Nonviolent Direct Action and Christian Peacemaking

Sharon arrested with Debi in the 1980s at the Nevada Test Site at a  Good Friday service

Sharon arrested with Debi in the 1980s at the Nevada Test Site at a Good Friday service

This Youtube video, “The Role of Nonviolent Direct Action in Christian Peacemaking,” is from my recent presentation at Parkside Church in Sacramento.   It includes stories about what has shaped my peacemaking journey over the years.  It also includes stories about Jesus and his participation in nonviolent direct action, which inspired both Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. in their organized nonviolence campaigns.

I hope this video inspires some readers to come to the main gate of Beale Air Force Base at 6:30 a.m. on the morning of March 5 to participate in the Ash Wednesday Service of Repentance that will be held there.  The service will be led by clergy from several denominations.  It will involve a call to faithfulness and action, songs, prayers, scripture, and Holy Communion.  We will use ashes to symbolize repentance and to acknowledge our mortality and interrelatedness with the whole web of life.

All people of conscience, including people from various spiritual traditions, are welcome to join this action, and to bring whatever signs or symbols they find meaningful.  To find out more about the Ash Wednesday events go to the Earth Justice Ministries FaceBook page   or contact us at ashwednesdayaction@earth-justice.org.  You can “join” the action on the Ash Wednesday FaceBook Event.

I am posting this video about nonviolent direct action and Christian peacemaking because the Service of Repentance at Beale is taking place on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a Christian holy day.  Here are a few excerpts:

Nonviolent direct action is the culmination of Christian peacemaking.  Jesus engaged in nonviolent direct action every time he ignored the purity codes of his day, every time he healed on the Sabbath.  It culminated in the direct action at the Temple, when he overturned the tables of  the moneychangers there.  Jesus really was a subversive.  He really was a threat to the domination system of his day. That’s why the authorities put him to death.    

Christian peacemaking takes conscience, it takes courage, and it takes commitment to follow Jesus into the heart of the struggle for a better world.  Jesus called that better world of peace, justice, compassion, and healing “the kingdom of God.”

Wheatland 4 Found “Guilty” in Beale Action

Wheatland 4 plus Barry Binks (of the original Wheatland 5)

Barry, Toby, Martha, Robin, and Bill (the original Wheatland 5)

On Monday, February 3, I attended the support rally and federal trial of the “Wheatland 4.”  The four anti-drone activists, Toby Blome’, Robin Ryan, Martha Huber, and Bill Daub, had been  arrested last April, 2013, during a nonviolent protest for crossing the demarcation line at the Wheatland Gate onto Beale Air Force Base.  The judge found them “guilty,” sentenced them to 10 hours of community service, and issued “ban and bar” letters to prevent them from crossing onto base property in the future.  Veteran Barry Binks also attended the trial.  He had been arrested with the four, but was subsequently released.

This was the second trial of Beale anti-drone protestors.  (I was one of the defendants during the first trial.)  A third group will be arraigned next Tuesday, and protests at Beale continue.

At the trial, it was interesting to hear the prosecutor question a Beale officer about the unique importance of Beale in the structure and role of the US military.  The officer said (paraphrased):  “Beale has a unique role in the overall mission of the US military, and has for over 60 years, because both U2s and Global Hawk Drones (housed at Beale) participate in surveillance that supports military activities around the world.”  In other words, in addition to finding targets for drones, Beale has an integral surveillance role in varied U.S. military missions around the world.

We cannot know for sure, but I believe that these kind of ongoing anti-drone actions at Beale may be contributing to the growing public opposition to U.S. drone warfare, and perhaps even to decreasing drone attacks.  I do know that sustained resistance is an effective means of bringing about social change.  That’s what we are trying to do with our ongoing actions–to plant seeds of peace that will ultimately bloom in a culture of peace.

To find out about the monthly anti-drone vigils at Beale, go to Occupy Beale AFB.   At the demonstration on February 24-25, Colonel Ann Wright, a dedicated peace activist, will join us.   On Ash Wednesday, March 5,  there will be a “Service of Repentance” at Beale’s Main Gate.  

Go to the Occupy Beale FaceBook Page to keep abreast of actions and issues related to Beale.  Go to Sharon Delgado’s blog to read more of her writings about drones, anti-drone actions, and trials and statements of protestors.