“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” Dwight Eisenhower
Roll Call – Ryan Hall reads the list of people on the call.
John addresses the growth of the Week of Action
605 events, marches, and actions planned for the Week of Action. On track for 1000 events covering the whole country. Asking people to speak out against war, poverty, racism, and environmental destruction.
Ken Butigan offers his updates
Living in a world of systemic violence and injustice. Have been organizing for four years now, bringing people together from single issues to collaborate towards a nonviolent world. Last year we had 758 events that served as a warm-up for the nonviolent actions that blossomed in response to the new administration. On track for a record year of actions.
John Introduces Cindy Sheehan
Cindy’s son died in the Iraq war and she built a camp outside of George W. Bush’s home. She has run for congress, written a book, and been a long time peace activist since then. You can see more of Cindy’s work at http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com/ John invites Cindy to share her thoughts about the predicament of the violent world we are currently in.
Honored to be on this call with so many people who have been dedicated to creating a nonviolent world for so long. Glad to hear so many people have been organizing throughout Obama’s presidency — it has been difficult to organize people against war since Obama became president with fewer volunteers. In 2013 she rode her bike from California to Washington, D.C. over three months and stopped in many communities to see what people were doing for nonviolence. For the past eight years, Cindy and her colleagues were lamenting the lack of energy for demonstrating against war. Things did happen (Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Sacramento, which she was involved in) with righteous demands, but none of these movements included the demand to end the war and end the U.S. military empire.
Even when Sanders was running for president, he focused on many things that would be great for Americans, but didn’t mention ending the wars and the military industrial complex to fund these benefits. The United States is being sucked dry by the military industrial complex — children, the environment, infrastructure, our families, and people around the world are all suffering from these wars and military actions. Every person on this planet has the same right to live as we do.
Cindy hoped that having a Republican president would bring more energy back to anti-war efforts, but it hasn’t. Since 2007 when the Democrats took control of Congress, it became clear that the anti-war organizations were actually just pro-democrat. Politics have been getting in the way of ending the wars. Liberals are now opposing Trump’s policies but not opposing the wars for empire because that would mean they would also have to criticize the democrats.
Finding out that John McCain has brain cancer has made many people, including liberals, whitewash his record of opposing social justice, supporting wars of empire, and killing innocent people in Vietnam during the war. Only when he voted against Obamacare did people remember his history.
Our biggest priority as activists in the United States is to stop the slaughtering of innocent people around the world. The only way we can do that is to remind people that it is happening and to give the issue a human face. Remind people that our dedication to the military industrial complex comes at a huge price.
Cindy didn’t connect with people in general on this planet until after her son died. Only then did it become clear how important it was to protect the people who need it the most — her grandchildren and all the children who don’t choose to participate in this violence.
Questions for Cindy:
John asks Cindy to reflect on Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. Looking back on the vigil, what are some lessons she can share?
Cindy says she was just happening to go to Dallas after she heard Bush say all the troops had died for a noble cause. She was inspired to drive to Bush’s home to ask what the noble cause was. This spontaneous choice brought many people with her.
One lesson is that not everybody who wants to connect has the same goals and desires. This led her to become suspicious of people who want to affiliate with her.
The biggest lesson she learned is that the Democratic party is not the party of peace. Nancy Pelosi said directly to Cindy that if she helped the Democrats regain power, they would help her end the wars. To the contrary, both parties seemed equally committed to wars of empire.
On the bright side, the vigil brought many people together to heal. Miraculous things seemed to happen that showed Cindy and all the people who were acting with her that they were doing what they needed to be doing.
Ryan asks Cindy to speak to the importance of public action while people are stuck in this two party system.
Cindy says public action is the only thing we really can do. She has had hundreds of people approach her to tell her how much of an impact she has had on their lives just by sharing her message so publicly.
For example, while she was in Venice giving a speech, a high school student from Texas came to Cindy to tell her that every single boy in her graduating class was going to join the national guard until they saw Cindy protest. After seeing her demonstrate, all 26 boys decided not to join the military. This served as a stark example of the very real and practical impact these speeches can have on real people.
Angela Parker from California admires Cindy for addressing the military industrial complex, asks Cindy how to find balance while we are so divided and polarized.
Cindy acknowledges herself as a polarizing figure. Notes that the working classes have more in common than we think. One effective approach is when communities focus on common ground in practical ways. Discovering that the military industrial complex hurts us all, whether we’ve suffered personal loss as a result of war or not, is imperative.
Wendy Geiger in Florida notes that Cindy’s son, through his death, gave Cindy and the world an incredible gift in making it clear how precious life is and how we need to act in order to defend it for everyone.
Ken Butigan asks Cindy to share some of her moments when she decided to act to help the rest of us decide to act as well.
Cindy notes that we are often told indirectly that one person can not make much of a difference, but it’s not true. Even Martin Luther King, Jr. and other key figures never went to activist training, just decided to address an injustice they witnessed. For Cindy, it was the moment that she heard George W. Bush say that 12 marines died for a noble cause that she realized she had a voice, and it was her responsibility to ask the president what cause could justify her son’s death. Circumstances worked out where she had a financial cushion from her son’s life insurance policy, her other children were self sufficient, and the simple necessity of taking action caused her to move.
Joyce Hall in Texas notes that in order to continue the military industrial complex to thrive, we have to have an enemy. The liberal media has pinpointed Russia as our current enemy. How do we approach people who are so fearful of Russia and determined to demonize Russia as our enemy?
Cindy thinks this is incredibly dangerous. On social media, Cindy asks people who are posting about Russia to provide proof for a lot of their claims. Also simply asks them, is this something you’re willing to go to nuclear war over? Combat the propaganda.
Wally in Hawaii notes that we are all concerned about protecting our children and grandchildren, but how can we engage them in the concerns of peace for our country and planet?
Cindy says that we want to keep our children children for as long as possible. Shares that her youngest grandson, only 9 years old, is already very concerned about the environment and Black Lives Matter. It’s a balance between allowing them to be children and encouraging them to be caring, compassionate humans.
John offers closing remarks.
The next call will be TUESDAY AUGUST 29, 2017 and it will all be focused on CNV Action reports, open to sharing and questions about how to make a successful week of actions.
Campaign Nonviolence National Convergence Covenant of Nonviolence for Sept. 21-22, 2018, Washington, D.C. This covenant of nonviolence is based on the guidelines of nonviolence which Dr. King used in the Birmingham, AL Campaign, in the Spring of 1963. We encourage everyone to reflect … read more
In between book tour stops for his new book They Will Inherit the Earth: Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of Climate Change, John Dear stopped by the office of The Progressive for an interview with Norman Stockwell. Over the course … read more
Have you wondered what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” or “Blessed are the meek?” Have you ever asked yourself if these Beatitudes are merely spiritual ideals or teachings that can ground and center your … read more