Archive for July, 2011
Once a month Cambridge Friends hold an hour worship close to the entrance of Textron Inc. in Wilmington MA. Textron is known for its
unmanned aircraft systems, armored trucks, battlefield and surveillance systems, precision smart weapons, and advanced cluster bombs.
I choose to worship next to the manufacturing of these weapons made by ordinary citizens
to pray for all of us. I pray for the Spirit to transform this war craft into products of health. Smart weapons and grenades could be wheelchairs and rototillers.
Friends are clear that the making of such weapons for human destruction in many countries around the world is against God’s will. Quakers stand as “witness against all violence, and against the works of darkness; and to turn people from darkness to light; and to bring them from the causes of war and fighting, to the peaceable gospel.” George Fox, 1654.
I am not here to blame any workers at Textron. We are all complicit in our participation in the US war machine. I pray on this site to remind myself and to ask all Americans to turn away from our dependence on war. The US must stop using weapons
made here at Textron to bludgeon other countries into a US agenda. War and domination over other governments is an abomination. Quakers seek the withdrawal from all activities which lead to manufacturing, sale and use of the weapons made at Textron.
We witness at Textron each month at the same time that other Quakers are worshipping inside in the Cambridge meetinghouse. We worship together, seeking peace, but in 2 locations. We worship so that God’s peaceable kingdom will reign and so that we, in the USA, can live in harmony and with justice to all peoples and all countries.
Questions on why we witness at Textron welcome
A dozen Quakers carpool 10 miles out to Wilmington, MA to be a Quaker presence at Textron Industries every month. We go out during snow or flood or computer crash. John drove a Quaker carload out on July 17, a sweltering day. It was weather fit for salamanders and dragonflies. Most of us wear hats. We choose to worship even in heat and rain because we are shocked to know that Textron builds weapons that kill, often in suffering countries like Afghanistan. Affluent people are making a killing off building weapons that destroy homes and maim children.
We are a motley crew: men with ponytails, college students with sunglasses, women in long billowy skirts. One of us is recently out of the hospital after surgery to remove cancer. One of us is a vet for peace and has a speech impediment. We pray in a rectangle with 2 signs as bookends. The signs say, Quakers worship for peace. At the end of the hour, we are bathed in sweat. It’s a bit like working out in the gym, afterwards you feel renewed.
We hear several horns honk. Most of the horns directed at us are friendly fire. Some yell, “Stop Al Queada. US is #1” Or they swear at us. But most horns honk for peace. A jogger comes by and taps John on the shoulder, alerting him to the fact that the sign facing the road is actually being held upside down. We all chuckle at the divine humor. We’re not pious nor do we mind if we make mistakes. We laugh at ourselves and return to contemplate in worship.
A few people offer reflections. Someone mentions how important it is to ask Jesus for help in a time of distress; someone talks about how some Quakers offered a scholarship to a teen who was persecuted in high school; someone said that it’s important even when being oppressed, not to lose your voice. Friends are aware of living in this world but not being part of the world. Martin Luther King states, “Justice is indivisible. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And wherever I see injustice, I’m going to take a stand against it. …the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.” We sense the structure of the triple prongs of evil: race -economic exploiting -and war. We sink back to the seed growing in the silence.
Afterwards a Friend who got excellent medical care in detecting and intervening cancer. He was amazed at how doctors and staff treated him. He reflected and choked up on how lucky he was compared to the many war veterans who return home to spotty and below-standard medical care in the US. His sadness at this irony affected all us witnessing that day.
Do those that pass-by know why we sit in worship beside a huge marquee that says “Textron Industries.” It is not a vigil. It is not a exactly a peace protest. It’s worship and a witness. Quakers prefer to embody peace more than to protest war. Jaffrey who is very dedicated says, “I think it is important that I show up at Textron once a month as witness to our Quaker faith. I feel clearer about this witness than almost anything else I have done.”
Quakers have been sitting in front of Textron for a year and a half. They feel a vital tugging toward health, like the tide pulling in the ocean waves. What calling do you have? “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (M. Oliver)
For eleven days and nights in June 2011 the Student Immigration Movement vigiling on the steps to the MA state house. They did not leave except to go to work and go to the bathroom. They had 2 boxes and 2 canteens. One box held apples and clementines and sandwiches. The canteens had cold Gatorade and water. There was a box of papers with petitions and artwork and poster papers. A banner reads, MA is not AZ, is it?. Stop laws that arrest immigrants.
Their motto is education not deportation. Deportation breaks up parents and children. They want education with tuition that’s in-state. They ask that the US stop criminalizing neighbors without papers. State offices use a new regulation system called E-Verify, where employers go online to find if co workers are legal.
But does this affect me? YES.
When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned.
When Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned.
When Hitler attacked the unions & industrialists, I was not one of the unions & was not concerned.
Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church –
And there was nobody left to be concerned.” Â Â Martin Neimollor 1968
In these days of Wikileaks and the confinement of Robert Manning, To express your opinion is dangerous. To state unpopular opinions makes you an activist. We are all in this boat together, so out of self-respect I support SIM students.
The state legislators are passing a 2012 budget for Gov Patrick to sign. Last year these legislators tried to attach similar anti-immigrant amendments to the budget and the students held a vigil for 3 weeks. These amendments include housing laws, penalties for being put in detention and encouraging police to deport people who are picked up moves Massachusetts much closer to Arizona SB 1070. Arizona’s law allows white tyranny as police pick up anyone who looks suspicious. Â I went with several students to representative’s offices as they spoke of how their skin color affects their chances of being stopped by police more than their light skin friends.
We went to 5 different offices and explained why we are against these amendments. Pablo explained he just graduated from High School and wanted to go to U Mass. He was born in Mexico but arrived with his mother to the US when he was 5 years old. He loves living in Boston even though it wasn’t his choice. He’s attended all public schools since then and learned about equality and justice for all in US history classes in 5th grade, the US Declaration of Independence and fighting for your rights in 8th grade civics, and later in 11th grade US history and its abolition of Afro-Americans and women suffragists.
So after getting decent grades and wanting to make something of himself he doesn’t get to have legal papers. His life is so restricted because he can’t afford the out-of -state tuition.. It costs $10,000 for U Mass Boston tuition for Mass residents. It costs $23,000 for out-of-state residents. With scholarships the lower tuition is reasonable. Of the 13 states that allow those born outside the country to attend at the instate rates, they find that it adds to the state’s coffers. States like CA and TX thrive with in-state rate. And it’s an investment in the future to increase the amount of well-educated employees in this state. These students aren’t asking for welfare, just the lower rate for tuition. Then MA offers them education that we will reap the results of. We’ll have doctors, philosophers, teachers and chemists who have the richness of other languages and can develop their skills in this state.
Why did I join the immigrants on the steps of the White House? I have my legal papers and my family settled as farmers before the US fight in 1775 for independence. My mother was not born in the US and by human idiosyncrasy is a US citizen. I traveled to study Spanish and went far south. I lived close to Mexico for 4 years. When US kids study in other countries, like France or India, do we want our students to be picked up and reported to the embassy because our kids look suspicious? No. The Torah and Islam ask us to Welcome the stranger. Someone counted 120 versions in the Bible of this request “love the stranger for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” A minister, Debra Haffner shared this on-line, “A political cartoon I saw had a Native American standing in Arizona. In the first frame, the bubble over his head read, “Know who we call illegal immigrants in Arizona?” In the second frame, the answer: “White People.” They seem to have forgotten that America’s motto is E pluribus Unum (“out of many, one”)
As a Quaker, I joined a closing prayer circle on July 6th. There were Jews, Episcopalians, , Unitarians, and Catholics. Many thoughts were shared:
oÂ Â Â God is an immigrant. Jesus, as a refugee, went to Egypt with his parents.
oÂ Â Â In Mass we can reach across the divide.Â With a closed fist, we cannot shake hands.
oÂ Â Â The courage of these young people to stand up for their freedom is palpable.
oÂ Â Â Those who employ undocumented workers can exploit, even rape, them without legal penalty.
oÂ Â Â My family immigrated from Europe. They didn’t show papers.
oÂ Â Â Immigration is the next labor movement.
oÂ Â Â We have lots of immigrants because the Pentagon and Wall St. are allies.
oÂ Â Â They (SIM) are carrying us into the next civil rights movement.
Keep walking on, Adelante.
This is a guest column from Lynn Fitz-Hugh.
While you pay taxes today, Bank of America, G.E. and other major corporationsÂ dodge. Bank of America, the 9th largest corporation in America, last year paid no taxes while receiving $1 billion in US taxpayer subsidies!Â Â This year they made 4.4 billion and expect again to pay nothing in taxes.Â G.E. earned 10.3 billion in pretax income, but paid nothing and in fact received a tax benefit of 1.1 billion!Â This is an outrage when Congress is poised to cut all kinds of vital human services because the Federal Government does not have enough money.
Bring the Billions home: bring our needed tax monies back from the wars into our communities. Â WA state plans to cut schools, healthcare, public safety and other programs by more than $5.7 billion.Â Yet Washington voters have paid $28.6 billion to date for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with $3.9 billion projected for next year!Â Â We pay 1.2 million per year per solider in Afghanistan.Â Bringing home just 2,083 soldiers would pay for WA’s total state deficit.Â (To find out how many soliders would need to come home to end your state deficit clink on this great link for the Global day of action on Tax DayÂ Â http://demilitarize.org/fact-sheets/fact-sheet-state-buEndingÂ the Afghanistan war would pay for every state in the union’s shortfall and leave an extra $8 billion for nationwide social spending!Â Self serving politicians tell us they must cut the State and national budget because there is no money.Â Â There is plenty of money and over 59% of it is being spent by the Pentagon!Â We the taxpayers are fed up.Â A poll at the end of March shows 64% of Americans feel the war has not been worth it for the US.
Meanwhile public records show Bank of America has both received defense contracts in Charlotte, NC and has provided debt financing for Cerberus Capital Management to buy out DynaCorp International, a defense contractor.Â G.E. directly contracts with the Pentagon and builds weapons systems. So these Mega corporations while paying no taxes is busy making profit off of war, not to mention homeowners, etc.
We want the American tax payer to understand how this works – the middle class are taxed to death.Â 59% of their money goes to pay for wars that polls show the majority do not support, while Corporate giants skip out on their taxes and continue to show healthy profit dividends for the rich stock holders.Â Let’s bring equity, fairness and human services back into paying taxes.Â Everyone who benefits from US services should pay for them – no free ride for corporations or the rich! Visit Lynn’s blog site at http://home.earthlink.net/~totheroots/
Would anyone dare swim in the Charles River, the open gutter of Boston? Isn’t the water polluted, cold, and filled with blue green algae? Talley ho. In the 1850s Boston alderman called the marshes around the Muddy River a cesspool. Yes siree. Swimming in Cambridge was outlawed in 1950s with the build-up of industrial waste. So sad. It’s a disgrace that our oceans are dying. Yes. I plead to the oracles of water and wind, is it safe in 2011 to swim the Charles? Yes and No.
I joined 100 people in swimming a mile race on June 4th 2011 in the Charles. We all survived. We are all passionate about swimming and, all of us, are slightly nuts. The river in May is 58 degrees which is fine for seals and but not human waifs. The race is open water, no feet are allowed to touch the river bottom. The water quality is immensely improved in the last 15 years, but in rainy weather the channel receives excess run off. The floor of the river is caked with heavy sludge. Therefore, the entire swim is done in deep water.
My spouse asked me, “Why would you want to race a mile in muddy water?” I had selfish reasons. I wanted a physical challenge. I love the River and I want to dwell in it intimately. “Rolling in the Charles” is like having a little nooky and “a roll in the hay.” Seriously, my body feels alive in water more than in air.
I started practicing early this spring. I needed to swim a mile in under 40 minutes to qualify for the race. At the end of March I swam a mile in 42 minutes, which was close. Close, but not true. Swimming in open water is quite different. Swimming in a constricted pool you must stick to a narrow lane and every 50 yards you get to push off from the side of the pool. When you get a leg cramp or swallow water you can hold onto the side and declare recess. I needed practice Â for 3 full months so as not to embarrass myself.
Since 2006 the Charles River Swimming org has planned the mile race. Weeks ahead of time the water protection gurus measure the bacteria and sediments in the Charles to determine whether it’s safe to swim. In 2006 the rainy days increased the storm drainage into the river and the race was canceled.Â Bostonians wag their fingers and explain that in the 1970s and 80s if you entered the Charles, you had to get a tetanus shot. Swimming was worse than stepping on a rusty nail. In 1983 MDC claimed the Charles River would never be swimmable.
It appears we need to reverse our position. The tide is changing on water pollution. The new Boston holding tank system stops our sewer pipes from treating the river like a toilet bowl. Since 2006 six annual races were carefully planned and half were canceled due to water quality concerns. The water quality was good in 2007, 2008 and now 2011.I swim in the race for the splash effect to prove that our city’s clean-up efforts are working.
I felt unsettled. Maybe I wasn’t swimming for splash effect wasn’t the right attitude. Â I prayed to Osiris, Poseidon, and Â Mark Phelps. Then my prayers turned to Moby Dick, and even Mother Goose. I can attest to the power of prayer. FYI, praying with Moby Dick did not help this swimmer. Choose well how you pray.
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