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

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



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)



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

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 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 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.

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 (  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 (, 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

U. S. Defense Policy

Posted on: November 15th, 2015 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

“When a country obtains great power,

it becomes like the sea:

all streams run downward into it.

The more powerful it grows,

the greater the need for humility.

Humility means trusting the Tao,

thus never needing to be defensive.”

The Tao Te Ching, #61 as translated by Stephen Mitchell


Clearly, arrogance and hubris have been complicating factors in U.S. Defense Policy.They have sometimes led to thinking that we can control other nations by using our powerful military forces which too often results in counter-productive, tragic and very expensive outcomes. The need for humility in making these momentous decisions becomes clear.

I sometimes ask myself why I continue to be involved in Peace causes. From one perspective, given the bellicose nature of International Relations today, it can occasionally appear futile trying to bump up against the hugely funded and seemingly unstoppable military budgets of the United States, but also of Russia, China and many others. These expenditures amount to approximately two trillion dollars each and every year and could be deployed in such a way as to create more “security” for people who need clean, pure water systems, better educational opportunities, accessible medical care and facilities and many other exciting possibilities. How do we begin to deal with this “defense” behemoth which some people feel is a necessary expenditure to preserve and protect their country’s national security.

This is a large challenge indeed. And…it will certainly not turn around overnight. In addition, it is very clear that every nation needs to have some feeling of security in regard to its own national defense, so reducing defense expenditures to zero is not remotely feasible or even desirable. Still, it seems beneficial for all countries to begin cutting back defense expenditures so that money can be freed up to meet crucial human needs. Even a small percentage of the huge national defense budgets could go a long ways to improving the lot of ordinary citizens. For example, it has been estimated that an annual expenditure of 15 billion dollars for ten years could supply all the nations of the world with pure drinking water, which would be one of the greatest public health breakthroughs of all time. Many other equally exciting projects come to mind. Rather than fearing each other and our nefarious designs against each other, collaboration and co-operation can come to be priorities and we can begin to move away from fearful scenarios and begin to embrace the creative potential of our lives.

This is the challenge of putting forth the vision of a world Beyond War. We who are excited by this view of the world can be seen as Pollyannas, or hopeless and naive idealists who don’t understand the fallen nature of men and women and the demands of “realpolitik”. This could well be worthwhile criticism if the way that national defenses are presently structured led to wonderful outcomes but this is clearly not the case. So…it is crucial and highly important that our vision of the possibilities that we as citizens of the world might gift ourselves with continues to be put forward as a viable alternative to our present dysfunctional and reactive system. War and fear of other nations are not inevitable. We can listen to the “better angels” of our nature and continue the slow, sometimes painful but always useful vision of a new world order of opportunity, harmony and peaceful conflict resolution. This is what keeps me going.

–Jim Anderson


Can US Foreign Policy Become a Force for Peace?

Posted on: November 12th, 2015 by BWNWAdmin No Comments


That’s the question Carol Van Houten of CALC helped answer at the Church Women United of Lane County November Celebration of “Our Journey Toward Peace.”

Carol started out with some hopeful notes by sharing examples of some of our relatively successful foreign policy decisions starting with our improving relations with Cuba after all these years of what many of us have seen as senseless sanctions. There’s still work to be done but we have seen some real progress already.

Costa Rica has been doing rather nicely (thank you) while maintaining no military presence. Can you imagine the savings in their federal budget? Hopefully NAFTA regulations won’t change that.

Tunisia : The four groups that have put together a successful democracy there received the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Though problems will continue to arise, this can be seen as a successful element of the Arab Spring. Costa Rica and Tunisia are examples of the locals doing it themselves with the USA neither helping nor hindering. We don’t have to do it all.

There was quite a struggle getting to the Iran Agreement but it is a great example of diplomacy succeeding over military intervention. I just read that 57% of American Jews supported the agreement which is higher than the population at large. (Lou Dubose in Washington Spectator). Some forceful actions, not lethal actions, are necessary. Sanctions are good examples of these.

Of course we church ladies liked this one: Women Matter. Women were prominent in the democratization of Tunisia. The State Department’s Wendy Sherman was working with little fanfare for the long term preparation of the Iran Agreement.   Both are examples of what social scientists have found: if women are involved things go better. (We knew that).

How to get more of what works? Carol suggests we stop doing stupid things. A good example is the Iraq War. The blowback from that made things worse than ever in that area. The US has been involved in developing terrorists in the Middle East since the 80’s in Afghanistan when we trained the Mujahedeen to fight the Russians. Drone strikes and Special Ops have killed more civilians than bad guys. These could be recruiting posters for ISIS.

We need more thoughtful leaders, not just knee jerk, get even types. We need to reconsider American Exceptionalism and thinking that we are indispensable. We are not. Other countries have legitimate ideas. Though we may have differences, we need to learn to co-habit with others around the globe.

Is it not obvious that we need to stop the arms race? Carol pointed out that the UN Security Council is made up of five nations that sell the most arms throughout the world. (The fox tending the chicken coop comes to mind.) Carol says we can stop selling arms and we can stop giving old military stuff to police departments as well. Now we are upgrading our nuclear arsenal and developing more accurate missiles while it has been obvious for years that we need to decrease the danger of having these arms. Carol reminded us of Ike’s warning about the military industrial complex.

Regarding the Middle East, Carol offered that ISIS is not a threat to the US; it is an ideology not an armed country. We need to spend our time, energy and money on rebuilding our homeland. We can become leaders in education and health care access and quality. We can work out our problems with racism and immigration. We can take the time to make a full bore commitment to dealing with climate change. It is real. Our own Senator Merkley has been in the lead with measures to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Thanks, Carol for leaving us with some hope. Here’s what we can do:

  • Be informed.
  • Challenge the notion of American exceptionalism.
  • Increase the role of women everywhere, every time. Note that the marines found that when women are involved in groups, better decisions are made.
  • Challenge the image of masculinity being violent, controlling, using force with guns. (gun control)
  • Support political change. There are movements to increase local control of decision making. Know that businesses are there to protect business interests not necessarily in our best interest. An example is Monsanto and GMO seeds rather than supporting local growers.
  • Be aware of future wars caused by shortages of water.
  • For years after WWII we relied on MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). Rather, diplomacy can be how “we be in the world.”
  • It’s estimated we’ve spent 4.5 TRILLION dollars on wars in the Middle East. It’s been estimated that we’d need to spend 1 million dollars per day since Jesus was born just to get us to ONE TRILLION dollars.
  • It’s urgent that we become a force for peace.

(Submitted by Anne O’Brien)