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.