North Country Peace Builder
Vol. 54, No. 3, September 2003
MN FOR ANNUAL MEETING
Sunday, November 2, 2003
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Hamline United Methodist Church
1514 Englewood, St. Paul
Guest Speaker: Lisa Lane
Lisa serves as liaison from the national office to local groups and to religious peace fellowships
Business meeting 4-4:30 p.m.
Potluck supper 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Speaker 5:45-6:30 p.m.
Questions and discussion 6:30-7 p.m.
A unique opportunity for MN FOR members and friends
to converse with noted theologian Walter Wink
November 13, 7 to 9 p.m.
Union Congregational United Church of Christ*
3700 Alabama Ave. So., St. Louis Park
Join us for a very special evening.
*From Excelsior Blvd. go north, the church is on the left. More parking behind the church off 37th.
From Hwy. 7 go south on Wooddale two blocks to a right on 37th to Alabama.
From Hwy. 100 take Wooddale exit, left on 37th to Alabama.
Walter Wink and June Keener Wink
are the keynote speakers for Hamline University's 21st Annual Seminar in Contemporary Religious Thought, Nov. 12 and 13, 2003. The seminar will focus on "Jesus and the Spiral of Violence."
Dr. Walter Wink is Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City. He has also served as a parish pastor, taught at Union Theological Seminary, and spent a year as a Peace Fellow at the US Institute of Peace.
Jesus and Nonviolence, Wink's most recent book, develops many of the ideas and themes of nonviolence and power from his earlier work. His trilogy Engaging the Powers received three "Religious Book of the Year" awards in 1993. His many books and articles have also focused on biblical scholarship.
June Keener Wink is an adjunct faculty member at Auburn Theological Seminary. Using her background in body movement and art, she leads workshops that integrate body, mind and spirit. Her studio Wild Thyme Pottery is located in the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts.
by Don Irish
Yes, President Bush, the widespread "blackout" of electric power in eastern Canada and some US states can be viewed as a "wake-up call." The alarm went off! But to what will Americans awake? Just flipping a switch will return us to the same wasteful, nonsustainable lifestyle that is despoiling the earth and exploiting other peoples! "Everything is connected to everything," Mr. President, not just to a power grid. We need citizens and leaders, guided with informed views, commitment, and courage, to move this country (and the world) down very different paths.
Our society and world confront critical choices. Customary assumptions and practices must be changed. We need to move rapidly as a nation and humanity down other paths with more hopeful destinations. Otherwise we will ache for the future that we leave for our grandchildren and beyond. The survival of all living things on our planet is threatened. No "flip of a switch" in technology will avoid catastrophe. We need to flip switches in the neurons of a multitude of minds! There is no likelihood of moving too fast. Powerful economic, political, military, and media interests will seek to maintain us walking on the current treadmill with increasing fatigue. As Einstein suggested, a "different mind set" is required if we collectively can survive with peace and justice, with sustainability.
Population pressures, widespread poverty, plagues, depletion of natural resources, global warming, commitment to violence, a weakened United Nations -- these and other major problems will continued to confront us if we continue down the present path. Our current demands seem insatiable. Little priority is given to conservation of energy. There is an unwillingness to challenge national priorities, such as the bloated military budget and military endeavors around the world. We are now even leaving garbage in space! Our land is being leveled with landfills. National treasures are being threatened bit by bit when one more pristine lake is intruded upon by float planes, one more wilderness is opened to snowmobiles, one more forest is pierced by roads and denuded with lumbering, one more national park/ monument is desecrated with mining and drilling. It's so easy -- each Congress moving "a bit."
Many of us want faster computers, faster cars, but resist necessary nontechnological
changes. Our patterns of life and action incorporate short-term (and shortsighted)
perspectives. We need to flip a switch! There is alternating current!
As a nation, the NEW ROMANS, we are beginning to receive the blowback, resentments, distrust of our motives, rejection of our double standards. As the most powerful, most consuming, and currently the most polluting nation we have the greatest obligation to the rest of the world to change our ways most and first! The "neocons" behind and included in our national leadership have baldly stated their intention to make and keep the US dominant economically and militarily over the world, and to tolerate no rivals. That objective would undermine our democracy at home and be imperialism abroad. Our unilateralism (circumventing the UN) threatens world law. Our exceptionalism (revoking the ABM treaty, refusing to agree to the Kyoto, Rio, child soldier, International Criminal Court, land mine, and other treaties) aggravates the world's majority.
Our preemptive strike policy and actions and continued nuclear threats obviate any possible effectiveness of nonproliferation.
We Americans are now manipulated by fears rather than encouraged by hope. "Terrorism" has become the current substitute enemy for "Communism." Our leaders assume that locating and killing individual "terrorists" can eliminate such threats, without critiquing and changing our foreign policies which make the recruitment of terrorists easier. We are dealing with symptoms, not basic causes, which would require changes in our behaviors and policies. Terrorism does not arise in a vacuum. Young people of talents, energies, and aspirations don't willy-nilly become terrorists. Colin Powell himself has averred that we must deal with despair, the lack of hope such people feel. In the process we neglect the presence of state terrorism -- official violence against a citizenry to which the repressed respond with violence of their own. The US has been complicit in supporting much state terrorism.
Let's look ahead to the 2004 US elections, when we have a chance to indicate changes we want and need. "Peace and justice" citizens, especially, need to decide early and strongly those candidates and policies they really believe in. If we individually decide to support "lessers" and fail to rally to those who most share our values, then we facilitate the marginalization by the media of those best candidates. Candidates who aren't heard, seen, read about, will not become sufficiently prominent and will be ignored. The BIG MEDIA tend to decide who they think are "electable," middle ground and so on. Our preferred candidate(s) have an important educative function for proposing significant societal changes. Then, minds may be switched and our nation can take a road less traveled but more fulfilling for humanity. For the first time, one of the Democratic candidates speaks of Gandhi, King, and for nonviolence as a domestic and international focus for policies and actions. That requires courage and a commitment that another world is possible.
Will we be persuaded by early poll percentages and millions of dollars raised? Or by ideals expressed and specific policies advanced that represent a coherent, rational, holistic vision of what America can and needs to become? There is at least one candidate for peace and justice people! One by one a movement grows. Who will aid us to create a world with an earth restored, equal rights for all, opportunity for all persons to develop their capacities, and a world without the threat of war? For the first time in my 63 years of voting, a major party candidate seems to be committed to those possibilities! And who also quotes Gandhi and King and seeks adherence to nonviolence.
Don is in Palestine as an"accompanier" for the next 3 months. See page 5 for one of his first e-mail letters home.
Sam is on sabbatical from his position as Associate Professor at Hamline University from last May to next February. He is working on the second edition of his 1998 book Introduction to African Philosophy.
Rachel Mordecai is from Jamaica and Canada. She moved to Minneapolis in 2000 and became an FOR member in 2001. She accepted an invitation to join the board of the Minnesota FOR in January 2003. She is particularly drawn to the FOR's antiwar work and its racial and economic justice initiatives. A graduate student at the University of Minnesota, she is working on a doctorate in Caribbean literature.
The Ongoing Case of Criminal FOR Members Michael Brown and Katy Gray Brown
As noted in the June issue of North Country Peace Builder, Michael and Katy were arrested with 26 others on April 2 for civil disobedience during a demonstration at Alliant Technosystems (AT) in Edina. AT produces cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions, and continues to design landmines. All were charged with trespass, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and up to a $700 fine. Their case has been transferred from Edina to Minneapolis, and they will have a pretrial hearing on October 14. They are acting as their own attorneys, which takes much time in planning and coordination.
The Dismissed Case of Non-Criminal FOR Members Don Irish and Leslie Reindl
Don and Leslie, along with 26 others, were charged with trespassing in Norm
Coleman's office on March 24. After weeks of preparing for their trial and
attending a pretrial hearing, they found their case dismissed, after Mr. Coleman
requested such from the prosecutor, stating that the protesters were "simply
Don Irish Has Moved
Don has a new address and phone number: 3611 14th Ave. So., Minneapolis 55407-2711; phone 612-724-3061.
For the first time since initiating the Minnesota Peacemaker Project in 1999, the summer nonviolence training was canceled due to limited enrollment. When we failed to recruit our minimum number of participants two weeks before the training, the board and MPP trainers made the disappointing decision to call off the four-day workshop. With lessons fresh in mind, we now are laying the groundwork for next year's training, developing strategies for leadership, logistics, and recruitment that will lead to a successful training.
Even though a MPP training was not possible this summer, the MN FOR board has focused and renewed our commitment to youth nonviolence training. This year alone the MN FOR gave full scholarships for three local youths to attend national FOR nonviolence training, and all three of these young people have returned to Minnesota with enthusiasm for organizing within the FOR. The MN FOR has been approached by a local denomination wishing to develop a cross-generational nonviolence curriculum, and the board is considering the creation of an intensive nonviolence workshop that would fit into the academic calendar of college students. In addition, Janet Chisholm, nonviolence education coordinator for the national FOR, will conduct a "training for trainers" workshop in Minnesota next spring for people interested in leading nonviolence training, and we hope to sponsor participants for this session.
If you have any questions about MN FOR's plans for nonviolence training for people of all ages, please contact Katy Gray Brown (612-721-3884).
A Project of Friends for a Nonviolent World
The following is an explanation and overview of the new Peace in the Precincts program of the Friends for a Nonviolent World. The program aims to organize peace communities and neighborhoods in precinct peace teams, in order to develop maximum political and electoral power and community organizing outreach. All are invited to participate. For more information please call 651-917-0383 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A. Taking over one party and
- Determining that party's presidential nomination
- Making our policy priorities a part of that party's foreign policy platform, and
- Establishing our team members as that party's leadership to hold the party accountable to our nomination and policy platform,
B. Advance our policy objectives across multiple parties in whatever way we are practically able.
This is a cooperative plan that will help us (a) organize and mobilize to win political victories within the electoral system, (b) pass or defeat laws within the legislative system, (c) hold corporations accountable for their social and environmental impacts, and (d) create alternative, free institutions that can constructively advance the healthy practices and relationships of the Peace System.
It will empower people with concrete practices to:
1. Develop the personal courage, skill, compassion, knowledge and conviction that they already have
2. Develop local community around common convictions, goals and action plans
3. Convert the public from blind reliance on violence and domination to creative cooperation and constructive use of nonviolence as the foundation of foreign policy and national security strategy.
4. Develop a common peace policy platform to advance in cities, suburbs, and outstate.
5. Set a policy bar that political parties and candidates will have to acknowledge and clear.
6. Mobilize mass voter registration.
The Eight Steps to Peace in the Precincts
1. Identify the basic, geographic and political building block that we live in, and see it as our community (i.e., identify our voting precinct).
2. Reach out to neighbors: find common ground, build trust, and mobilize action.
3. Create a peace team in our precinct to hold "Kitchen Table Policy Discussions."
4. Develop a responsible peace platform in our precinct teams.
5. Coordinate the platforms of the precinct teams into one common platform.
6. Work with our precinct base team to involve other neighbors and mobilize as many as possible to attend the party caucus of their choice.
7. Use the time after caucuses and before elections to broaden the base of the teams, establish teams in new precincts, and register voters.
8. Get out the vote.
On September 28 peace organization leaders will meet at FNVW to form a working, electoral collective, according to the basic outline of the Peace in the Precincts Action Plan.
Between 9/28 and 11/9:
* FNVW will encourage and enable members to form Precinct Peace Teams.
* FNVW will hold training sessions.
* Peace orgs will host policy discussions.
* Both will establish a communications and coordination process.
On November 9 a second collective meeting will be held to decide on the five common, core, peace policy priorities.
And after that we will work in our precincts, promote the five policy priorities, and prepare for a final meeting on January 1, 2004, to plan for caucuses.
The National Council of Churches Has Become a New Antiwar Force
This seems to be the doing of its general secretary, Bob Edgar, an ordained elder of the United Methodist Church who served in Congress from 1975 to 1987, running on an anti-Vietnam War platform. Besides heading the NCC Edgar helped form and now serves as co-chair of the Win Without War Coalition. Both the NCC and the WWW try to help the religious community become more active in resistance to state violence and in public life.
Win Without War created an antiwar TV commercial, in which United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert said, "I'm a bishop in the president's church ... and I think the war is immoral." The ad got widespread free exposure.
The following are points Edgar made in an interview with Carolyn McConnell, senior editor of Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures.
"We just need fifteen visionaries in the House of Representatives and five in the Senate to change the political balance of this country."
"In the church community, we are encouraging young people to get more interested in public policy and in political office."
"I'm urging the churches to put down on paper their foreign policy. All churches have a foreign policy. They just don't articulate it. As part of that foreign policy we want (1) to strengthen multinational organizations like the UN, (2) to increase humanitarian aid, both by governments and by churches, (3) to move the US away from a first-strike policy, and (4) to find a way to move toward nonviolence and away from military action throughout the world.
Finally, "I remind audiences often that the prophets of the Old Testament never had a majority and never took a poll to figure out what God's will and wisdom is. People of faith need to be more courageous in standing up on principle."
Don Christensen arrived in Jerusalem on August 24 to carry out his work of peacemaking through the Ecumenical Accompaniment (EA) Program of the World Council of Churches. The first week he was oriented with 18 other "accompaniers." On September 1 he went to his field site in Jayous, a village north of Jerusalem and right next to the "fence" that Israel is constructing. The following is an e-mail message sent recently:
It is Wednesday evening and the sad and lovely Muslim call to prayer comes to me from the minaret of the Jayous mosque. I am always stopped by this dramatic reminder to pray, no matter what I am doing.
I will keep this message short, as I don't want to risk losing it, as I have several others. The bombings yesterday have impacted us here in Jayous and everywhere in Palestine, I suspect. We were informed by a human rights organization this afternoon that an order came down from the Israeli military command that all checkpoints and gates are to be closed until further notice. For Jayous this means that farmers cannot go to their fields and the Bedouin children cannot go to school. I don't know how this may affect my proposed trip to visit Karem this weekend. I will not even set out on the excursion if it seems too difficult or dangerous. We have an EA meeting scheduled in Jerusalem on Saturday. I hope that I will at least be able to attend that.
On a lighter note, we had a wonderful party at our house last night, a farewell party for our colleague, John, from the UK, who has completed his three months of service and will return home on Sunday. About thirty people showed up for the party including farmers, the mayor, and other international accompaniers. The mayor presented John with a plaque of appreciation. I was very proud of our hosting. We even served excellent "cah'we casussi."
... Don't be scared by what you see in the papers. I feel quite safe in Jayous. I know that the villagers will take good care of us.
The following are excerpts from Naomi Klein's article "Bush to NGOs: Watch Your Mouths."
Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo and Fences and Windows.
The Bush administration has found its next target for preemptive war, but it's not Iran, Syria or North Korea -- not yet, anyway.
Before launching any new foreign adventures, the Bush gang has some homeland housekeeping to take care of: It is going to sweep up those pesky non-governmental organizations that are helping to turn world opinion against US bombs and brands.
The war on NGOs is being fought on two clear fronts. One buys the silence and complicity of mainstream humanitarian and religious groups by offering lucrative reconstruction contracts. The other marginalizes and criminalizes more independent-minded NGOs by claiming that their work is a threat to democracy. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is in charge of handing out the carrots, while the American Enterprise Institute, the most powerful think tank in Washington, DC, is wielding the sticks.
On May 21 in Washington, Andrew Natsios, the head of USAID, gave a speech
blasting US NGOs for failing to play a role many of them didn't realize they
had been assigned: doing public relations for the US government... . From
now on, NGOs had to do a better job of linking their humanitarian assistance
to US foreign policy and making it clear that they are "an arm of the
US government. If they didn't, ... Natsios threatened to personally tear up
their contracts and find new partners.
For aid workers, there are even more strings attached to US dollars. USAID told several NGOs that have been awarded humanitarian contracts that they cannot speak to the media -- all requests from reporters must go through Washington. Mary McClymont, CEO of InterAction, calls the demands "unprecedented," and says, "It looks like the NGOs aren't independent and can't speak for themselves about what they see and think."
Many humanitarian leaders are shocked to hear their work described as "an arm" of government; most see themselves as independent....
The best NGOs are loyal to their causes, not to countries, and they aren't afraid to blow the whistle on their own governments. ... Mr. Natsios himself embraced this independence in his previous job as vice-president of World Vision. During the North Korean famine, he didn't hesitate to blast his own government for withholding food aid, calling the Clinton administration's response "too slow" and its claim that politics was not a factor "total nonsense."
Don't expect candor like that from the aid groups Mr. Natsios now oversees in Iraq. These days, NGOs are supposed to do nothing more than quietly pass out care packages with a big "brought to you by the USA" logo attached ....
That is the message of NGO Watch, an initiative of the American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, which takes aim at the growing political influence of the nonprofit sector. ... In fact, it is a McCarthyite blacklist, telling tales on any NGO that dares speak against Bush administration policies or in support of international treaties opposed by the White House.
This bizarre initiative takes as its premise the idea that there is something sinister about "non-elected" groups of citizens getting together to try to influence their government.
"The extraordinary growth of advocacy NGOs in liberal democracies has the potential to undermine the sovereignty of constitutional democracies," the site claims. [Emphasis added]
Coming from the AEI, this is not without irony. As Raj Patel, policy analyst at the NGO Food First points out, "The American Enterprise Institute is an NGO itself and is supported by the most powerful corporations on the planet. ... which includes Motorola, American Express and ExxonMobil." As for influence, few peddle it quite like the AEI, the looniest ideas of which have a way of becoming Bush administration policy. And no wonder. Richard Perle, member and former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, is an AEI fellow, along with Lynne Cheney, wife of the vice-president; the Bush administration is crowded with former AEI fellows.
...This attack on the nonprofit sector marks the emergence of a new Bush doctrine: NGOs should be nothing more than the goodhearted charity wing of the military, silently mopping up after wars and famines. Their job is not to ask how these tragedies could have been averted, or to advocate for policy solutions. And it is certainly not to join antiwar and fair-trade movements pushing for real political change.
Now they are attempting to turn relief workers in Iraq and Afghanistan into publicists for Mr. Bush's Brand USA, to embed them in the Pentagon, like Fox News reporters. ...
Published June 2003 on www.commondreams.org
In August the MN FOR board donated $300 to Wilderness Connections, to help pay for its weekly TV program Altera Vista.
Altera Vista, which airs every Friday at midnight on cable Channel 6 (repeated at 7 a.m. Saturday morning), was founded two years ago to present alternative views on issues that the corporate media do not cover, will not cover, or cover one-sidedly.
The program presents speakers and events from the local peace community and airs videos that public TV will not show. It also produces its own shows featuring experts on peace issues and footage from events occurring elsewhere.
Channel 6 is a Minnesota phenomenon, an independent regional cable channel that has a much wider reach than local cable stations and is not funded by any cable company. The cost for airtime on the channel is, like everything else, increasing with inflation. Altera Vista must now fund raise to be able to afford the weekly cost of $67.
The Minnesota FOR would like to suggest to its members that, whether or not they receive cable, they might consider donating the cost of one or more Altera Vista programs to Wilderness Connections, a nonprofit organization. Donor's names will be listed on the program, similar to listings on Minnesota Public TV. The donor can even choose what kind of program he or she would like to "underwrite"--foreign affairs and foreign policy, local justice issues, environmental issues, talks by peace activists, etc.
Copies of Altera Vista shows, on VHS tape, are available from Wilderness Connections, 1233 Ingerson Road, St. Paul MN 55112, for $10 including postage. Further information is available on the web site, www.alteravista.org (donated to Wilderness Connections by the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers) and by phone at 651-633-4410.
Sat.-Sun. Oct. 11, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Oct. 12, 1-5 p.m.: Earth Charter Summit: Emerging Global Civil Society: Hope for the Future. Free. College of St. Catherine, 2004 Randolph Ave., St. Paul, Coeur de Catherine Learning Commons. 9 a.m. Sat.: Keynoter Kathryn Sikkink, Prof. of Political Science, U of M. 1:15 p.m., Sun. : Plenary speaker Amal Yusuf, president and CEO of Somalian Women's Assoc. Panels, workshops, action circles. Activities for children K-8 both days. FFI www.earthcharter-minnesota.org; 651-647-1631.
Thurs. Oct. 16, 7-9 p.m.: "A US Department of Peace?" Free. Sponsored by World Federalists. Hennipen Ave. United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Ave., Minneapolis.
Thurs. Oct. 23, 9 am-2 p.m.: UN Rally Day. $25 includes lunch. Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Ave. So., Mpls. Keynoter: Jane Holl Lute, Asst. Sec. Gen. for Peacekeeping Operations, UN 3 seminars, lunch. FFI 612-377-0214.
Fri.-Sun. Oct. 24-26: Cry Justice! Activism, Organizing, and Civil Liberties After 911. $30;
$10 low income/students. U of M Law School, West Bank, Minneapolis. Speakers: Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! ; William Rivers Pitt, author of The Greatest Sedition Is Silence: Four Years in America ; managing editor of www.truthout.org/ ). FFI 651-221-1082 or email@example.com.
Sun. Nov. 2, 4-7 p.m.: Minnesota FOR's Annual Meeting. See announcement above.
Fri.-Sun. Nov. 7-9: National Conference on Media Reform, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Speakers include Sen. Russ Feingold, Rep. Bernie Sanders; FCC Commissioner Michael Copps; writers Barbara Ehrenreich and Naomi Klein; Free Press founders Robert McChesney and John Nichols; AFL-CIO President John Sweeney; Democracy Now! Amy Goodman. FFI www.mediareform.net/conference.
Tues. Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m.: "Weapons of Mass Deception: How the Media Have Become Propaganda Tools and What to Do About It." $5. Hennepin Ave. United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland at Lyndale, Mpls. Journalist/videographer Danny Schechter speaking at Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers 2003 Celebration of Peace. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., music by jazz pianist Larry McDonough at 7 p.m., followed by Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus. FFI 651-633-4410.
Wed.-Thurs., Nov. 12-13: "Jesus and the Spirit of Violence." Hamline University's 21st Annual Seminar in Contemporary Religious Thought, with Walter and June Wink as keynoters. $20 includes lunch Thurs. Wed. 7:30 p.m.: "The Myth of Redemptive Violence," lecture by Walter Wink. Bush Student Center Ballroom. Thurs. 9 a.m. "Jesus Against Violence" lecture;
11:20 a.m. Convocation "Nonviolence for the Violent," Sundin Hall; 12:30 p.m. Lunch with Question/Answer period, Manor Residence Hall Lounge.
Nov. 13, 7-9 p.m.: "An Evening with Walter Wink," presented by Minnesota FOR. See announcement above.
Sat. Nov. 15, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.: "Becoming the Media." $10/students free. St. Joan of Arc Church, 3rd Ave. So., Mpls. Workshops on print, broadcast, Internet communication (morning) and guerrilla action, music, and spoken word (afternoon). Sponsored by Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers. FFI 651-633-4410.
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The Fellowship of Reconciliation seeks to replace violence, war, racism, and economic injustice with nonviolence, peace, and justice. We are an interfaith organization committed to active nonviolence as a transforming way of life and as a means of radical change. We educate, train, build coalitions, and engage in nonviolent and compassionate actions locally, nationally, and globally.
www.mnfor.org, www.nonviolence.org, North Country Peace Builder on-line: www.osb.org/for/
National FOR | MN FOR
Minnesota Peacemaker Project
Peace and Justice Websites (nonviolence.org)
Benedictines' Website | Justice and Peace Links
Produced quarterly (September, December, March and June) by the Executive Committee of the Minnesota Fellowship of Reconciliation. Send submissions, letters and comments to Leslie Reindl <firstname.lastname@example.org>, editor, in care of
1233 Ingerson Road
St. Paul, MN 55112
Or use the online form to send comments or contributions.
© 2003 by MN FOR / www.osb.org/for/2003/index03.html