The first thing to be disrupted by our commitment to nonviolence will be not the system but our own lives. ~ James Douglass
Every June in Portland we begin the celebration of the Rose City with a festival, but also with the Naval Fleet. The fleet began visiting in 1907. The girls come out of the woodwork to hook up with a sailor (certainly not the brightest thing for a young girl to do). People flock to tour the boats. It's a tradition, part of the cultural identity of this city and its festival. But there are a hand full of activists who take a moment to stop and publicly question whether this is appropriate. It's not 1907 anymore. Our wars today are wars of aggression, wars to take what we want from other countries. Our own people are losing their homes, their savings and their jobs to continue to feed a war economy with no end in site. Does it still make sense to show our support in this way? When the navy has been re purposed to save people, to help in coastal floods and tsunamis, rather than carry around an arsenal, then I will gladly take my daughter to see the ships. Until then it's my duty as a world citizen to say in my loving and nonviolent way, "No, not here".
My brother was in the Navy. A good friend and colleague worked on the nuclear subs which ultimately sparked his interest in Physics which he later earned a degree in. These are not bad people. Neither were their commanders. In our culture they were doing what they believed to be right and just way of earning a living and getting an education (and travel the world). If we dehumanize them, or condemn them, we've lost and there will be no progress toward peace. We need them to help us send a message to the top of the command chain. We need them to know we care, we don't hate them for what they do. It's helped me to watch this talk by Shelley and Jim Douglass to remind myself how to protest against these war machines. They have worked many years doing this and are an inspiration.
So I put my sword down, and pick up my desire to heal these deep wounds between us and them.