Minnesota Fellowship of Reconciliation

North Country Peace Builder

Vol. 53, No. 3, September 2002

In This Issue

FOR Mission

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.


Required--That We Do Nothing

"What happened was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to be governed by surprise, to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believe that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. --The crises and reforms (real reforms too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. -- To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it--please try to believe me--unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted.' Believe me this is true. Each act, each occasion is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. -- Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven't done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we did nothing). ...You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair."

This paragraph, by a German professor and quoted in They Thought They Were Free, a book about Nazi Germany, by Milton Mayer, was sent by peace activist Mary Shepard. Mary notes: "This description of how the Nazis did it is so like what's happening to us, I read it in a media workshop I gave in Duluth for National Vets for Peace. Everyone asked for a copy, and one woman there who had lived in Germany at the time was amazed by how accurate it was."


Come One, Come All!
It's Annual Meeting Time!

Sunday, November 3, 2002
2 to 5:30 pm, followed by light supper

Chalice Room
First Universalist Unitarian Church
3400 Dupont Ave. So.

Guest Speaker:
Pat Cook, new Executive Director, National FOR
Report of Peacemaker Training
Board and treasurer's reports

2002 Minnesota Peacemaker Project a Great Success!

By Laura Wilson and Colin Schumacher

August 15 to 21, 2002, nine youths gathered at the St. Paul Catholic Charities volunteer house for this year's Minnesota Peacemaker Project (MPP),  the latest Minnesota FOR-sponsored youth nonviolence training program. The MPP, titled "Network for Social Change," was organized over the past six months by Hamline University students Colin Schumacher and Laura Wilson, with the help of National PTI coordinator Maryrose Dolezal.

Network for Social Change focused on strengthening the Midwest youth movement for peace and social justice by gathering together students and activists ages 16 to 24 to learn about nonviolent methods of resistance to counteract what Martin Luther King Jr. dubbed the "Giant Triplets:" poverty, racism, and militarism. During the week-long training, three days were devoted to focusing on the Giant Triplets and examining their interconnectedness. On the remaining days, participants learned about the history and theory of nonviolence and were introduced to methods of nonviolent activism and organizing. In addition, they worked together to create a support system for each other's work.

Minnesota Peacemaker Project participants were joined each day by discussion facilitators from organizations including the MN FOR, Alliance for Democracy, the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, Veterans for Peace, Jewish Community Action, the University of Minnesota Institute on Race and Poverty, and the Hamline Allies Against White Privilege. Workshops ranged in topic from globalization, homelessness in the Twin Cities, and racial profiling to the psychological effects of war, white privilege, and nonviolent conflict resolution skills. The group also had the opportunity to visit North Country Co-op and to volunteer at House of Charity.

Perhaps most importantly, by the end of the week, the participants had built strong relationships with one another based on their shared vision of a peaceful, creative, sustainable world community.

We would like to thank everyone who helped make Network for Social Change a success through offering their support, vision, and guidance during the organizing process.



There's A Big World Out There!
What Are the Candidates Views?

By Don Irish

In the elections of 2000, few, if any, candidates in Minnesota or the nation included foreign policy issues in their presentations. The foci were almost exclusively domestic: (a) undergirding Social Security, (b) enhancing public school funding/performance, (c) broadening medical coverage for some citizens, and (d) paying down the federal debt. Now in 2002, their commentaries seem hollow since (a) Social Security funds are being dipped into to pay for war; (b) school teachers are being dismissed, classes are enlarged, and tax referenda return to ballots; (c) national priorities will not provide any meaningful extension of medical care to the 40 million Americans without any; and (d) the federal debt is now rising substantially.

Those of us who voted in 2000 for national candidates thus generally did so without knowing what candidates' positions would be regarding many important international issues. Since candidates are "not saying," we as citizens have a need and a right to know their views. Involving a nation in war is probably the most serious action that a president or congress can decide for a country.

It's not helpful to disseminate despair. When situations are perceived as hopeless, citizens are immobilized just when the most energetic efforts are needed. "Facing facts" must still be done if tragedies are to be avoided. This war can be stopped if there is a will to do so in Congress (with many more Russ Feingolds in the Senate and Barbara Lees in the House), by local governments, and among the citizenry. A committed, informed critical mass of cirizens across the nation is needed, willing to risk their securities and statuses to share in massive nonviolent, direct-action, dissent and noncooperation.

Mary Lord, in a Philadelphia address on March 15, 2002 (AFSC/FCNL/FWWC), said:

"Once started, wars are almost impossible to control. They tend to spread. There are always unintended consequences. ... Violence always begets violence. Pacifism has been called naive and unpatriotic. ... Which is the greater naiveté--to believe that the frustrating but productive path of using and strengthening international law is the path to safety, or to believe that a never-ending worldwide war against loosely defined terrorism, fought with weapons of mass destruction, will make us safe and secure...?"

She indicated that after 9/11, "another road might have been taken" -- the road of international law. The U.S. insisted that the Bosnians, Croats, and Serbs charged with tens of thousands of deaths, "ethnic cleansing," and so on were to be found and brought to acountability before the World Court at The Hague. Why should the U.S. not also follow the legal road for the international criminal attacks it has suffered?

Now we have a nation manipulated by fear rather than hope, given polarized "choices" between supporting a "presidential war" or favoring "terrorism." "Macho" leaders, having proposed and begun what they indicate could be an "endless worldwide war," will have extreme difficulty in pulling back or being pushed back. WE THE PEOPLE will have to rescue them and ourselves from what would become a horrendous catastrophe for humankind and all living things. How will coming generations view the "hyperpower" America and its legacy for them? As the "New Romans?" As 21st-century Germans?

Mary Lord suggests that we might yet: (1) Take nonmilitary actions to make future terrorism unlikely--ratify international agreements, better share information, reduce trade in weapons, limit the spread of nuclear potentials, strengthen procedures for verification re: biological and chemical weapons for example. However, the U.S. has either opposed or not done each of these. She says, "There has been a conscious choice to use U.S. military force rather than international law." Be wary when leaders use verbiage like "It is necessary ..." or "We have no choice but to ..." or "If we must ...." Such phrases cut off discussion., assume inevitability. Yet those leaders are choosing courses of action!

Mary Lord continued: "For over a year it has been stated policy of the Bush administration to seek 'full spectrum dominance'--to be able to do whatever the U.S. wants anyplace in the world without fear of retaliation by its opponents." She advises that we need

(a) to make sure that our youth are counseled about conscientious objection,
(b) to begin the work of nonviolent resistance--'a force more powerful,'
(c) to learn how those in other countries 'see us,' and (d) to begin a new vision of a peaceful world that does not rely on military forces to solve societal problems."

Let's directly confront our national candiates with questions. (FCNL) "When will this war end? Who is the enemy? Where will it stop? How much will it cost in lives, material, liberties, or international goodwill and understanding? How much national treasure will it drain away from efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts nonviolently? What will be the condition of humanity when it is finished? What are the root causes of terrorism and war? Are there real alternatives to war? How can war and terrorism be prevented nonviolently?"

ASK THE CANDIDATES these and other "impertinent" questions before November 5.

Ed. note: See more questions under No More War! I would add two more: Have U.S. leaders lost their senses? Have they no shame?




© 2002 by MN FOR | www.osb.org/for/5303/