Detained with Kathy Kelly at Beale on Good Friday

IMG_6062

On April 18 I was detained with ten other anti-drone protesters, including internationally recognized peace activist Kathy Kelly, following a Good Friday prayer service. The others who were detained included:     The Reverend Dr. Gerald O. (Jerry) Pedersen, retired Lutheran pastor and member of Veterans for Peace, from Sacramento;  The Reverend Elizabeth Griswold, pastor of Parkside Community Church, United Church of Christ in Sacramento; The Reverend John Auer, retired United Methodist Pastor from Fresno, California; Michael Kerr, a Veteran for Peace from Bay Point/Pittsburg, Rodger  Stall from San Rafael, Arthur (Buff) Whitman-Bradley from the Bay Area, Nancy Reiner from the Bay Area, Bob Russell from Pleasant Hill, and Pamela Osgood from Grass Valley.

We gathered at Beale, in the shadow of killer drones, modern-day equivalents of the cross, to pray, to act, and to continue our work of building a community of peace.  Although the Global Hawk Drones that are operated from Beale are surveillance drones, they assist in finding targets for armed Predator and Reaper drones and are an integral part of the US drone warfare program.

Over fifty people attended the service, which included prayers, songs, Holy Communion, and reflections by Kathy Kelly.  Following the service, eleven of us crossed the demarcation line onto Beale property in an attempt to deliver a letter to the base commander, along with two statements about drones from religious groups:  The World Council of Churches’ Statement on the Use of Drones and the Right to Life and “A Call from the Faith Based Community to Stop Drone Killings,” signed by religious leaders from around the country.

As I write about these events, it is already Easter.  Christ is risen.  But even, perhaps especially, in the events of Good Friday, the resurrection is apparent.  The Spirit of Christ is alive.

Empire goes along just fine for a while, unchallenged.  The dominant institutions demonstrate the prevailing wisdom of our current global corporate Empire:  that money equals value, that might makes right, that nature is commodity, that victims are expendable, that the status quo of the current order must be maintained at all costs, that people who are not enthralled by the system must be forced to comply under penalty of imprisonment or death.

But wait–here come the people, awakened to what is at stake.  Here we stand at the gate of Beale as others take their stand at other gates of Empire, defying the demand for obedience, defying the fear that paralyzes, demonstrating that where two or three of us are gathered in his name, Jesus is in our midst.

While we were detained, we women were separated from the men.  We got taken into an air-conditioned room with comfortable chairs and a bathroom.  The officers who were processing us were cordial, even joking at times.  We didn’t know that the men had to stand outside facing a wall with their hands gripped behind them by base officials, or that our friend John Auer, in a wheelchair, had to sit all that time in the hot sun.  (Fellow demonstrators called out to base officials, who finally got him a drink of water.)

We were all fingerprinted, photographed, and released.  We all received “ban and bar” letters, which prohibit us from entering Beale without permission. (Well, we already knew that.)  The only people who received citations were those who had previously been detained at Beale:  Jerry, Elizabeth, Michael, and me.

Christ is alive among us as we stand in solidarity with the crucified man Jesus and with all who are crucified on the altars of Empire through the ages.  Christ is alive among us as we speak truth to power and witness to our hope of a world transformed by Love.

I invite you to join us.

 

To find out about upcoming actions go to Earth Justice Ministries or Occupy Beale Air Force Base websites.  More detailed updates can be seen on the Earth Justice Ministries FaceBook Page or the Occupy Beale FaceBook Page.

For a theological rationale of this Good Friday Action, see my blog posting “Why I’ll be at Beale on Good Friday.”

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell FaceBook page.

 

 

Why I’ll be at Beale on Good Friday

 

On April

Ash Wednesday 2014 Service at Beale

Ash Wednesday Service at Beale

On April 18, Good Friday, I will gather with others at the main gate of Beale Air Force Base at 3 p.m. for a prayer service and demonstration against drone warfare.  Kathy Kelly, an internationally recognized peace activist, will join us there.

Why Beale?  Because Beale is home of the Global Hawk Drone, a surveillance drone that assists in finding targets for unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones.”  U.S. drones have killed thousands of people, many of them civilians, including children.

Why on Good Friday?  Because on the day set aside to commemorate Jesus’ death some of us choose to stand in solidarity with those who are being “crucified” today,  to demonstrate opposition to the worldly Powers that inflict suffering and death, and to witness to our hope that divine Love will carry us through this present darkness to a new dawn of justice, compassion, and peace.

Good Friday is not just a day to remember and mourn the death of Jesus, which happened so long ago, but to lament the many ways that the crucifixion is ongoing.  In the words of Dorothee Solle, “In the mist of reality stands the cross.”

I encourage you to join us at Beale or at some other venue that represents today’s system of domination, to “take sides” with the victims of violence and oppression, to challenge the ruling Powers as Jesus did, and to bear witness to the hope of resurrection.  Another world is possible.

 

Find out more about plans for Good Friday at Beale here.

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell FaceBook page.

 

 

Mourning Democracy

McCutcheon Rapid Response

Today’s Supreme Court Ruling on McCutcheon vs. the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) is yet another nail in the coffin of U.S. democracy.  The high court struck down the right of “We the People” to establish laws limiting overall campaign contributions by individuals.  Such limits have been set in an attempt to create a level playing field in our democracy for rich and poor alike.

The political playing field was already unequal, since over the years the Supreme Court has increasingly granted  civil rights and constitutional protections to corporations.  This expansion of corporate rights culminated in the infamous 2010 ruling in Citizens United vs. the FEC, which prohibits our right to limit corporate spending on elections through political action committees (PACs).  The Citizens United decision resulted in the overturning of campaign finance laws at the federal level and in states across the nation.  Today’s McCutcheon ruling is also disastrous for democracy.

Our local Nevada County Move to Amend group, which works in coordination with the national Move to Amend Coalition, held a rally this afternoon to protest the McCutcheon ruling.  “Rapid response” rallies were held in over 140 communities around the country.   Our group had pre-printed signs that said “Democracy is not for sale.” Sadly, we crossed out the word “not” on our signs because, evidently, democracy is for sale, now more than ever before.  Money counts as free speech.  Wealthy donors cannot be limited in aggregate campaign contributions. Corporations are treated as persons under the law.  Large Corporations, which control vast sums of capital, count as individual people.  The Market rules.  Money is God.  This is the secular religion that now rules our nation.

This is not democracy.  It is oligarchy–rule by the wealthy.

Move to Amend proposes a solution to both the gradual erosion of our democratic rights and the occasional cataclysms such as Citizens United and McCutcheon.  Since the Supreme Court interprets the constitution and there is no higher court to whom to appeal, amending the constitution is the only solution left to us.  There is a process by which to do this, and this process has resulted in 27 constitutional amendments intended to secure and expand the rights of all people in our nation.

The “We the People Amendment” supported by Move to Amend makes clear that corporations are not people and that money is not speech.  It has already been introduced into Congress.  Move to Amend affiliates, including our local group, are working to educate people around the country about the need to restore democracy to the people and to raise support for passing this amendment.

Building the momentum to pass this amendment will require the coming together of people of every faith tradition and spiritual perspective, indeed, anyone who cares about humanity, the earth and the common good.  It is time to amend the constitution to make it clear that corporations are not people, and money is not speech.

 

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell FaceBook page.

 

Fly Kites not Drones

 

March 24, 2014 at Beale

March 24, 2014 at Beale

“Fly Kites not Drones” was the theme of our last demonstration at Beale, home of the Global Hawk Drone, a surveillance drone that helps identify targets for armed drones.   This phrase perfectly expresses the hope that “another world is possible.”

Fly kites not drones.

Plant gardens not land mines.

Scatter seeds not shrapnel.

Build schools, not bunkers.

Subsidize solar power, not oil.

Support human rights, not corporate rights.

Bail out people, not banks.

Tend Mother Earth, don’t exploit her

Everyone who is working for change along these lines must have some degree of faith that such transformation is possible.  At times such changes in the general mindset and in social policies seems impossible.  The institutional Powers that rule the world are so entrenched, and bad news compounds every day.

We can’t know for sure.  As theologian Jurgen Moltmann wrote:

Has the modern world any future? Its future is conversion. Will humanity survive the crises we have described? We cannot know, and we must not know. If we knew that humanity is not going to survive, we should not do anything more for our children but would say, “after us, the deluge.” If we knew that humanity is going to survive, we should not do anything either, and by doing nothing we should miss our chance for conversion. Because we cannot know whether humanity is going to survive or not, we have to act today as if the future of the whole of humankind were dependent on us—and yet at the same time trust wholly that God is faithful to his creation and will not let it go.[i]

This is why I have devoted my life to speaking, writing, and acting to help usher in a world that is peaceful, just, and ecologically sustainable.  We don’t know what the outcome will be, but it’s not time to give up just now.  We are at a period of great transition.

I believe that whoever acts on behalf of this vision of a radically transformed world, what Jesus called “the kingdom of God,”  is doing the will of the One who brought the universe and this precious earth into being.  May we reaffirm our commitment and do what we can to be the transformation that we want to see.

 

[i]. Jürgen Moltmann, “Has Modern Society Any Future?” in Jürgen Moltmann and Johannes Baptist Metz, Faith and the Future: Essays on Theology, Solidarity, and Modernity (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1995), 174.

My Response to Doublespeak on Environmental Issues

Anti-Fracking Rally, Sacramento, March 15

Anti-Fracking Rally, Sacramento, March 15

There is currently a debate among environmental activists about how to frame issues of concern.  Do we use language that will be acceptable to as many people as possible, in order to build bridges with Tea Party members and other conservatives?  Or do we speak directly to the heart of the problem of climate change and destruction of the earth, including identifying the necessity of transforming worldviews, lifestyles, and the system that is wreaking havoc all over the earth?

Clearly, I’m in favor of the latter.  I see no point in holding back, hoping that by moderating our message people who are on the other side of these issues will get on board.  It’s time to speak truth to power, expose falsehoods and denial, and pull out all the stops.  It’s time to take strong and courageous stands for the earth community and for future generations.

Today I wrote a response to a Letter to the Editor in my hometown newspaper, the Grass Valley Union.   The original letter included doublespeak commonly used by ultra-conservatives to denigrate environmental issues and concern for the common good.    Here is my response:

“James Butler’s March 14th letter about the suction dredge mining ban included examples of doublespeak, or  “language used to deceive, usually through concealment or misrepresentation of truth.”   Mr. Butler may not realize it, but here are the misrepresentations:

“Agenda 21 can’t “dictate” anything.  It is a non-binding set of principles developed through the United Nations in a participatory process .  The guidelines are completely voluntary and unenforceable.

“The idea that our local government is “forcing UN socialist ideas down our throats under the guise of protecting the environment” is ludicrous.  Many locals want to protect the environment and rural quality of Nevada County.  The United Nations is not “socialist,” but includes countries with capitalist, socialist, and mixed economies.  Calling “sustainability” and “common good” buzz words doesn’t take away their actual meanings, which are positive.

“Our democracy faces many very real challenges, including the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the pending “McCutcheon” decision, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is binding and would give secret tribunals power  to overturn our democratically enacted laws.  These are bad for sustainability, bad for the common good, bad for democracy.

“Confusion, obfuscation, and deliberate misrepresentation are the last things we need.”

I have written more extensively on the issue in a previous blog posting called Agenda 21 vs. the TPP.