Tuesday, October 24, 2006

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Women's Christian Peacemaker delegation


Please pause for a moment in prayer for this women's delegation currently traveling in the Democractic Republic of the Congo.

Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace

CPTnet ~ www.cpt.org

23 October 2006 DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Women's Christian Peacemaker delegation arrives On 20 October 2006, eleven members of a delegation sponsored by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

After flying into Bujumbura, Burundi, the delegation traveled overland to Uvira, DRC, where women of the local church welcomed them with dancing.

Over the next two weeks, delegates plan to meet with representatives of churches and human rights organizations in the cities of Uvira, Bukavu, and Goma and in rural villages. They will witness the effects of the war and learn about the West's role in the on-going conflict perpetuated by rival militias seeking control of lucrative mineral resources.

A focus of the all-women delegation will be speaking with Congolese women about the impact of the violence on their lives and the steps they are taking to bring healing to their communities.


Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks to enlist the whole church in organized, nonviolent alternatives to war and places teams of trained peacemakers in regions of lethal conflict. Originally a violence-reduction initiative of the historic peace churches (Mennonite, Church of the Brethren and Quaker), CPT now enjoys support and membership from a wide range of Christian denominations.


not some optional accessory in Christian living

The peace witness along with the nonviolent struggle for justice is not some optional accessory in Christian living. It has to do with living out in frail human response an intimation of what Jesus lived out in going to his death for our salvation.
- Dale Aukerman

Thanks to Sojourners (www.sojo.net) and to PWAL member Illana Naylor for raising up this quote from Church of the Brethren peace theologian Dale Aukerman.

You can find an article of Dale's, "Reckoning with Apacalypse," published in 1999 in The Christian Century, here.

You also may be interested in Dale's book-length writings, The Darkening Valley: A Biblical Perspective on Nuclear War (1989), and Reckoning with Apocalypse: Terminal Politics and Christian Hope (1993).


Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace

10080 Minutes in Paradise: Reflections from an ecumenical accompanier

Dear sisters, brothers, friends,

This reflection comes from Michael Oliphant, a member of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program for Palestine and Israel ( http://www.eappi.org/). EAPPI has as its mission
"to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation. Participants of the programme are monitoring and reporting violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, supporting acts of non-violent resistance alongside local Christian and Muslim Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, offering protection through non-violent presence, engaging in public policy advocacy and, in general, standing in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation."
If you are interested in a bit more information on EAPPI (a program of the World Council of Churches), you can find it under Michael's reflection.

Are there violations of human rights in your own setting that need to be monitored? What might "nonviolent presence" look like in the neighborhoods where you live, work, or worship?

May the people of God incarnate God's body in our times.


Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace

You can find many photos of EAPPI's work at www.eappi.org-- click on "Photo Gallery" in the lower left

9 October 2006

10080 minutes in paradise
Michael Oliphant, South Africa

If your wonder years were during the seventies, you would remember Mike Batt of Tubular Bells fame. One of his less popular songs was ‘The Ride to Agadir’ which stirred my imagination and evoked images of battles in the desert and rides on caravans of camels - rides that we all have needed to take - risky rides into the unknown ‘for the ashes of our fathers and the children of our sons’. Since then I have dreamed of making such a journey and then I was in the middle of it. This time though, the journey was the ride to Tulare - a name which evoked in me similarly exotic locations in the desert.

The ride to Tulkarem started my journey of 10080 minutes in paradise. From Jerusalem travelling north, the journey is uneventful until one hits the mountainous region surrounding the city. It is then redolent of Agadir and journeys and battles for honour. Anyway I was on a bus and there was no enemy but it felt good to live a childhood dream. The beauty is breathtaking and the bus ride hair-raising. There are villages on every hilltop. People are living here. The city itself is alive! It vibrates at its own speed and moves to its own rhythm. Many journeys were undertaken from here, most notably to the Mediterranean Sea not 15 kms away. The ubiquitous Wall has put an end to that. The cruellest thing of all is that the sea continues to render the city unbearably humid. So residents suffer the humidity without the option of heading seawards to counter it with a splash in the ocean. I am told that if Tulkarem is alive now, it was positively bristling not too long ago. Israelis and Palestinians cooperated economically as Tulkarem provided services and goods, and Israelis provided New Israeli Shekels. The Wall has put an end to that too.

I visit a Dabkha studio and see young boys ranging in age from 6 or 7 to 19 and 20. As they increase in age, they grow in dexterity. The dance is technically exacting and physically demanding and they add variations which set their moves apart from others. I see that Dabkha is a key marker and maker of identity. It is also a group thing and they move as one on and off the Dabkha floor. As they dance to the exotic rhythms, we who watch are mesmerized and seduced into joining – if only to make fools of ourselves. Dabkha is not simply about steps and moves. It is a substitute for the sea, and freedom and life opportunities - so like our own experience of, and our obsession with, dance in South Africa. Dance makes life bearable however bad that life is. They push themselves harder and further in their quest to feel alive - truly alive - and to find meaning and advantage, finally falling to the floor in exhaustion – laughing, demanding water from the little ones who rush to serve their heroes!

On Thursday night I am to celebrate the Mass in a Greek Orthodox Church – the only church in Tulkarem. There is only one Christian family in the city and the church was completely run down. Then Dawood and his family and his friends who were almost exclusively Muslim, lovingly restored the church. The electrical engineer was Muslim and proudly showed me his work. The hall is still not restored and looks like the church once looked. The restoration was not simply cosmetic. The walls were stripped down to the stone and re-plastered, the ceiling redone and the woodwork restored. That night at six, I believe the kingdom was advanced just a little bit as an African Anglican celebrated the Mass in a Greek Orthodox church that the Patriarch had celebrated the Mass in the Sunday before, to a truly ecumenical congregation including a contingent of Muslims. That night, news filtered in about the Pope’s speech in Germany and on the Sunday morning following this moment, we would receive news that the church had been razed to the ground. I cannot begin to describe my personal devastation, so I could only just begin to imagine theirs. There is a good news end to this, however. That day the community, predominantly Muslim, met in solidarity with Dawood and his family and the leaders pledged to raise funds personally and to rebuild the church. Ecumenism had triumphed over stupidity.

I left Tulkarem overwhelmed by the Palestinian hunger for life and the pockets of hope which I find as I go about this country. They have so little to be grateful for, yet they are grateful and drink deep of the little stream that flows their way.

On Tuesday we meet with the Arab Education Institute (AEI) - the new graduates/employees group. They meet weekly for reflections on non-violence and then talk about their difficulties in the work place. A number of the attendees are employed within institutions that fall within the ambit of the Palestinian Authority. They are teachers, healthcare workers, and municipal workers and have not been paid for seven months.

At this point I want to introduce an important word in the Palestinian lexicon: Sumud. It is important in that it describes the Palestinian spirit or geist. Regardless of the situation, Sumud kicks in and regulates the response to the threat or danger. Humanity kicks in and lifts the communal spirit and makes coping possible – coping at all costs. This has the effect of presenting a deception that ‘all is okay’. More importantly, it also engenders sharing widely amongst family members: better to have 20 families sharing 3000 shekels than 19 families going hungry. You would instantly recognize this as ubuntu. It is the Palestinian people’s greatest blessing and greatest curse. I have known about the withholding of funds to the PA, but I have never seen the evidence on the ground. Today in this meeting for the first time I hear of the hardships families are experiencing because Hamas won the election. So as you look from the outside in, everything is fine, yet it is not and has not been for seven months. And here is the rub: they have all continued to work in spite of that.

Later the same night we go on to the Alternative Information Centre in Beit Sahour and tonight, instead of the usual format of a speaker, we have music; traditional instruments, traditional songs, but with a new found zestness and a baseline to die for. The audience is mostly women, all dressed up and made-up, enjoying an evening of cultural intercourse. All of the difficulties are subsumed for a moment, and beauty reigns. Sumud kicks in. People are living here! This is paradise and I have had 10080 minutes of it. God is good!

EAPPI Overview

The EAPPI is an initiative of the World Council of Churches under the Ecumenical Campaign to End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine: Support a Just Peace in the Middle East. Its mission is to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation. Participants of the programme are monitoring and reporting violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, supporting acts of non-violent resistance alongside local Christian and Muslim Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, offering protection through non-violent presence, engaging in public policy advocacy and, in general, standing in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation.


While the programme's mission is to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in non-violent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation, its detailed objectives are to:
    • Expose the violence of the occupation
    • End the brutality, humiliation and violence against civilians
    • Construct a stronger global advocacy network
    • Ensure the respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law
    • Influence public opinion in home country and affect foreign policy on Middle East in order to end the occupation and create a viable Palestinian State
    • Express solidarity with Palestinian and Israeli peace activists and empower local Palestinian communities/churches
    • Be an active witness that an alternative, non-violent struggle for justice and peace is possible to end the illegal occupation of Palestine

Further to the call by the local churches of Jerusalem, as expressed to the Ecumenical Delegation to Israel and the OPT in June 2001, and at the International Ecumenical Consultation in Geneva in August 2001, the WCC Executive Committee meeting of September 2001 recommended to "develop an accompaniment programme that would include an international ecumenical presence based on the experience of the Christian Peacemakers Team".

After extensive consultation with the churches and ecumenical partners and following the initial phase of assessment and feasibility (October 2001 - January 2002), the WCC International Relations team convened a meeting of the Accompaniment Working Group on February 1-2, 2002, in Geneva in order to develop the framework of the accompaniment programme for the approval of the WCC Executive Committee in February 2002.


Based on its agreed framework, the EAPPI is based on principles of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law, including resolutions of the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights. It is a programme developed as a response to Israel’s violation of internationally accepted norms and principles of human rights and the rule of law, in particular the IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights whose Article 1 requires that parties to the Covenant protect the rights of all individuals subject to its jurisdiction, that is individuals under its effective control.


Including the 16 new accompaniers who recently arrived in Jerusalem, the total number of people to have participated in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme since its inception is now 304.

The latest group includes one from Germany, one from Kenya, five from Norway, three from South Africa, four from Switzerland and two from the UK, including two EAs who are returning for a second term.

The group consists of twelve women and four men, who are serving in five placements: Bethlehem, Hebron, Jerusalem, Tulkarem and Yanoun.

Ecumenical accompaniers, who serve a minimum of three months, work in various capacities with local churches, Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, as well as Palestinian communities, to try to reduce the brutality of the Israeli occupation and improve the daily lives of both peoples.

Since the programme was launched in August 2002, accompaniers have participated from more than 30 churches and ecumenical partners in 14 countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the USA

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) was launched in August 2002. Ecumenical accompaniers monitor and report violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, support acts of non-violent resistance alongside local Christian and Muslim Palestianians and Israeli peace activists, offer protection through non-violent presence, engage in public policy advocacy and stand in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation. The programme is coordinated by the World Council of Churches (WCC).


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Muhammad Yunus wins 2006 Nobel Peace Prize

From www.nobelprize.org

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2006

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006, divided into two equal parts, to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.

Muhammad Yunus has shown himself to be a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but also in many other countries. Loans to poor people without any financial security had appeared to be an impossible idea. From modest beginnings three decades ago, Yunus has, first and foremost through Grameen Bank, developed micro-credit into an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty. Grameen Bank has been a source of ideas and models for the many institutions in the field of micro-credit that have sprung up around the world.

Every single individual on earth has both the potential and the right to live a decent life. Across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development.

Micro-credit has proved to be an important liberating force in societies where women in particular have to struggle against repressive social and economic conditions. Economic growth and political democracy can not achieve their full potential unless the female half of humanity participates on an equal footing with the male.

Yunus's long-term vision is to eliminate poverty in the world. That vision can not be realised by means of micro-credit alone. But Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that, in the continuing efforts to achieve it, micro-credit must play a major part.

Oslo, 13 October 2006

Here is more information about the Grameen Bank and its vision, from www.GrameenFoundation.org:

What we do


Microfinance - a powerful poverty-fighting tool: Microfinance helps people to escape poverty by giving them collateral-free loans and other  financial services to support income-generating businesses.  As each loan is repaid, the money is redistributed as loans to others, thereby mulitiplying its impact. For Fatima, a FONDEP client in Morocco, the loans have helped her build a business and new horizons for her children.

Learn more about microfinance

We support microfinance programs that enable the poor, mostly women, to lift themselves out of poverty and make better lives for their families.  To do this, we partner with a worldwide network of microfinance institutions.  Our work focuses on four key areas:

Supporting microfinance institutions

Our partner microfinance institutions (MFIs) work on the front lines daily, meeting the needs of clients and reaching out to others who can benefit from microfinance. To help them be efficient and effective and increase their outreach, we provide microfinance program support in the form of funding, technical assistance, training and new technology.

Harnessing the power of technology 

Grameen Foundation's Technology Center is the leader in information and communications technology (ICT) initiatives that are dedicated exclusively to advancing microfinance. To help microfinance reach its full potential, we are driving industry-changing innovations that increase the efficiency of microfinance institutions' operations, create new microbusiness opportunities for the poor, and provide telecommunications access for the world's rural poor.

Connecting microfinance institutions with capital markets

Our Capital Markets Group is harnessing the vast resources of local and international capital markets to bring new financial resources to our microfinance institution partners.  With more than 400 million poor people cut off from financial services, there is a huge, unmet need for microfinance.  To reach them, MFIs need capital beyond the traditional philanthropic support to rapidly expand their operations and increase outreach.

Expanding microfinance industry knowledge

New ideas and innovative thinking will drive the expansion and effectiveness of microfinance. Knowledge sharing is an important component of our work. To have the greatest impact on global poverty, we are committed to sharing ideas and innovations with the wider microfinance community. We hope this "open-sourcing" of information will guide other organizations in improving the industry's outreach to the more than one billion people living in abject poverty.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

De-cruiter wins Long Haul Prize


This article from the San Francisco Chronicle strikes me for a couple of reasons. What a great idea to have a Long Haul Prize for dedicated peacemakers! And I love the term "de-cruiter."

In addition, I really appreciate Stinson's perspective of training high school students at five high schools to do counter-recruitment tabling -- that's the kind of organizing that I aspire to.

May we all find ways to struggle against empire within us and around us,
for the long haul,
one day at a time,
one breath at a time.


Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace

San Francisco Chronicle
De-recruiter wins Long Haul Prize
Meredith May, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, September 16, 2006

When military recruiters set up a table at a high school in Sonoma County, chances are Elizabeth Stinson is taking a seat right next to them, to try to urge youngsters not to enlist.

The director of the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County counts at least 400 people she's "de-recruited" from the military, a statistic that helped her win this year's Long Haul Prize, given to the most active activist in politically active Northern California.

"Teenagers are trying to separate from their parents as individuals, so they're vulnerable to a recruiter," said the 57-year-old Forestville mother of three, surrounded by posters of Malcolm X, Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. in her Santa Rosa office.

"It's only fair we show them there are other alternatives," she said.

Stinson has trained task forces of teenagers at five Sonoma County high schools to set up their own counter-military recruitment tables.

She will receive her $750 award Thursday from the Agape Foundation for Nonviolent Change in San Francisco, which has given $11.3 million to grassroots advocacy groups since 1969.

"When I called to tell her she won, she cried," said Agape Executive Director Karen Topakian. "When you do this kind of work, it's often outside the public eye, and you do it for decades because it needs to be done, but it can really feel like you are alone."

Stinson was chosen for her lifelong commitment to human rights causes.

From 1990 to 1996, Stinson served as a liaison between the Sioux Nation and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization -- an international group made up of indigenous peoples, occupied nations and independent states not recognized by the international community.

As a human rights observer from 1988 to 1996, she helped American Indian communities document deforestation and uranium pollution on their reservations.

At the same time, she became a "sanctuary mom" and took five El Salvadoran children into her home after their father was killed by death squads.

She earned a master's degree in psychology from the University of San Francisco, and is studying to become a licensed therapist.

Lately, Stinson has been spending most of her time answering calls from those who want help leaving the military.

"She gave me unconditional support after I was arrested for refusing to go to Iraq and serve as an interrogator at Abu Ghraib," said Edward Walters of Clearlake Oaks (Lake County), who served 13 years with the Navy and was then called back in 2005 as a reservist for prison duty.

Stinson worked with the military law task force at the National Lawyers Guild to get Walters discharged last March.

"She didn't have to work that hard for me," Walters said. "You don't see that anymore. It's rare."

Stinson's development into a human rights activist was an organic one, she said, cultivated by a childhood spent in the native culture of the Southwest and coming of age watching friends get drafted for the Vietnam War.

"As activists, our job is to perturb the system," Stinson said. "We are on the outside of this big messy balloon full of muck, and we have to keep pushing on it to eventually cause a shift."

Stinson doesn't give in to activist burnout because she believes the shift happens one person at a time.

She has plenty of examples. A favorite is the kid with the military crew cut who crossed his arms and stared at her while she "de-recruited" at Casa Grande High in Petaluma last year.

As she was leaving, he finally approached and asked if she remembered him from an anti-war protest that got out of hand on campus.

"I was the one who spit on you," he told her. "I'm in the Marines now. I need your help."

E-mail Meredith May at mmay@sfchronicle.com.

Page B - 1
URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/16/BAG4CL6OFN1.DTL

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

James Lawson's Return to Vanderbilt

Dear friends,

Here's an item on James Lawson from a recent issue of the New York Times.

As a field organizer for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Lawson was a significant force in training and organizing across the south in the era of the Civil Rights Movement. He has continued as a leader in nonviolence education through his life, most recently through monthly workshops in Los Angeles. Elsewhere Martin Marty wrote of Lawson:
Controversy marked Lawson's youth, and he has never ducked it from 1960, when he came to prominence, down to the present. His problem: He is and always has been an advocate and embodiment of nonviolence. His mother taught him the nonviolent way. Lawson's ability to draw on the Bible, Methodist theology, and Gandhi allowed him to fuse them into his own developing theology, and action pushed him into central roles in the churchly and academic sides of the civil rights movement. He traveled to India to be closer to Gandhian teaching, and to Vanderbilt Divinity School to be closer to Christian theology with a Methodist stamp.
His subsequent expulsion from Vanderbilt, and his recent return, are the subject of this article.

Blessings on your path,

Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace

October 4, 2006

Activist Ousted From Vanderbilt Is Back, as a Teacher



NASHVILLE ­ Just before 6 p.m. on a recent evening, students began to fill a lecture hall at Vanderbilt University. Some pressed cellphones to their ears, others sipped cups of coffee. Flip-flops scuffed the carpet as the students shed book bags and opened laptops.

A typical class, perhaps ­ until the teacher with the shock of white hair rose from the table at the front of the hall, greeted the students and asked a question: “How many of you have experienced a hate crime against yourself? Let’s see the hands.”

So began the lecture by the Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., 78, who returned to teach at Vanderbilt this fall, 46 years after the university expelled him for his role in lunch-counter sit-ins that made Nashville a springboard for a generation of civil rights activists.

The expulsion of Mr. Lawson, a Methodist divinity student who was one of the nation’s leading scholars of civil disobedience and Gandhian nonviolence, was quickly dubbed the Lawson affair, and tarnished Vanderbilt’s reputation for years. University officials apologized to Mr. Lawson long ago, honoring him and inviting him back for periodic lectures. Even Harvie Branscomb, the chancellor who presided over Mr. Lawson’s ouster, apologized before his death.

But the invitation to return as a visiting professor is a new chapter in relations between Vanderbilt and its famous former student.

“It isn’t often that an institution gets the chance to correct for a previous error,” said Lucius Outlaw, Vanderbilt’s associate provost for undergraduate education, who first proposed that Mr. Lawson be asked here for the year.

Mr. Lawson said the invitation came “out of the blue.” He bore no grudge when he was expelled, he said, nor does he today.

“I simply did not anticipate that Vanderbilt would do this, or offer me that, so I had no inkling,” he said.

He also said he intended to accept the university’s invitation to donate his papers to its archive.

When Mr. Lawson enrolled in 1958, Vanderbilt was still largely segregated and widely seen as aloof from Nashville, which had a reputation as being racially moderate though still a segregated city.

Mr. Lawson, who at the time was a field officer for the pacifist group Fellowship of Reconciliation, had spent three years studying nonviolence while a missionary in India. He was one of only a handful of blacks at Vanderbilt, which had begun admitting black graduate students, but not black undergraduates.

In some cases unwittingly, Mr. Lawson said, he began undoing segregation on campus and off. He ate at the university’s whites-only cafeterias and played intramural football. When he bought orchestra seats for the Nashville Symphony through the university, he and his date, Dorothy Wood (now his wife), were ushered to a blacks-only section of the balcony. Once there, Mr. Lawson said, another usher consulted their tickets and told them their seats were on the concert hall’s first floor.

“Dorothy and I desegregated Symphony Hall, because we went back downstairs,” he said. “They were a little surprised, but they led us to the row and we sat down.”

The university, he said, took notice and tolerated those activities. But that changed, he recalled, in the winter of 1960.

For months in late 1959, Mr. Lawson led workshops on nonviolence for students from Nashville colleges and universities, including Fisk, American Baptist, and Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial, in preparation for peaceful protests at downtown businesses and for a campaign to desegregate the city’s lunch counters. Their lunch-counter sit-ins, coming on the heels of those in Greensboro, N.C., in early February, were well-organized and drew national attention. Protesters kept up pressure on the city, and in late February about 80 students were arrested.

Under pressure from university board members, including James G. Stahlman, the strongly anti-integration editor of The Banner, one of two daily newspapers in Nashville, Chancellor Branscomb told the dean of the divinity school to ask Mr. Lawson to withdraw.

Mr. Lawson refused, and the board expelled him, which quickly led to protests, condemnation from other colleges across the country, and the resignation of the dean and faculty members from the divinity school.

Mr. Lawson finished his studies at Boston University and returned to Tennessee as a Methodist pastor in Shelbyville, south of Nashville, and then in Memphis.

His actions influenced a generation of activists who went on to help organize the Freedom Rides in the Deep South in 1961. Some, like Stokely Carmichael; Marion S. Barry Jr., who later became mayor of Washington; and John Lewis, who is a Democratic congressman from Georgia, took the national stage.

Chancellor Gordon Gee said Mr. Lawson’s expulsion was a defining moment for Vanderbilt, forcing it to decide whether to modernize or “remain in amber.” His return this year, Mr. Gee said, closes the loop on a transformative period in the university’s history.

“It’s a reminder that we have much left to do,” he said. “But we’ve come a long way.”

Mr. Lawson admits to a certain anxiety about being the torchbearer for the civil rights movement.

“I want to be sure that my understanding of the 50’s and 60’s is relevant to the present,” he said.

During the evening lecture, he tucked his hands in his trouser pockets and jingled loose change as he paced in front of the class. He sprinkled his comments with references to the Bible and Gandhi as the students discussed hate crimes, role-played confrontations between strangers, and saw a movie about the antiapartheid movement in South Africa.

A student in the back row, Elias Feghali, asked about violence and Islam. Mr. Lawson hesitated only a moment before starting a discussion of the international arms trade and how difficult it was to disarm a society armed to the teeth.

“I don’t happen to think that Islam is the most violent religion,” he added. “I think Christianity is. As a Christian, I think we need to think about ourselves first, and clean up our own act.”

Afterward, Mr. Feghali said he had been “blown away” by Mr. Lawson’s course. Nonviolence, Mr. Feghali said, is more relevant today than ever.

“Obviously it’s the right step to take,” he said of Vanderbilt’s invitation to Mr. Lawson. “They probably should have reached out to him much earlier.”


Friday, October 13, 2006

October 18 6PM EASTERN / Encountering Recruitment Networking Call

On Earth Peace ~ Peace Witness Action List
(please forward widely)
October 13, 2006

October 2006 Encountering Recruitment Networking Call

Greetings, friends!

Every six to eight weeks, On Earth Peace sponsors a networking call for anyone working on truth-in-recruitment organizing, especially focused on supporting those working from the basis of Christian faith (though all are warmly welcomed to participate).  

It's time for the next call, which will take place next Wednesday, October 18, at 6:00PM.

Please RSVP to me at mattguynn @ earthlink.net to join in. 

Wednesday's call will feature feature 1) Christian theological reflection on counter-recruitment, 2) a chance to share and hear stories with other organizers around the country, 3) highlights of recent resources and new developments in the truth-in-recruiting movement.

The networking calls are always a high-energy boost of cross-pollination including organizers from coast to coast. Participants are already signed up from six states, and there are four slots left. 

Would you like to join us on October 18 at 6:00PM EASTERN?

Take care,

Matt Guynn
coordinator of peace witness
On Earth Peace

On Earth Peace is a peace education and action agency rooted in the Church of the Brethren.


You are receiving this message as a part of the "Peace Witness Action List," a program of On Earth Peace.  This list is to alert you of creative nonviolent action throughout the United States and beyond, with the intention of inspiring Spirit-filled creative action in your community.  Find this and previous posts online at www.nonviolencenews.blogspot.com.

On Earth Peace is an agency rooted in the Church of the Brethren, helping people faithfully discern "the things that make for peace" (Luke 19).

If you know stories of nonviolent action that are happening that others might want to know about, please e-mail them to mattguynn@earthlink.net. 

If you would like to receive these alerts or end your subscription, kindly send an e-mail message to mattguynn@earthlink.net.

On the web: www.onearthpeace.org; Tel (410) 635-8704; On Earth Peace, PO Box 188, New Windsor, MD 21776-0188.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

COLOMBIA: CPTers accompany mining region residents after assassination

29 September 2006

COLOMBIA: CPTers accompany mining region residents who demand justice after
assassination, other military abuses

After months of increasing military presence in their communities, 1300
miners, their families and other residents of Colombia's Southern Bolivar
region are in a tense standoff with civilian and military authorities.

The act that turned simmering discontent into organized protest was the
assassination on 19 September of Alejandro Uribe, a community leader and
father of two.

The day after Uribe's murder, frightened area residents gathered in the
village of San Luquitas to discuss a response to the situation.  They
decided to converge on the regional seat of government, Santa Rosa del Sur,
to demand that the government investigate Alejandro's death and respond to
ongoing military abuses against civilians in the area.  The convergence that
began 22 September accumulated approximately 1300 people by 26 September.
CPTers Lisa Hughes and Kim Lamberty have been accompanying the miners and
their families since 22 September.

In a public statement, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Magangue called
Alejandro's murder the "culmination of a disturbing chain of attacks,
blockades, threats and other assassinations that, according to the
population of the area, unfortunately are being committed by members of the
Nueva Granada Battalion [of the 5th Brigade] of the Colombian Army."  Local
residents claim the militarization is part of a campaign to intimidate and
force people off their land in order to make room for the multinational
company Anglo Gold Ashanti and its Colombian affiliate, Kedahda S.A.

The communities gathered in Santa Rosa organized a peaceful candlelight
march through the town the evening of 24 September. Members of each of the
sixteen communities paid homage to Alejandro and other disappeared and
assassinated community leaders and pledged to keep their spirits alive by
continuing the nonviolent struggle for justice.

The morning of 26 September, the communities-along with representatives of
the Catholic Church and local, national, and international human rights and
humanitarian organizations, including Christian Peacemaker Teams-were
gathered for a much-anticipated meeting with national government authorities
about the situation in Southern Bolivar.  The main condition the communities
placed on the meeting was that it should take place with civilian
authorities only.  However, both military and government authorities came by
helicopter to Santa Rosa and insisted on the presence of military
authorities at the meeting.  In response, the people once again marched
through the streets demanding justice.  They then occupied the central
plaza, and the government officials left without a dialogue.

Negotiations continue regarding the scheduling of a meeting between the
communities and civilian authorities.  As of Thursday, 28 September, the
communities had decided to stay in Santa Rosa until they get a meeting
rather than return to their homes to face intimidation and threats against
their lives.  The people who had gathered in San Luquitas reported that
members of the Nueva Granada Battalion told them on 21 September,  "This
will not be the only death that you will have.  There will be more deaths of

For photos related to this story, see