Nonviolence, Peace, and War- In the Words and Voices of Martin Luther King, Dave Dellinger, Dorothy Day, and Others

Eighty-five years old, this month (January 2014).  That is how old Martin Luther King, Jr. would be, if he were still here with us today.  I’m sure that his words and deeds would still be inspiring us, today.  Dr. King understood the power of words.  He employed his wonderful eloquence to teach the importance of peace and nonviolence.  He knew that we must act upon our beliefs, and he helped our nation to become more peaceful and more just.
The photo, above, is of King delivering his magnificent “I Have a Dream” speech, in 1963.  You may have noticed that the second photo in the Peace and Justice Online masthead is of the same rally.  Today, however, I am quoting from King’s important (and often overlooked) 1967 speech, “Beyond Vietnam- A Time to Break Silence.” In this speech, speaking of excessive military spending, Dr. King tells us, “Somehow, this madness must cease.” Listen here:


Later in this post, there is a link to the full text of this speech.  There is also a slideshow with audio excerpts from the speech.
Another nonviolent activist, David Dellinger, was one of my heroes.  I first heard him speak, around the time of the Chicago Seven trial.  I was inspired by his essays in his book, Revolutionary Nonviolence.  We were privileged to have had him join us, demonstrating to shut down Continue reading
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Reverend Billy Asks, “What Would Jesus Buy?”

Update- 2013–   It’s that time again!  We are once again bombarded with holiday shopping advertisements.  Here on Long Island, we are once again demonstrating in support of Walmart workers who are protesting and/or striking for reasonable wages and working conditions.  We are also, once again, operating our Black Friday free store, offering food, clothing, and other items at “100% off, for the 99%.”
If you are in the NYC area, you can see Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, performing live at Joe’s Pub in the afternoons of December 1, 8, 15, 22, 2013 and January 12, 2014.
Update- November 2012-  Black Friday is approaching.  Members of Long Island’s peace and justice organizations will be demonstrating at a local mall, as we do each year at that time.  This year, we will, along with local Occupy groups, hold our demonstration outside of Walmart, as we support the Walmart workers’ Black Friday strike.  We are calling for an end to corporate greed and for a national policy that promotes jobs and not war.
(Update- December 2011: This post from 2010 is still relevant, of course.  Reverend Billy has offered us this message, as he travels this 2011 holiday season, to join Occupy Chicago. “Riding the train 500 miles, I appreciate how vast this country is. Occupying this whole thing is a daunting task. Let’s take our Occupy Continue reading
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Peace and Justice Online Website Highlights Its Top Five Posts

Poverty in AmericaOWS Better World Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

                               Barbara Lee & Bernie SandersMartin Luther King

The Peace and Justice Online website (www.peaceandjusticeonline.org) has reached a readership milestone.  I am very pleased to announce that the site has achieved a total of more than 20,000 page views.

I am presenting, here, below, links to each of the five most viewed posts, along with a brief summary of each post.  Each post includes a “Comments” option.  Please do not hesitate to add a comment to any of the posts.

I hope you will also check out the website’s Directory of Resources.  This Directory is an annotated listing of online resources for the peace and justice activist.  I will be doubling the number of entries in the Directory, over the next few months.  I would welcome suggestions for sites that you feel would be helpful to include.  Just drop me a note, through the Contacts page.

And now, the Top Five Posts on Peace and Justice Online. Continue reading

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Memorial Day Is A Time To Mourn the Dead … Let’s Not Glorify War

Vets for Peace at Memorial Day Air Show

Note: This was initially posted in May 2012.  It is still extremely relevant now, in May 2013.  Memorial Day airshows, glorifying war, will soon be conducted in several locales around the country.  Anti-war demonstrations will be held at many of these.  This article describes the 2012 Jones Beach airshow and the demonstration that was held there by dozens of Long Island peace activists.  Please also check out the four-minute video, below.  It provides a very good sense of both the airshow (bizarre) and the demonstration (inspiring).

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Bombers flew over the Atlantic, as we watched from the shore.  Jet fighters dove through the sky above us.  The veteran standing beside me trembled, as the ear-piercing sound of the planes overhead evoked an agonizing memory of war.

The vet was a member of the Long Island Chapter of Veterans for Peace.  He and I were among the sixty peace activists who attended Saturday’s Memorial Day Air Show at Jones Beach.  Our gathering was organized by Pax Christi Long Island.  Members of numerous Long Island peace and justice organizations participated, including Code Pink LI, North Country Peace Group, South Country Peace Group, LI Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, and the Suffolk Peace Network.

Our purpose in gathering at the beach this Saturday was to reaffirm the true reason that we observe Memorial Day.  Memorial Day is a day where we pause, to mourn the loss of those who died in war.  It is a day to recommit ourselves to ending ongoing wars and to preventing further wars.  Memorial Day is not a day for celebrating the weapons of war.  The Jones Beach Air Show glorifies war and trivializes violence.

War as Entertainment

The bomber planes swooped over the ocean, opened their bomb bay doors, and dropped watermelons into the water.  Thousands on the beach cheered.  We stood solemnly, holding photos of the dozens of Long Islanders who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We read their names.  We mourned their loss.  We stood before thousands of pink ribbons, each with the name of an American who was killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.  We vowed Continue reading

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Romney Has A Koch Problem; Let’s Reclaim Our Democracy- Let’s Overturn Citizens United

Demonstration at Koch Estate in Southampton

Two hundred of us recently rallied outside the Southampton estate of David Koch, the oil billionaire who has been a prime financier of the Tea Party.  As Koch hosted a $50,000-per-seat fundraiser for Mitt Romney, we chanted, “Democracy Not Plutocracy,” “Our Democracy Is Not For Sale,” and “Overturn Citizens United.”

As my readers know, the Supreme Court decision in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has been a major contributor to the weakening of our democracy, as it has substantially increased the ability of corporations and the wealthy to influence our elections.  This decision, along with lower-court rulings and a key tax law loophole, has allowed unlimited, anonymous contributions to foster an electoral process that is more akin to “One Dollar, One Vote,” than to “One Person, One Vote.”

The United States population now has a greater disparity in both wealth and income than we have had in decades.  (For details, click here.)  As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis cautioned us, “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”  As we work for a more equitable economy, Continue reading

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Let’s Eradicate Poverty in America, with Commentary by Michael Moore, Cornel West, Barbara Lee

                       Yes.  It is time we did something about the fact that there are more than 46,000,000 people in America who are living in poverty.  If we were to seriously address this shameful situation, we could virtually eliminate poverty.

            Most of my readers know the facts.  The extent of inequality in America, of both income and of wealth, is far greater than it has been in decades.  The top 1% of us earn more each year than all those in the bottom 50%, combined.  The top 1% now earns 20% of all the income that Americans earn.

            The wealthiest 400 people in America (400!) now hold more wealth than the bottom 150,000,000 of us, combined.  The top 1% holds as much wealth as the bottom 90%, combined.  The wealthiest 1% of Americans own more than 40% of America’s wealth.

            Michael Moore discusses the extent of poverty in America and contrasts it with Continue reading

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My Day with Occupy Wall Street; and Naomi Klein, Chris Hedges, Bernie Sanders on OWS

Some of my favorite signs at the occupation:

“I lost my job.  Then I found an occupation.”

“This is the first time I’ve felt hopeful in a very long time.”

“Jobs, Not War.  People, Not Profit.”

“Democracy, Not Plutocracy.”

Dozens of members of our Long Island peace and justice community have joined with the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators at various times, in the weeks since the occupation began on September 17.  Some have participated in the occupation several times.  Some have stayed overnight in Zuccotti Park.  One of our peace group members, a college professor, took his students to the occupation, as a field trip.  The experience that the students had, being there at the occupation and speaking with the demonstrators, was the epitome of quality, meaningful education.

It was inspiring for me to be among the hundreds of people who occupied the park, as they had transformed Zuccotti Park into Liberty Plaza, a vibrant, cooperative, democratic community.  Contrary to some media reports, I found Continue reading

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Ten Years of War in Afghanistan

           It’s been ten terrible years of war in Afghanistan.  Nearly two thousand U.S. soldiers have been killed in this war.  Tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed.  We have spent nearly $500 Billion fighting this war.  The war in Afghanistan should never have begun.  The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was immoral and in clear violation of international law.  We must do all that we can to end the war, now.

            Thousands of Americans will be demonstrating in their hometowns this month, calling for an end to the war.  I believe that these demonstrations are essential, as they help to inform others in our communities of the facts behind the war, and they further a community’s commitment to taking a stand for peace.  Importantly, Continue reading

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Nuclear Power: Dangerous, Dirty & Expensive- 20 Key Facts

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

           The simple fact is that nuclear power is terribly dangerous.  From a health and safety standpoint, it is utterly irrational for us to continue to generate electricity by splitting the atom.  Nuclear power is unreasonably expensive.  When all of its costs are considered, it becomes clear that nuclear power is unaffordable.  Importantly, a reliance upon nuclear power impedes our efforts to develop and implement the production of electricity by safe, affordable, sustainable means, such as solar, wind, and geothermal.
            Here are twenty key facts about nuclear power.
            Also, I have included, below, links to some of the websites that provide extensive information about nuclear power.
            I hope you will check out the powerful video that is embedded, below.  It does an excellent job of summarizing the most serious problems with nuclear power, through excerpts of testimony by some of the nation’s most respected anti-nuclear experts, including Helen Caldicott, Michael Mariotte, and Harvey Wasserman.
            Also, you might want to check out the second video, with Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Keb’ Mo’, Graham Nash, and Ben Harper.  They do a very nice job, singing and speaking about several aspects of the nuclear power issue.
1)         Nuclear power plants release radiation into the atmosphere and into our waters.  If radiation could be seen or smelled, we would be more aware of this poisonous pollution, and we would be far more likely to ban nuclear power.
2)         Nuclear power is so dangerous, and is such a risky investment, that private investors will not provide the backing for it.  The only nukes that are currently being built, anywhere, are those Continue reading
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Ellsberg, Swanson, Nader & Benjamin- On Iraq, Afghanistan, Manning & Wisconsin

Daniel Ellsberg

On March 18, Daniel Ellsberg, David Swanson, Ralph Nader, Medea Benjamin, and others gave moving speeches on the need to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on the strategies that they would encourage us to follow.  On March 19, at the White House, 1,500 people demonstrated, calling for an end to the wars and for justice for Bradley Manning.  More than 100 people were arrested.  The same day, Continue reading
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