Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bioweapons and the disease of war

I was disturbed and intrigued by this article, which reveals once again America's tendency to turn plowshares into swords. A cure for cancer that could potentially become a weapon of war? Sounds all too American to me. We Americans need to recognize that our addiction to war is a disease, far worse than cancer, with potentially lethal consequences for the entire world. 

Biological Weapons: 'There are things worse than death': can a cancer cure lead to brutal bioweapons?
According to John Sotos, the chief medical officer of Intel, the same technology that might someday allow us to defeat illness for good also poses the prospect of tailored diseases attacking individuals, families or even whole races and rewriting their genomes on the fly. Sotos made his remarks at the DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas, a place where hackers gather to share tips and tricks for how to break into almost anything with a circuit board. But during a weekend when attacks were demonstrated against wind farms, voting machines and almost every major smartphone in one fell swoop, Sotos’ nightmare scenario still stood out as plausible and terrifying. The Intel executive, best known for his work over six years as a consultant on the TV show House, argued that the eventual success of Joe Biden’s “cancer moonshot”, a US government-funded programme that’s aimed at finding vaccine-based treatments for cancer, would necessarily open up the potential for bioweapons of unimaginable destructive potential. (The Guardian).

This is the theme of my novel "Relics of America," which is now available in a Kindle edition.


Science fiction novel set in 2061. War has been abolished, but this new age of peace and prosperity has come at a terrible cost. In the year 2020, a genetically engineered super-virus, created in an American laboratory, wiped out nearly half of the world's population. American scientists tried to cure this plague, but failed. Humanity was saved only through a miracle drug created by an Egyptian scientist named Dr Hathout who demanded that nations disband their armies before he would share his remedy. Most countries disarmed and received Houtout's cure. Only America stubbornly refused. As a result, its population was decimated by plague. Threatened with extinction, the last Americans were finally given the cure and allowed to live, with their antiquated weapons, in what used to be called New England. The dream of a peaceful world is endangered when Mubarak is abducted by terrorists. A band of intrepid Americans risk everything to restore democracy and freedom.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074B53FR7/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Awakening to the Prophetic Call of Quakerism at Pacific Yearly Meeting

David Hartsough and A
With the election of Trump and the corporate take-over of our federal government by the most dangerous elements in our country, if not the world, the need for Quaker prophetic witness has never been greater. That's why I was thrilled to see signs of an awakening of the prophetic spirit in Pacific Yearly Meeting. It is becoming more and more clear to me that Spirit is bubbling up from the grass roots, a spring of living water, but this reawakening is still not yet evident in our epistle or in our public statements as a body. That's one reason
George Fox the Visionary Prophet
I have decided to write this blog to testify to what I witnessed. I also want to let Friends know that I am eager to travel among you to see how this emerging Spirit is at work, and to nurture those who are called to prophetic witness. 
During our annual session, there were excellent interest groups sponsored by Peace and Social Order. I attended all but one of them. Joelly Mejia spoke about her experiences as a member of the FCNL Advocacy team, and quoted from the Bible to explain the spiritual basis of her work (she was raised Catholic, in the Dominican Republic, had a spiritual awakening, and now considers herself a Christian). Janet Gastil, who has held public office much of her adult life, gave a workshop urging Friends to become involved in electoral politics. Shannon Frediani gave a workshop on countering Islamophobia, using material developed by the AFSC. David Breitzman and Linea Hanson gave a workshop on Quaker service and are eager to reach out to Friends seeking to end homelessness and poverty.
There were also testimonies of prophetic witness in the reports of our Quaker peace and justice organizations like the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Friends Committee on Legislation of California (FCLCA), and the American Friends Service Committee (FCNL). All of these groups gave reports and workshops, helping us to understand better how we can heed Spirit's call to make a difference in the world. 
I was surprised and pleased by the enthusiastic response of Friends when I spoke about the "prophetic awakening" of George Fox, the founder of our Quaker movement. Even though my session was late on Sunday night, not exactly prime time, around 35 Friends showed up and a lively discussion ensued. It is clear from Fox's Journal that he saw himself not as a mystic, but as someone who lived in the same Spirit that inspired the "prophets and apostles."  I felt the presence of that Spirit as I shared about how Fox challenged the conventional ideas of his time and advocated for a radical new society based on equality and justice for all. Fox was not a quietist or a reformer; he was a radical activist who helped to launch a movement that has transformed society in many significant ways, though not as profoundly as early Friends would have wished. Afterwards, several Friends invited me to come to their meeting to give a presentation and others suggested that I facilitate a weekend workshop at Ben Lomond Quaker center. 
When the time came for me to present a report  as clerk of the Peace and Social Order Committee, instead of reading from the report, I asked Friends to stand up if they had ever attended a demonstration, written or visited an elected officials, refused to pay war taxes, been
arrested in a demonstration, etc. I was surprised and deeply moved to see that several dozen Friends had been arrested or refused to pay taxes, and virtually all had done something for peace and justice. Even more encouraging was the response when I asked, "If you intend to do something a little extra for peace and justice this year, please stand up." When everyone in the tent stood up, I was moved almost to tears.
I also had the privilege of co-facilitating a workshop with David Hartsough on "How to Wage Peace in the Age of Trump." We offered some of our ideas (see http://laquaker.blogspot.com/2017/07/waging-peace-in-trump-era-what-are-some.html
During our session Friends broke up in small groups and shared their ideas, which were written up for the entire Yearly Meeting to ponder. (See below.) I was thrilled to see that many Friends are waking up to the need to be more active in our social witness. 
 During our times of worship several Friends gave messages that were prophetic and heart-felt. Eric Moon, a longtime AFSC staff person and former clerk of PYM, spoke movingly about his decision not to pay war taxes, and several Friends spoke to me later saying that they would like to follow his example. 
I was led to give a message in which I said that one of the characteristics of a prophet was a feeling of inadequacy. 
This message was based on my own experience of being humbled by the Spirit. During this Yearly Meeting session, I became keenly aware of my own failings. It has grieved me deeply that there have been no minutes of concern brought to Yearly Meeting for the past two years, and no agreed upon procedures on how to present them.  In my zeal over this issue I have hurt some Friends and am very sorry. I tried my best to reconcile and make amends by meeting with those whom I have offended. I am deeply grateful to Shayne Lightener, who served as my spiritual Friend and elder and helped me to see myself and others more clearly, and facilitated a reconciliation process.
Many prophets offended others in their zeal and were keenly aware of their inadequacy. The prophet Isaiah said he was a "man of unclean lips, who lived among a people of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:5). He testifies that the process of being "cleansed" can be very painful, like having hot coals placed on one's tongue!
 A true prophet is humble. During meeting for worship I shared that I had asked David Hartsough if he would be interested in being the keynote speaker at PYM. His life has testified to his profound faith and courage: he has been arrested countless times and risked his life on several occasion in the cause of peace and justice. No one from our Yearly Meeting, or in the entire Society of Friends, has done more for peace and justice than this Friend, yet he replied modestly, "I'm not a very good speaker, I'm more of a doer."
I told Friends that David's response reminded me of Moses, who was one of the greatest prophets in the Bible. When Moses fled Egypt and went into hiding among the Hebrews in Midian, God called him out of a burning bush and told him to go back to Egypt and confront the Pharaoh and speak truth to power. Moses' response was a lot like David's: "I'm not a very good speaker."
God responded, in effect: "No worries. I'll give you words to speak."

[Actually, what the Bible says is more eloquent: The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind?Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” --Exodus 4]

Joelly Mejia, a young woman who became part of the FCNL advocacy team, quoted these words when she gave a presentation on Sunday night. Led by the Spirit to apply for a position with FCNL, Joelly was given the words she needed to be an effective advocate for immigrant rights. 
My message to Friends who want to make a difference is simply this: No matter how inadequate we may feel, God will give us the words we need to say if we put our confidence in the One who calls us from the depths of our souls. My prayer is that we will do our best to be faithful to that inward call.
David Hartsough was favored with the following message which makes clear how much Friends need to speak out loudly and clearly against the injustices of our time, just as early Friends and prophets did during their time. I'd like to close with what he shared. The question he ends with is worth pondering: What are we led to do?


Friends, 
Crimes against humanity are being committed by our government in our name and with our tax dollars:
We are bombing people in seven primarily Muslim countries.
We are killing tens of thousands of people in the middle east (most of them civilians) and creating millions of refugees who have had to flee their homes because of the American led and funded wars and we do not allow them to come to our country.
We are spending one trillion dollars a year on wars and preparations for wars while cutting funds for almost everything else including schools, health care, food stamps, housing for low income people, social security and medicare, diplomacy, etc.
We are spending one trillion dollars for modernizing our nuclear weapons and the missiles which carry them.
We are threatening nuclear war with Russia with our troops, tanks, bombers, naval ships and missiles on Russia’s borders. A full scale nuclear war could kill hundreds of millions of God’s children and end life on our planet as we know it
We live in the American empire which is organized to bring resources from the rest of the world to the US to feed our addiction to consumerism allowing the American people - about four and a half percent of the world’s people - to continue consuming seven times our share of the world’s resources while hundreds of millions of people are hungry
When a frog is placed in cold water and the temperature of the water is gradually increased til it boils, the frog boils to death. Like the frog, we have become numbed and accustomed to all this madness being committed by our government in our name and with our tax dollars.
This is a crime against humanity! What is needed is a RADICAL Transformation of our society and relation to the rest of the world.
We cannot remain silent. We must speak out and act to stop this madness..
This is certainly NOT the way God would have us live. What are we led to do to help stop this insanity and help move our world from greed, war and empire to a peaceful, just and humane world for ALL of God’s children?help move our world from greed, war and empire to a peaceful, just and humane world for ALL of God’s children?



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Celebrating Bill Cook, the high school teacher who encouraged my literary life

Bill Cook was my teacher and mentor in high school, and one of the most important influences on my life. I should add that I have been fortunate and blessed to have experienced some amazing teachers, including the poet Anne Sexton and the eighteenth century scholar Paul Fussell, but none were better teachers or more important than Bill Cook. 
When I arrived at Princeton High School with hopes of becoming a poet, aspiring to be anotheer Ezra Pound or T.S. Eliot, he  gave me all the encouragement and support I needed. On many afternoons I would hang out after school with him, sometimes till 4:00 or even 5:00 pm, and have intense conversations about my favorite readings from Ovid to Kafka,  and he was also willing to listen and give me feedback. Cook's readings were as eclectic as mine, and his mind just a as curious and quirky. 
He was a brilliant teacher, with a great sense of humor.  He was also  master of the art of "put on." Once he was teaching "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" in an honors class, and argued with a straight face that Prufrock was an heroic figure. Finally, one of the student (I wish it had been me) raised his hand and said, "He seems like a loser to me. " Cook smiled a toothy grin and we realized he was putting us on. After that, we never accepted anything that Bill said uncritically.
Bill also give me glimpses into what it's like to be a black man in a white world. He used to moonlight as a bartender in New Hope and one of his customs was a member of the White Citizen's Council. Bill pretended to be an Uncle Tom and listened to everything this man said and just smiled and said, "Yes, sir." Later he'd tell us what this bigot said and helped us to see the white world from a black perspective. 
I also remember when he gave a speech at a gathering of teachers--this was when I myself had become a teacher--and his talk was so funny and provocative that many of us gave him a standing ovation. I noticed that others did not seem amused or pleased. Maybe it was the part about quoting his mother who said of someone: "He was so bad he busted the bottom out of hell."
The obit doesn't mention that Bill was gay. I didn't realize this until my senior year and a faculty wife told me, "Bill Cook is as gay as pink ink." I couldn't believe it at first. There was nothing stereotypically gay about Bill, unlike my French teacher, Carmen Precioso (yes, that was his real name!). But whether Bill or gay or not didn't make any difference to me. These two teachers were by far the best I had in high school. Flamboyant and funny, Carmen spoke only French in the classes I took with him. He was passionate about French literature, and we read Camus, Racine, Voltaire and other classic French writers--for which I am deeply grateful.  Bill introduced me to the full range of English and American literature. What a gift these two gay men were in my life! They are probably the reason I have never felt uncomfortable about gay people. After all, where would I be today without them?
I am glad that I was able to get in touch with Bill just before he died (thanks to our mutual friend Peter Bien of Dartmouth College). In a series of emails I let him know how much he meant to me and he reciprocated with kind words of appreciation. In this age when teachers, especially public school teachers, are disrespected, I am glad that I honored a man who transformed countless lives with his love of learning Reading Bill's obit, listing his remarkable achievements as a teacher actor and writer, I realize that I was indeed fortunate and blessed to have a man of Bill Cook's calibre as my teacher and friend. He went from being the chair of English department at Princeton High to the chair of English and Black Studies at Dartmouth, and was one of the most outstanding educators of his generation. He had a far-ranging, agile mind that could make insightful and often unexpected connections between ancient Greek playwrights and contemporary black poets, between Catullus and Charlie Parker. He made literature and drama seem way to cool to be confined to a class room.
Rest in peace, dear friend! I will cherish you in my heart as long as I have breath and can recite Prufrock by heart. 

William W. Cook, 83, of Hanover, NH (formerly of Trenton), died on Monday, May 15, 2017 at the Genesis Center in Lebanon, NH. Born and educated in Trenton, Prof. Cook was a stellar student in the Trenton Public School System. He was the Valedictorian of his graduating class at Trenton State College, where he majored in English. Prof. Cook went on to teach English and Drama in the public school systems of Trenton and Princeton, NJ. He was the Israel Evans Professor of Oratory and Belles Lettres Emeritus at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, where he had served as chair of the Departments of English and African American Studies. Prof. Cook also served on several key governing councils and committees at the college, including the Committee Advisory to the President. He served as President, National Chair, and a founding leader of the National Council of Teachers of English, the Conference on College Communication and Composition, and the National Black Theater Conference, respectively. He also led the first years of the Mississippi Delta Teaching Project. In addition to earning a reputation for being one of the most effective educators of his generation, Prof. Cook was also an accomplished poet, author, and production director. His work touched on African American and ancient Greek and Roman poetry and also explored the intersections of music and poetry. Bill was widely known for talents as an illustrator and artist. He had a satiric eye and a clever pen. Son of the late Rev. Cleve Cook, Sr. and Frances Cook, Bill is survived by many nieces and nephews in and around Trenton, including his beloved sister Louise’s son, Leonard Watkins (and wife, Vera). Funeral services will be held on Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 10:00 am at Union Baptist Church, 301 Pennington Ave., Trenton, NJ. Interment will be in Greenwood Cemetery. Calling hours will be held from 9 to 10 am at the church. Arrangements are under the direction of Campbell Funeral Chapel, Trenton.
Published in The Trentonian on May 18, 2017

Waging Peace in the Trump Era: What are some of the Spirit-led and most effective ways to respond to Trump's militarism and jingoism?

Waging Peace in the Trump Era: What are some of the Spirit-led and most effective ways to respond to Trump's militarism and jingoism?

Workshop with David Hartsough and Anthony Manousos


3:15-4:45 pm: Monday, July 24, at the Plenary Tent of Pacifc Yearly Meeting, Walker Creek Ranch


Agenda

·         Worship (5 mins)
·         Intro (10 mins)
·         David (15 mins)
·         Anthony (15 mins)
·         Brainstorming in small groups (15)
·         What are we called to do? (20 mins)
·         How can our peace and justice work be more effective? (10 minutes)

ü Responding to the Nuclear Threat and Ongoing Wars


Washington – January 24, 2017.  Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) introduced H.R. 669 and S. 200, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. This legislation would prohibit the President from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress. The crucial issue of nuclear “first use” is more urgent than ever now that President Donald Trump has the power to launch a nuclear war at a moment’s notice.

Upon introduction of this legislation, Mr. Lieu issued the following statement:
“It is a frightening reality that the U.S. now has a Commander-in-Chief who has demonstrated ignorance of the nuclear triad, stated his desire to be ‘unpredictable’ with nuclear weapons, and as President-elect was making sweeping statements about U.S. nuclear policy over Twitter. Congress must act to preserve global stability by restricting the circumstances under which the U.S. would be the first nation to use a nuclear weapon. Our Founders created a system of checks and balances, and it is essential for that standard to be applied to the potentially civilization-ending threat of nuclear war. I am proud to introduce the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 with Sen. Markey to realign our nation’s nuclear weapons launch policy with the Constitution and work towards a safer world.”
Upon introduction of this legislation, Senator Markey issued the following statement:
“Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival. Yet, President Trump has suggested that he would consider launching nuclear attacks against terrorists. Unfortunately, by maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, U.S. policy provides him with that power. In a crisis with another nuclear-armed country, this policy drastically increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation. Neither President Trump, nor any other president, should be allowed to use nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack. By restricting the first use of nuclear weapons, this legislation enshrines that simple principle into law. I thank Rep. Lieu for his partnership on this common-sense bill during this critical time in our nation’s history.”
ü Support UN Treaty Calling for Nuclear Disarmament
A Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty – Rx for Survival
by Robert F. Dodge, M.D.

Nuclear weapons have threatened humanity for 72 years, ultimately becoming the greatest eminent threat to our survival. This past Friday, July 7, nuclear weapons at long last joined the ranks of other weapons of mass destruction including biologic and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions in being banned and declared illegal under international treaty law.
The U.N. adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Under Article 6 of the Treaty, states are prohibited from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, transferring, deploying, stationing, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, under any circumstances. It also makes it illegal to assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a state party under this treaty, extending the prohibitions to non-state actors as well.  
While nuclear weapons still exist, any nation that violates the above conditions will now be in breach of international and humanitarian law and should be considered a pariah state and ultimately on the wrong side of history.  As with other weapons of mass destruction, the weapons are usually banned and then subsequently eliminated.
This historic effort establishes a new norm and when in force will be the law of all lands. This Treaty has been years in the making and comes from the convergence of the failure of the nuclear weapons states to meet their legally binding obligation for 47 years, under article 6 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to work in good faith to eliminate nuclear weapons and recent scientific evidence demonstrating humanitarian consequences far worse than previously imagined of even a small limited regional nuclear war. Such a scenario would put much of humanity at risk from the associated climate change and nuclear famine that would follow, lasting decades into the future. 
The humanitarian case has taken this treaty process forward from meetings in Oslo, Mexico, Vienna and to the United Nations, whose member nation-states gave majority approval last December for the treaty to be negotiated this year. The process has been driven forward by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) working with civil society.  Representatives of 129 non-nuclear nations including the International Red Cross and the Holy See have worked together and made clear through this treaty that they will no longer be held hostage or bullied by the nuclear nations.
While there is not one fewer nuclear weapon on the planet, this treaty focuses the world’s attention on the nuclear powers and the international institutions that make the existence of these weapons possible. It highlights the humanitarian costs to victims, particularly indigenous peoples, women and girls, the hibakusha as well as the catastrophic effects on the environment that have long been the silent victims of the testing, development and use of these weapons.
The treaty adopted by an overwhelming majority of 122 in favor and 1 against, the Netherlands, and 1 abstention Singapore, establishes a new international norm and does not specifically establish enforcement mechanisms, which are otherwise left to the court of public opinion and adherence to international norms.  This does not differ from other international treaties banning weapons of mass destruction such as chemical weapons, biological weapons, and land mines.
This treaty process has been boycotted by the nuclear weapons states. In particular, protestations of the United States and Russia--who together possess approximately 93 percent of the 15,000 weapons in today’s global arsenals and who have effectively bullied the other nuclear nations with their rhetorical double speak.  Voicing their support for a world without nuclear weapons, they professed the need to be ‘realistic’ due to the dangers of these weapons and the need for a strong deterrence, thus precluding their ability to participate in this treaty process.
They have remained oblivious and hostage themselves to this mythological deterrence argument that has been the principal driver of the arms race since its inception, including the current new arms race initiated by the United States with a proposal to spend $1 trillion in the next three decades to rebuild and expand our nuclear arsenals. Under these deterrence theories, each nation must maintain a superiority or generational advantage over its adversaries, thus fueling the ever accelerating and growing arms race to oblivion.
The adopted Treaty bans nuclear weapons and establishes a framework to mount an effective legal, political, economic, and social challenge to the concept, policies, and practices of nuclear “deterrence” and to the existence of nuclear weapons themselves in order to eliminate them and all related programs. The Treaty will be open for signature to all States of the United Nations on September 19 at the U.N. The Treaty shall enter into force 90 days after the 50th State has ratified, signed or accepted it.
This Treaty represents the resolve of the negotiating states and civil society and puts us on a path to a nuclear weapon-free world. In the future when the United States and other nuclear states are asked, what did we do when our planet was threatened, what will be our response?  What will we say when it is recognized that we were on the wrong side of history and our very survival was threatened?

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War,Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions
ü Speak out and take action against the escalation of wars in the Middle East and elsewhere
The U.S. State of War - July 2017
by Nicolas J S Davies

The US bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria is now the heaviest since the bombing of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the 1960s-70s, with 84,000 bombs and missiles dropped between 2014 and the end of May 2017  That is nearly triple the 29,200 bombs and missiles dropped on Iraq in the “Shock and Awe” campaign of 2003. 
The Obama administration escalated the bombing campaign last October, as the U.S.-Iraqi assault on Mosul began, dropping 12,290 bombs and missiles between October and the end of January when President Obama left office.  The Trump administration has further escalated the campaign, dropping another 14,965 bombs and missiles since February 1st.  May saw the heaviest bombing yet, with 4,374 bombs and missiles dropped. 
The U.K.-based Airwars.org monitoring group has compiled reports of between 12,000 and 18,000 civilians killed by nearly three years of U.S.-led bombing in Iraq and Syria.  These reports can only be the tip of the iceberg, and the true number of civilians killed could well be more than 100,000, based on typical ratios between reported deaths and actual deaths in previous war-zones. 
As the U.S. and its allies closed in on Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, and as U.S. forces now occupy eight military bases in Syria, Islamic State and its allies have struck back in Manchester and London; occupied Marawi, a city of 200,000 in the Philippines; and exploded a huge truck bomb inside the fortifications of the “Green Zone” in Kabul, Afghanistan.  
What began in 2001 as a misdirected use of military force to punish a group of formerly U.S.-backed jihadis in Afghanistan for the crimes of September 11th has escalated into a global asymmetric war.  Every country destroyed or destabilized by U.S. military action is now a breeding ground for terrorism.  It would be foolish to believe that this cannot get much, much worse, as long as both sides continue to justify their own escalations of violence as responses to the violence of their enemies, instead of trying to deescalate the now global violence and chaos. 
There are once again 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan, up from 8,500 in April, with reports that four thousand more may be deployed soon.  Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been killed in 15 years of war, but the Taliban now control more of the country than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2001.  
The US is giving vital support to the Saudi-led war in Yemen, supporting a blockade of Yemeni ports and providing intelligence and in-air refueling to the Saudi and allied warplanes that have been bombing Yemen since 2015.  UN reports of 10,000 civilians killed are surely only a fraction of the true numbers killed, and thousands more have died from disease and hunger.  
Now Yemen is facing a humanitarian crisis and a raging cholera epidemic due to lack of clean water or medicine caused by the bombing and the blockade. The UN is warning that millions of Yemenis could die of famine and disease.  A Senate bill to restrict some U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia was defeated by 53 votes (48 Republicans and 5 Democrats) to 47 in June.
Closer to home, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) recently hosted a conference with the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in Miami.  This signaled a further militarization of the U.S. war on drugs in Central America and efforts to limit immigration from those countries, even as a report by State and Justice Department inspector generals held State Department and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents responsible for the killing of four innocent civilians (one man, two women and a 14-year-old boy) by machine-gun fire from a State Department helicopter near Ahuas in Honduras in 2012.  
The inspector generals’ report found that DEA officials repeatedly lied to Congress about this incident, pretending the Hondurans were killed in a shoot-out with drug traffickers, raising serious doubts about accountability for escalating U.S. paramilitary operations in Central America.
Right wing opposition protests in Venezuela have turned more violent, with 99 people killed since April, as the protests have failed to mobilize enough popular support to topple the leftist government of Nicolas Maduro.  The U.S. supports the opposition and has led diplomatic efforts to force the government to resign, so there is a danger that this could escalate into a US-backed civil war.  
Meanwhile in Colombia, right wing death squads are once again operating in areas where the FARC has disarmed, killing and threatening people to drive them off land coveted by wealthy landowners. 
Looming over our increasingly war-torn world are renewed U.S. threats of military action against North Korea and Iran, both of which have more robust defenses than any that U.S. forces have encountered since the American War in Vietnam.  Rising tensions with Russia and China risk even greater, even existential dangers, as symbolized by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Doomsday Clock, whose hands now stand at 2-1/2 minutes to midnight.   
Although our post-9/11 wars have probably killed at least 2 million people in the countries we have attacked, occupied or destabilized, U.S. forces have suffered historically low numbers of casualties in these operations.  There is a real danger that this has given U.S. political and military leaders, and to some extent the American public, a false sense of the scale of U.S. casualties and other serious consequences we should look forward to as our leaders escalate our current wars, issue new threats against Iran and North Korea, and stoke rising tensions with Russia and China. 
This is the state of war in the United States in July 2017.

Nicolas J S Davies, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of IraqThis article is adapted from remarks delivered at a “Close Guantanamo” march from the Trump National Doral Miami resort to U.S. Southern Command Headquarters on June 25th 2017 to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Actions:

Northern California

March for Nuclear Abolition & Global Survival
No Nukes! No Walls! No Wars! No Warming!
Wed., August 9, 2017 at 8am Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab, Corner of Vasco & Patterson Pass Rds.


PROGRAM 8 AM –
Daniel Ellsberg (pictured) renowned whistleblower, former Pentagon war planner, disarmament advocate;
Emma’s Revolution acclaimed singer-songwriting duo of Pat Humphries and Sandy O;
Christine Hong, North Korea expert, UC Santa Cruz;
Marylia Kelley, nuclear weapons watchdog, Executive Director at Tri-Valley CAREs;
Barbara Rose Johnson, advisor to the Marshall Islands radiation claims tribunal, senior research fellow, Santa Cruz;
Jan Kirsch, M.D., M.P.H., medical oncologist, global warming specialist at SF Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility; Hibakusha speaker invited.
9:15 AM - March begins. Bring enlarged photos of people, animals or nature for which you care deeply; drummers, singers, guitarists, traditional Japanese bon dance & symbolic die-in at the Lab’s West Gate; followed by an opportunity to peaceably risk arrest in the gates

Southern California


Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace and Physicians for Social Responsibility are planning events in August around the issue of nuclear disarmament. For more details, contact Anthony Manousos at interfaithquaker@aol.com

Speaking Truth to Power: What Early Quakers Can Teach Us About Confronting Leaders

Speaking Truth to Power

Fox spent most of his life speaking out publicly in market places and churches where he was often accused of “disturbing the peace” or worse, being a heretic or subversive. Over and over again he was savagely beaten, arrested, and/or driven out of town for these efforts. Faced with jail time, he wrote numerous letters to judges, chastising them for not following the law, or for failing to behave as followers of Christ.
These activities were similar to those of activists today, like George Lakey, David Hartsough, or the Berrigan brothers. Civil disobedience, direct action, and being arrested for one’s convictions are essential to prophetic ministry. They demonstrate commitment and moral authority. I remember once being asked by a nurse who was giving me a flu shot, “What do you do?” “I’m a peace activist,” I replied. “Ever been arrested?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied. “A few times.” “Cool,” she said as she put a band-aide on my arm, “I guess you’re for real.”
Early Friends were definitely for real by this criterion. By 1680, 10,000 Quakers had been imprisoned in England, and 243 had died as a result. Margaret Fell spent ten years in prison. Since the population of England was one tenth what it was today, the number of Friends jailed is mind-boggling: equivalent to 100,000 people.
. Despite being cruelly treated, Quakers responded nonviolently, much like the Civil Rights workers in the South during the 1960s. The following story about Fox’s response to an attack is reminiscent of what happened to Quaker activist David Hartsough when he sat in with blacks at a lunch counter in Virginia and was threatened at knife point by a bigoted young white man.

One time when I was at Pall-Mall there came an ambassador with a company of Irishmen and rude fellows. The meeting was over before they came, and I was gone into a chamber, where I heard one of them say that he would kill all the Quakers. I went down to him, and was moved in the power of the Lord to speak to him. I told him, "The law said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth'; but thou threateneth to kill all the Quakers, though they have done [373] thee no hurt. But," said I, "here is gospel for thee: here is my hair, here is my cheek, and here is my shoulder," turning it to him.
This so overcame him that he and his companions stood as men amazed, and said that if that was our principle, and if we were as we said, they never saw the like in their lives. I told them that what I was in words, I also was in my life. Then the ambassador, who stood without, came in; for he said that this Irish colonel was a desperate man that he durst not come in with him for fear he should do us some mischief. But Truth came over the Irish colonel, and he carried himself lovingly towards us; as also did the ambassador; for the Lord's power was over them all.
Queries:

·         Have you ever been arrested committing civil disobedience? Describe your experience and what you learned.
·         Have you ever been in a dangerous situation and responded nonviolently? Describe how you responded and what, if anything, prepared you to respond as you did.

Fox and early Quakers faced many dangers and had to learn many nonviolent skills. They adopted methods that were not confrontational. They sometimes used “relational power” to influence leaders. As the founder of a mass movement, George Fox had access to leaders like Oliver Cromwell, the “Lord Protector” of the Commonwealth. Fox’s wife, Margaret Fell, was the widow of a prominent judge, and had the social status to be able to meet with King Charles II and other royalty to try to convince them to do the right thing. Their use of relational power is similar to what Quaker lobbyists do today.

Fox’s Meeting with Oliver Cromwell (1653)

I was moved of the Lord to write a paper to the Protector, Oliver Cromwell; wherein I did, in the presence of the Lord God, declare that I denied the wearing or drawing of a carnal sword, or any other outward weapon, against him or any man; and that I was sent of God to stand a witness against all violence, and against the works of darkness; and to turn people from darkness to light; and to bring them from the causes of war and fighting, to the peaceable gospel. When I had written what the Lord had given me to write, I set my name to it, and gave it to Captain Drury to hand to Oliver Cromwell, which he did.
After some time Captain Drury brought me before the Protector himself at Whitehall.[75] It was in a [213] morning, before he was dressed, and one Harvey, who had come a little among Friends, but was disobedient, waited upon him. When I came in I was moved to say, "Peace be in this house"; and I exhorted him to keep in the fear of God, that he might receive wisdom from Him, that by it he might be directed, and order all things under his hand to God's glory.
I spoke much to him of Truth, and much discourse I had with him about religion; wherein he carried himself very moderately. But he said we quarrelled with priests, whom he called ministers. I told him I did not quarrel with them, but that they quarrelled with me and my friends. "But," said I, "if we own the prophets, Christ, and the apostles, we cannot hold up such teachers, prophets, and shepherds, as the prophets, Christ, and the apostles declared against; but we must declare against them by the same power and Spirit."
Then I showed him that the prophets, Christ, and the apostles declared freely, and against them that did not declare freely; such as preached for filthy lucre, and divined for money, and preached for hire, and were covetous and greedy, that could never have enough; and that they that have the same spirit that Christ, and the prophets, and the apostles had, could not but declare against all such now, as they did then. As I spoke, he several times said, it was very good, and it was truth. I told him that all Christendom (so called) had the Scriptures, but they wanted the power and Spirit that those had who gave forth the Scriptures; and that was the reason they were not in fellowship with the Son, nor with the Father, nor with the Scriptures, nor one with another.
Many more words I had with him; but people coming in, I drew a little back. As I was turning, he caught me by the hand, and with tears in his eyes said, "Come again to my house; for if thou and I were but an hour of a day together, we should be [215] nearer one to the other"; adding that he wished me no more ill than he did to his own soul. I told him if he did he wronged his own soul; and admonished him to hearken to God's voice, that he might stand in his counsel, and obey it; and if he did so, that would keep him from hardness of heart; but if he did not hear God's voice, his heart would be hardened. He said it was true.

Margaret Fell’s Meeting with the King (1662)

The restoration of King Charles II posed a huge risk for Quakers. They were seen as subversive and dangerous and were threatened with even more severe persecution than they experienced under Cromwell. It was imperative for Quakers to make the King realize they did not pose a threat, like some violent dissenters. Margaret Fell felt led to pay a visit on the King and other members of the royal family to reassure them that Quakers were a peaceable people. Note that she went not knowing exactly what she was supposed to do. She was “moved of the Lord” and open to whatever God required of her. This passage was written at the time of the so-called “Quaker Act” that required Quakers to swear loyalty to the King. Because they refused to swear oaths, they were seen as disloyal, persecuted and jailed.

 "I stayed at home about nine months, and then was moved of the Lord to go to London again, not knowing what might be the matter or business that I should go for. At Warrington, I discovers an act Parliament had made against the Quakers for refusing oaths. And when I came to London, I heard the King had gone to meet the Queen, and to be married to her at Hampton Court. At this time Friends' meetings at London were much troubled with soldiers, pulling Friends out of their meetings, and beating them with their muskets and swords; so that several were wounded and bruised by them; and many were cast into prison, through which many lost their lives. All this was done to a peaceable people, only for worshipping God, as they were persuaded in their consciences. Then I saw the King and the Duke of York at Hampton Court, and I wrote several letters to them, and therein gave them to understand what desperate and dangerous work there was in London; and how that soldiers had come in with lighted matches and had drawn swords among Friends, when they were meeting in the fear and dread of the Lord to worship Him; and if they would not stop that cruel persecution, it was very likely that more innocent blood would be shed, and that would witness against their actions, and lie upon them, and the nation. Within some certain days after, they beat some Friends so cruelly at the Bull and Mouth (meeting) that two died of the beatings. The King told me that his soldiers did not trouble us, nor should they, and said the city soldiers were not his, and they would do as they pleased with them; and after a little time they were more moderate, and the King promised me that he would set those at liberty that were in prison; and when he brought his Queen to London, he did set them at liberty. And then I came home again, having stayed about four months in and about London."

Public statements: Petition to the Commonwealth (1659)
And The Peace Testimony (1660)

In addition to face-to-face meetings with leaders, Fox and early Friends also issued public statements and petitions. Some addressed specific concerns, like the 59 Particulars; others were more general, like the Peace Testimony. All had a political purpose, that is, they were intended to influence policy.
In his introduction, Larry Ingle explains that this petition didn’t make much of an impact on Parliament, which was on the verge of dissolving at this time. Fox went into a deep depression and the petition was lost to history, until it was recently rediscovered and reprinted by the Quaker Universalist Fellowship. Quakers in the 18th and 19th century tended to downplay the radical politics of early Friends, just as they tried to ignore the miraculous cures that Fox reportedly performed. Ingle writes of this document: “Reading Fox's list of particulars, one can readily understand why Quakers were regarded as dangerous radicals by those committed to establishing order and keeping the lower classes in check. At least in 1659, when there seemed a real chance for fundamental change, Fox was willing to free the lower orders so the promise of the revolution might be achieved. The pamphlet thus exemplified the farthest reach of the radical Quaker tide, propelled by Fox himself.”

TO THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMON-WEALTH OF England. Fifty nine Particulars laid down for the Regulating things, and the taking away of Oppressing Laws, and Oppressors, and to ease the Oppressed. By George Fox LONDON, 1659.

29. Let all those Abbie-lands, Glebe-lands [the land belonging to a parish church, or an ecclessiastical benefice], that are given to the Priests, be given to the poor of the Nation, and let all the great houses, Abbies, Steeple-houses, and White-Hall be for Alms-houses (or some other use than what they are) for all the blind and lame to be there, and not to go begging up and down the streets.
30. And let all that worship God, worship him in spirit & in truth & not tyed up to will-worships. Let all those Schools & Colledges down, who makes Ministers by the will of man, so that all may come to wait upon God and Christ Jesus, whereby they are made Ministers by his will that redeems people out of the earth, and let not the mouth be stopped which the Lord opens.
31. Let all those crosses upon seals be pulled off, and off the silver, and the gold, and weights, and off the Steeple-houses, and chimnies, and Ships, and signs, and Mayses, and arms, and scucheons, and flags, and Ensignes, and standards. It is the Pope's Crosse; let it be rooted out of the Nation, and the Pope and his authority.
32. Let all those Fines that belong to Lords of Mannors, be given to the poor people, for Lords have enough. Now the people of the World that come into our meetings, spit on us, throw stones at us, set and throw dogs at us, speak all matter of evil upon us, and all manner of slander. Them that be great Professors and great talkers and pluckers down practice this, yet if our friend go into the Steeple-house, and ask but a question, they will hale him out, and cast him in prison, or if he speak never a word, they will cast him in prison, and if he do not go, they will cast him in prison for asking a question.
33. Let all the poor people, blinde and lame, and creeples be provided for in the Nation, that there may not be a beggar in England nor England's Dominions, that you may say you come to be equal with the Jewes, that had the law that made provision for widows, strangers and fatherless. He that turns his ears from hearing the poor, turns his ears from the Law, which says to provide for them, for ye have read the practice of the Church, the Saints which were in the Gospel, which doth condemn this Nation's practice. Where is so many Beggars among them, both the Jews in the Law, and the Church in the Gospel? And so let all great gifts given to great men, be given to the poor. Let the receiver deny it, and the giver return it to the poor; for the rich may give to the rich, but the poor cannot give it him again, so minde Christ's Doctrine.
34. Let all those Easter-reckonings, Midsommer-dues, be taken and thrown aside, and let no one's goods be spoiled, who for conscience sake cannot give the Priest these things, and let all the Burying the dead for money, and Marrying for money, and Christening for money, and Churching of women for money, let all these things be swept away, and let the Nation be a free Nation, and what anyone doth, let them do freely. Let these twenty shilling Sermons, and ten shilling Sermons, and ten groats the grave for the Priest be laid aside, and then see whose mouth the Lord will open, for money choaks, and gifts blindes.

Queries:

·         Have you ever felt led to speak out against injustice, as Fox did when he wrote the 59 Particulars? When have you done so? What was the result?
·         How is our Quaker community speaking out against injustice in today’s world?
·         Do you support Quaker bodies taking a stand and speaking out on issues of conscience and concern? If so, how and when?


**
After the Restoration of Charles II, Quakers felt the need to reassure the King that they did not pose a danger. They also wanted to reaffirm their commitment to nonviolence. They issued the Peace Testimony with this clear political agenda in mind.
Quakers did not relinquish their vision for a new society, however. They continued to yearn for a social order based on Gospel principles, as they understood them. “We do earnestly desire and wait, that, by the Word of God's power, and its effectual operation in the hearts of men, the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ; that he may rule and reign in men by his Sprit and truth.”
The Quaker vision of the Peaceable Kingdom was based on the prophets Isaiah and Micah, who wrote: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more,” Isa. ii. 4., Mic. iv. 3.
Quakers endeavored to turn this vision into reality when they were given land and an opportunity to found a colony called Pennsylvania in 1681. Many came to this new land fleeing persecution in England. Once they arrived, they created a refuge not only for themselves but for other persecuted religious sects. They cultivated nonviolent and just relations with native people. The artist Edwards Hicks depicted this era as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy of the Peaceable Kingdom. Pennsylvania was not perfect, of course, but even Voltaire was impressed with the “wise and prudent laws” that Penn enacted, guaranteeing freedom of religion.
For the next three hundred and fifty years, Friends would continue to uphold the vision of a Peaceable Kingdom, seeking new revelations and new ways to bring peace and justice for all, including the natural world. The Peace Testimony has become the bedrock of Quakerism, one that continues to be relevant and needed today.



A DECLARATION FROM THE HARMLESS AND INNOCENT PEOPLE OF GOD, CALLED QUAKERS, AGAINST ALL SEDITION, PLOTTERS, AND FIGHTERS IN THE WORLD: FOR REMOVING THE GROUND OF JEALOUSY AND SUSPICION FROM MAGISTRATES AND PEOPLE CONCERNING WARS AND FIGHTINGS.

George Fox and others.
Presented to the King upon the 21st day of the llth Month, 1660.
This Document is on The Quaker Writings Home Page.
[Text from the 2 Volume 8th and Bicentenary Edition of Fox's Journal, London: Friends' Tract Association, 1891.]

"Our principle is, and our practices have always been, to seek peace and ensue it; to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God; seeking the good and welfare, and doing that which tends to the peace of all. We know that wars and fightings proceed from the lusts of men, as James iv. 1--3, out of which the Lord hath redeemed us, and so out of the occasion of war. The occasion of war, and war itself (wherein envious men, who are lovers of them-selves more than lovers of God lust, kill, and desire to have men's lives or estates) ariseth from lust. All bloody principles and practices, as to our own particulars, we utterly- deny; with all outward wars and strife, and fightings with - outward weapons, for any end, or under an pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world.
"….The Spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil, and again to move unto it; and we certainly know, and testify to the world, that the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world. 
"First, Because the kingdom of Christ God will exalt, according to his promise, and cause it to grow and flourish in righteousness; 'not by might, nor by power (of outward sword), but by my Spirit, saith the Lord,' Zech. iv. 6. So those that use any weapon to fight for Christ, or for the establishing of his kingdom or government—their spirit, principle, and practice we deny. 
"Secondly, We do earnestly desire and wait, that, by the Word of God's power, and its effectual operation in the hearts of men, the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ; that he may rule and reign in men by his Sprit and truth; that thereby all people, out of every profession, may be brought into love and unity with God, and one with another; and that they may all come to witness the prophet's words, who said, ' Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more,' Isa. ii. 4., Mic. iv. 3. 
"So we, whom the Lord hath called into the obedience of his truth, have denied wars and fightings, and cannot more learn them. This is a certain testimony unto all the world, of the truth of our hearts in this particular, that as God persuadeth every man's heart to believe, so they may receive it. For we have not, as some others, gone about with cunningly devised fables, nor have we ever denied in practice what we have professed in principle; but in sincerity and truth, and by the word of God, have we laboured to manifest unto all men, that both we and our ways might be witnessed in the hearts of all. 
"And whereas all manner of evil hath been falsely spoken of us, we hereby speak the plain truth of our hearts, to take away the occasion of that offense; that so being innocent, we may not suffer for other men's offenses, nor be made a prey of by the wills of men for that of which we were never guilty; but in the uprightness of our hearts we may, under the power ordained of God for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well, live a peaceable and godly life, in all godliness an d honesty….For this we can say to all the world, we have wronged no man, we have used no force nor violence against any man: we have been found in no plots, nor guilty of sedition. When we have been wronged, we have not sought to revenge ourselves; we have not made resistance against authority; but wherein we could not obey for conscience' sake we have suffered the most of all people in the nation. We have been counted as sheep for the slaughter, persecuted and despised, beaten, stoned, wounded, stocked, whipped, imprisoned, haled out of synagogues, cast into dungeons and noisome vaults, where many have died in bonds , shut up from our friends, denied needful sustenance for many days together, with other the like cruelties. 
"And the cause of all these sufferings is not for any evil, but for things relating to the worship of our God, and in obedience to his requirings. For which cause we shall freely give up our bodies a sacrifice, rather than disobey the Lord: for we know as the Lord hath kept us innocent, so he will plead our cause, when there is none in the earth to plead it…
"And whereas men come against us with clubs, staves, drawn swords, pistols cocked, and beat, cut, and abuse us, yet we never resisted them; but to them our hair, backs, and cheeks, have been ready. It is not an honour, to manhood or nobility, to run upon harmless people, who lift not up a hand against them, with arms and weapons. 
"Therefore consider these things, ye men of understanding: for plotters, raisers of insurrections, tumultuous ones, and fighters, running with swords, clubs, staves, and pistols, one against another; these, we say, are of the world, and have their foundation from this unrighteous world, from the foundation of which the Lamb hath been slain; which Lamb hath redeemed us from this unrighteous world, and we are not of it, but are heirs of a world of which there is no end, and of a kingdom where no corruptible thing enters. Our weapons are spiritual, and not carnal, yet mighty through God, to the pulling down of the strongholds of sin and Satan, who is the author of wars, fighting, murder, and plots. Our swords are broken into ploughshares, and spears into pruning-hooks, as prophesied of in Micah iv. Therefore we cannot learn war any more, neither rise up against nation or kingdom with outward weapons, though you have numbered us amongst the transgressors and plotters. The Lord knows our innocency herein, and will plead our cause with all people upon earth, at the day of their judgment, when all men shall have a reward according to their works. 
"Therefore in love we warn you for your soul's good, not to wrong the innocent, nor the babes of Christ, which he hath in his hand, which he cares for as the apple of his eye; neither seek to destroy the heritage of God, nor turn your swords backward upon such as the law was not made for, i.e., the righteous; but for sinners and transgressors, to keep them down….
"O, Friends! offend not the Lord and his little ones, neither afflict his people; but consider and be moderate. Do not run on hastily, but consider mercy, justice, and judgment; that is the way for you to prosper, and obtain favor of the Lord. Our meetings were stopped and broken up in the days of Oliver, under pretense of plotting against him; in the days of the Committee of Safety we were looked upon as plotters to bring in King Charles; and now our peaceable meetings are termed seditious. O! that men should lose their reason, and go contrary to their own conscience; knowing that we have suffered all things, and have been accounted plotters from the beginning, though we have declared against them both by word of mouth and printing, and are clear from any such thing! We have suffered all along, because we would not take up carnal weapons to fight, and are thus made a prey, because we are the innocent lambs of Christ, and cannot avenge ourselves! These things are left on your hearts to consider; but we are out of all those things, in the patience of the saints; and we know. As Christ said, 'He that takes the sword, shall perish with the sword;' Matt. xxvi. 52; Rev. xiii. 10. 
"This is given forth from the people called Quakers, to satisfy the king and his council, and all those that have any jealousy concerning us, that all occasion of suspicion may be taken away, and our innocency cleared. 
**
As countless examples show, early Friends were not reluctant to issue statements of their principles and to let the world know where they stood. They also made specific and often very challenging demands of those in power. These statements were backed up with concrete action and changed lives, but they were not always effective—the 59 Particulars addressed to Parliament were largely ignored. For Friends, it was more important to be faithful to the Inward Light than to be successful in the ways of the world. Early Friends had a compelling vision they took great risks to proclaim: “This is our testimony to the whole world.” What are we Quakers proclaiming today to the whole world through our deeds as well as our words? Are we still willing to be a prophetic voice, even it entails self-sacrifice and risks? These are questions worth struggling to answer.

Queries:

·         How do you live the Peace Testimony in your personal life?

·         How does your Meeting support the Peace Testimony?