Waging Peace


The new book, Waging Peace:  Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist by veteran peace activist David Hartsough, is part autobiography, part recent history, and part call to action.  The book shows how a commitment to active nonviolence can plant the seeds and provide the impetus for significant social transformation.

In 2012 I was arrested with David and Jan Hartsough, Shirley Osgood, and Janie Kesselman at a demonstration at Beale Air Force Base, near my home in Northern California.  We were the first of many to be arrested at anti-drone protests at Beale, home of the Global Hawk drone, a surveillance drone that helps identify targets for armed Predator and Reaper drones.  Our arrests resulted in a trial that generated significant publicity. I believe that our case and others like it at bases around the country got people discussing and questioning the morality of killing people by remote control.

Throughout the trial, David urged our lawyers to focus on the Nuremburg Principles and International Law, although the judge refused to consider these factors as a defense.  We were found “guilty” of trespassing onto base property.  Before being sentenced we each gave a statement to the court.  David’s complete sentencing statement, available here, is printed as an addendum in Waging Peace.

The judge could have sentenced us to six months in jail.  After hearing our statements, she acknowledged that we were motivated by “deeply held ethical and religious beliefs” and sentenced us to just ten hours of community service.  We continue to demonstrate at Beale on an ongoing basis.  As David says, “Sustained resistance brings transformation.”

David is Executive Director of Peaceworkers, based in San Francisco, and co-founder with Mel Duncan of the Nonviolent Peace Force.  In Waging Peace, David shares some of his many adventures in active nonviolence, as well as his strong faith and the spiritual beliefs that motivate his action, as a Quaker and as a Christian.  This book engages the reader every step of the way.

Waging Peace is a compelling autobiography that beings with the story of a life-threatening encounter David had at age twenty while sitting with a number of African American students at a “whites only” lunch counter in Arlington, Virginia.  A man held a knife to his heart and threatened to kill him.  Fortunately for David, he had already incorporated a deep inner commitment to nonviolence, and was able to respond in a way that diffused the anger of his would-be killer.

What brought David to this historic event, and how did he handle this threatening situation?  He explains all this as he tells the story of his childhood and how he came to live out the principles of nonviolence at an early age.  He describes how the seeds of peace were sown by his remarkable parents, how he came to understand what Jesus meant when he said to love your enemies, how he began early experiments with nonviolence, and how he came to dedicate himself to living a life consistent with his values.  He was strongly influenced by friends and colleagues of his father, a Congregational minister who worked for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), especially Martin Luther King, Jr.  David was organizing demonstrations against nuclear weapons by the age of fifteen.

In addition to being an autobiography, this book is a modern-day history of nonviolent social movements, written from the perspective of a committed activist. As an agent for nonviolent social change, David seems to have always been at the right place at the right time.

During the Cold War, David traveled to Russia and organized peace demonstrations there.  As the United States and Soviet Union were threatening nuclear war over the divided city of Berlin, David lived in West Berlin just a few blocks from Checkpoint Charlie.  He traveled back and forth to East Berlin, learning as much as he could and speaking out against both communist and capitalist propaganda.  Ten years later the FBI issued a warrant for his arrest and questioned him about his activities there.

He and Jan, his beloved wife and partner in nonviolent action, stopped paying “war taxes” early on.  David claimed conscientious objector status and was an outspoken critic during the Vietnam War.  He was protesting with his friend Brian Willson on the day that Brian was run over and his legs were severed by a train carrying munitions to Central America.  He writes about the trauma of that event, but also about how many people continued to block the trains.  A short time later his elderly mother and father joined him and others on the tracks.

David and Jan traveled in Central American war zones during the 1980s, when U.S. financial support to corrupt regimes and death squads made such travel and life for people who lived there extremely dangerous.  He worked in the United States with Cesar Chavez in the struggles for the rights of farm workers.  In the 1990s, David was part of a Fellowship of Reconciliation delegation for peace in Bosnia-Hertzegovnia.  He has travelled extensively in his peacemaking work, including to Iran and Palestine.  His peacemaking work continues, including through Peaceworkers and the Nonviolent Peaceforce.

For those who are aware of these various historical events, and for those who are not, this book brings them to life.  It is written not only by an observer, but from the perspective of one who is committed to the good—to compassion, justice, and peace.

In addition to being an autobiography and a first-hand history of social movements, Waging Peace is an inspiring call to action.  Every page expresses David’s hope for lasting social transformation based on his faith and his experience.  By reading about David’s adventures as a skilled practitioner of active nonviolence in key historical events of our time, the reader gains hope and confidence that significant change is possible.

Waging Peace is a “how to” book for transforming our society and the world.  It encourages us to start where we are, by learning and practicing nonviolence in all areas of our lives—in our personal relationships, in the workplace, and in social movements.  It includes a wealth of suggestions and resources for would-be activists.  This book not only gives practical direction but shows us the strong foundation built by others upon which we can stand, in solidarity with other people of faith and conscience around the world.

After describing some of the astonishing changes that nonviolent action has brought about in recent years in places around the world, David writes:

“What other spots on our earth are waiting for such stunning change?  What corner is beckoning to your heart and spirit?  Where is God leading you to invest your life on behalf of a world where all God’s children share the abundance and live as one family in peace and harmony with the earth?”

He closes the book with this statement of faith:  “Deep in my heart, I do believe, that—togetherWe Shall Overcome!”

Order signed copies of Waging Peace from Peaceworkers or order from a local bookstore.  It is also available on online outlets. 

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.  Read here for her specific blog postings about arrests at Beale and related court cases.   Find out more at Earth Justice Ministries website and the Earth Justice Ministries Facebook page.  More about Beale protests at the Occupy Beale Air Force Base website and Occupy Beale Facebook page. 

Arrested While Dancing at Beale


On Tuesday morning I was arrested again at Beale Air Force Base while dancing at the main gate.  Eight others were arrested with me, while demonstrating peace through the Dances of Universal Peace. We were cited and released.

Two other demonstrators had been arrested the day before, on Monday:  John Auer, another ordained United Methodist minister, and my husband Guari.   Guari had pushed John’s wheelchair one mile onto the base to the guard booth at the Wheatland Gate, where John delivered a letter for the base commander related to a resolution passed by the California-Nevada Annual Conference supporting “A Call to Stop Drone Killings,” a statement signed by many religious leaders around the country.  The two were arrested, cited, and released.

Both of these actions were coordinated with Campaign Nonviolence, through which over 230 nonviolent actions took place around the country at the end of September.  The focus of the Campaign Nonviolence actions was to call for an end to war, poverty, and climate change.

Why did I risk being arrested again at Beale?  I answered that question in Why I Crossed the Line at Beale,  when I crossed the line at Beale the first time, almost two years ago.

This time, however, we have just begun another war, this time against ISIS, as if bombing and killing people could somehow lead us to security and peace.  We are told that we are targeting terrorists, but we are also killing innocent civilians, including children, in Iraq and Syria.  Have we learned nothing from our endless pursuit of endless war?  Have we forgotten the roots of the current crisis, and the U.S. role in it?  We are sowing ill will and creating future terrorists by terrorizing people through war.  Meanwhile we are spending billions on weapons of destruction, billions that could be used to meet human need and to heal the natural systems of the earth.

Insanity has been described as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.  As a nation and as a culture, our priorities are wrong.  It is time to repent, to change direction, to turn around.  It is time to focus on peacemaking, on feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger, on healing the earth.  This will take a major shift in values, in investments, and in systems of power.  It will take a great awakening of the earth’s people, sustained resistance, and ongoing demonstrations of peace.

This transformation is already taking place, and I am certain that God is with us in this struggle.  This is a struggle worth living and dying for.  We need you.  Wherever you are, there are kindred spirits nearby.  I invite you to join us.


I wrote more about the Monday (September 29) action with Rev. John Auer and Guari in my previous post, Campaign Nonviolence Arrests at Beale.

 I wrote about the three interrelated evils of war, poverty, and climate change in Campaign Nonviolence:  A Call to Transformation.

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.

Campaign Nonviolence Arrests at Beale

John and Guari 1

On Monday afternoon, September 29, two anti-drone demonstrators were arrested for trespassing onto Beale Air Force Base.  My good friend, The Reverend John Auer, a retired United Methodist pastor from Fresno, offered a prayer for peace and for the earth.  Then he crossed the line onto base property, assisted by my beloved, Guarionex Delgado.  He pushed John’s wheelchair the length of the mile-long road to the Wheatland Gate.  Base personnel detained them when they reached the guard house.  I also walked with them, taking pictures, but turned back when they entered through the gate.

John stated that he was attempting to deliver a letter to Colonel Phillip A. Stewart, the Base Commander, informing him of a recent anti-drone resolution passed by United Methodists in the California-Nevada region.  (I had also signed on to the letter.)  The letter also included The World Council of Churches’ Statement on the Use of Drones and the Right to Life.  Beale is the home of the Global Hawk Drone, a surveillance drone that helps find targets for armed drones.

This action was one of over 250 nonviolent actions carried out in coordination with Campaign Nonviolence, calling for an end to war, poverty, and climate change. John and Guari stated concerns for the children, for humankind, and for the earth as reasons for walking onto base property.  John carried a sign with a picture of the earth that said, “No War, No Warming,” a reference to the relationship between war and climate change.  They both wore light blue scarves that represent solidarity with others around the world who are suffering the effects of war and who are working for peace.

John spoke of his reasons for taking this action:  “I believe in the recuperative powers of the earth and of the people.  We can’t stop trying.  We can’t stop making an offering of our lives and of our hope.

“I oppose drone warfare because the more we depersonalize war the easier it is for us to fight, and to act as if it is not costing us anything.  When we mechanize war it makes others expendable.  Everyone becomes collateral damage.”

“I am committed to a better world for our children and grandchildren, and I mean all our children and grandchildren.  They will ask us one day what we did in this time.  I want to be able to say that we offered some kind of resistance and some kind of hope.”

Guari said, “I am opposed to all forms of violence.  Climate change is violence against the earth.  Poverty is violence against the people.  War is violence against both people and the earth.”

“When I was younger and uninformed, I served the Empire.  Now that I’m older and clearer, I serve my brothers and sisters who are working for peace and healing.  In this case I had the strength to accompany a brother in the struggle.”

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.


Resolution: A Call to Stop Drone Killings


IMG_6062This resolution was passed without debate on the consent calendar at the 2014 California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, held in Burlingame, California, in June 2014.

Be it resolved: That the California-Nevada Annual Conference affirms the 2012 General Conference Resolution 6128, Seeking Peace in Afghanistan, which includes a call for: “an immediate end to drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have escalated exponentially since 2008…”

Be it further resolved:  That the California-Nevada Annual Conference endorses the document “A Call from the Faith-Based Community to Stop Drone Killings;’

“As representatives of faith-based communities, we are deeply concerned about the proliferation of lethal unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. The United States is leading the way in this new form of warfare where pilots in US bases kill people, by remote control, thousands of miles away. Drones have become the preferred weapons to conduct war due to the lack of direct risk to the lives of U.S. soldiers, but these drone strikes have led to the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in countries where we are not at war, including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

“Some aspects that we find particularly disturbing include:

  • The President and his aides draw up a Kill List in which they play the role of prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. People on this secret Kill List have never been charged, tried or convicted in a court of law, and are given no opportunity to surrender;
  • The labeling of all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, thus justifying their murder, is an extreme and macabre form of profiling;
  • Drone strikes kill not only their intended targets, but innocent people, including children, violating the sanctity of human life;
  • Drone strikes violate other nations’ sovereignty (Pakistan’s elected leaders, for example, have repeatedly called for an end to the strikes);
  • Drones in the hands the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command keep the program veiled in secrecy. The lack of transparency and accountability violate the basic tenets of a democratic society;
  • Drones make killing more abstract, impersonal, antiseptic, convenient and “easy”;
  • The Administration insists that because drones do not risk American lives, Congress need not be consulted, leading to a dangerous abuse of executive power;
  • Drone strikes have replaced Guantanamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants. They fuel anti-American sentiment, radicalize local populations and perpetuate an endless cycle of violence.
  • The example being set by the United States that a nation can go anywhere it wants and kill anyone it wants on the basis of secret information is leading to a world of chaos and lawlessness.

“The world’s great religions teach us to cherish human life. This impersonal, risk-free killing of people on the other side of the globe runs counter to religious belief and the teachings of our traditions.

“We urge our government to put an end to this secretive, remote-controlled killing and instead promote foreign policies that are consistent with the values of a democratic and humane society. We call on the United Nations to regulate the international use of lethal drones in a fashion that promotes a just and peaceful world community, based on the rule of law, with full dignity and freedom for every human being.”

Be it further resolved: That the Conference Secretary will send letters to President Barak Obama, and U.S. Senators and Representatives of California and Nevada, informing them of this action and urging them to work to end drone strikes and to develop peace-building alternatives;

Be it further resolved:  That members of California-Nevada Annual Conference will inform their congregations of this action and help raise awareness among church members about the immorality of drone killings and the need to work for peace.

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.