World Beyond Weapons, Empire, and Racism

By David Hartsough

Remarks at Livermore Nuclear Weapons Labs Good Friday Worship and Witness on April 3, 2015, at which the author was among over 50 people arrested.

Thank you for being here and for your concern and good work to help create a world with no nuclear weapons, no empires and no racism.

Beyond Nuclear weapons – Nuclear weapons are the most horrendous weapon ever devised. They could put an end to human life on our beloved planet if we were to have a full scale nuclear war. And make no mistake about it. The US and Russia are playing Russian roulette in the Ukraine which could easily lead to nuclear war.

Our government has a double standard – It is OK for the US to continue to possess and even improve our nuclear weapons, with the present plan to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years on nuclear weapons – much of it to be spent here at LLL. At the same time we are threatening to bomb and attack other countries if they even think of developing nuclear weapons – eg Iran or Iraq. THIS IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. And silence in the face of crimes against humanity is also a crime. That’s why we are here – to say NO with our hearts, our voices, and our bodies to the crime of nuclear weapons.

We call for Livermore Labs to be converted to peaceful purposes eg helping make the transition to a renewable energy world where we would have no more” need” for oil wars or have to worry about global warming.

Beyond empire – The US treats much of the rest of the world as our empire. We have over 1,000 military bases in 130 countries around the world.. We have what is in reality economic, political, cultural and military domination of countries all over the world. This is causing resentment and hostility and even violent resistance to US domination

As MLK said, our vision is of a world in which we can be a BELOVED COMMUNITY, but Pax Americana is the opposite. Our government talks of peace while reigning down bombs on people in far away lands.

We have bombed Iraq for 24 years and Afganistan for 14 years and have destroyed those societies and killed over 1.3 million people. We have created the conditions for the birth and growth of Al Qaida and ISIS and now we are told the war against ISIS and other “terrorists” may go on for many years to come.

This is a sin against God, against God’s children in these countries, and as MLK said, These wars are killing our soul of America in the process.

Every empire in history dug its own grave and has landed in the dustbin of history. Every empire has thought they could rule the world, but they have always failed.

Johan Galtung, Norwegian “father” of Peace Studies programs around the world who has worked as a mediator in many conflict areas and war zones says that the American empire will be over by 2020. The people of the world will not put up with continued American economic, political and military domination. Whether it will be 2020 or 2030 or 2050, the American empire WILL end as have all empires.

We the American people have a choice – we can fight one war after another to hold on to our privilege and power and control of the world’s resources – OR we can work with the world’s people to make the transformation from empire to living at peace with the world as peaceful as possible, and build a world with a much more equitable sharing of resources.

This is our CHALLENGE AND OUR OPPORTUNITY.

Beyond Racism – Racism has permeated American society from the beginning when we took the land away from the native people who lived here. Racism has continued with slavery, segregation, and the way we still treat people of color – the New Jim Crow and mass incarceration of young black men by police who kill them with impunity.

MLK and the Freedom movement in the 50’s and 60’s made great strides, but we still have a long way to go before we practice what we profess – that all people are created equal and there is justice for all.

MLK said in his last book, Where Do We Go From Here, Chaos or Community,

“The choice is violent co-annihilation or nonviolent coexistence.” That is still the choice before us!!!

MLK also said in a church basement, “We have the power in this room to completely change the future course of America.” He believed that and helped a lot of other people to believe it. We here today have the power to help change the future course of America.

The power of NV – As Gandhi said, “Nonviolence is the most powerful force in the world.” I believe that the most hopeful thing is that people all over the world have discovered the power of nonviolence, and there are nonviolent movements around the world which have toppled dictatorships and governments which do no listen to the people.

We in the US need to overcome our sense of powerlessness and believe we have the power to create a just and peaceful world. I am happy to say that as a result of sustained public pressure supporting diplomacy over war with Iran, this week an interim agreement has been signed between the US, Iran and the European Union.

In my new book, Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist, PM Press, I share many stories of peacemaking and nonviolent movements in many parts of the world with the hope that these stories will help empower people to feel that they they too can create change. One of these stories is about Tri Valley Cares, which has built a creative and sustained struggle over the past 32 years to convert the Nuclear weapons labs to peaceful purposes. We can build the Beloved Community starting right here. (Books available at Peaceworkers, 721 Shrader St., San Francisco, CA 94117 for $20.

We are a large human family. We are all brothers and sisters. All of us are children of God.

This is the season of Easter when we remember Jesus’ teachings to Love One Another and even Love our enemies. We are all called to be peacemakers.

This is also the season of taxes. All of us are asked to pay 50% of our taxes for wars and preparations for more wars. How can we pray and work for peace and pay for war?

Can we in good conscience pay for developing nuclear weapons, flying drones and dropping bombs on children, women and men in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and so many other places?

What if they gave a war and nobody paid for it?

I hope each of us will search our own consciences about whether we can continue to pay for these wars and killing our fellow human beings, children of God.

Killing innocent people is not only immoral and against our profoundest religious beliefs, but it is illegal under international law. It does NOT create security. The more we bomb, the more people we recruit for Al Qaida and ISIS – a recipe for wars forever.

Let us renew our commitment to building a world where all God’s children can live a life free of nuclear weapons, empire, war, injustice and racism.

As MLK said, The Arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Let us remember and believe that “WE SHALL OVERCOME. WE DO HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE HISTORY. We can continue to Speak Truth to Power, live by the values we believe in, build nonviolent movements to challenge nuclear weapons, war and injustice, and create the BELOVED COMMUNITY where we live and in the world!

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