Campaign Nonviolence:  A Call to Transformation

Beale with crosses

Why do I engage in nonviolent direct action?  Why will I go back to Beale later this month to demonstrate, even as all the charges against me and other anti-drone demonstrators have been dropped?  Because I believe that through nonviolent action we can be transformed and can contribute to the transformation of the world.

Our September 29 and 30 demonstrations at Beale will be one of over 160 nonviolent actions taking place later this month around the country and around the world.  These locally-organized actions are being coordinated with Campaign Nonviolence, and are focused on calling for an end to war, poverty, and climate change.  Linking of these three critical issues helps to reveal the systemic causes of the grave dangers of our age.

These three evils are intertwined in so many ways, in both cause and effects.  For example, war unleashes blood lust and creates carnage while consuming resources that could be invested in education, health care, renewable energy, job creation, and services that could create a strong society and lift the poor out of poverty.  Modern warfare, dependent on fossil fuels for high-tech weaponry, is also a big contributor to climate change.

Meanwhile, the poor and vulnerable are generally hit first and worst by both war and climate change. They not only suffer the immediate effects of war and extreme weather events caused by climate change, they also lack the resources and political power to escape these crises.

The most obvious way that war, poverty, and climate change are related is that they are exacerbated by a global free market capitalist system that is destroying both human life and the natural systems of the earth.  Economic globalization, dominated by global corporations, is based on the concept of unlimited growth.  Such growth creates extremes of wealth and poverty and depends upon the increasing use of fossil fuels which cause climate change.  Climate change is high on the Pentagon and CIA’s lists of threats to national security, and resource wars are already being waged.  “No blood for oil” has been a refrain of peace activists for decades.  As climate change continues to accelerate, “water wars” will also increase.

Modern high-tech warfare, poverty, and climate change are not the outcome of a natural social evolution, but the predictable result of a global system of domination built upon the values of profit, prestige, and power over others, a system designed to harness human energy and exploit the gifts of the earth for the sake of the few.  This system is created by human beings and is sustained by our common consent.  When we the people withdraw our consent, the system will not be able to stand, and transformation will happen.

As Joanna Macy said, “Action is the antidote to despair.”  One of the personal benefits of nonviolent action is the knowledge that at least you are doing what you can to help turn things around.  Such action also plugs you in to a global community of people who are taking action for a peaceful, just, and ecologically sustainable world and helping to bring it about.  Through coordinated nonviolent action we can be transformed and we can be agents of transformation in the world.

 

Find out more about our planned September actions at Beale.

Stay informed and updated.  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.  Go to the Occupy Beale Air Force Base Facebook page or Occupy Beale website for updates on this court case, background information, and announcements about upcoming Beale demonstrations and direct actions.

 

 

Beale Case Dismissed

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The government has dismissed the case against sixteen of us who were arrested last April for civil disobedience at Beale Air Force Base.  Beale, outside Marysville, California, is home of the Global Hawk Drone, a surveillance drone that identifies targets for armed Predator and Reaper drones.

We’ll be back!  In fact, we’ll be back later this month.  For nonviolent direct action to be effective, it has to be sustained.  History has shown that sustained nonviolent resistance is an effective means of social transformation.

Committed peacemakers have sustained a presence at Beale for the past three years, calling for peace and raising awareness of the grave harm caused by the US drone warfare program.  I am privileged to be among them.  Last March and April, 31 people were arrested at Beale in four separate nonviolent actions.  We didn’t hear anything until mid-August, when sixteen of us received notices to appear for arraignment on September 9.  Now, at the last minute, all charges have been dismissed.

Why?  It may be that increasing numbers of people crossing the line create more publicity than the government wants, and prosecution of the cases creates even more publicity.  Again, sustained resistance “gets the goods.”

In the midst of all the confusion, Occupy Beale activists have continued regular, ongoing demonstrations at Beale.  This month, on September 29 and 30, we’ll be there again.  On September 30 nonviolent direct action is again planned at Beale, this time in coordination with Campaign Nonviolence, a national campaign that highlights the links between war, poverty, and climate change.  Campaign Nonviolence already has over 160 actions planned around the country.

Witnessing for peace there at Beale, with the roar of the U-2s overhead, we know we are taking a stand against the system of global domination that is creating war, perpetrating injustice, unraveling the web of life, and destroying hope for the future.  Will this global movement toward a peaceful, just, and environmentally sustainable world be successful?  No one knows.  But that is certainly a goal worth living or even dying for.

Movements of sustained nonviolent resistance can change people’s minds and hearts, and can inspire hope and action for a better world.  Join us.

 

Stay informed and updated.  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.  Go to the Occupy Beale Air Force Base Facebook page or Occupy Beale website for updates on this court case, background information, and announcements about upcoming Beale demonstrations and direct actions.

Facing Charges–Again

 

Making Peace at Beale

Arrested on Good Friday

I am facing charges again.  I will be arraigned with at least fifteen other anti-drone demonstrators in federal court on September 9 in Sacramento.  I consider it a privilege to be part of a sustained movement of nonviolent resistance to the current unjust global system, which is violent to the core.

Beale Air Force Base is just forty-five minutes from my home, so Guari and I go there regularly for anti-drone protests.  Beale is an integral part of the U.S. drone warfare program.  Beale is where Global Hawk surveillance drones identify targets for attacks by armed Predator and Reaper drones.

It has been four months since Good Friday, April 18, when I was last arrested for crossing the line onto base property.  We had a prayer service at Beale’s main gate that included over fifty people.  International peace activist Kathy Kelly spoke out on behalf of people harmed by US drones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and other countries.  Following prayers, songs, and Holy Communion, eleven of us, including four clergy, attempted to deliver a letter with statements from the religious community about moral objections to drone warfare.

Some of the people being arraigned on September 9 were arrested at Beale on a different date, April 29, at a Veterans Unite against Drones action.  Thirteen demonstrators, including six veterans, temporarily blocked traffic at the two busiest gates entering Beale. Protesters were arrested at the Wheatland Gate and at the Main Gate after reading and trying to deliver an indictment charging President Obama, the Beale base commander, drone pilots and others with “crimes against peace and crimes against humanity.”

There have been other arrests:  On March 5, Ash Wednesday, five of us were arrested after sprinkling ashes that symbolized our repentance and the ashes of children killed by U.S. drones.  On April 1, at a “No Drones, No Fooling” demonstration, Elliot Adams, national Chair of the Veterans for Peace, was arrested with Richard Gilchrist, another veteran.

In all, over thirty people were arrested for trespassing onto base property at Beale last March and April.  At all of the above protests, we were arrested, processed, and released, but fewer than twenty of us are being arraigned.  No one knows why.

What I do know is that it’s a privilege to be part of a community of nonviolent resistance to the merchants of death represented by the military-industrial complex and to the whole US project of global domination through the threat and use of massive force.  US drone warfare will never bring peace.  If it continues it can only produce an escalating cycle of violence that will unleash hatred that may last for generations.

I plan to plead “not guilty,” because I was acting to stop and prevent atrocities from being carried out in my name.  My silence signals my consent, so I will speak out:  on behalf of the victims of US drones; on behalf of compassionate, sane, and moral foreign and military policies; and on behalf of the rule of law in international affairs.

Please join us if you can on September 9 at the Federal Courthouse at 5th and I Streets in Sacramento.  At 8 a.m. there will be a demonstration of opposition to drone warfare and support for the protesters.  At 9 a.m. you are invited to come into the courtroom during the arraignment.  Better yet, join us at Beale on September 29 and 30.  Let’s keep the momentum going.

I’m going to court to face charges for interfering with my government’s immoral actions.  There’s no place I’d rather be.

 

Keep informed and updated.  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.  Go to the Occupy Beale Air Force Base Facebook page or Occupy Beale website for updates on this court case, background information, and announcements about upcoming Beale demonstrations and direct actions.

 

 

Words of Sorrow, Words of Hope

The darkest hour--just before dawn, on my deck this morning

The darkest hour–just before dawn, on my deck this morning

Leonard Cohen has a song called The Faith, which asks again and again, “O love aren’t you tired yet?”  One verse goes like this: “A cross on every hill, a star, a minaret, so many graves to fill. O love, aren’t you tired yet?”

Sometimes I feel tired–discouraged by the struggles and suffering of people I love, the unrelenting violence of world events.  Words from the news create a litany of woes:  Gaza, Ferguson, drones, climate change, ISIS, human trafficking, cutbacks, melting ice sheets, Fukushima, militarized police forces, Iraq, NSA, solitary confinement, Liberia, Ebola, drought, fracking… There seems to be no end to the disasters that are upon us.

Sometimes I need to take a break.  Sometimes it’s enough to make me weep.  But I’m in good company.  Even Jesus wept, as he considered the fate of Jerusalem.  He warned them that they faced disaster if they kept going the way they were headed.   The same is true for us today.

I do feel sorrow at times, but I still have hope.   That’s why I continue to speak out and take actions for peace, for justice, for the healing of the earth.

Hope is not passive.  Hope doesn’t mean feeling optimistic.  Hope means that we don’t give up, but keep working for the transformation of the world even if the odds seem to be overwhelmingly against us.   This requires spiritual depth, supportive community, and resistance to the institutional Powers that dominate the world.

Hope originates in prayer, meditation, self-knowledge, and spiritual surrender, but culminates in community.   It requires us to go deep within ourselves, to face our complicity with systems that produce death, to amend our ways, to join in solidarity with others, and to commit ourselves to creatively working for a transformed world, for what Jesus called “the kingdom of God.”

Yes, Jesus wept over Jerusalem, but he didn’t  just weep and go back home.  He wept and then headed into the city.  When he got there, he went directly into the Temple and overturned the tables of the money changers and drove them out.  This act of nonviolent resistance directly challenged the economic system upon which the religious establishment’s collaboration with Rome was built.  This was why Jesus was put to death—he was a threat to the stability of the Roman occupation in that place.

The challenges facing us today are so great that we will need to work together, along with people around the world, to create the momentum to bring about the systemic transformation that is required.  As Bill McKibben said, “If we can build a movement, then we have a chance.”

We may get tired and discouraged at times.  We may need to rest.  But love is still at work in the world, and there are many signs of hope:  Palestinians standing with signs of solidarity with the people of Ferguson, offering tips on how to deal with militarized police and pepper spray; International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU) members cooperating with protestors in Oakland to prevent goods from an Israeli ship from being unloaded, as a protest against the Israeli assault against Gaza; colleges and churches organizing to divest from fossil fuels; nonviolent peacemakers facing judges and sentences; and so many other signs of hope, resistance, and transformation.  The movement for a peaceful, just, and environmentally sustainable world is growing.  It’s called “globalization from below.”

I am convinced that love will not rest, but will continue to work through us in this global movement for change.  As we cooperate with this life-giving force, we embody hope.  We bring hope into the sadness of our world.  We make the world a more hopeful place.

 

See and hear a video of Leonard Cohen’s The Faith.

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.

Courage

In light of the Israeli slaughter of civilians and destruction of infrastructure in the open-air prison of occupied Gaza, the following poem is just as relevant today as when it was written. Guari wrote “Courage” on October 9, 2001, two days after the United States started bombing Afghanistan in “Operation Enduring Freedom” following the attacks of September 11. Give-peace-a-chance081214

 Courage

What courage does it take to pound the weak

what wisdom to believe the lies that are uttered

what faith to trust the god of war and greed

what skill to follow rational preachers of vengeance

 

The crucified Christ silently indicts

the politics of power, religion, and state

actions born from approved wisdom of the world

and denial of the sacred for the host of reason

 

Truth is written by grief on the faces of those

broken by the loss of loved ones

of home

of hope

 

Take the body down from the cross

carry it against the tide, against the crush

the push of the crowd, away from the arena

the mob’s rush to blood and more blood

 

To the tomb lying open, waiting deep in the soul

in the beaten heart’s distress, in the emptiness

powerless to change what has happened

there to rise and stand again

 

Guarionex, October 9, 2001

Written during “Operation Enduring Freedom”

 

Tragically, the cycle of violence continues today, fueled by the Myth of Redemptive Violence. For more about this topic, see “The Infernal Whirlwind: Violence, Terror, and War” in Chapter 7 of Shaking the Gates of Hell.