Earlier this month, syndicated columnist Robert Koehler wrote about Civilian Diplomacy. His column did a great job of explaining the historic founding of FOR in 1915 as well as the power of FOR’s peace delegations to Iran. Koehler said a lot of smart things — such as "If we know enough we’ll never go to war again" — but my favorte parts were the words of delegate Hank Brusselback:
"If the government isn’t willing to talk to people, then the people need to be willing to (talk to each other)," Brusselback said. "It comes from a belief in the nature of security — it’s not about weapons, fear and posturing on the world stage. It’s about communication, talking to people, everyone having their basic needs met. If you understood security that way, you’d see that security is about dialogue." […]
On Monday evening, I was interviewed on a web-based radio station about the Fellowship of Reconciliation and especially our upcoming fourth annual Festival of Peace. The program, called "The Screaming Woman" radio show, hosted by Toni Quest (who I didn’t find to be a screamer at all), is produced weekly on Passionate Internet Voices Radio.
Quest will be one of the featured artists in this year’s art exhibit and auction being held at the Festival, and we had a lively conversation about the intersections between art and activism for peace and justice. She also invited me to talk about this year’s peace prize winners, one of which is the Rockland Coalition for Peace & Justice (RCPJ).
This fairy tale begins with a giant silver purse. Visualize that purse being carried in a taxi through Beijing. Oh no, it did not glow. Despite all the brightness inside, the purse perfectly contained the light we were about to unfurl.
But wait, let me back track, just for a moment.
On Sunday, during the 2008 Olympic games’ closing ceremonies, the Chinese government deported 10 Tibet supporters. By 8pm Sunday night these ten citizen journalists and activists were on their way home. They had been sentenced to 10 days of prison; six of them were held for over five days.
We’ve written before about Bayard Rustin, FOR’s racial justice organizer (and war resister) who led the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation and became a chief adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King on the use of nonviolent social change tactics.
Yesterday was the 22nd anniversary of Rustin’s death. Artist Phil Blank has created a poster illustration of Rustin (at left, click to enlarge and read description), featuring the story of his 1947 arrest as part of the Journey of Reconciliation. (Read more about this historic action against segregation.)
Later this week, the Seattle-Tehran Poster Show will debut in Seattle, Washington. This show of stunningly beautiful, provocative, and multi-layered work has been organized and curated over the past several months by Daniel Smith — an artist and a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation's December 2007 civilian diplomacy delegation to Iran — and Iman Raad, an Iranian artist. I would strongly encourage anyone in the Pacific Northwest to attend the show in person — it will be held during the annual Bumbershoot Arts Festival, which draws tens of thousands of people each year to downtown Seattle — and for those who, like me, are nowhere near Seattle, please check out some of these magnificent posters online!
LinkTV's bilingual program "Latin Pulse" produced a 24-minute program on the Colombian hostage rescue, which aired on July 29. I was part of a panel with three others on the program, which starts about half-way in.
You can also watch it and read and a transcript at LinkTV's web site.
Is it a nursery rhyme going through my head? Or just a saying? When I was little and we had spent a long evening out and about and were just pulling up to the front of our house, my mom would always say, “home again, home again, jiggity jig.”
That’s where I am now: back at my house in Oakland, California. After pulling a banner full of blue lights out of a silver bag at 11:30pm in front of the Olympic bird’s nest stadium in Beijing, getting arrested, being detained through the night in a smoky room, put on a 12 hour flight to New York city, waiting at the JFK airport for another 4, sitting through a flight to Oakland for 5 hours, waiting at the airport to be picked up, I finally arrived home at about 10:30pm last night. After 50 hours of no beds, no showers, lots of waiting, a bit of fear, excitement, not knowing what was next, boredom and exhiliration: here I am. Not sure what to do with myself. Not sure what to say.
Kudos to John Lindsay-Poland, Co-Director of our Task Force on Latin American and the Carribean, for his research earlier this year that led to a report with Amnesty International on extrajudicial killings committed by Colombian army brigades financed by the United States. The report was mentioned in a recent Los Angeles Times story about the increase in the number of civilians killed by US-supported Colombian military units.
The number of civilians killed by the Colombian armed forces has soared, activist groups allege, with many of the abuses committed by army units that had been vetted by the State Department.
The following is a letter from Sara Koopman, recently returned from our August peace delegation to Colombia.
Dear friends and family,
Thanks for all your support vibes last week! Well, I was sweating so much in the tropical hazy heat that there wasn’t much danger of me wandering off the path to pee. So, happily I didn’t get blown up on the hike up to the peace community, though my stomach, skin and throat did all puff up incredibly — I got miserably sick in several unpleasant ways (thus the delay in this report-back), but I managed to keep it together long enough to be fabulously inspired by the brave folks there who are resisting being displaced from their land (1 in 10 Colombians have been forced to flee their homes and communities — and in the traditionally Afro-Colombian regions it`s more like 1 in 3).
It`s not hard to see why so many different actors want to get their hands on this land — it’s stunningly gorgeous incredibly fertile tropical land in mountains that allow for access to a major Caribbean gulf port (that lots of arms and drugs flow in and out of) and access down to several valleys. It’s harder to see how the community members have been brave enough to stay, and even serve on the community council, when over a hundred of them have been killed for it. Why are they willing to risk so much to build a peace space in the midst of a hot war zone?