Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rantings of a peace activist (Carole Powell)

It is a little over 3 months since the five of us walked onto Samuel Hill Military training Base.
My first act of nonviolent direct action or civil disobedience. It has taken me 53yrs to do this and it was my heart felt yes to the invitation of the Gospel of Matthew 5 commonly known as the Beatitudes, and in particular to verse 6 in which in my Bible it is written in this way "Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires: God will satisfy them fully!"
I had been struggling with this verse for some time. Struggling because ego so easily gets in the way, but then put that together with Matt 25 V 35-40 and it becomes so very clear. War is the most brutal and major cause of starvation, displacement, illness and poverty. It makes both prisoners of the civillians and the military. It destroys the humanity of each and every one of us.
On June 21st 2007 I was given the gift of walking with 4 committed followers of the nonviolent Jesus into an area being used to fine tune the art of mass destruction not only of our brothers and sisters from around the world but also our environment. I have never been so centered before and my prayer the whole time was the first few sentences of the prayer Jesus gave to us Our Father.
We did not know what response we would get from the military . Friends of ours have experienced being shoved to the ground with a rifle placed to their head. No matter what happened to us our response was to be completely nonviolent as shown to us by Jesus at his arrest in Gethsemane, and the lives of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero and many others. It actually was a very positive experience not only because we had lovingly done something for peace but because for the time we were there we played Frisbee with Austrlian soldiers and had conversations with many of the military personal. For that brief time there was no practicing war at Samuel Hill and we met human to human each hearing the truth of the other.
Our arrest and formally being charged and held in a Police Watch House gave me a little insight into what it is to be powerless.How much worse this must be when you have not had the benefit of an education, you come from a minority group and you have no one to support you. (The drive in the paddy wagon was bad enough with sensory deprivation, and know knowledge of what direction you were travelling in or how long it would take to get there.) We were kept in a holding area which was like a fish bowl. Monitored by a camera and visable to every body coming and going at the Police desk. There was one smelly toilet with a low wall that left you exposed to the CTV camera and the view of everybody at the desk. It took 4 hours for me to be processed, interviewed and released. By that time i had been soaking wet and cold for 11hrs. I had not eaten for almost as long . How much worse then for those held in internment camps around the world, tortured, starved, raped and all with the co operation and support of democratic nations. See how the importance of responding to God's call for justice becomes even more imperative. A friend of mine who has often put his life and freedom on the line for justice put the question to me "Why aren't our prisons overflowing with Christians?"
On August 2nd 2007 i took the easy option and pleaded guilty in the Yeppoon Court. My friends have not. They are continuing to respond to the radical call of Jesus in this matter and use their prophetic voices to bring about change.
I mean while have another problem to deal with. The body responsible for my registration as a nurse do not care that in the eyes of the law this was a trivial offence (as stated by the magistrate) and that despite a good behaviour bond i have no conviction recorded against me. They want me to take the time of two people in giving me lengthy character references in which they must state whether they believe i am fit to practice as a nurse!! Remember this action of mine was completely open and peaceful. No person or property were damaged. We cooperated with the authorities at all times. But it seems they want to have a pound of flesh and they want to make it mine. I will later post my statement that i made in court which will give you an insight in to my experience as a nurse. Experience that has helped formulate my understanding of the absolute uselessness of war.

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