Going to prison for nonviolent civil disobedience against American war-making does wonders to clarify one’s relationship with the U.S. government. I highly recommend it. When I reflect back on my life, it seems I have been preparing for civil disobedience, facing jail or trial, or undergoing probation regularly for 30 years. I’m mainly engaged in writing, speaking and teaching peace to build up the anti-war/global peace movement, but periodic civil disobedience and nonviolent protest have become for me a way of life. Along the way, one meets the best people.
On the Road to Peace
Seventy-five of us gathered over the weekend at the beautiful Upaya Zen Center for a powerful retreat on the themes of nonviolence and peace from Christian and Buddhist perspectives. It was inspiring to lead the retreat with my friend Roshi Joan Halifax, one of the greatest Buddhist leaders in the world. We sat in perfect Buddhist stillness for several one-hour periods of silence each day. Roshi and I presented our teachings, then we had small and large group discussions. I think everyone came away energized, if not changed.
This week, I'm in Mexico, spending time each day at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, trying to enter her story and presence and begging for the grace of peace and wisdom. My friend Jim Reale proposed this retreat. He has just finished two years of daily two-hour meditation every morning in front of her famous image. He wanted to conclude this part of his spiritual journey with a pilgrimage to her and invited me along.
Long ago, Daniel Berrigan told me a tragic story about being invited to speak to a packed church of cloistered nuns somewhere on the East Coast in 1965. They wanted him to read from his latest book of poetry. He did, but then began to quietly denounce the growing U.S. war in Vietnam. The congregation exploded. "How dare you attack our country?" they shouted. "If we don't kill those communists, they'll invade and take over," they said.
On the Road to Peace: Doing Time for Peace tells of those who have gone to jail in following the nonviolent Jesus.
On the Road to Peace: President Obama's inauguration brings thoughts of the war in Afghanistan and the women and children who suffer at the hands of the U.S.
On the Road to Peace: In honor of peacemaker and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, here are a few of his prayers to help work toward nonviolence.
On the Road to Peace: While the government officials who call for drone strikes in Afghanistan walk free, one longtime peace activist is in prison.
God of Peace,
Thank you for your Christmas gift of peace, for the birth and life of the nonviolent Jesus, and all the blessings of peace, hope and love he offers us all.
Year after year, we continue to reject those blessings and offerings of peace, but you keep giving them to us. Everywhere we look, we see violence, war, greed, guns, drones, killings, injustice, nuclear weapons and catastrophic climate change. Even within us, we cling to violence and the old paradigms of war. It seems we are dead set on rejecting your life-giving invitations to peace.
This is part two of my diary from Afghanistan. It's very long, but I offer it to those who are interested in my experience in Afghanistan, where we have waged the longest war in U.S. history. To learn more about the Afghan Peace Volunteers, visit 2millionfriends.org, ourjourneytosmile.com and vcnv.org. Merry Christmas to one and all!