Conflict is inevitable. War is not.

Real Security

Posted on: July 17th, 2018 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

by Winslow Myers (submitted May 24, 2018)

So, the summit with North Korea is off, and now pundits will have at it on such themes as overreach, hidden agendas, John Bolton’s ill will, and misinterpretation of the meaning of “denuclearization.”

But the leaders of nuclear nations are like fish making petty threats and counter-threats while they swim in an ocean of reality they ignore to everyone’s peril: “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” (Ronald Reagan, 1984).

What an opportunity our planet is missing!

We all sense that the arms race has reached a fatal level of destructiveness. There is some debate about how many nuclear detonations might be required to bring on nuclear winter, but the number is clearly a small fraction of the total available to the 9 nuclear powers. The meaning of peace through military strength will never be the same again. In recognition, 122 nations signed an agreement outlawing the weapons.

Two doors face us, one leading to death and one to life. We don’t see it, but both are equally easy to open and walk through. There are 80 million fellow humans in Iran, 25 million in North Korea, 1 and a third billion in China, 140-odd million in Russia, all of whom want the same things we want for our children. Are they all our sworn enemies? Only in the insane, launch-on-warning, “surviving”-a-first-strike world where the tail of nuclear strategy wags the dog of common sense.

Everything has changed, and diplomacy must change with it. Diplomacy based in reality rather than double standards and illusion would suggest meeting our adversaries on the common ground of a shared desire not only to survive by gradual, verifiable, reciprocal steps back from the brink, but also to flourish by becoming free to repurpose the money formerly spent upon weapons to life-affirming programs and devices. Imagine governments encouraging the development of decentralized, sustainable power sources such as batteries and solar panels, creating an economic abundance that would reduce the need for war—a virtuous circle.

On this the major powers must lead—especially the United States, the only nation to have actually used a nuclear weapon to kill people. There are so many small, confidence-building measures we could take unilaterally which would not only not compromise our security, but would increase it, beginning with a pledge of no first use of nuclear weapons.

Such alternatives as renewing and miniaturizing our nuclear arsenal or taking the arms race out into space, as military planners in a number of nations are apparently racing to do, are the height of folly. The level of destruction available to nations is far larger than all our political and economic conflicts, and so the destructiveness has become irrelevant to the resolution of such conflicts. Because this is a Gordian knot we all share, we can cut through it on the basis of a common awareness that the arms race offers no way to reach the common security we all desire.

Winslow Myers, the author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide,” serves on the Advisory Board of the War Prevention Initiative and is a syndicated writer for Peacevoice.

The Nagasaki-Hanford Bridge Project

Posted on: April 16th, 2018 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

The Nagasaki-Hanford Bridge Project was a conference held in Walla Walla in early March sponsored by Global Studies at Whitman College and Consequences of Radiation Exposure (CORE).  A special guest was a hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) from Nagasaki, Mitsugi Moriguchi, who came to visit Hanford, where the plutonium was produced for Fat Man, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, killing over 70,000 people.  The focus of the conference was on cancer and other radiogenic diseases caused by exposure to radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons production, testing or use in warfare.  Speakers at the conference included a professor studying the radiation effects from the Fukushima disaster, a Hanford downwinder, Mr. Moriguchi, and a man who was in his mother’s womb when the bomb fell on Hiroshima.

A featured film was “Hibakusha at the End of the World”.  It begins in Iraq (before the 2nd war) looking at children who developed diseases from to exposure to depleted uranium.  Traveling to the Hanford area, the film examines victims exposed to plutonium production.   The film concludes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with interviews of hibakusha and doctors who monitored radiation health effects from the bombs, emphasizing how US doctors examined but did not treat victims in the aftermath of the bombing.

On the third day, the conference moved to the Richland area where Tom Baile, a lifelong farmer in the area, welcomed conference visitors to his farm.  He drove participants around the perimeter of his farm, on what he called the “Death Mile”, where in every house he could name at least one person who had become ill or who had died of cancer, leukemia, thyroid disease or  other afflictions associated with radiation exposure.

One stop was to Richland High School, home of the “Bombers”.  The name honors employees at Hanford who had donated one day’s pay to purchase a bomber for the war effort.  A picture of the bomber named “Day’s Pay” is on the side of the gymnasium.   But on the basketball court floor, there is a picture of a mushroom cloud.  This was distressing to Mr. Moriguchi; he said it was if people were walking over the dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.   On a more hopeful note, the principal of the school led the group on a tour of the school, ending in the library where there were artifacts from the war days.   Mr. Moriguchi gave the principal a book of testimonials of Nagasaki bombing victims, which Mr. Moriguchi helped collect and edit stories.  The principal said he would encourage students to read it.

On the final day, Mr. Moriguchi visited the Hanford reactor that produced the plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.  Although impressed by the technology that made the bomb possible, he lamented, “There was nothing — nothing about the suffering,” he said.

During the time of the conference, two articles appeared in the Richland newspaper about Hanford workers and the current nuclear power plant.   Washington just passed a law making it easier for the workers to receive compensation (how much easier is still to be seen).  And the Richland (Fukushima-type) nuclear power plant remains under federal scrutiny for safety reasons.  It continues to pose a danger to all downwind and downstream.  There is currently an effort underway to persuade EWEB to stop using power from the Richland facility.  Currently 7.5% of EWEB’s power is nuclear; it is more expensive than renewals and creates waste for which we have not yet found a satisfactory solution.

For more detailed newspaper coverage and photos

http://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article204549949.html

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/northwest/nagasaki-survivor-visits-hanford-finds-some-of-the-story-still-untold/

A. Rose

Listening

Posted on: October 19th, 2017 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

“I should sell my tongue and buy a thousand ears.”

Rumi

 

Thursday morning — one more day to find and listen to someone I might not agree with.

 

That challenge had come from a Beyond War group studying Bill Ury’s book, The Third Side. We were practicing a guideline to listen much more than we talked, with an attitude of respectful curiosity. It seemed easy enough, until I imagined being reduced to tears with the clock set back to 1956, when I was required to wear dresses to school and do as I was told without question.

Protesters sat in lawn chairs outside Planned Parenthood, wrapped in blankets and sheltered from the rain by umbrellas. I had already inoculated myself by reading points of view different from my own, but those sources couldn’t answer back. These people could.

“May I join you? I’d like to learn why you are here. I just want to listen, not to persuade you about a different point of view.”

One of the protesters turned toward me; the other turned her back. “I used to think the way you do, that a woman has a right to decide what happens to her body…until I had children of my own. (And, yes, I can tell that’s what you believe, or you wouldn’t be here to listen to an opposing viewpoint.) My kids were too precious for me to even imagine anyone cutting off their lives before they began, and I realized that I needed to stand up for those who could not speak.”

After she talked for a while, I touched the other woman’s arm and asked whether she had been listening and if she had anything she would like to add. “I have and I sure do! Look at the pictures on this poster! What was done to the fetus at the top was child abuse, pure and simple. I want all babies to be healthy and smiling like the one at the bottom.”

 

She had been a labor and delivery nurse for well over 30 years and knew her argument from the inside out. She had no doubts about her position, and wondered how any feeling person could support abortion. When I asked questions, she answered with statistics and anger at Planned Parenthood’s policies.

 

The first protester then asked me how I could simply listen. How could I refuse to act, in the face of this evidence? How could I “meet my Maker” knowing that I had allowed such barbarity to continue?

I desperately wanted to have a civil discussion and consider more options than are on the table now. But I kept my mouth closed, other than to remind them that I was there to learn, and to practice listening respectfully. It felt deceitful to shelter my beliefs while asking for theirs, but it also felt important.

Before I left, the first woman complimented me. “We don’t have enough people in the world who are willing to listen. Thank you. Please come back and talk with us again. We’d like to hear about you.”

I learned something important that day. All of us have reasons for our beliefs. We cherish stories that point us toward our convictions. Sometimes, all that is needed to ease the door open for a broader conversation is to first listen.

By Rebecca Wolle

After a Seminar On Nuclear Waste Management

Posted on: June 14th, 2017 by BWNWAdmin No Comments
 

The dolmens of Tadenfallow

Bedell the apple greylore,

And sharfle starf in lunlit

They bewhile the nightenflow.

 

Frumunder stoons of dolmens

Grumble sprites and ork-tra-ra

To chortle forth and down the hollow

Leaching out with caustic omens.

 

A cask of crimson sky

– Born of evil goings –

Streck whild from round the dolmens

Of hinderform from eye.

 

The cask was set down deep

Far more than coffin goe

Within a granite toom

No slimery wurm can creep.

 

Dusk was shroud from high

And darkness filled to top

While rancid bubbles burst below

Within the cask of sky.

 

O’er the site there placed

A minder sign to stay

In coldest marble cuts

In pretty words not laced,

 

“Rest quiet now

And cease your shifting

Til come a time

Of land up-lifting.”

Mike C.Rose  (2/1973)

 

Commentary.

As the title states, this poem was written after attending a seminar by a researcher in the field of nuclear waste management.  Pretty grim stuff.  As a result, a nonsense poem texture was used to express the frightening madness of the situation.

The researcher spoke about the state-of-the-art process of “encapsulation by vitrification,” dissolving the nuclear waste in a molten glass and cooling it to form a solid for long term storage.  Besides the enormous problems associated with handling these materials at high temperature and the escape of volatile radioactive isotopes during the heating, there is the unresolved issue that, over a stretch of time, the radiation from nuclear waste likes to destroy any matrix containing the waste.  While initially insoluble in ground water, the glass matrix crumbles.  In the process, it develops an active surface chemistry and BECOMES soluble.  The half-lives of these isotopes are longer than the entire history of human civilization.  The researcher spoke of the need to develop a stable peaceful civilization that will last hundreds of thousands of years –AND- the need for a nuclear priesthood to look after the waste for what seems like an eternity.  In the likely case of the fall of civilization, the burial site should have permanent signage in all known languages.  The lengthy continuing cost of nuclear power will greatly outweigh any short-term profit benefits of nuclear energy, and the weaponry side of nuclear energy makes a stable civilization unlikely.

Silent Space

Posted on: April 22nd, 2017 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

At the Eugene Vocal Arts performance on Friday, April 7, 2017, they sang this exquisite creation by the late Jon Sutton.

 

Silent Space by Jon Sutton

 

In the silent space between us,

there are fields of grasses bending,

and they whisper something diff’rently to each of us in time.

 

In the silent space between us,

there are ripples on the water,

and their echoes bring an image diff’rently to each of us in time.

 

There are mists on cloudy mornings,

with many shades of blossoms dipped in dew.

And the light unveils the greyness as tho’ we knew each other always.

And as the branches grow apart, so do our mem’ries make us diff’rent.

 

Still, in the silent space between us we are one.

A Survivor’s Response to Terrorism: 7 Billion Acts of Goodness

Posted on: September 14th, 2016 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

We all know where we were on the morning of September 11, 2001, and
how the tragedy of that day affected our lives. We also know how the
American government, under the Bush administration, reacted by
launching military invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq to wage war
against the terrorists and the threat of terrorism. And we know that
the aftermath of those wars continues to affect our lives, our county,
those nations, the Middle East and the entire world.

I had never had the experience before of meeting anyone who had been
at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, until last month,
when a survivor came to Eugene to speak about his experience, and its
aftermath.  The speaker, Ram Singal, an engineer, who worked for the
World Trade Center, was in his office on the 64th floor, of the second
tower, when the first plane hit. He described for us what it was like
to be on the inside of that tower (which we can all imagine from the
outside) trying to lead a group of fearful people to safety. He
narrated for us their daunting journey down 64 floors, in almost total
darkness, with pipes bursting, electrical wires dangling, and people
on the brink of death, all around them. All of this, while not knowing
what was really happening, besides the apparent fact that their lives
were dangling as precariously as the towers crumbling around them.

Due to his familiarity with the building, Mr. Singal was able to lead
the group of survivors to a stairwell, and when it was blocked, to
another. And when that one too was blocked, to a third, and final
stairway, mercifully not blocked, which allowed them to finally escape
the building and then run for their lives, as the second tower fell.
It collapse just a few minutes after they emerged from their arduous
decent.

Ram told us what it was like to be on the inside of the towers. And
surprisingly, he also told us what it was like to be inside his mind
during the ordeal. He knew the building, yes; but he knew his mind and
soul as well. Mr. Singal is a student and teacher of a meditation
philosophy called Raja Yoga, as taught by the Brahma Kumaris. Because
he had had many years of meditating under his belt, before that tragic
day, Ram had the capacity to remain positive and to share his belief
with the other survivors that they would all get out alive. He stated
to the audience that the main reason he was able to remain positive
and was never fearful for his life, is that right away he began to
help the others, who were terrified. He was so busy leading them, and
reassuring them, and letting them go first, and helping them find
another way out, that he did not have time to begin to worry for his
own life. In helping others, he did not have time for his own fear.

Mr. Singal also told us about how he managed the aftermath of the
event, the trauma that for so many can become PTSD.  When he awoke the
next day, he felt an intense need to know who the perpetrators were.
His need, however, was not focused on looking for someone to blame,
but rather on seeking the perpetrators in order to be able to offer
them his forgiveness. But at that time, no one knew who had been
responsible for the attack. Therefore, because he felt such an acute
need to forgive someone, he decided to turn his need to forgive
towards himself. He forgave himself for all of his own misdeeds and
transgressions that he could remember, and then he had the sudden
experience of feeling a great lightness of being and intense joy. He
now looked crazy to his fellow survivors and friends at this stage;
they insisted that he was in a state of shock. And perhaps they were
correct at some level, but Ram’s “craziness” did not devolve into
mental illness, burning hatred, or acts of revenge. In the aftermath
of September 11, 2001, his crazy “lightness of being and joy of being
alive” evolved into a decision that he would now dedicate his life to
doing good works for others.

Mr. Singal has created an organization dedicated to that end called 7
Billion Acts of Goodness. The purpose of this organization is to
cultivate humanity’s inner capacities, i.e. our spiritual capacities,
so that we may more readily carry out acts of goodness and kindness
towards others. To clarify, the aim is not necessarily to perform 7
billion acts, but rather to teach people how to meet the overwhelming
stress, sorrow and violence in the world with a cool head and a warm,
open heart. Cultivating such spiritual strengths will empower people
to be able to express more goodness in our world until it spreads out
exponentially and touches 7 billion hearts. If you would like to carry
out acts of goodness in conjunction with millions of others around the
world, instead of some of the more typical responses to terror, you
can learn more about his project and its philosophy by visiting the
website at actsofgoodness.org. And may ripples of goodness and joy
wash over you, and pass on their way to the furthest and farthest
reaches of every human heart, all 7 billion of them.

Kara Steffensen

Lane County Oregon, home of Beyond War Northwest has been preparing to host a refugee family for months.

Posted on: September 14th, 2016 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

Millions of families worldwide are living as refugees, uprooted by war, persecution or natural disaster. A few of these families are finding a new home in Lane County, thanks to a refugee placement program that is spearheaded by a local community task force and coordinated by Catholic Community Services of Lane County.

Local faith-based groups, service organizations, and concerned community members have joined together to form the Refugee Resettlement Coalition of Lane County.  The coalition is working with CCS to welcome and support the refugee families coming to Lane County.  Select one of the links below for ways that you can get involved.

You can be involved in this.  To add your name to the Refugee Resettlement Coalition of Lane County email list, simply email refugee@ccslc.org and ask to be added to the list.

The following documents provide more information:

Refugee Program Announcement 05-11-2016

Frequently Asked Questions updated 5-11-2016

Refugee Program Participation Overview

Refugee Program Local Process

Pdf version of the online application to become a general refugee program volunteer

Parishes Organized to Welcome Refugees May-June 2016

The program in Lane County is currently limited to 35 or fewer refugees (individual family members) per year. Refugee families are coming to Lane County through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Service, the largest refugee resettlement agency in the nation.

On September 7, 2016, the first refugee family arrived.  Click on this link to see and hear this tired and grateful family.

http://nbc16.com/news/local/syrian-refugee-family-arrives-in-eugene

Our own Jim Anderson and his wife, Pat, are involved in these good works.

Imagine the relief of arriving in our beautiful city and the sadness of feeling unsafe in one’s own country. 

Welcome to Lane County, Oregon. May you receive only love and caring from our community.

Submitted by Anne O’Brien

Direct Action to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons

Posted on: May 19th, 2016 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

 

On May 7, we were able to join the Mother’s Day Gathering and Action sponsored by the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington (www.gzcenter.org).  The back fence to their lovely, forested Center, is part of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. Located 20 miles from Seattle, the Trident submarine base at Bangor has the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal. The base is the last active nuclear weapons depot on the West Coast.

As the day began, there was a welcoming, food sharing, action planning, and inspiration prior to forming a peaceful procession to the Main Gate at the naval base. The police that morning had consulted with the Center about the schedule for the demonstration and were lined up waiting for us in front of the gate. Three demonstrators entered the main highway and briefly blocked traffic on the federal side of the Main gate. The three demonstrators carried an illustration of Fr. Daniel Berrigan, revered anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons priest, with a statement by Fr. Berrigan, “Know where you stand and stand there.” The three also carried a colorful banner with symbols linking nuclear weapons and climate change. They were quickly arrested. Two more demonstrators entered the highway on the County side of the main gate. Instead of arrests or citations, these demonstrators were escorted from the highway by the State Patrol. During the direct action, the rest of us held up signs and banners.

We were nonviolent and communicated with the State Patrol officers as often as possible to explain why we were demonstrating. Perhaps our words and attitude made a difference.

The next demonstration will be a Peace Walk from Salem, Oregon to Seattle, Washington the last weekend in July. That will be followed by the August Hiroshima commemorations, coordination with the historical Golden Rule Peace Boat visiting many west coast cities (http://www.veteransforpeace.org/our-work/vfp-national-projects/golden-rule-boat-project/), and concluding with an August 9 direct action when Ground Zero demonstrators in kayaks and other vessels, along with the Golden Rule Peace Boat, will conduct a sail-by and nonviolent presence at the Bangor submarine base in Hood Canal. Join us!

Anne Millhollen

The time is ripe for new initiatives

Posted on: May 18th, 2016 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

 

I recently attended a very interesting film entitled, A Bold Peace, Costa Rica’s Path of Demilitarization. The film was the work of Michael Dreiling and Matthew Eddy and it dealt with Costa Rica’s decision to abolish their military services in favor of a national police force. Dreiling is an associate Professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies at the University of Oregon and felt strongly that this inspiring story needed to be told. It definitely gets one thinking. Could the larger countries of the world do such a thing? It seems like quite a stretch, yet I find myself musing on the possibility. Many strategic thinkers, schooled in realpolitik, would undoubtedly scoff at such a notion but what is the role of military forces indeed but to protect the national security and prevent invasions from other countries. Could a national police force accomplish such a task? Do we really need to spend huge sums of money and set up foreign bases around the world (over 300 at last count) each year trying to persuade other nations to see the world as we see it? Certainly it is a worthwhile question to be pondered and debated.
     A quote from Jill LePore caught my eye, “between militarism and pacifism lie diplomacy, accountability and restraint.” She goes on to say that sometimes, “less is more.” Which leads to policy debates of this political season. I have yet to see defense policy discussed in any depth and it begins to feel as if the military and defense are the “third rail” of American politics. Indeed, what discussion I have heard has been from Jeb Bush who said that the readiness of American troops is in desperate need of more expenditure to keep us on the path of having the most mighty military forces in the world. I guess 700 or 800 billion a year just isn’t enough. Donald Trump echoed those sentiments. It seems there is no rebutting the presumed need for a “mighty military.” If more expenditure on arms and personnel actually brought us more security and happier outcomes for the U.S. and the world, one could support such a view, but that hasn’t proven to be true, so maybe we should begin to explore some of the other options available to us. Let us begin to have that fruitful discussion and explore some of the creative and exciting policy options that we have. The time is ripe for new initiatives.
Jim Anderson

National Downwinders Day

Posted on: January 24th, 2016 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

In 2011 Congress designated January 27 as National Downwinders Day, the date selected to mark the anniversary of the first nuclear test in Nevada in 1951. It is a day to remember those who were exposed to the damaging effects of fallout from atomic bomb testing from 1951 to 1992. Some downwind counties received doses equivalent to 30 times background radiation from leaks in underground testing.

Transported by winds, radioactive clouds reached as far as the Midwest breadbasket and New York, causing excess cancers in those exposed, contaminating the food supply, eventually getting into milk. All the while the government was silent about the risks of exposure to radiation. The public was not warned of potential hazards, and when one test killed thousands of sheep, the government denied all responsibility, insisting no one had been harmed.

Non-downwinders were also adversely affected by war paranoia. In World War II, 179,000 war industry workers were potentially exposed to radiation by a culture that neglected safety due to secrecy and urgency. Then and later in the Cold War, uranium miners, many of whom were Native Americans, developed high rates of lung cancer. Hundreds of thousands of military personnel were exposed to high radiation doses in the postwar occupation of Japan and weapons testing in the Marshall Islands and Nevada.

The weapons industry, as well as a proliferation of nuclear power plants, has created massive amounts of radioactive and hazardous wastes, leaking into the soil, into rivers and streams, contaminating the environment. We don’t yet know how or where to store waste that will be hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years. In many areas, “stored” waste is already leaking radioactivity into the environment.

Now there are plans to spend $1 trillion over the next thirty years to “modernize” the nuclear stockpile by dismantling aging warheads and rebuilding them into precision-guided bombs, violating a 2010 pledge not to develop weapons with new capabilities. To help pay for this, the government proposes to cut health and retirement benefits for workers in the nuclear weapons industry.

We have stalled in progressing beyond the nuclear age and the Cold War.

In Japan, those who survived the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known as Hibakusha. We live on a small planet, breathe the same air, drink the same water, and share the same food. We are all Downwinders; we are all Hibakusha.

By A. Rose