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 Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK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.
This letter is motivated by wanting to support the Iraq Pledge of Resistance and a low level of understanding of the local intentions of December 10, 2002 CD plans.
We would like to use Dr. Martin Luther Kingss Letter from a Birmingham Jail as the basis to ask questions about how to thoughtfully and skillfully use CD locally and nationally to facilitate the spiritual and democratic evolution of US America generally and specifically to be highly effective in our support The Iraq Pledge of Resistance. (Pictured: Heather Peck, with sign, with new friends during Oct. 26, 2002 march in Washington, DC.)
Dr. King eloquently described the application of non-violent direct action from his jail cell where he was held for his civil disobedience during the Birmingham, Alabama campaign to end denigrating racial segregation in stores, recreational facilities, bathrooms, drinking fountains, and other public accommodations. Dr. King wrote:
In any non-violent campaign there are four basic steps:
(1) collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive,
(3) self-purification, and
(4) direct action.
Dr King continues writing to illuminate the use of the four basic steps in Birmingham:
We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community.
Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of police brutality is known in every section of this country. Its unjust treatment of Negroes in the courts is a notorious reality. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than any city in this nation. These are the hard, brutal and unbelievable facts. On the basis of these conditions Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the political leaders consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.
Then came the opportunity last September to talk with some of the leaders of the economic community. In these negotiating sessions certain promises were made by the merchantssuch as the promise to remove the humiliating racial signs from the stores. On the basis of these promises Rev. Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to call a moratorium on any type of demonstrations. As the weeks and months unfolded we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. The signs remained. Like so many experiences of the past we were confronted with blasted hopes, and the dark shadow of a deep disappointment settled upon us. So we had no alternative except that of preparing for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and national community. We were not unmindful of the difficulties involved. So we decided to go through a process of self-purification. We started having workshops on nonviolence and repeatedly asked ourselves the questions, Are you able to accept blows without retaliating? Are you able to endure the ordeals of jail? We decided to set our direct-action program around the Easter season, realizing that with the exception of Christmas, this was the largest shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic withdrawal program [Blacks not shopping at stores with humiliating segregationist practices] would be the by-product of direct action, we felt that this was the best time to bring pressure on the merchants for the needed changes. Then it occurred to us that the March election was ahead and we discovered that Mr. Connor was in the run-off, we decided again to postpone action so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. At this time we agreed to begin our nonviolent witness the day after the run-off.
This reveals that we did not move irresponsibly into direct action. We to wanted to see Mr. Connor defeated; so we went through postponement after postponement to aid in this community need. After this we felt that direct action could be delayed no longer.
You may well ask, Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches, etc.? Isnt negotiation a better path? You are exactly right in your call for negotiation. Indeed, this is the purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. I just referred to the creation of tension as a part of the work of the nonviolent resister. This may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word tension. I have earnestly worked and preached against violent tension, but there is a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need of having nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. So the purpose of the direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. We, therefore, concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in the tragic attempt to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
The hope I see in Mr. Boutwell [newly elected Birmingham mayor] is that he will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from the devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals .
To Our Sisters and Brothers Seeking to Stop Unjust War Against Iraq
We offer the following questions to engage our national and local Social Justice and Peace activist community in creating a vision, strategy, and actions that serve the highest good that we intend to bring forward.
How do we explain to ourselves, our neighbors, our government, and the media our use of the four steps our non-violent campaign: 1. collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive, 2. negotiation, 3. self-purification, and 4. direct action?
What are our Mission and Goals? For example: To Stop War? Stop Sanctions? Abide by International Law? Have Saddam tried under International Law? Have US and UN tried under International Law for crimes against humanity perpetrated by Economic Sanctions? What do we propose as correct USA economic and political relationship to Iraq? Do we propose Economic, National, International, and Interpersonal Amends for War Crimes against Iraqi, Afgan, Serbian, Columbian, and other civilians?
What legal action do we chose to undertake? For example, begin impeachment of President, Judges, and legislators on the basis of their violation of the US Constitution with the Patriots Act and the Homeland Secutity Act? What group of folks and lawyers are undertaking this legal process?
Do we want to change the hearts, minds, and behavior of US Americans, the media, and the government away from the legal sanctioning of mass murder of civilians and US and foreign soldiers and toward a life affirming commitment, policy, and investment in Peace, Earth, and Economic Justice activities everywhere?
With whom do we choose to negotiate Stopping the War?
What are our negotiating points and demands?
Who are our negotiating team?
What is the consequence for not meeting our demands?
Do we have the resources of people and money to enforce the consequences of not meeting our demands?
What team will lead our Public Relations and Media management effort?
We offer these questions to engage our national and local community in creating a vision, strategy, and actions that serve the highest good that we intend to bring forward.
Peace with Justice Shalom Aleichem Asalaamu Aleikum All Our Relations
Loving-kindness Compassion Great Peace Within Joy Within and Among Us
Signed, Heather Peck and friends
Page created December 4, 2002 by Charlie Jenks.