Witnessing for Peace across the State

The peace movement is definitely alive and well in New York State. Here’s the latest.

Across the State: In an attempt to promote Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester’s pastoral letter,Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament, members of PCNYS sent a letter to every bishop in New York State. We asked that they encourage this conversation in all their parishes, and we offered to be of assistance to them in the process.

From Pax Christi Long Island: PCLI is back to in-person meetings after the pandemic. They continue enthusiastic engagement in their Peace Pole Project and encourage folks to check out the www.peacepoles.info website, as well as International Cities for Peace.

From Pax Christi Metro New York: PCMNY returned to an in-person Fall Assembly on Saturday, October 22nd at Manhattan College. The theme was Countering Violent Authoritarianism at Home and Abroad with Maria Stephan as the keynote speaker. Maria is the co-author of Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Works, among many other publications. Read a full report here.

Members of PC Maryknoll are working on a wide variety of issues including the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, elections, and refugee services. One member is particularly involved with Neighbors Link (www.neighborslink.org/locations/ossining) helping a Somali family.

From Pax Christi Upstate New York: John Amidon of PCUNY joined the Nevada Desert Experience in October to protest military drones and nuclear weapons. You can read about his experience at this link and hear some of his testimony on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei-gFQ0Uvjk.

Our previous News page described Merchants of Death actions at the Hancock Air Base in September. This is only a part of a larger and longer-term action. Jack Gilroy filled us in on a War Crimes Tribunal that took place in November with more to come throughout 2023. Read more here.

From Pax Christi International: Mary Yelenick, a long-time member of Pax Christi Metro New York and de facto of Pax Christi NYS, is now a leading member of Pax Christi International’s NGO team at the UN. As such, Mary was able to attend a meeting at the Vatican in December and offers us this report, “Pax Christi International’s ‘Catholic Nonviolence Initiative’ (CNI) Gathering in Rome in December, 2022 Brought Together Global Peacebuilders to Share Insights, Learnings, Stories, Strategies, and Solidarity.” Read it here.

In addition, as a state chapter of Pax Christi USA, in the past three months, Pax Christi New York State has signed or endorsed the following: a letter to President Biden to abolish the federal death penalty, a letter to Senator Schumer to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq, an appeal for a Christmas Truce in Ukraine, the Roses to Missions project described on our Upcoming Events page, a letter to the UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on behalf of women’s human rights in Afghanistan, a national call to protest the U.S.-Saudi War on Yemen at Congressional offices on March 1st, and a statement to the U.S. government and the press to demand human rights for Palestinians.

And be sure to visit our Upcoming Events page as well. There’s much to look forward to in the new year.

Nonviolence in a Time of War

The war in Ukraine has horrified much of the world. Reports indicate that most people believe it is absolutely necessary to arm Ukraine as much as possible to fight the Russian assault. At the same time, we also hear many people say the only way wars ever end is with diplomacy. Nevertheless, while people call for peace, we hear only a minority advocating for nonviolence as a viable way to achieve it, a seeming contradiction.

To address this seeming contradiction, we offer some references that present a different perspective. We recommend:

A Force More Powerful, a documentary series on one of the 20th century’s most important and least-known stories: how nonviolent power overcame oppression and authoritarian rule. It includes six cases of movements for India, the U.S., South Africa, Denmark Poland, and Chile. Each case is approximately 30 minutes long and can be watched here: https://www.nonviolent-conflict.org/force-powerful-english/.

Danish Citizens Resist the Nazis, 1940-1945, an article available at: 

https://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/danish-citizens-resist-nazis-1940-1945.

Bringing Down a Dictator, a documentary about a student movement called Otpor! (‘resistance’), who, in 2000, nonviolently attacked the regime of Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia with ridicule, rock music, and a willingness to be arrested. Their courage and audacity inspired others to overcome their fear and join the fight. The indicted war criminal Slobodan Milosevic fought to hold power. He controlled a battle-hardened army, a tough police force, and most of the news media. But he underestimated his youthful opponents. Watch it at https://www.nonviolent-conflict.org/bringing-dictator-english/.

Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Columbia Studies in Terrorism and Irregular Warfare) by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan

Do This in Memory of Me, a Pax Christi International webinar with Maria Stephan, PhD, co-author of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, who talks about the power of nonviolent, nonmilitary actions in Ukraine. Watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbNt3ozgAN0.