roots in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Today there are over 350,000 settlers in the Palestinian territories in over 125 settlements. The third map shows this new territorial reality: While Israel has removed its settlers from Gaza; today it controls 42% of the West Bank, including large sections of East Jerusalem. What this means is that Israel now controls 87% of what used to be Palestine.
For Palestinians and for Arabs in general, this expansionism on Israel’s part, from 55% to 78% to 87% control of the land, is the root injustice. Add to this crucial fact the harsh realities of the Israeli occupation—the Separation Wall, the checkpoints, the curfews, the closures of cities, the restriction of roads, and the military presence everywhere—and you begin to understand the tension, fear, mistrust, hostility, and sometimes hatred that continue to fuel the conflict.
The pullout from Gaza in August made Israel look like a peacemaker, but its annexation 10 days later of a large block of land connected to Ma’ale Adumim, one of Israel’s largest settlements, east of Jerusalem, belies such an image. The sad and tragic reality is that the forces in Israeli society that favor continued expansionism are still dominant even if they’re not in the majority. Another sad note is that the Bush Administration reversed a long-held U.S. position against Israeli settlements by approving Sharon’s annexation of Ma’ale Adumim.
For a lasting and just peace, the Palestinian Authority will have to have to restrain Palestinian extremist violent groups to assure Israel’s security. But perhaps more difficult, Israel must negotiate an end to its oppressive and illegal occupation. On my August trip to the region, Palestinian and Israeli peace activists reminded me and the rest of the Fellowship of Reconciliation Peace-Builders delegates that the only way an end to the occupation is going to happen is through pressure from the international community. The burden is on us to educate ourselves, our friends and neighbors, and our politicians, and help create that pressure.
ACTION: Dan has prepared an hour-long power point presentation that helps people understand the occupation and the dedicated work of Israelis and Palestinians working for reconciliation and peace. If you would like to host a home gathering of 10 or more people to see the presentation, please call him, 526-5436. Also, learn more about the divestment campaign being organized by major American churches, and to encourage politicians to support it.
The Nicaragua Network has been working to expose and stop intervention in the internal affairs of Nicaragua by the U.S. government for over a quarter of a century, most recently in connection with trips by U.S. officials to push Nicaragua to approve CAFTA and to unite the political right in the country in order to prevent a Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) victory in the presidential elections of November 2006. The Nicaragua Network does not support any candidates in those elections. Our position is that the people of Nicaragua have the sovereign right to choose their leaders without interference from any foreign power.
ACTION: For more information visit www.nicanet.org
CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects the Bush administration's fear-based politics that justify violence, and instead calls for policies based on compassion, kindness and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.
“We call on women around the world to rise up and oppose the war in Iraq. We call on mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters, on workers, students, teachers, healers, artists, writers, singers, poets and every ordinary outraged woman willing to be outrageous for peace. Women have been the guardians of life—not because we are better or purer or more innately nurturing than men, but because the men have busied themselves making war. Because of our responsibility to the next generation, because of our own love for our families and communities and this country that we are a part of, we understand the love of a mother in Iraq for her children and the driving desire of that child for life” —Starhawk
With this call CODEPINK came to the face and space of the national leadership to protest the pre-emptive strike in Iraq. Medea Benjamin, Starhawk, Jodie Evans, Diane Wilson and approximately 100 other women kicked off CODEPINK on November 17, 2002. They marched through the streets of Washington, DC and set up for a four month vigil in front of the White House. The name CODEPINK plays on the Bush Administration’s color-coded homeland security advisory system that signals terrorist threats. While Bush’s color coded alerts are based on fear, the CODEPINK alert is based on compassion and is a feisty call for women and men to “wage peace.”
CODEPINK has become a worldwide network of women and men committed to working for peace and social justice. There are over 200 active CODEPINK communities. Some groups have 10 participants, others have over 100. Each groups acts autonomously of CODEPINK-Central. Each group does its own dreaming, and scheming. Some groups take over bridges while others hand out pink flowers with messages of peace attached to them.
CODEPINK-Central serves to connect CODEPINK groups with the international network of global peacemakers. By placing a contact email on the CODEPINK website, local CODEPINK groups make themselves accessible to those in their area who would like to get involved. CODEPINK Central also supplies groups with a range of CODEPINK merchandise to increase visibility: pink scarves, buttons, bumper stickers, and tee-shirts. CODEPINK Central also provides local CODEPINK groups with organizing tips, overarching national campaigns and initiatives. By tapping into the network CODEPINKers coordinate our energies and efforts. More than 30,000 people currently receiving the weekly CODEPINK alert.
Besides grassroots organizing stateside, CODEPINK women have traveled to Iraq where they helped to establish the Occupation Watch Center. CODEPINK co-creator Gael Murphy has been key to the development of the international coalition of organizations and the management of Center staff. The first all-women CODEPINK peace delegation went to Iraq in February 2003. Another delegation traveled to Iraq in November, December and January and February 2004. CODEPINK members were also in Jordan in 2004 to deliver humanitarian aid to the refugees of Fallujah and another delegation traveled to Iran in April of 2005.
ACTION: For more information visit www.codepinkalert.org, or email email@example.com
The shaft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagle’s own
plumes. We often give our enemies the means of our own destruction.
— Aesop’s Fables
America has been warned in every conceivable fashion that its nuclear weapons
will bring it to a bad end.
It was warned by scientists on its own atomic bomb project, even before it
bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it was warned by the destruction of those
It was warned by Mahatma Gandhi that it was too early to see what nuclear
weapons would do the soul of the attacking nation.
It was warned by Albert Einstein that we must change our modes of thinking or
face “unparalleled catastrophe.”
It has been warned by Nobel Laureates, by generals and admirals, by small
countries and large ones.
It was warned by Bertrand Russell, J. Robert Oppenheimer and Linus Pauling.
It was warned by the Cuban missile crisis, and by other near disasters.
It was warned by the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that human beings
and nuclear weapons cannot co-exist.
It has been warned by religious leaders that nuclear weapons jeopardize
It was warned by head of the US Strategic Command, General Lee Butler, that
“we cannot at once keep sacred the miracle of existence and hold sacrosanct the
capacity to destroy it.”
It was warned by the mayors of cities and by earnest citizen groups.
It was warned by drop drills, fall-out shelters and false alerts.
It has been warned and warned until the sirens should be screaming in the
White House and in the halls of Congress.
But we live in a time of political leaders lacking a moral compass, of
political leaders unable to change their thinking or to shed their hubris.
Since nuclear weapons are the most cowardly weapon ever created, we live in a
time of leaders marked by a significant courage-deficit.
All signs suggest that we are headed toward disaster, toward a world in which
America itself will be sacrificed at the altar of its hubris.
We have become too attached to our double standards, to a world of nuclear
“haves” and “have-nots.”
We spend on nuclear weapons and their delivery systems what it would cost to
feed the world’s hungry, shelter the world’s homeless, care for the world’s
sick and infirm, and educate the world’s children.
In our comfortable reliance on our military might, we have failed to grasp
that nuclear weapons are a far more powerful tool in the hands of the weak than
in the hands of the strong.
We have failed to grasp that America cannot afford to again use nuclear
weapons, but extremist groups are eager to obtain these weapons and use them
We have failed to grasp that there is no defense against nuclear weapons, as
we throw money into missile defenses like a helpless giant.
America stands at increasing risk that its great cities will be destroyed by
Our cities, our economy and our pride will fall together.
When this happens, America will bellow and flail, flames will shoot from its
nostrils, and the survivors will wonder how America was brought so low.
Looking back, some will remember with dismay the many, many warnings. Others
will say that it was karma.
This is a glimpse into our future, yet another warning. The worst has not yet
It is not too late for America to wake up, to fulfill its obligations for the
total elimination of nuclear weapons, and to lead the world to a nuclear
It is late, but it is not too late. America may still wake up, and if it does
it will be because people like all of us have not given up on America or on a
It will be because ordinary Americans do not have the courage-deficit that
our leaders have so readily and consistently displayed.
It will be because the voices of the people rise up and demand change and
because we become the leaders we have been waiting for.
David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and
author of a book of peace poetry, Today Is Not a Good Day for War.