MY NO IS STILL NO
“We have assumed the name of peacemakers, but we have been, by and large, unwilling to pay any significant price. And because we want peace with half a hear and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature is total—but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial. So a whole will and a whole heart and a whole national life bent toward war prevail over the velleities of peace.” —Dan Berrigan
The number one question I’m asked by inmate peers and folks who choose to correspond with me is, “Why, as parole is an available option, do I choose to remain in prison?” This is a quality question, yet one few seem ready to receive substantive answer to, as my reasoning seldom seems to resonate. Simply put, I made my choices which brought me to prison as, largely, I found that “conditions worthy of human beings no longer exist” (Arno Gruen), within our society. In the main, our society embraces things violent. To me, this is inhuman, and I’m on a path to utterly eradicate all violence, racism, bigotry and poverty-production from my life If I were to accept parole, I would be reaffirming the very injustices to which I said “no.”
One need look no further than THE NUCLEAR RESISTER listing of long-term incarcerated folks to see extreme evidence of injustice and inequity. Mr. Peltier was wrongly arrested, when I was in college. Here we are forty years down the line and government sources admit to his illicit treatment yet we let him sit in prison. Mr. Dhafir was scapegoated for loving folks in his homeland and we let him sit in prison. Mr. Chase was set up by so-called law enforcement agencies and we let him sit in prison. Miss Manning blew the whistle on the military’s clandestined surveilling and warmaking, and we let her sit in prison. I cut ties with state-registered religion; renounced my U.S. citizenship; declared a perpetual state of nonviolent war on America’s beloved violence, racism, bigotry and poverty-production/ and purposefully assaulted one of America’s sacr ed military properties (three times), and I’m free to take parole—at any time I simply choose to do so. There’s something really wrong with the disparity between the cases and outcomes of our first four precious ones and mine.
The saddest part of our society’s quietus is the silence that overwhelmingly exists, regarding folks purposefully oppressed, both within and without, by our society. Mr. Peltier, Mr. Dhafir, Mr. Chase, and Miss Manning—moreso than I—are being subjected to horrendously inhuman abuses, as well as being majorly
deprived of even the most basic of human and civil rights. And we all but totally put them out of our thoughts, so we don’t have to think about or see our self-created and self-defeating travesties.
Over the course of my nearly 64 years of life, I’ve gone from being complacently ignorant, to diligently searching public record for actual truth (vs. the lies we’re largely told by media, politicians and religious folks), to investing the last 1/3+ of my life working with and living among folks our society (especially church and state) largely throw away (homeless, poor, black folks, Hispanics, Native Americans, immigrants, gay and transgender folks, distraught veterans, addicts/alcoholics, prostitutes, deformed folks, gangs, etc.). Today, and for 7+ years now, I’ve been investing my time with america’s throwaway inmates. I love them and I want them, and I will never thrown them (or anyone else) away!
My top ten reasons for being utterly content living with my precious ones, here in hell (and what brought me to choose to be here—all of which have occurred in my lifetime), are:
1. U.S. detonations of 1000+ nuclear devices, mostly on Native American tribal lands and Marshall Island atolls.
2. U.S.-waged wars against 15k0+ sovereign nations (14+ since 9/11/01, 8+ since 2008), few of which folks can name or cite reason for. 70%+ of the U.S. budget (directly or indirectly) is spent on military, warmaking and surveilling (both domestic and foreign). My birth religion (among the many others) condemned so-labeled “fundamentalist Islam” for asking their adherents to fight the U.S. Military, yet asked us to fight, whenever and wherever the U.S. asked us to fight.
3. U.S. nullification of most (if not all) Native American treaties.
4. U.S. Constitution still states that Black people are only 60% human.
5. U.S. bigotry against minorities (especially of color), women, gay and transgender folks, immigrants, and religion is the world’s highest.
6. U.S. Prisons house 25%+ of the world’s domestic inmates, in systems that operate in opposition to actual demographics of crime and that highly favor incarceration of minorities (my prison is 60-70% blak). U.S. immigration prisons house many children, including babies.
7. Most citizens of U.S.-held territories are legally considered to be “property won in war.”
8. U.S. support for the overwhelming number of travesties--as Gaza and Guantanamo…
9. The U.S. Central Bank (the Federal Reserve, a privately held maritime lender, formed in 1913) bankrupted the U.S. government in 1953, yet remains the sole receiver of the as yet unresolved bankruptcy, now in its 83rd year.
10. U. S. lies about leading the war in stopping climate change.
My time in prison is scheduled to end August 1, 2018 If I see that day, I will walk away, take a short time of respite, walk around the country visiting precious ones, then walk forward into my next adventure of seeking to love folks who are unwanted and unloved.
Between now and then my only aim is to love best my precious ones here, both inmate and staff, and to ponder such wisdom as the balance of Dan Berrigan’s words—“But what of the price of peace? I think of the good, decent, peace-loving people I have known by the thousands, and I wonder How many of them are so afflicted with the wasting disease of normalcy that, even as they declare for the peace, their hands reach out with an instinctive spasm in the direction of their loved ones, in the direction of their comforts, their home, their security, their income, their future, their plans—that five-year plan of studies, that ten-year plan of professional status, that twenty-year plan of family growth and unity, that fifty-year plan of decent life and honorable natural demise. ‘Of course, let us have the peace,’ we cry, ‘but at the same time let us have normalcy, let us lose nothing, let our lives stand intact, let us know neither prison nor ill repute nor disruption of ties.’ And because we must encompass this and protect that and because at all costs--at all costs—our hopes must march on schedule, and because it is unheard of that good men should suffer injustice or families be sundered or good repute be lost—because of this we cry peace and cry peace, and there is no peace. there is no peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war—at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake.”
As I write, the U.S. is dropping $17.5 million worth of bombs on Syria…every day. U.S. leaders say we’re helping the Syrians. If someone dropped $17.5 million worth of bombs on the U.S….every day, would they be helping Americans?
As I write, armed government agencies are removing Leonard Peltier’s people and supporters from sovereign Sioux lands, at Standing Rock, Sd. It seems the U.S. is helping these lovely ones, by stealing their land to build a privately held pipeline across their land and the life-giving river that crosses their land. How close to our homes do these things have to get before we engage?
I love you and I’m all in,,,