Counter recruiting and Conscientious Objector information, news, and discussion posted by the founder of the Teen Peace Project, former chairperson of the National Network Opposing Militarization of Youth, and former member of the United for Peace & Justice national steering committee.

Friday, December 03, 2010

A Challenge from Philip Berrigan

"Christians should have refused to send their young men to war, refused to pay war taxes, and refused to work in defense industries. Christians should have led draft protestors into jail, with bishops and Head Clerks in the vanguard. Christians should have disrupted military bases nonviolently; they should have, with total respect for conscience, encouraged refusal of Vietnam service and even desertion from the military. Christians should have attempted to close down war production and to destroy war machinery as a means of protecting the lives of those who operate it. Christians should have synthesized an economics that would save their countrymen from becoming the commercial rapists of the world. In a word, Christians should have fought with the weapons of their witness to make this nation homes, to force conformity with its Declaration of Independence, its commitment tot he United Nations Charter, its rhetoric about self-determination. But because they have not, honest men deride the Church or courteously ignore it while, more dangerously still, the masters of society favor and commend it." -from A Punishment for Peace, by Philip Berrigan, S.S.J.

Substitute any religion for "Christians" or better yet, substitute "WE" instead. Change "Vietnam" to Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, or anywhere else on earth. This was written in 1969, and it is still powerful and sorely needed in our world.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ann Wright - How US Policy Fosters Insecurity in the Middle East

Ann Wright, USA (ret.) Colonel and former Foreign Service officer, will speak on “How US Policy Fosters Insecurity in the Middle East”. Her presentation will also include information about the U.S. boat to Gaza as part of an upcoming international aid flotilla. Col. Wright’s presentation will be held at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Monday, November 1.

Col. Wright, with degrees in both law and national security affairs, served 13 years in the US Army and 16 additional years in the Army Reserves. She was an officer in the Foreign Service from 1987 until 2003. Col. Wright received the State Department’s Award for Heroism for her actions during the evacuation of 2,500 people from the civil war in Sierra Leone. She was part of the first State Department team to go to Afghanistan and reopen the Embassy there in December 2001.

On March 19, 2003, the eve of the US invasion of Iraq, Ann Wright cabled a letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell, stating that she could not support the invasion without the authorization of the UN Security Council. Since then, she has been writing and speaking out for peace. She has traveled to Iran and Afghanistan as a citizen diplomat, has made three trips to Gaza, was a key organizer of the 2009 Gaza Freedom March, and was one of 14 US citizens on the Gaza Flotilla that was attacked by Israeli commandos in May 2010. Ann Wright is coauthor of Dissent, Voices of Conscience: Government Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq.

Col. Wright’s Port Townsend speech is part of her Pacific Northwest tour. The Port Townsend event is hosted by Veterans for Peace North Olympic Peninsula Chapter 139, Jefferson County BDS, Teen Peace Project, Code Pink Washington, Port Townsend Peace Movement and Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

The presentation is free; donations for the U.S. boat to Gaza are welcomed. Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is located at 2333 San Juan Avenue, Port Townsend. Doors open at 6:30; the presentation begins at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, October 31, Olympia Traditions Fair Trade 5pm

Monday, November 1, Port Townsend QUUF 7 pm

Tuesday, November 2, Seattle 7 pm Fundraiser Dinner (206) 499-1220

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Are you a sigher or a fighter?

"I tried to fathom whether human feelings were able to withstand such a vast power machine... Perhaps the only option was to forget, to not see. To listen to the official version of things, to half-listen, distractedly, and respond with nothing more than a sigh... or to turn my life into a battlefield where you don't hope to survive but merely to go down after a good fight.
-Roberto Saviano, Gomorrah

This quote begins the introduction of the book, "Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak About War & Terror", by Susan Galleymore. I met Ms. Galleymore in Seattle the other night and bought her book. This mother of an American soldier flew to Iraq to visit her son on a military base. She then traveled to war zones for the next four years, gathering stories from women (and some men) who are living under conditions I cannot imagine. Susan Galleymore's heart and eloquence was evident in Seattle, and I look forward to reading her book. But I cannot get the opening quote out of my head.

I read this as I sat in a beautiful, peaceful garden at work. Taking a break on the first warm, sunny day of the year, I eagerly opened my new book. And then this paragraph stopped my heart and set my mind racing. I began to sob for the rest of my break and had a hard time pulling myself together to go back inside.

I felt frustration over the people that can "not see" and only respond with a sigh. I recognize myself as one who wonders if I will not survive, who is willing to "fight" for peace and justice. And I wonder what makes one choose one response or the other. How can I move the one who sighs to become one who acts? This question has run through my mind for years, angering me, frustrating me, spurring me to begin the Teen Peace Project, to serve on the United for Peace & Justice national steering committee, to be a founding member of the National Network Opposing Militarization of Youth.

I do not think of my activism as a "fight". I think of it as work or a struggle. I want to be peaceful in my work toward peace, to "be the peace you wish to bring to the world".
This has been my greatest personal struggle, to set aside anger and ego as I work to end war and find justice.

I have stood in a battlefield, facing lines of riot cops, heart pounding in fear of rubber bullets and tear gas. I have been arrested eight or nine times now, once spending two and a half days in jail. I have stood quietly before a military base gate, trying to get the community to recognize the danger the base poses to our local community if there should be an unintentional explosion, and recognizing the danger the base poses to those communities deemed the "enemy" by our government, who will receive intentional explosions on a daily - if not hourly basis. Because of standing quietly at the gate, I have documents from the court that state I am a danger to the community.

I try to remain hopeful as the wars drag on for years. I somehow knew this would be a long slog before it began. During one terrible and long night in jail, as the deputies were cruel, we were not fed, a sick cell mate vomited and coughed up blood - yet she was not given medical care of a blanket, and we sat on a cement floor or cement bench in a crowded holding cell. Some of us gave an extra layer of clothing to make a bed and blanketing for the sick woman. I reminded one of the students in the cell with me that we were the ones who had the power-- we had wanted to be arrested, and we were. We were just where we wanted to be (although we wanted to be treated humanely). We set in motion the action to protest the Iraq occupation, the police were playing the role that we wanted them to play. If we have a protest without arrests, there is no media reports to remind the public that resistance to war continues, and perhaps encourage others to join the resistance. My joy in having students share my cell gave me hope for the desire of peace to blossom in another generation.

The costs to my health, the legal fees, time lost from work to attend endless court hearings, the stress of facing out-of-control police, possible months in jail, are all part of the good fight. I do hope that I can survive. At times I have been scared that I wouldn't survive, because I have asthma and tear gas and pepper spray could have dangerous consequences for me. But any inconvenience I live through is nothing compared to the lives of women in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan, as my country's bombs fall on their country. It is more likely I will live through this - and far less likely that an Iraqi or Afghan woman will live through their attacks.

The thought of having pity for myself in this peaceful garden made me ashamed. And then I cried because I wished I could be one who could just sigh. Life would be easier, worries simpler. I have never known why I struggle for peace, I only know I must. As much as I do not understand those who can sigh and turn away, I do not understand why I cannot.

I really do wonder what leads others to "sigh" or "fight" or struggle. I only know I must continue to work for peace.

Friday, October 28, 2005

2000 too Many

October 25th, we heard that the 2,000th US soldier had died in the Iraq war. While the president ignored mentioning this directly, but continues to call for more "sacrifice" and a department of defense spokesperson said it's not an important milestone- just another day another, death, the country organized 600-1,000 visuals and event to show that we care about the deaths and loss of both Americans and Iraqis.

Teen Peace students began the day at Port Townsend High School, were we were joined by supportive adults in our town. While the new PT Raging Grannies sang songs, we passed out a flyer from CodePink entitled, "Diploma or Death Certificate". We also handed out about 125 "Demilitarization Guides". There are only 400 students in the school, so we reached a lot of students. This is our second action at the high school, and this time, we did not see one of our handouts tossed on the ground when we were done. The kids really looked at the flyers, stopped to talk, and were happy with the lollipops we passed out as we called, "Don't be a sucker, eat one!"

We were at the school for 90 minutes, so we could catch students between lunch periods. We were visited by a police officer and the assistant principal near the end of our action. Both had cordial talks with us, and reminded us not to harass or block students (we didn't). We were also told that in future we would need to stand a bit further down the street. We were also told we could set up a student forum for the school to discuss military service and bring in members of Veterans for Peace.

The assistant principal also said that some of the students complained about our presence, and I asked him to remind students that this is the first time since the war began that we have done a counter recruiting action like this (our other event last year was to remind students to opt out). I pointed out that military recruiters had been on campus far more often than that.

After the high school action, we headed downtown to Haller Fountain to set up the candle light vigil for the evening. We had been printing the 2,000 pages from AFSC with an image of army boots and the name of each soldier who has died. We put them in plastic page protectors and taped them to the stair railing on the stairs above the fountain where we would hold the vigil.

I was arranging things at the bottom near the fountain, when I looked up and saw the white pages, taped to the railing, fluttering in the breeze. From the bottom of the stairs, the papers seemed to stretch on up into the sky, a sad endless stream, with no end in sight. I began to cry.
I had been handling page after page for days, but seeing them all spread out was heartbreaking. And the thing that got to people the most was, there was only space for about 500 of the sheets, we ran out of room on the stairs that rose up the hillside. On hearing this- this was only about a quarter of the soldiers, people this would usually take in a deep breath and look sadly up the stairs.

We also set up a display of one pair of army boots, surrounded by 50 pairs of "civilian" shoes, from tiny baby shoes to adults. We set out a sign that explained that estimates are that for each soldier who dies, there are 50 civilians killed.

As it got dark, 50-70 vigilers gathered around the fountain, stood in silence for a while, and then sang quietly before dispersing. Several people asked us to leave the display up, and we did.

The next day, we came back late in the afternoon to gather the display before it rained. One young boy, about 10-13 years old, angrily asked my why I was taking the boots pictures away. I explained that I wanted to take it to other cities and that we would set it up again in town. He told me that he was sad about all the soldiers who had died when he left for school in the morning, but when he saw the memorial, he was happy that someone cared about them. Many folks would start to walk up the stairs, and then stop and look at the name on a page, gently holding the paper and staring at it for a while before letting go. Then they would raise their eyes and look up and down the stairs at all the names. I think this really helped folks understand how great the loss is that our government tries to hide.
I only had one person harass me and tell me that he was tired of this national embarrassment. I told him we had found common ground, because I was tired of the national embarrassment of this war.

Thank you to all the moms who helped print so many many pages, to my son and husband who slipped them into the plastic protectors for days, to Teen Peace members who helped set out the display and create a beautiful vigil.

Most of all we respectfully grieve for the loss to the soldiers and their families.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Welcome to the Teen Peace Project blog. You'll find information about counter recruiting, conscientious objection, working for positive social change and ending the war.

12 Days of Opt Out
September 12-24, 2005

Go to

12 Days of Opt Out

1. Opting Out-
Protect student privacy- get off miltary recruiter telemarketer lists

2. ASVAB tests-
If you aren't signing up, why take this?
A test to decide what assignment the military should give you disguised as an academic test.

3. Limiting recruiter access on campus-
Until we can get them out of our schools, we can at least limit where and when recruiters prey on students.

4. Pentagon database-student privacy protection
It's illegal for the government to compile a database on citizens- so why is the Pentagon getting away with compiling a student database?

5. Reality of funds for college
Recruiters salespitches promise a lot- but do they deliver?
Includes information on other ways to get money for college and job training resources.

What are the effects of these programs on schools and college campuses? How to block new programs or end existing JROTC and ROTC programs.

7. DEP- Delayed Entry Program
If you already signed up for the DEP- you can get out-here's how.

8. No guarantees in the military enlistment agreement
Read the fine print- you could be kept in for longer than you thought-...Is this legal?

9. Signing bonuses, other promises in military enlistment agreement-
Information from the Department of Defense and Veteran's Administration on the realities of enlistment

10.Poverty Draft-Who signs up?
Poor people with no other options! Find out about career alternatives to military enlistment and how military jobs don't always translate to civilian jobs.

11. Veterans Issues-
The military may take care of their own- but they forget about the veterans... veteran hospital closures, medical care reductions, PTSD

12. Joining the Military can be hazardous to .....
Mental and Physical Health Risks from exposure to depleted uranuim weapons, toxic materials, dangerous vaccines

We were proud to attend the Fall Mobilization in Washington DC. Teen Peace helped in the counter recruiting tent and met wonderful activists from across the country who are working to demilitarize schools. Power to the peaceful!