Peace & Justice

Tuesday afternoon at Modesto Peace/Life Center

Tuesdays, July 19, 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 will remember Hiroshima

Sunday, August 6, Hiroshima Day, will mark the 61st anniversary of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The Modesto Peace Life Center's traditional remembrance includes a potluck supper at Tuolumne Regional Park at 6:30 p.m. Then, as dusk falls, we will go to the river with our candles and float flower petals down the river, symbolically mourning the great loss to the world on that day 61 years ago. Join us.

No Nukes! No war!
Support Indigenous Rights!

Mark the United Nation’s International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples and the anniversaries of the United States’ atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by demanding an end to nuclear weapons and war.  At Bechtel Corporate Headquarters and Lawrence  Livermore  National Laboratory we will support the sovereignty and dignity of indigenous people around the world , call for the global abolition of nuclear weapons, and for the end of the war in Iraq.

On the anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima

On the United Nations Day of World’s Indigenous People and the anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki

ACTION; For more information, contact Tri-Valley CAREs at 925-443-7148 or

National Outdoor advertiser refuses Peace Center’s anti-war message


At the start of the Iraq War, the Modesto Peace Life Center, along with the Modesto Church of the Brethren, College Avenue Congregational Church, the Delta Friends, the Unitarian Universalist Social Action Committee, and the Committee for Peace in the Middle East, created an anti-war billboard message which was posted on Modesto’s Maze Boulevard. The text proclaimed, “NO WAR! War destroys precious lives on ALL sides.”

Our copy ran for several months until we lost our space to someone who could pay more money over a longer period of time for the space.

After we lost that space, our message ran for two weeks adjacent to Highway 99 near Manteca thanks to the generosity of housing developer Tony Raymus. That billboard was vandalized and our sign destroyed.

The Center has been waiting ever since to bring our anti-war message back. That opportunity seemed to appear in mid June when the Maze boulevard billboard site became vacant. This writer contacted the billboard’s owner, Lamar Advertising which bills itself as the “nation's leader in the highway logo sign business…”

While the Lamar salesman seemed hopeful that our message could be posted, he informed me that management must review and approve all copy. On Wednesday, June 14, I was told that our message was not accepted. No reason was given.

A request has been submitted for an explanation


Our Flag Was Still There

Words & music by John McCutcheon & Barbara Kingsolver
From the CD, Mightier Than The Sword

I can see it so clear
That very first time
At a game with my Dad
I was eight, maybe nine
We all rose to our feet
Before the ballgame could start
We took off our caps
And put our hands to our hearts

First Chorus

It was more than a banner
It was more than a song
I sang because I believed
I sang because I belonged
I sang for all those who dreamed
For all those who dared
Who looked to the heights
And our flag was still there

I see it passing on cars
I see it passing for war
I see it passing for patriotism
We’ve all seen it before
I’ve seen it used as a weapon
To brand some as wrong
No one has the right, I’ll stand up and fight
To say I belong

And our flag is still there
For the saints and the sinners
Yes, our flag is still there
For all the losers and winners
For those of us who still dream
For those who still dare
For all the scorned and forgotten
Our flag is still there

From Lawrence to Lexington
Concord to Kent
In Seattle & Selma
We are born of dissent
And on this native ground
Blessed by immigrant blood
In that river of freedom
We’re all washed in the flood

(Modified chorus)
And our flag is still there
For all the saints and the sinners
Yes, our flag is still there
For all the losers and winners
For those of us who still dream
Those who still dare
The outcast and forgotten
Our flag is still there

It’s still there
Though we might disagree
If you are brave
In the land of the free
We have weathered so much
We have traveled so far
We are woven together
We are spangled with stars

So as we take off our caps
And as we all rise
Put our hands to our hearts
As we lift up our eyes
We begin with a question
We ask, “Oh, say, can you see?”
Stand and be strong, believe and belong
Be brave and be free

And our flag is still there
For the saints and the sinners
Yes, our flag is still there
For all the losers and winners
For those of us who still dream
For those who still dare
For all the scorned and forgotten
Our flag is still there

©2005 John McCutcheon & Barbara Kingsolver/Appalsongs (ASCAP)

While writing songs for Mightier than a Sword, John collaborated with some of his favorite writers from among literature’s most celebrated contemporary authors. He writes: "I encountered Barbara’s essay of the same title in her collection Small Wonder. The failure of the progressive community in the United States to lay claim to our common possessions has allowed the perversion of patriotism, the hijacking of our symbols and the claim by a small part of the political spectrum to define what being an American is for everyone else. Barbara’s essay so clearly resonated with me that this song was an easy write."
You can buy his CDs from John's website at, and plan to treat yourself to his annual mid-January concert in Modesto next year, a benefit for the Modesto Peace/Life Center.

The American three “R’s” are quickly becoming Revenge, Retribution and Reinforcement.

Peace Studies

We are a violent culture. Almost everything we are taught and exposed to reinforces that fact and continues that trend. In school, our history is a highway of war landmarks: French-Indian War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American War, on and on. We are taught to memorize the dates, the names. Our heroes are warriors. Rarely, if ever, are we exposed to the teaching of the great makers of peace in our world. We teach mathematics as though the survival of the species depended on it, yet are not given the simplest tools to assure that we can live peaceably with our neighbors. The American three “R’s” are quickly becoming Revenge, Retribution and Reinforcement.

In the wake of the increasingly frequent incidents of violence in our country (and I’m talking not only about school and work place shootings, but about bombing campaigns, anti-immigrant violence and the alarming increase in death penalty executions) we are also increasingly asking, “What can we do to stop this?”

There is a growing movement, and has been for years, to include nonviolent conflict resolution as a part of school curricula. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Tolstoy, and countless others offer example and writings designed to instruct and guide us in the study of peace and nonviolence. Various groups and individuals have developed programs that rely on the three “R’s” of Reason, Respect and Responsibility. Churches, synagogues and mosques need to teach it. Families need to teach it. And schools need to teach it. Can we afford not to do it?

Below is an ever-expanding list of resources...both on the WWW and via other means...of getting materials for use in your religious and civic organizations, schools and families. There is no endorsement of any of these programs intended simply by listing them. Use your own situation and judgment to determine which, if any, of these curricula will work for you. If you have information about or access to additional resources please pass that information along to us.

One program I can unequivocally endorse is my friend, Colman McCarthy’s Solutions to Violence curriculum. It’s geared to high school and university-age students. You can contact Colman at: Center for Teaching Peace, 4501 Van Ness Street NW, Washington, DC 20016. (202) 537–1372.

A Citizen’s Response to the National Security Strategy of the U.S. by Wendell Berry. Wendell Berry is a conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, professor of English and poet. He was born August 5, 1934 in Henry Country, Kentucky where he now lives on a farm. The New York Times has called Berry the “prophet of rural America.”

Peace Education Foundation: Offers curricula now used in over 20,000 schools. Elementary through University. Home components, even programs from school bus drivers.

Peace Jam: Offers classroom materials based on the writings and speeches of twelve different Nobel Peace laureates.

YouthPeace: A part of the War Resisters League promoting the exploration of non-violence and peace work among young people:

Amnesty International responds to Detainee Deaths in Guantanamo Bay (link to Amnesty International website)

When Ahmed met Avshalom (on Israel 21c)

Just Another Day at Guantanamo Bay

He passed out twice in twenty minutes.
No out of body experience, no well lit
tunnel filled with light brighter than any
he had ever seen, no being surrounded by
people he loved and none who loved him
back. It was just a merciful blackness like
being in the room, then not, like walking
out the door and not looking back. Then
they brought the needle, thick and dull,
used many times before. It was nothing
exotic. no special combination of designer
drugs known only to his captors. It was just
caffeine. A hundred cups of coffee, a super
jolt of breakfast joy juice. Now there would
be no passing out. No peaceful blackness
between quick periods of pain. Now he would
remain awake, everything more sensitive than
before. His interrogators were impatient,
wanted to get on with it. Others… were waiting.

— Ed Bearden

Taking heart in tough times


“I’m so tired of reading about war,” an elderly friend murmured.

Me too. I’m weary of war in Connections, war on TV and the web, weary of “support the troops” bumper stickers on gas guzzlers and modest working class cars. War is wearing me down, it clouds my days and haunts my nights.

But I’ll bet American soldiers and their families are damn tired of war too. And the Iraqi people, and the people of Darfur, Palestine and Israel. I’ll bet the Iranians are tired of threats of war, from an America that overthrew their government and stole their oil way back in 1953.

And that’s exactly why Connections has to keep writing about war—because it is raging out there in the real world, and more wars are gearing up. Our crazy crooked government promises us the War on Terrorism will take fifty years; my grandchildren will be grandparents by then—if they survive. War is the reality horror show.

And yet, and yet—

Our hearts need more than dread. Of course we have to face the miseries and evil deeds of our time, and say no to them in a thousand ways—by volunteering at St. Mary’s Dining Hall, by cleaning the rivers, by writing checks, dumping Pombo, wearing orange shirts protesting Dick Cheney, even by beating on missile silos with poor little hammers.

But we also have to say yes to a world of hope. We have to build “Gaian” structures of a living sustainable planet—tending community gardens, creating this free alternative newspaper, building businesses where workers and mother earth are respected, establishing by law a single-payer health care system for all, creating in the federal government (at long last) a Department of Peace….

Moreover, we have to Change our Minds. We have to develop new ways of thinking, because as Einstein said, we cannot solve the problems we have created with the same thinking that created them. We must dialogue with people of other races and religions; we must dig in history and rediscover wise roads not taken; we must eyeball our technologies and envision how they can serve not domination but respect for the common good of all earthlings; we must understand, as Thomas Berry says, that the universe is not a collection of objects, but a communion of subjects; we must cultivate the physical, mental and spiritual disciplines which serve communion and harmony.

In all these ways, we must learn to “take heart in tough times.”

That was the title of a magnificent workshop which Ria and I attended a few weekends ago, led by Buddhist sage and systems theory Ph.D. Joanna Macy. Out of sixty people in the big circle, about half were young peace and environmental activists. What a sign of hope!

Joanna is seventy-five, with bright eyes and a musical voice.

“I care deeply,” she began, “about the work of our sponsors, the Nevada Desert Experience. For decades, they have been witnessing at the Nevada Test Site to a nuclear free future.”

Caring deeply, she told us, has become the most important thing to her. “I used to think the point was being effective, but we simply do not know how effective we are. In this time when all planetary systems are in crisis, we have no guarantees. We don’t know whether we are the midwives of a new world, or merely hospice workers. We simply keep on, with determination and compassion.

“We have to say No, say Yes, and Change our Thinking. All three are essential, none is more important than the other, and we must respect all these forms of work. They are all part of what many people are calling the Great Turning. Just do your particular form of the Great Work, and don’t worry that you can’t do everything; realize that you are part of a mighty movement all around the planet.”

Indeed, she said, human beings who stand up for the earth are in fact earth standing up for itself—in the great scheme of cosmic evolution, we are the redwoods’ way of defending themselves. We have in simple truth common genetic roots.

She taught us the Elm Dance, which comes from the survivors of Chernobyl. We moved in a great circle, stopped and swayed, moved and swayed, then came to the center, arms raised and swaying like trees in the wind. “All over the world people are doing the Elm Dance,” she told us; skeptical Australian aborigines saw young white environmental activists doing the dance and said, well, if they are dancing in the street, they must be okay.

Joanna taught us to communicate across Deep Time. Half of us were people of the present, half were living two hundred years from now, and we listened to each other. The beings of the future asked, What was it like for you, living in the time of crisis? What moved you to begin your work for the living earth?

Then the beings of the present asked, What message do you have for us now?

In her memoir Widening Circles, Joanna Macy tells of having tea in India one day with friends, including a Tibetan monk. She saw a fly in her teacup and tried to ignore it, but the monk saw her distress.

“Oh dear, a fly in your tea!”

“Oh, it’s nothing, no problem.”

“Oh, dear.” Gently he dipped a finger in her cup, lifted out the offending fly and carried it outside. Soon he came back.
“It is okay. I put it on a bush, and its wings are drying. Soon it will fly again.”

John Morearty hopes to bring Joanna Macy to Stockton to lead a workshop. If anyone wants to help, contact him at 464-3326 or 462-3340, or .