Thursday, January 9, 2020

Book Review: The Opposite of Hate by Sally Kohn

By:  Jess Hoffert

Hate: It’s a word that gets tossed around all-too-freely these days, from “I hate brussels
sprouts” to “I hate that person.” In her all-too-timely 2018 book The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing our Humanity,” CNN political commentator Sally Kohn digs deep into the roots of hate, identifying what true hate is before using case studies, interviews and personal experience to identify how and why we hate others.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

CALLING ALL PIPELINE OPPONENTS! WRITE TO THE IUB!


Reprinted with permission

We need as many pipeline opponents as possible to write to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) and ask the board to stand strong against the aggressive tactics of Dakota Access. The pipeline company has been pushing officials in Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, and North Dakota to double the amount of oil flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). We can and must stop them.

Staying Connected


by: Jessica Reznicek, first printed in the Hildegard House CatholicWorker Newsletter, Duluth MN
newsletter, Fall, 2019 News letter p. 7; reprinted with permission


Time certainly can reveal to us so much about who we truly are when we are attentive and present in our journey. As I grow, everything within me seems to be slowing down. Calming down. And I like it. I’ve been learning about the courage it takes to simply be still. Still enough to feel the grace of God’s love pour into my heart. As I explore the art of sitting quietly in silent space, I hear the Holy Spirit urging me to stay connected. To remain in awareness of my connection with God, with others, with all creation, as well as with my authentic myself gives me a deep sense of gratitude for all life everywhere.

As I look around at the world we are living in today, I am so often saddened by the crisis I see in seemingly every direction. Personal Crisis. Spiritual crisis. Social crisis. Economic crisis. Political crisis. Ecological crisis. I believe that we are at a turning point in history, and that people everywhere are sensing it...whether we are able to fully comprehend it, I'm not sure, but there are vast expanses of God’s creation dead and we can certainly feel it because we are all interconnected. As we as a species are waking up to the severity of the irreversible ecological damage we are facing, humans everywhere are scrambling to figure out innovative ways to both maintain our current life-style and address global crisis issues simultaneously. In large part, I think that these two things are in-compatible. Without addressing the underlying symptoms of what is driving us all apart, we are unlikely to survive.

I know in my life I long for belonging and health and happiness. It seems that so many of us are trying to live a life laid on a flimsy foundation of disconnectedness, but that is not living. That is dying. We have become disconnected from our very livelihood itself.

From our food source, our life source (trees and water), our communities, and our Creator. We have turned instead to worlds of obsession, fantasy, escapism which takes all forms, from drugs … to television to food to shopping to traveling, forever searching for the thing that will fill the void. At times it feels like madness everywhere I look, inward and outward. I think the overall mentality of the current human crisis we find ourselves in today is one I understand very, very well. It breaks my heart to really face my own suffering, and to feel the suffering of my human family, animal relatives and earth.


I believe that first we must understand that we need trees and plant life to breathe, we need water to live...we are so very dependent on all of creation, but our pride often tells us we are not connected, needing no one and no thing, which leaves us feeling isolated and separated, a belief system which ultimately leads to spiritual destitution and eventual death. In truth, our eyes need the splendidly colorful beauty of our Earth to gaze upon. And science tells us that when our bare skin touches the earth, we experience healing. We need deep breaths of fresh morning air to reinvigorate us when we get lost in our heads...to bring us back to that deep appreciation of the present moment. For the well-being of our mind, body and spirit...we need her! This sacred beauty God intended to be an eternal source of delight and hope. And just look at what we've done to her. After all she's given us, we see her only as a resource to be exploited.


I think that to survive, we must be ready to embrace change. We are going to have to ignite revolutionary creativity and develop courageous openness to try something we've never done before. And no one person can do this alone. We need to learn to trust one another again... which means being vulnerable. And that is terrifying for most people. It means scaling way back and way down and admitting to ourselves and others that we can't do it alone. It means returning to the land. Growing our own food. Getting rid of our cars. Rebuilding community. And to do all of this, to accomplish even one of these things begins first with repairing our broken relationship with God.


What I’m learning is that our true gift is just simply to be here and to be a part of it all, in existence, that is, no more and no less. The true gift is LIFE! So, what might it be like, I wonder, to live in awareness of God’s love for me and all creation? To live in full appreciation of the gift of life God has given me? And as I begin to imagine these beautiful and exciting ways of being, I think about what tools it might take to get there. Some concepts which seem to surface time and time again are: love, trust, vulnerability, whole hearted'ness and connection.

Reznicek, along with Ruby Montoya, were former Des Moines Catholic Workers.  They have since moved on, but keep in touch.  They are waiting for word on their court case related to their actions against equipment from the Dakota Access Pipeline. If you’d like her address to write to her, you may contact Iowa Peace Network:  iowapeacenetwork@gmail.com.

Peter Wigginton, mission and refugee worker in Ecuador speaks to JPOG in eastern Iowa




By:  Holly Blosser Yoder, reprinted with permission; first published for JPOG email list

Over thirty persons enjoyed listening to Peter Wigginton describe church mission and refugee work in Ecuador at a JPOG meeting on November 24, 2019 at East Union Mennonite Church.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Interview with Armando Perez (Army veteran now a counter recruiter)

Interviewed by David Morales, reprinted with permission by Commitee Against Militarism and the Draft, from their newsletter Draft NOtices, Oct.-Dec. 2019


Q: Could you tell us about yourself?

A: I’m a 26-year-old Teacher Apprentice/Graduate Student at High Tech High Media Arts. I was born in El Paso, TX, where I was raised as a transfronterizo and 1st-Gen student and oldest of three siblings. I have two dogs that I rely on for emotional support and you can find me at most extracurricular events that my students partake in.

Q: What branch did you enlist in? How old were you when you enlisted? And why did you decide to enlist?

A: I enlisted in the Army; I joined at eighteen years old. I wanted to join at seventeen but my parents refused to sign for me at that age. I decided to enlist for a multitude of reasons: I wanted educational benefits, at the time I worked at a low-wage job while being able to only afford one community college class at the time. I felt stagnant at that point in life; I wanted to leave El Paso to seek other opportunities. Some part of me wanted to feel more ‘American.’ I felt as if joining the Army would open more doors for me in this country.

Q: Where were you stationed during your time in the Army?

A: My first duty station was Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. Throughout my Army career I was also stationed at: Ft. Bliss (TX), Ft. Dix-Maguire (NJ), Germany, Romania, and Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Q: In the process of deciding to enlist, did you talk to others about it?

A: I talked to my parents but they had no experience in the matter. I talked to a lot of friends that were enlisted in other branches of the military. They would often say that they didn’t like it as much as they thought they would but felt like staying in El Paso offered no better options. Half of our friends were either getting into criminal activity or worked for low-wages. In the end, there was a lack of resourceful information or people to talk to.

Q: What was it like identifying as a young Latino male in the Army?

A: I experienced a lot of racism and aggression for how I identified. Latinos who would assimilate had preference. My ‘leaders’ butchered my name all the time. When I played ‘the game’ of making my accent more ‘American’ I was told I was liked for not being like other Mexicans. I would often be verbally assaulted and faced physical abuse when defending myself. One instance led me to being held down by my ‘fellow’ soldiers while they took turns beating me. While in uniform I would often be verbally assaulted by civilians who appeared Caucasian. I would often be called a disgrace although I risked my life overseas.

Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before you enlisted?

A: I wish that I would have taken the time to look over my contract for clauses that may have led me to not sign. One of the main reasons I enlisted was because I was under the impression that I would not be pulled into a deployment while attending college. Being pulled out mid-semester and deployed to a combat zone really impacted my life and relationships.

Q: What led you to get involved with Project YANO and counter-recruitment work?

A: When I found out that there was an organization that presented the facts as they were without omitting critical information, I was all in. I felt a responsibility as a veteran, as a Latino, to present the facts and necessary information for the youth to know the full scope of what the military is and how it can affect one’s life before they make a choice for themselves.

Q: Do you have any words of advice for anyone thinking of enlisting in any of the branches of the military?

A: Make sure you are well informed. If you feel like there are no other options for you, make sure you truly embark on an exhaustive search and you will find options. Seriously contemplate whether or not you will be happy with this commitment. Four-year and eight-year contract offers require a strong commitment to the U.S. government, and it is no easy feat to attempt to leave the military under contract. Research and talk to as many people as you can. Actively listen to everyone (yes, even your recruiter) so that you may make a list of things you need to know about. Get informed so that you don’t feel misled or cheated when you are already signed under a contract you cannot get out of.
Interviewed by David Morales

Q: Could you tell us about yourself?

A: I’m a 26-year-old Teacher Apprentice/Graduate Student at High Tech High Media Arts. I was born in El Paso, TX, where I was raised as a transfronterizo and 1st-Gen student and oldest of three siblings. I have two dogs that I rely on for emotional support and you can find me at most extracurricular events that my students partake in. 

Q: What branch did you enlist in? How old were you when you enlisted? And why did you decide to enlist?

A: I enlisted in the Army; I joined at eighteen years old. I wanted to join at seventeen but my parents refused to sign for me at that age. I decided to enlist for a multitude of reasons: I wanted educational benefits, at the time I worked at a low-wage job while being able to only afford one community college class at the time. I felt stagnant at that point in life; I wanted to leave El Paso to seek other opportunities. Some part of me wanted to feel more ‘American.’ I felt as if joining the Army would open more doors for me in this country. 

Q: Where were you stationed during your time in the Army?

A: My first duty station was Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. Throughout my Army career I was also stationed at: Ft. Bliss (TX), Ft. Dix-Maguire (NJ), Germany, Romania, and Kandahar, Afghanistan. 

Q: In the process of deciding to enlist, did you talk to others about it?

A: I talked to my parents but they had no experience in the matter. I talked to a lot of friends that were enlisted in other branches of the military. They would often say that they didn’t like it as much as they thought they would but felt like staying in El Paso offered no better options. Half of our friends were either getting into criminal activity or worked for low-wages. In the end, there was a lack of resourceful information or people to talk to. 

Q: What was it like identifying as a young Latino male in the Army?

A: I experienced a lot of racism and aggression for how I identified. Latinos who would assimilate had preference. My ‘leaders’ butchered my name all the time. When I played ‘the game’ of making my accent more ‘American’ I was told I was liked for not being like other Mexicans. I would often be verbally assaulted and faced physical abuse when defending myself. One instance led me to being held down by my ‘fellow’ soldiers while they took turns beating me. While in uniform I would often be verbally assaulted by civilians who appeared Caucasian. I would often be called a disgrace although I risked my life overseas. 

Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before you enlisted? 

A: I wish that I would have taken the time to look over my contract for clauses that may have led me to not sign. One of the main reasons I enlisted was because I was under the impression that I would not be pulled into a deployment while attending college. Being pulled out mid-semester and deployed to a combat zone really impacted my life and relationships. 

Q: What led you to get involved with Project YANO and counter-recruitment work? 

A: When I found out that there was an organization that presented the facts as they were without omitting critical information, I was all in. I felt a responsibility as a veteran, as a Latino, to present the facts and necessary information for the youth to know the full scope of what the military is and how it can affect one’s life before they make a choice for themselves. 

Q: Do you have any words of advice for anyone thinking of enlisting in any of the branches of the military?

A: Make sure you are well informed. If you feel like there are no other options for you, make sure you truly embark on an exhaustive search and you will find options. Seriously contemplate whether or not you will be happy with this commitment. Four-year and eight-year contract offers require a strong commitment to the U.S. government, and it is no easy feat to attempt to leave the military under contract. Research and talk to as many people as you can. Actively listen to everyone (yes, even your recruiter) so that you may make a list of things you need to know about. Get informed so that you don’t feel misled or cheated when you are already signed under a contract you cannot get out of.







Photo caption: Army veteran Armando Pérez speaks to students at High Tech High School in San Diego. Photo: Rocío Cordova.




Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Day When Way Opened: Reflections on the 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

By Anthony Wier; first published as media on the internet; reprinted with permission

On Nov. 9, 1989, something that had been permanent evaporated—and the impossible suddenly, stunningly, became real. When the sun rose that November morning, a wall physically divided East and West Berlin, just as it had for 28 long, frightening years before.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

"Because" - a disaster ministry



By Karl Goodfellow

Disasters are physical, emotional and spiritual events. We spend most of our time and resources responding to physical events. Yet the biggest affects are often emotional and spiritual.

Why Christians Should Take a Stand on Climate Change

By Christine Sheller

Christians should take a stand on climate change.  Jesus said the second greatest commandment after loving God was loving our neighbor (Matthew 22:39-40).

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Press Release with info on Des Moines Drone Command Center


Compiled by
Nick Mottern <nickmottern@gmail.com>
KnowDrones https://www.knowdrones.com/


Here is evidence of the DM Drone Command Centers ongoing human rights and war crime violations according to the 2018 IA Dept of Public Defense Annual Report:

"The 124th Attack Squadron flew the MQ-9 for 357 sorties which resulted in 15 kinetic events and fully met Combatant Commander's intent."

A "kinetic event" is an attack, and the report that the 124th fully met a commander's intent appears to mean the targets were killed. Thus, it appears that the 124th Attack Squadron flew, on average, about one sortie per day in fiscal 2018, and conducted a little more than one attack per month.

A sortie usually involves four killer drones each although it could involve more depending on the mission, and possibly involve other drone control centers.

(The fiscal year for Iowa government runs from July 1 to the following June 30 and is numbered for the year in which it ends. So this report covers Air Guard operations for the period of July 1, 2017, to June 30 2018. It could not find a fiscal 2019 report on line; it is probably not completed yet.)

The report also said the 132d Wing, of which the 124th Attack Squadron is part, piloted MQ-9 in the air for 7,070 hours in fiscal year 2018, which amounts to 24 hours a day for nearly 300 days. Some of this time may have been for reconnaissance, but given that the number of sorties was nearly one a day, it appears possible that most of these hours were occupied with stalking for the kill.

The report said the 132d had global responsibilities, not specifying where the attacks took place.

The fiscal 2017 report lists 7,209 MQ-9 hours for the 132d, but does not report on kinetic events; the fiscal 2016 report lists 6,600 hours and has no report of kinetic events.

Almost certainly the Air Guard will say that the sorties were largely or completely being flown in support of U.S. troops on the ground and that the drone attacks save American lives. This has been the standard defense. Even if this were true, we have the larger issue that the U.S. military should not be fighting wars in support of corporate resource extraction and the fact that using killer drones makes these wars seem to have no consequences to the American public while killing and terrorizing people overseas.

---


If you agree with Nick, that today’s US lead Armed Drone War Fair is immoral, unjust and illegal, as International Law and our Just War traditions would affirm, join Nick and the KnownDrones, the DM Catholic Workers & VFP and many others, starting in Iowa a “End Drone War Pledge” by all 2020 Presidential Candidates campaign:
https://www.knowdrones.com/?utm_term=0_beae583d40-45890e9add-323604005


National Contact
Nick Mottern <nickmottern@gmail.com>
KnowDrones https://www.knowdrones.com/

DM VFP & CW Contacts:
Frank Cordaro (515) 490 2490 <frank.cordaro@gmail.com>
Gil Landolt (515) 657 0354 <peacevet@hotmail.com>
Ruth Michelle Hart (319) 654 7010 <ruth.gracegirl.hart@gmail.com>


The DMCW & VFP ended it's 3rd annual Aug 6th to 9th, 24/7 Vigil @ DM Cathedral with a Rally and Direct Action Aug 9 @ the DM Drone Command Center with two arrests.

By Frank Cordaro

      This annual commemoration of the US A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan in DM is part of yearly Hiroshima & Nagasaki observances across the US.

      This year's 3 day, 3 night 24/7 vigil at the St Ambrose Cathedral was low key and personal. We did not have an opening or closing ceremony for the vigil.