Journal of daily reflections on the progress of my home-based agriculture experiments, mixed with observations about life, peace, justice, faith, family, community and friends.
While waiting for a friend to be released from jail for a nonviolent action today, I write this reflection. More on the nonviolent action after he is released.
In September, 1968, the USA, to our knowledge, was bombing one country, Vietnam. Through the selective service system young men were being drafted into the military and being sent to Vietnam to “kill or be killed.” 20% of officers in the military were being trained in military training programs at many local colleges and universities.
In September, 2016, the USA is bombing nine countries and is contributing weapons and training to countries and rebel groups all over the world. The Selective service does not draft young men any longer. The military has adopted education as its recruiting tool. Young men and women of age 18–25, when part of their brain, the part that assets risk and consequences, is not fully developed, are being recruited by offers of jobs and education. Due to advanced technology of killing, less men and women are needed in military. Now 80% of military officers are being trained at fewer universities around the country.
All colleges and universities, except pacifist ones, are required by law to offer military recruiting training to any interested student in order to receive Federal grants of any type. However, only universities that are selected by the Department of Defense and volunteer to do so, have military training programs (ROTC, NROTC and AFROT) on campus. Military recruits from all other colleges and universities in the region are transported to these few universities that ‘host” these Departments of Defense (DoD) on campus. Schools that host the military are well compensated by the Department of Defense and credits earn in the Departments of Army, Navy/Marines or Air Force are transferred to home school of the recruit. For example, Marquette University host military training for 17 or so Colleges and Universities in Southeast Wisconsin. Now 80% plus of officers in military are trained in military programs at few local colleges and universities.
With the military training now focus on fewer schools the training has become more intense on training “to kill or be killed”. For example, after World War II it was discovered that only 25% of American Soldiers actually fire weapons at the enemy to kill. Though the study of brain science and using simulated technology game training (like killing video games pioneered by US military) the “shoot to kill” ratio is now over 95%. The consequence of this type of training, called in some military circles, as ‘reflexive killing’ has been devastating on young men and women recruited in Military. As CPT Pete Kilner, instructor at the U.S. Military Academy said to the Joint Services Conference on Professional Ethics in Washington, DC in January 2000: “Soldiers are conditioned to act without considering the moral repercussions of their actions; they are enabled to kill without making the conscious decision to do so. … Battles are won by killing the enemy, so military leaders should strive to produce the most efficient killers. The problem, however, is that soldiers who kill reflexively in combat will likely one day reconsider their actions reflectively. If they are unable to justify to themselves the fact that they killed another human being, they will likely—and understandably—suffer enormous guilt. This guilt manifests itself as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and it has damaged the lives of thousands of men who performed their duty in combat.” The suicide rate of veterans, about 22 per day, is tragic consequence of this type of “reflexive killing.”
In September, 1968, I participated in the “Milwaukee 14” nonviolent action, destroying 1A selective service draft records to stop “kill or be killed”. Today as Jesuit trained Catholic and Christian I again feel compelled to stop the new selective service system, military training (ROTC) at Marquette. No matter how much money, honor or glory Marquette receives from the US government to teach war and killing as Christians we must say No to Marquette hosting the Department of Defense on campus. St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, a soldier who laid down his weapons to be a companion of Jesus, calls to us to reject riches, honor or glory and to be in solidarity with the poor and to practice the nonviolent love of Gospel, to love even our enemies. If Marquette will not stop teaching war and killing by no longer hosting the Department of Defense on campus we must do it with our nonviolent love and action.
See the full list of articles in the Diary of a Worm.
First they ignore you
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
“Everyone in the world knows that Jesus and His teachings were nonviolent except Christians.” M. Gandhi
A Biography of Dorthy Day by Jim Forest
Letter from Dorthy Day prime directive of Gospel
In general, in the first flush of Lent, the struggle is undertaken bravely. What if during the long weeks the fervor lessens and the work of accumulating graces was continued with many lapses, but by effort of will. That time when will has to be brought into play is perhaps the most important of all, despite failures and the total lack of a sense of accomplishment, of growth. Fervor comes again with Holy Week, joy comes on the day of resurrection, with all nature singing exultantly God’s praises.
To keep united to God through the suffering Humanity of His son—that is the aim of Lent. — Dorothy Day from her column “Day After Day”, The Catholic Worker, April 1935
People Need to be Distrubed.
“When it is said that we disturb people too much by the words pacifism and anarchism, I can only think that people need to be disturbed, that their consciences need to be aroused, that they do indeed need to look into their work, and study new techniques of love and poverty and suffering for each other. Of course the remedies are drastic, but then too the evil is a terrible one and we are all involved, we are all guilty, and most certainly we are all going to suffer. The fact that we have “the faith,” that we go to the sacraments, is not enough. ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ with napalm, nerve gas, our hydrogen bomb, our ‘new look’.” (“Are The Leaders Insane?” By Dorothy Day, The Catholic Worker, April 1954, 1, 6.}
“Paper work, cleaning the house, dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently, which is to find some meaning in all that happens — these things, too, are the works of peace, and often seem like a very little way.”
— Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage, December 1965
There is no explanation of most of what goes on in our own hearts
“The heart of man can be full of so much pain, even when things are exteriorly all right”. It becomes all the more difficult because today we are used to thinking that there are explanations for everything. But there is no explanation of most of what goes on in our own hearts, and we cannot account for it all. No use resorting to the kind of mental tranquillizers that even religious explanations sometimes offer. Faith must be deeper than that, rooted in the unknown and in the abyss of darkness that is the ground of our being. No use teasing the darkness to try to make answers grow out of it. But if we learn how to have a deep inner patience, things solve themselves, or God solves them if you prefer: but do not expect to see how. Just learn to wait, and do what you can and help other people. Often it is in helping someone else we find the best way to bear our own trouble.” — Thomas Merton from his Christmas letter, 1966
Where we are all going?
…. “I am sick up to the teeth and beyond the teeth, up to the eyes and beyond the eyes, with all forms of projects and expectations and statements and programs and explanations of anything, especially explanations about where we are all going, because where we are all going is where we went a long time ago, over the falls. We are in a new river and we don’t know it.”
(extract from a letter from Thomas Merton to Daniel Berrigan)
Violence embedded in culture itself
“The real focus of American violence is not in esoteric groups but in the very culture itself, its mass media, its extreme individualism and competitiveness, its inflated myths of virility and toughness, and its overwhelming preoccupation with the power of nuclear, chemical, bacteriological, and psychological overkill. If we live in what is essentially a culture of overkill, how can we be surprised at finding violence in it? Can we get to the root of the trouble? In my opinion, the best way to do it would have been the classic way of religious humanism and non-violence exemplified by Gandhi. That way seems now to have been closed. I do not find the future reassuring,” — Thomas Merton edited with an introduction by Gordon C. Zahn (Boston, MA: McCall’s Publishing Company, 1971), p. 230
If you want to study modern history
If you want to study the social and political history of modern nations, study hell.-- Thomas Merton New Seeds of Contemplation, ch 17
worshiping the false self in place of God
“After all, what is your personal identity? It is what you really are, your real self. None of us is what he thinks he is, or what other people think he is, still less what his passport says he is… And it is fortunate for most of us that we are mistaken. We do not generally know what is good for us. That is because, in St. Bernard’s language, our true personality has been concealed under the ‘disguise’ of a false self, the ego, whom we tend to worship in place of God.” —Thomas Merton, The Waters of Siloe
Harcourt & Brace, 1949, p. 349
silence between words
“For language to have meaning, there must be intervals of silence somewhere, to divide word from word and utterance from utterance. He who retires into silence does not necessarily hate language. Perhaps it is love and respect for language which imposes silence upon him. For the mercy of God is not heard in words unless it is heard, both before and after the words are spoken, in silence,”
—Thomas Merton, “Philosophy of Silence,” in Disputed Questions
(NY: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1960), p. 181
Nonviolent Direct Action
“Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.” Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail
America, you must be born again
“A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will “thingify” them—make them things. Therefore they will exploit them, and poor people generally, economically. And a nation that will exploit economically will have foreign investments and everything else, and will have to use its military to protect them. All of these problems are tied together. What I am saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, ‘America, you must be born again!’” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”
Poor in the Military
“Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. And so we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. And so we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.” Martin Luther King Jr., Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence
Priority of Conscience
“And it is my conscience that compels me to say publicly that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is agrave injustice against women, against our Church and against our God who calls both men and women to the priesthood.” Fr. Roy Bourgeois in his letter to Maryknoll why he could not recant his belief and public statements that support the ordination of women.
“Over the pope … there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary, even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority.” Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI,in his 1968 commentary on the Second Vatican Council’s document, Gaudium et Spes.
Nonviolence or Militarism
Breaking the Silence
Dorthy Day’s Worst Nightmare
This article is by a person with a mental health diagnoses that has been a patient and care giver in the Mental Health System
by Janis K.
In recent years, Milwaukee County has changed the title of its mental health facility from the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex to the Behavioral Health Division (BHD). The facility has been under fire for many years due to its inadequate level of care, and documented assaults and deaths of patients on the premises. Yet it is the only facility available for the indigent; those in trouble with the law; and patients who are a danger to themselves or others yet refusing care. Today in addition, our county jail houses more mentally ill persons than the BHD and all other hospitals combined.
I would like to discuss in this writing the vulnerability of our mental health patients and the importance of radical changes to our system of mental health care today by giving examples of failed approaches in the behavioral model used by County BHD. Behavioral medicine is a byword these days for the treatment of mental health issues. This approach can have benefits with new techniques of cognitive therapies and a focus in some circles on proactive and preventative care. However when behavioral health is interpreted narrowly as simply changing the behavior of an individual, it becomes a misnomer which can lead to grave abuses of the human person. “Treatments” that use reward and punishment may well change the behavior of a patient with mental illness but in no way benefit that individual or society at large. I will give three examples. These are mostly not new methods but two of them are used extensively to this day.
Patients at the Mental Health Complex in the 1980’s for example were issued cigarettes “from the desk” on an hourly basis for “good behavior”. These cigarettes were purchased, not by the patients, but supplied by the facility. I had the experience while being housed there at the age of 20 of a nurse placing a lit cigarette between my fingers though I had never smoked in my life. The temporary ‘gain’ of calmer patients has huge ramifications on their physical, mental and social health. This is a simple example of ‘reward and punishment’ but I think the negative consequences are obvious.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” (Frederick Douglas)
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” - Albert Einstein
“Since war itself is the most extreme form of terrorism, a war on terrorism is profoundly self-contradictory.” -Howard Zinn
“Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily, to them will We give a life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on them their reward according to the best of their actions.” Quran 16:97
“In the Catholic Worker we must try to have the voluntary poverty of St. Francis, the charity of St. Vincent de Paul, the intellectual approach of St. Dominic, the easy conversations about things that matter of St. Philip Neri, the manual labor of St. Benedict.” - Peter Maurin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement
Jokes and Editorial Cartoons
Restoring the Senses, Gardening and Orthodox Easter