I got this email from Warisacrime.org, and it got me thinking about what heroes these people are. Do peace actions like this effect change? Not always in the most visible way, but yes, there's got to be a ripple effect. Maybe the military police who have to arrest peace activists stop and think, at least for a minute, as to why these protesters are so willing to go to jail. Maybe the judge who hears the case begins to question the military complex.
I am very happy we still have dedicated souls like this, because they remind us of the broader issues of militarism, a topic we far too frequently avoid because it's so huge, it pervades so many things, we're discouraged before we even begin. So bless all these people who do this work on behalf of us all -- who make "peace on earth" more than just a wish:
Hundreds of Americans, young and old, are regularly going to prison, sometimes for months or years or decades, for nonviolently resisting U.S. militarism. They block ports, ships, submarines, trains full of weapons, trucks full of weapons, and gates to military bases. They take hammers to weapons of mass destruction, cause millions of dollars worth of damage, hang up banners, and wait to be arrested. They cause weapons systems to be canceled, facilities to be closed, and Pentagon policies to be changed. They educate and inspire greater resistance.
The people who do this take great risks. U.S. courts are extremely unpredictable, and the same action can easily result in no jail time or years behind bars. Many of these people have families, and the separation is usually painful. But many say they could not do this without their families or without their close-knit communities of like-thinking resisters. A support network of several people is generally needed for each resister.More often than not, a great sacrifice is made with no apparent success in terms of governmental behavior, either immediately or even after a lengthy passage of time.
Police are becoming more violent. Sentences are growing longer, and prisons are becoming more awful.Increasingly, the corporate media ignores such actions, dramatically reducing the educational and inspirational benefits. When Steve Downs was arrested for wearing a "give peace a chance" t-shirt in a shopping mall, a reporter called up a local peace group and tried to get them to admit they'd prompted Downs' action. When they said they'd never heard of him, the reporter replied, "Oh, then it's a legitimate story!" "In other words," says Downs, "if a group protests in support of their constitutional rights, it's not a legitimate story. If one hapless individual blunders into an arrest, then it is!"
And yet, people who devote themselves to nonviolently resisting war can know that they are part of a movement that does result in improved policies. And they can know that if more people joined them their chances of success would increase without limit. That is to say, if enough people joined in, complete success would be guaranteed. That is to say, peace on earth.
Rosalie Riegle has just published a wonderful collection called "Doing Time for Peace: Resistance, Family, and Community," in which she transcribes her interviews of 68 peace resisters, friends, and family members -- selected from 173 whom Riegle interviewed between 2004 and 2007. The book is not in the least polemical, more sociological. The speakers struggle with their memories and goals, and with questions about whether what they do is worth it.The question of whether a sacrifice has been worth the effort often remains an open question for a very long time. This book collects heroic, inspiring, and eye-opening actions and presents them with undeniable honesty and humility. Imagine if millions of people were to read this book. Suddenly countless actions done quietly or with little notice would be having a whole new kind of impact, and actions engaged in decades back would be revived -- perhaps in a more illuminating manner than before, as a result of the insights gained by the participants.