What a Black Armband Means, Forty Years Later
By Mary Beth Tinker — 2009 — first published on DailyKos.com
(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)
Just before Christmas in 1965, a group of students in Des Moines, Iowa wore black armbands to school to mourn the dead in Vietnam. I was 13 and in eighth grade. The nightly TV news, with scenes of flaming huts, screaming children, and soldiers in body bags had gotten to me. Along with a small group of high school students, including my brother John and our friend, Chris Eckhardt, and even my little brother and sister Paul and Hope, who were in elementary school, I decided to wear an armband that Christmas. Our message was peace.
We had no idea that our small action would lead us to the Supreme Court, or that the ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District 40 years ago today would become a landmark for students’ rights. But that is how history is made.
“We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing‐oriented” society to a “person‐oriented” society.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
David Hartsough, Executive Director of Peaceworkers, author of Waging Peace, and long-time nonviolent activist joins Nonviolence Radio to talk about the Poor People’s Campaign, some gray areas of nonviolence, and the power of people who are ready to take action to transform our society through the means of justice and love. Plus, our segment of Nonviolence in the News and an analysis of the Direct Action Everywhere action in Petaluma, CA.
click here to listen…
What a mighty contribution Gene Sharp has made to humankind’s understanding of nonviolent struggle and the power of nonviolent action.
Through Gene’s work and writing people around the world have learned about the power and effectiveness of nonviolent struggle and have put that understanding into action and built powerful campaigns and movements to create positive change in their societies including building people power movements to overthrow many dictators and governments which were not listening to their people. We and all future generations are grateful for Gene’s life and all he has contributed. With deep appreciation for a LIFE WELL LIVED!!! Gene Sharp, PRESENTE!!
A couple memories of our work together.
Gene and I were in Moscow at the invitation of the Living Ring after the August attempted coup d’etat against Gorbachev in 1991. Boris Yeltsin and the others opposing the coup were hiding out in the Parliament building, while 10,000 people (the Living Ring) surrounded it for three days and nights nonviolently facing the tanks and soldiers who had order to attack. The Living Ring wanted training in how to nonviolently defeat future attempted coups against the government. Gene gave talks and we led workshops on nonviolent means to defeat further coup d’etats. It was a real privilege to work with Gene who selflessly shared the power of nonviolent struggle with people, groups and movements who wanted to use peaceful methods to challenge oppression and injustice.
By Curt Torrell, Quaker House, Fayetteville, North Carolina — December 2014 – www.quakerhouse.org
Despite the fact that our nation is war weary after thirteen years of post-9/11 wars, we are embroiled in yet another war, this time on the so-called Islamic State (IS). And despite the fact that our bombs produced neither peace nor stability in Iraq and Afghanistan, but rather unleashed a firestorm of tribal and sectarian violence and a flood of arms circulating in that region, we are being led into doing it all over again. Our homeland was not pillaged or bombed, nor did we lose hundreds of thousands of our citizens to the ensuing violence, hunger, and lack of water and healthcare that inevitably follows warfare. Large segments of our population were not forced into refugee camps. Even so, Americans are beginning to understand that thirteen years of war have cost us dearly. But those most addicted to war, and those who profit from it, refuse to recognize the effects of their addiction upon others. Continue reading
Book Review by Ken Butigan — November 12, 2014 (from https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/ordinary-extraordinary-life/) Years ago, my friend Anne Symens-Bucher would regularly punctuate our organizing meetings with a wistful cry, “I just want to live an ordinary life!” Anne ate, drank and slept activism over the decade she headed up the Nevada Desert Experience, a long-term campaign to end nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site. After a grueling conference call, a mountainous fundraising mailing, or days spent at the edge of the sprawling test site in 100-degree weather, she and I would take a deep breath and wonder aloud how we could live the ordinary, nonviolent life without running ourselves into the ground. What we didn’t mean was: “How do we hold on to our radical ideals but also retreat into a middle-class cocoon?” No, it was something like: “How can we stay the course but not give up doing all the ordinary things that everyone else usually does in this one-and-only life?” Somewhere in this question was the desire to not let who we are — in our plain old, down-to-earth ordinariness — get swallowed up by the blurring glare of the 24/7 activist fast lane. These ruminations came back to me as I plunged into the pages of David Hartsough’s new memoir, “Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist.” David has been a friend for 30 years, and over that time I’ve rarely seen him pass up a chance to jump into the latest fray with both feet — something he’d been doing long before we met, as his book attests. For nearly six decades he’s been organizing for nonviolent change — with virtually every campaign, eventually getting tangled up with one risky nonviolent action after another. Therefore one might be tempted to surmise that David is yet another frantic activist on the perennial edge of burnout. Just reading his book, with its relentless kaleidoscope of civil resistance on many continents, can be dizzying — what must it have been like to live it? If anyone would qualify for not living the ordinary life, it would seem to be David Hartsough. Continue reading
Annual Peace Lecture/Waging Peace Book talk
given by David Hartsough in Salem, OR, on Oct 15, 2014.
Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist Available now.
Authors: David Hartsough with Joyce Hollyday • Foreword by John Dear • Introduction by George Lakey • Afterword by Ken Butigan Publisher: PM Press — ISBN: 978-1-62963-034-2 Paperback — $20.00
Signed copies available now from Peaceworkers (postage included) for a sliding-scale price of $20 to $25. Peaceworkers, 721 Shrader St., San Francisco, CA 94117
Free Chapters in PDF format:CHAPTER 2: One Common Humanity: Meeting Dr. King and a Lunch Counter Showdown CHAPTER 7: Blockade: Standing in the Way of Bombs Headed for Nam CHAPTER 10: Assault on the Tracks: Facing Violence with Love and Courage Waging Peace is a testament to the difference one person can make. Hartsough’s stories inspire, educate, and encourage readers to find ways to work for a more just and peaceful world. Inspired by the examples of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Hartsough has spent his life experimenting with the power of active nonviolence. It is the story of one man’s effort to live as though we were all brothers and sisters. Continue reading
Thought you might be interested in my recent radio interview on KPFK about my trip to Vietnam, the World Beyond War movement and my book, Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist.
A U D I O P L A Y E R
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“Don’t you touch me!” declared Mi Ryang.
South Korean police were clamping down on a villager who was resisting the construction of a Korean/U.S. naval base at her village. Mi Ryang managed to turn the police away by taking off her blouse and, clad in her bra, walking toward them with her clear warning. Hands off! Mi Ryang is fondly referred to as “Gangjeong’s daughter” by villagers who highly regard her as the feisty descendant of legendary women sea divers. Her mother and grandmother were Haenyo divers who supported their families every day by diving for shellfish.
Since 2007, every day without fail, Mi Ryang has stood up to militarists destroying her land.
Mi Ryang, in white cap on the right, challenging a construction truck driver at the naval base gate
Talk by Randy Kehler at the Nipponzan Myohoji Peace Pagoda, 27th Anniversary Celebration, Leverett, Massachusetts, September 29, 2012 (PDF version)INTRODUCTION Greetings, friends. It’s wonderful, as always, to be here with all of you, and an honor to have been invited to share some thoughts with you. The title of my talk (“Personal Reflections on the State of the World”) was meant to be general enough to give me plenty of leeway to talk about almost anything, because, frankly, when I was asked what the title would be, I hadn’t yet had much time to think about what I wanted to say. At this point, having given it more thought, I think I would at least amend the title by adding this subtitle: “Randy’s Ongoing Meditation on Fear.” I think you’ll see what I mean. FIVE CRISES But let me start with the state of the world and a brief recap of what appear to me to be 5 of the most serious, most threatening, most daunting crises we face – crises that many of us here have devoted significant portions of our lives attempting to address – and few, if any, with more faithfulness, perseverance, and equanimity than the monks and nuns of Nipponzan Myohoji. First, the crisis of nuclear power. This is from The Economist, of March 10, 2012 (one year after Fukushima): “The triple meltdown at Fukushima was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. The damage extends far beyond a lost power station, a stricken operator (the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO), and an intense debate about the future of the nation’s nuclear power plants. It goes beyond the trillions of yen that will be needed for a decade-long effort to decommission the reactors and remove their wrecked cores, if indeed that proves possible, and the even greater sums that may be required for decontamination (which one [Tokyo University expert] thinks could cost as much as 50 trillion yen, or $623 billion). It reaches into the lives of the displaced, and of those further afield who know they have been exposed to the fallout from the disaster….For parallels that do justice to the disaster, the Japanese find themselves reaching back to the second world war, otherwise seldom discussed….And, of course, to Hiroshima.” There are roughly [400-?] operating operating nuclear power plants in the world today. 104 of them are in the U.S., most of them old and approaching, or already having exceeded, their 40-year design life. Many of them, including the Vermont Yankee nuke, on the Conn. River 20 miles north of here and the Pilgrim nuke in Plymouth, 40 miles south of Boston, have been given permission by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate for an additional 20 years, and at 120% of the power output they were designed to produce. 23 of the U.S. reactors, including both Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim, are of almost the identical make and flawed design (courtesy of General Electric) as the nukes still melting down in Fukushima. Continue reading
A U D I O P L A Y E R
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Israeli soldier aimingAt around 11 AM, approximately 20 Palestinians and farmers gathered around 300 meters back from the fence. Two military jeeps returned to the area. One soldier exited his vehicle and fired four shots in the direction of the farmers and activists. The fourth shot crossed the line of the activists and landed in the field being ploughed. Again, the Palestinians and internationals were not deterred. The Israeli jeeps left and the farmers finished working on this section of land and moved on to an adjacent plot. Read more
Dalu home in Gaza obliteratedOn November 18, 2012, the Dalu family, huddled at home, waited for the war that surrounded them to end. Like everyone else in Gaza, they had nowhere to run. At 2:30PM, without warning, an Israeli missile flattened the entire building, killing all ten occupants and two from the building adjacent. Not only was the building destroyed, but the bomb carved out a deep crater where the home had been. It took four days of searching through the rubble for rescuers to find the bodies of the ten family members and two neighbors. Palestinian citizens are all theoretically eligible for a Palestinian passport. However, Israel determines whether the applicant will receive the passport. Because of this, thousands of civilians have been denied the right to exit the prison most of them were born into and will likely die in, the prison of Gaza. The Dalu family did not have the option to flee to Israel or Egypt for safety as the borders were only open intermittently during this most recent conflict, and passage was restricted to medical emergencies and humanitarian supplies. read more
from the Positive Peace Warrior Network (PPWN) web site , November 2012
Mirrored from www.mettacenter.org — July, 2012
I want to make an offer to my fellow Americans who are, like myself, reeling from the worst “random” shooting the country has ever seen. My question: Have you had enough? Because if you have, I can tell you how to stop this kind of madness. I know that’s a bold claim, but this is not a time for small measures.
We cannot fix this tomorrow, because we didn’t cause it yesterday. We have been building up to this domestic holocaust since – to take one milestone – television was made available to the general public at the conclusion of World War Two.
If you are still with me, you are prepared to believe that it was not a coincidence that this massacre took place at the scene of an extremely violent, “long-awaited” movie. Psychologists have proved over and over again that – guess what – exposure to violent imagery produces disturbances in the mind that must, in course of time, take form in outward behavior. The imagery can be in anymedium, nor does it matter whether on the surface of our minds we think what we’re seeing is real or made up. This is a natural, scientific law. Exactly who will crack next and in what setting is nearly impossible to predict, and in any case it’s ridiculous to try to run around stopping the resulting violence from being acted out after the mental damage has been done. The only sane approach is not to do it in the first place.
As Lt. Col. Dave Grossman pointed out in his book, Let’s Stop Killing Our Kids, the video games that the Army uses to prepare ordinary men and women for combat, in other words to wipe out the normal empathy and inhibitions against hurting others that we’ve built up over millennia – a process known as civilization – are the very same games our young people buy across the counter throughout the country.
Of course, there are other factors. At some point we will have to talk about readily available weapons; at some point we’ll have to realize that a nation that engages in heartless drone warfare, torture, and extrajudicial killings cannot expect to live in peace. But until we liberate our minds from the endless pounding of violent imagery I fear we won’t be able to think clearly about those factors (or for that matter anything else).
With rare exceptions, film and video game producers will not stop turning out these dehumanizing products as long as there is profit to be made from them – and not enough sophistication about culture or the human mind to warn us about their dangers. But there is a way, one that has worked well on the small scales on which it has so far been tried: don’t watch them. Captain Boycott had the right approach.
Right now police have been posted at theaters where this same movie is being shown – still. But ask yourself, what are they protecting? Is it perhaps the belief that violence is just entertaining? People, tell me when you’ve had enough.
If you are moved by this article, please pass it along. If you are a member of the press and would like to interview the Metta Center for our perspective on this tragedy, you can contact us at 707.774.6299 or by email: email@example.com.
December 15, 2011, 9:41 am — Mirrored from wagingnonviolence.org
“Building a Rainbow” is the title of an old poster I picked up somewhere along the way. The rainbow’s swath of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet layers is dazzling—and only half finished. In the picture, this symbol of peace is not an idealistic dream but something real. It is under construction, with a troupe of cranes carefully maneuvering sections into place, countless trucks and overworked paint wagons, scaffolding everywhere, and a flotilla of helicopters lumbering across the sky, each with its own precarious splotch of color dangling below.
We live in a violent world. But we also live in a world where a growing number of people everywhere are determined to confound the assumption that there is nothing we can do about this. They gamble that violence need not have the final word. They wager that there are options. They assert that we needn’t be victims of a cycle of violent history; rather, we can dare to be active subjects of a more nonviolent history that engages and transforms the violence around us. For them, violent history isn’t a given, it is made. So, too, is a nonviolent one.
By Tom Atlee — November 24, 2011
Something remarkable has been going on out there – especially at UC Davis. I have a hard time figuring out how to articulate it. I haven’t yet seen anyone talk about quite what I’m seeing, so I’ll give it a try.
Here’s what it looks like to me: Nonviolent activism is evolving rapidly right before our eyes. The level of spot-on – and often spontaneous – nonviolent creativity that’s showing up exceeds what I’ve seen before, to an extent that I wonder if a fundamentally new and more powerful form of nonviolent action is emerging.
by Nathan Schneider | November 13, 2011, 4:19 pm
I’ve noted before that Occupy Wall Street has had trouble coming to consensus on a statement of nonviolence (as opposed to, say, the October 2011 movement in DC, which publicized one at the outset). This was an issue both in the planning process and in the early days of the occupation. In my essay on the notion of “diversity of tactics” for Occupy Wall Street, I wrote:
Since the early stages of the movement, it is true, those taking part have been in a deadlock on the question of making a commitment to nonviolence. At a planning meeting in Tompkins Square Park prior to September 17, I recall one young man in dark sunglasses saying, knowingly, “There is a danger of fetishizing nonviolence to the point that it becomes a dogma.” In response, a woman added a “point of information,” despite being in contradiction to what Gandhi or King might say: “Nonviolence just means not initiating violence.” The question of nonviolence was ultimately tabled that night and thereafter. “This discussion is a complete waste of time,” someone concluded.
by David Hartsough — November 7, 2011
The Occupation in Freedom Plaza in Washington DC (two blocks from the White House) and the occupations around the country and the world give me more hope than anything which I have experienced since the civil rights and anti-war movements in the 1960’s.
Hundreds of thousands or millions of people from all walks of life and all ages, races and religious backgrounds– and especially young people- are waking up and saying with their bodies “We aren’t going to take it any more. We will not put up with a society where the government does not represent the people, but too often represents the corporations and the wealthy. We will not put up with a government which gives unlimited hundreds of billions of dollars to fight foreign wars, create more nuclear weapons and build military bases around the world while making drastic cuts across the board to programs for education and health and welfare of the American people.
by Paul K. Chappell
October 31, 2011
Mirrored from Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
I graduated from West Point in 2002, served in the army for seven years, and was deployed to Baghdad in 2006. I left active duty in 2009 as a captain, and I am currently serving as the Peace Leadership Director for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, where I work to empower people with the skills and ideals that allow us to effectively wage peace.
If we compare how much the average twenty-two-year-old army officer knows about waging war and how much the average twenty-two-year-old activist knows about waging peace, there is a big difference. Although I admire their deep commitment to waging peace, many activists have not had enough training in the nonviolent methods that lead to positive change. Many activists have not thoroughly studied the brilliant techniques of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, and other peace warriors.
The OccupyWallStreet movement continues to spread with more than 1,500 sites. More and more people are speaking up for a society that works for the 99 percent, not just the 1 percent.
Here are 10 recommendations from the YES! Magazine staff for ways to build the power and momentum of this movement. Only two of them involve sleeping outside:
By Starhawk OCT 20, 2011
“We are the 99 percent!” The chant thunders through the streets, from Wall Street in New York City, where the Occupy movement began, to K Street in Washington, where high-paid lobbyists influence government, to streets in cities and small towns all across the nation. In hundreds of Occupations, ordinary people have been moved to fill parks and streets and squares with signs, tents, impromptu soup kitchens, intense conversations and lengthy meetings.
What’s going on? Pundits splutter about the movement’s lack of ‘demands’ and coherent messaging, but sound bites and 10-point programs arise from central committees and top-down hierarchies. The Occupy movement demonstrates a very different model of organizing: emergent, decentralized, without a command and control structure.
WHAT IF activists around the world who want to be more effective could turn to a database of actual campaigns, to get ideas for creative nonviolent strategies and tactics?
WHAT IF scholars and writers who are researching alternatives to violence could turn to a global database with hundreds of cases where people used nonviolent action to struggle for human rights, eco-justice, democracy?
Rather than being victims of history, David Hartsough believes we should make it – he's raising a ‘peace force’ to do just that
By Kate Rope — Bangkok Post — 2002
George W. Bush is dividing the world and waging war. Osama Bin Laden is skillfully eluding capture and giving hope to the thousands he has trained to kill. Betwixt the two, hot spots in Israel and the occupied territories are descending into ever more gruesome violence, other countries are being forced to choose which side of the “war” they support, and nobody is talking about peace.
Except, perhaps, David Hartsough, who is quietly building an army in the midst of the fury. A veteran of the civil rights struggle in the US and a peace activist who's been on the front lines of some of the most destructive clashes of the last half century, Hartsough is travelling the globe to rally a force that will march into the danger zones of the world armed with only a commitment to peace. Born from the work left unfinished by Mahatma Gandhi some 70 years ago, it's a hard-sell in times like these, but Hartsough is an experienced and persuasive salesman.
Posted on Feb 28, 2011 — By Chris Hedges
I have watched mothers and fathers keening in grief over the frail corpses of their children in hospitals in Gaza and rural villages in El Salvador, Bosnia and Kosovo. The faces of these dead children, their bodies ripped apart by iron fragments or bullets tumbling end over end through their small, delicate frames, appear to me almost daily like faint and sadly familiar ghosts. The frailty and innocence of my own children make these images difficult to bear.
A child a day dies in war-related violence in Afghanistan. Children die in roadside explosions. They die in airstrikes. They die after militants lure them to carry suicide bombs, usually without their knowledge. They die in firefights. They are executed by the Taliban after being accused, sometimes correctly, of spying for the Afghan National Army. They are tiny pawns in a futile and endless war. They are robbed of their childhood. They live in fear and surrounded by the terror of indiscriminate violence. The United Nations, whose most recent report on children in Afghanistan covered a two-year period from Sept. 1, 2008, to Aug. 30, 2010, estimates that in the first half of last year at least 176 children were killed and 389 more wounded. But the real number is probably much, much higher. There are big parts of the country where research can no longer be carried out. Full Article
Another step toward mainstreaming nonviolence
by Ken Butigan | February 12, 2011, 11:47 am
The movement that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s thirty year autocratic rule not only has created a spectacular breakthrough for Egyptian democracy, it has bequeathed a priceless gift to the rest of us in every part of the planet.
For eighteen days the Egyptian people carried out an unarmed revolution with determination, creativity, and a daring willingness to risk. They marched, they improvised, they prayed, they connected with one another. Most of all, they stayed put—and invited the nation to join them.
Faced with a corrupt and dictatorial police state, such a movement might have been tempted to wage armed struggle. Instead, they reached for, experimented with, and remained largely steadfast about another way: nonviolent people power.
Come celebrate the Power of Nonviolence!
January 8, 2011
A special tribute to David Hartsough and Peaceworkers
Honorary Co-chairs: Medea Benjamin and Martin Sheen*
Where: First Universalist Unitarian Church
Starr King and Martin Luther King Rooms
1187 Franklin Street at Geary
San Francisco, CA 94109
- Includes dinner buffet. Event proceeds will support the future publication of David's life stories – 50 years of promoting nonviolence.
- Sponsored by the Hartsough Duncan Founders Circle.
- All contributions are tax deductible.
*We are delighted to have Martin Sheen join Medea Benjamin as honorary co-chair. Though Martin is currently out of the country, and cannot guarantee his presence, he'll certainly be with us in spirt.
By David Hartsough — in Iran — November 10, 2010
Another FOR Civilian Diplomacy Delegation left the United States for Iran, on November 5th. Today, Monday, November 8th, the delegation of 11 U.S. peacemakers visited the Peace Museum of Tehran. The following reflection from John Schuchardt shares highlights of their experience at the museum.