November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.
THE SOLUTION WILL SHOW ITSELF IN THE FORM OF PEACE
"...and a child shall lead them."
by Monica Benderman
In Japan, on August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb created in America was dropped over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. A small child of 2, Sadako Sasaki, and her family lived on the outskrts of Hiroshima at the time, none of them were hurt in that instant but the seed of hurt had been planted. In 1955, 10 years after the atomic bomb, Sadako had developed leukemia. People soon were calling this the A-bomb sickness because so many other children just like Sadako also contracted the disease.
While hospitalized and fighting this disease, the child decided to begin to fold 1,000 paper cranes. In Japan, it is believed that if a person folds 1,000 paper cranes they will have one wish granted. Sadako's wish was to live a long and honorable life. As Sadako became weaker, the process of folding the paper cranes became more difficult. At the time of her death, she had only completed 644 cranes. Her wish made to the last crane finished, "I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world."
To this day, children continue to fold paper cranes in the name of peace. And yet still peace has not come - wars continue.
Almost 30 years later, a picture was created. A child, Vietnamese, running down a barren street destroyed by warfare, her child's body on fire from the pain of Napalm, an American weapon, another innocent life destroyed in the name of Freedom.
Still the peace cranes fly Đ and still no peace has come.
Almost 30 years later, a new picture was created. My husband, in a convoy, part of the invading American force in Iraq, sees something that will haunt him for the rest of his life. A little girl standing near the edge of the road with her mother. Her arm burned black from hand to shoulder, crying and hoping for someone to care. But when my husband offered his share of the medical supplies to help this child, his convoy and his command could not stop. War called, and humanity was left standing by the side of the road.
We see the picture of the Iraqi child, arms outstretched, covered in her parentsŐ blood. The victim of an erroneous shooting at a checkpoint near her village, an orphan now, she will never be the same again.
"... a child shall lead them," doesn't anyone see?
Fear is what drives us now. Not the fear of terrorists striking, that is only a superficial excuse. The fear that drives us, is that we will wake up and realize what we have become. I reach for my country, as I would reach for a friend. But is my country there? Physically it is, just as it always has been, but its heart.. it beats so faintly, is it gone? I hope not forever. I hope itŐs only hiding, locked away. This country now, is not the country I told my dreams to, this country would not understand those dreams. This country does not understand the dreams of the children. I wish my country, America, could understand, but we are so afraid now, and running so fast that there is no way we can see.
The heart of America is closed now, it is not feeling, and this is breaking my heart. I can only feel pain when I think of my country and it is not pain for me. The pain that I feel is from what is hiding behind the lies that my country thinks are our truths. The fears that are leading my country now are making us so vulnerable that we will turn to any justification and the dangers are only pulling us closer to the edge. If America cannot turn and face the truth, we will run forever, and soon only be living lies.
We as a country are afraid of facing the weaknesses that others have pointed out in us. Rather than face these weaknesses, and fight to bring about positive change, we continue to attack those who show us our truths. For years of this country at war, the wrong choice has been "eradicate them all and we will never have to know what we hide from."
The right choice, face who we are, see reality, admit that we are to blame for what is being done to us now, and bring about the change needed to stop the cycle of violence. Become the great country we profess to be, but whose heart is now hidden so far away. Like the alcoholic who denies his drinking problem, the abused wife who refuses to admit the danger she is in, the mother who believes that by continuing to interfere in her children's lives she is actually helping them to grow, America is in denial, and we, the people, are enabling the denial to continue.
By not bringing about the changes we know must happen, by talking and politicking and placing blame everywhere except squarely on our own shoulders, the violence and the abuse of our country will continue. Violence is the response of the weak. Reaching inside, admitting our weaknesses and taking action to strengthen them is the response of the strong.
With each step into the face of our fears, we will draw closer to finding Peace. Take one more look at the childŐs picture we do not want to see, and soon we will see that the night is not as dark when you see it clearly, and the solution will show itself in the form of peace.
Words, they are lies. Pictures, and the actions that result from the truth of those pictures, they speak for eternity. To avoid those pictures, to fail to act is only to buy into empty promises that will destroy this country when they prove too weak to keep the truth hidden any longer.
My wish for my country.. that the people of this country respect themselves enough to want to take care of the life they have been given. That they have enough honor and integrity to stare fully at their darkest sides and know that the worst is over when they dare to admit that they have not done enough to defend the morality and values on which this country was founded.
My husband, Sgt. Kevin Benderman and those who stand with him now, Camillo Mejia, Jimmy Massey and Pablo Paredes did not commit to defend the immoralities of this country. When they came to terms with this, they walked away. They fight now, for the Heart of this country, our country, and they do it with integrity, and in truth. They have faced the horrors that our country is afraid to see. They speak openly about it and they are no longer in denial.
I dare you all to the same. Do you have the heart to face the children who, in innocence, have tried to lead?
Can you stare into the face of the darkest reality, and see that Peace is the only answer, and that it has to begin with you?
March 4, 2005
Photo: Kevin and Monica Benderman
(Photo Credit: Lewis M. Levine, distributed by www.bendermandefense.org)