Peace & Justice

Tuesday afternoon at Modesto Peace/Life Center

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.

Peace Life Center reports 2005 progress

Peace Center supporters came out on Saturday morning, Feb 25, 2006, to hear a summation of 2005 activities.

Their reports detailed the breadth of activities undertaken during the year. Beginning with the 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration, Jim Costello reported about Russell Means, the Native American activist and 2006 speaker. The Peace Life Center is the contract signer and collects and dispenses the money for the other sponsors: The King-Kennedy Center, the Modesto Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Dept., Modesto Jr. College, The Modesto Bee, Kaiser Permanente, and many donors.

The John McCutcheon Concert, January 25th, sponsored by PLC’s Song Circle for several years, was a great community builder and a beacon of hope for us. Proceeds: net $1842.

The 23rd Annual Peace Camp was held at Camp Peaceful Pines, with many participants and active workers from Tuolumne County. A full program for all ages made it a memorable occasion. (We basically broke even with as usual donations from participants.)

Indira Clark reported that the Peace Essay Contest received 637 entries, and has been held since 1987, with the cooperation of the County Schools system and a dedicated committee which judges the essays and plans the Awards Ceremony. A detailed list of the numbers entering each year is on file.

The Harvest Supper each year has been a fundraiser for the Peace Essay Contest. In 2005 there were various difficulties; evaluation of this event is pending. Net proceeds this year were $1000 thanks to many donations.

Other fundraisers were discussed: the auction to raise money for our newspaper, Stanislaus Connections, raised about $2200. The spring Pancake Breakfast made about $1300. The fund raising letter sent in December brought in $5750 in addition to several donors who pledge and pay monthly.

Connections publishes 3000 copies 11 times a year distributed to a mailing list of 850 and is given away all over the county. Anyone who asks is put on the mailing list. It is our policy to get the peace and justice word out to as large a readership as possible.

Counter recruitment is still in progress; opt-out forms have been published in Connections and allow students to choose not to see recruiters; there is still much work to be done.

The Peace Life Center gives a grant to the Turlock and Modesto Food Not Bombs groups, which feed the hungry and homeless once a week.

Current Board members were confirmed: Beth Au, Jim Costello, John Frailing, John Lucas, Shelly Scribner, Norma Ovrahim, Lee Miller (on sabbatical), Dan Onorato, Keith Werner. Mike Lenahan and Dan Downey were nominated and affirmed.

A complete financial report was not available but will be soon. Our volunteer bookkeeper, Donna Flanders was thanked for her work, as were all the other volunteers who make the Center what it is today.

(Minutes by Beth Au summarized by Myrtle Osner; more complete reports are filed at the Center.)

 Adopt-a- Minefield: clear a path to a safe world

(submitted by PHYLLIS HARVEY)

Adopt a minefield; clear a path to a safe world.” That is the motto for UNA USA, an effort “to awaken peoples’ consciousness about the horror of landmines and the suffering caused by these indiscriminate weapons of war.

— Sir Paul McCartney, Goodwill Ambassador to Adopt a Minefield.

Land mines continue to claim victims long after hostilities cease. They cripple people physically and emotionally, kill or maim, even prevent people from returning to farmland infested with hidden landmines. Landmines cause ten thousand children each year to lose a leg, arm, eyesight or life.

Since 1999 the United Nations Association of USA has adopted Adopt-a-Landmine to help stop this scourge. The goal is to clear landmines from fields, help survivors rebuild their lives, and raise public awareness of the global landmine crisis. There are still from 45 to 70 million of these deadly hidden killers around the world, degrading the environment, making 20 million acres uninhabitable. An estimated 26,000 people yearly are killed; 40 percent are children. A landmine is one of the cruelest, most inhumane weapons of war devised by man.

Currently 300,000 landmine survivors live in developing countries. One third of the world’s countries are impacted by this scourge. Adopt-a-Minefield campaign is focusing efforts on Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cambodia, Croatia, Iraq, Mozambique, and Vietnam. In Vietnam, three decades after the war ended, landmine casualties are 104,000. More than 500 children lost their lives and 4000 have been injured in Quang Tri Province alone since the war ended in 1975.

Other casualties:

ACTION: Contribute to: Adopt-a-Minefield, c/0 UNA USA, 801 Second Ave, New York, NY 10017-4706. $125 buys a prosthetic limb for a child; those must be replaced as the child grows. $1000 will support trained experts and technology to remove dangerous landmines.

INTERFAITH PEACE-BUILDERS Delegations to Palestine & Israel

From May 27-June 10, 2006, there will be an INTERFAITH PEACE-BUILDERS Delegation to Palestine & Israel.

Learn more about a conflict that is portrayed as ‘rooted in religion’ and ‘thousands of years old.’

Participating in a delegation to Israel and Palestine will allow you to counter the myths that perpetuate the conflict. You will be an eyewitness to the situation — and your understanding of the conflict will be enriched and transformed. The delegation will meet with not only ‘ordinary’ Israelis and Palestinians, but also extraordinary people working for peace and justice. You will confront and analyze the US role in the conflict and wrestle with ways to translate your experience when you return home.

Dan Onorato, Peace-Life Center board member and Modesto Junior College professor recently returned from a similar delegation and has given several moving talks about his experiences there. Contact him at 209-526-5436 if you are interested in having him speak to your group.

What does it cost? $1750 includes: 15 days, hotel and home stay accommodations, breakfasts and dinners, local transportation, guides, speaker/event fees, basic tips and gratuities. The cost does not include domestic and international airfares.

Other delegations will be held July 15-29 and November 4-18, 2006.

ACTION: For information, contact: FOR Interfaith Peace-Builders; (202) 244-0821; 4545 42nd St. NW, Suite 209, Washington, DC 20016; E-mail:;

CPT rejoices in the release of our peacemakers

23 March 2006

Our hearts are filled with joy today as we heard that Harmeet Singh Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember have been safely released in Baghdad. Christian Peacemaker Teams rejoices with their families and friends at the expectation of their return to their loved ones and community. Together we have endured uncertainty, hope, fear, grief and now joy during the four months since they were abducted in Baghdad.

We rejoice in the return of Harmeet Sooden. He has been willing to put his life on the line to promote justice in Iraq and Palestine as a young man newly committed to active peacemaking.

We rejoice in the return of Jim Loney. He has cared for the marginalized and oppressed since childhood, and his gentle, passionate spirit has been an inspiration to people near and far.

We rejoice in the return of Norman Kember. He is a faithful man, an elder and mentor to many in his 50 years of peacemaking, a man prepared to pay the cost.

We remember with tears Tom Fox. We had longed for the day when all four men would be released together. Our gladness today is made bittersweet by the fact that Tom is not alive to join in the celebration. However, we are confident that his spirit is very much present in each reunion.

Harmeet, Jim and Norman and Tom were in Iraq to learn of the struggles facing the people in that country. They went, motivated by a passion for justice and peace to live out a nonviolent alternative in a nation wracked by armed conflict. They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers. We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end.

Throughout these difficult months, we have been heartened by messages of concern for our four colleagues from all over the world. We have been especially moved by the gracious outpouring of support from Muslim brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. …We pray that Christians throughout the world will, in the same spirit, call for justice and for respect for the human rights of the thousands of Iraqis who are being detained illegally by the U.S. and British forces occupying Iraq.

…We renew our commitment to work for an end to the war and the occupation of Iraq as a way to continue the witness of Tom Fox. We trust in God’s compassionate love to show us the way.

Living through the many emotions of this day, we remain committed to the words of Jim Loney, who wrote:

With God’s abiding kindness, we will love even our enemies. With the love of Christ, we will resist all evil. With God’s unending faithfulness, we will work to build the beloved community.

From CPT: We Mourn the Loss of Tom Fox

10 March 2006

Christian Peacemaker Teams has been in Iraq since October 2002, providing first-hand, independent reports from the region, working with detainees of both United States and Iraqi forces, and training others in non-violent intervention and human rights documentation. Christian Peacemaker Teams is a violence reduction program. Teams of trained peacemakers work in areas of lethal conflict around the world.

In grief we tremble before God who wraps us with compassion. The death of our beloved colleague and friend pierces us with pain. Tom Fox’s body was found in Baghdad yesterday.

Christian Peacemaker Teams CPT) extends our deep and heartfelt condolences to the family and community of Tom Fox, with whom we have traveled so closely in these days of crisis.

We mourn the loss of Tom Fox who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone.

In response to Tom’s passing, we ask that everyone set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done. In Tom’s own words:

We reject violence to punish anyone. We ask that there be no retaliation on relatives or property. We forgive those who consider us their enemies. We hope that in loving both friends and enemies and by intervening nonviolently to aid those who are systematically oppressed, we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation.

Even as we grieve the loss of our beloved colleague, we stand in the light of his strong witness to the power of love and the courage of nonviolence. That light reveals the way out of fear and grief and war.

Through these days of crisis, Christian Peacemaker Teams has been surrounded and upheld by a great outpouring of compassion: messages of support, acts of mercy, prayers, and public actions offered by the most senior religious councils and by school children, by political leaders and by those organizing for justice and human rights, by friends in distant nations and by strangers near at hand. These words and actions sustain us. While one of our teammates is lost to us, the strength of this outpouring is not lost to God’s movement for just peace among all peoples.

At the forefront of that support are strong and courageous actions from Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world for which we are profoundly grateful. Their graciousness inspires us to continue working for the day when Christians speak up as boldly for the human rights of thousands Iraqis still detained illegally by the United States and United Kingdom.

Such an outpouring of action for justice and peace would be a fitting memorial for Tom. Let us all join our voices on behalf of those who continue to suffer under occupation, whose loved ones have been killed or are missing. In so doing, we may hasten the day when both those who are wrongly detained and those who bear arms will return safely to their homes. In such a peace we will find solace for our grief.

Despite the tragedy of this day, we remain committed to put into practice these words of Jim Loney:

With the waging of war, we will not comply. With the help of God’s grace, we will struggle for justice. With God’s abiding kindness, we will love even our enemies.



Tom’s last journey begins


13 March 2006

Our brother Tom began his final journey home.

Beth Pyles of Iraq CPT was on the tarmac at Anaconda military base, Balat, Iraq, at dawn on March 13, as Tom’s coffin was loaded onto the plane for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

She reported that his coffin was draped in a U.S. flag, unusual for a civilian, but Tom may not have been uncomfortable with this since he had always called his nation to live out the high ideals which it professed. Iraqi detainees who die in U.S, custody are also transported to Dover for autopsies and forensics. On this plane, right beside Tom’s coffin, was the coffin of an Iraqi detainee. So Tom accompanied an Iraqi detainee in death, just as he had done so often in life.

At Tom’s departure, Pyles read out from the Gospel of John, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it” (1:5). In honour of Tom’s Iraqi companion, she spoke the words called out repeatedly from the mosques of Baghdad during the Shock and Awe bombing campaign in March 2003, “allah akhbar” (God is greater). She concluded the sending with words from the Jewish scriptures, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

Dawn broke. The contingent of Puerto Rican soldiers nearby saluted. The plane taxied away. Venus, the morning star, shone brightly overhead as the night faded away.

Godspeed you, Tom, on your final journey home to your family and friends.



Chart:  Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes

Each Drop

Each drop of blood
That spills out
On the streets
Of the cities
Of Iraq

Is our blood

Each precious drop
Of living blood
That spills out
Of the body
Of Iraq

Is our blood

Each drying drop
That lays out
In the burning
Desert sun
Of Iraq

Is our blood

Each pulsing drop
That runs down
Into the gutters
And rivers
Of Iraq

Is our blood

Each scarlet drop
That places a stain
On the face
Of a child
Of Iraq

Is our future

And our future

Is bloody

— Jim Bush
Portland OR