Remarks from Bill Frankel–Streit at anti-drone protest in front of CIA on 12/14/13
I was invited to tell you about the campaign against the drone program at Hancock Air base located near Syracuse NY.
Kathy Kelly has been a part of the Hancock 38. There are 16 on trial January 3rd. Anyone and everyone is invited to come up to NY State to be a part of bigger—one in April—or smaller actions. Our friend Mark Colville from the New Haven CW along with 2 Yale Divinity students did an action recently delivering an “order of protection” to the base on behalf of the children of Afghanistan.
By the way, today is the anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook, Conn. Lots on the radio remembering and mourning the victims. When we spend as much time and concern over the victims, innocents of our drone attacks, as much as Sandy Hook, then maybe these drone attacks will stop.
Our action at Hancock was done in repentance, with ashes for our killing of Innocents on Ash Wednesday last year. We were finally brought to trial in October. We had a 5 ½ hour trial where we testified and witnessed wearing the Judge down, I think. It reminded me of the parable in the Gospels of the Widow and the Unjust Judge.
“This may shock you,” the Judge said. “But I can’t find you guilty of disorderly conduct.” When the prosecutor objected, the Judge said, “I find no ‘mens rea’.” That’s Latin for “guilty mind.” It was an “intent” crime and we apparently convinced the Judge that our intent was to stop a crime, not commit one.
We were acquitted on legal grounds, not moral grounds. The Judge didn’t say, “you’re right!” That would have been more of a shock. He didn’t order the drone program shut down, dismantled, or disarmed. Nothing of the sort.
There was a shout of exultation, “We won!” from the packed courtroom of supporters.
But did we win?
My point is not to rain on my parade. The point I want to make here is that I think we have to go deeper, seek deeper waters, so to speak, than being rewarded; or consider it a victory to win in the courts of the Injustice System. If we’re keeping a tally, our record is pretty poor. Unless we find a deeper motivation than winning in their home court, so to speak, measured by their scale of injustice, we won’t long persevere.
“You cannot long survive in America without something better than America for resource,” says Dan Berrigan.
I’m sure Kathy Kelly has endured all these years because of all her wins, her acquittals.
I’m sure Ray McGovern has endured because his old haunt here, the CIA, has awarded him high honors, welcoming him back, and rolling out the red carpet.
And all of us here endure because we’ve stopped all the US wars and interventions. We’ve shut down Guantanamo, stopped torture and rendition. We’ve been all so successful.
Pardon my sarcasm.
What do we have for resource?
For one, we stand on the shoulders of Giants. New Testament language: A great cloud of Witnesses. What kept them going? We can’t be them. We have to find our own source. Be who we are. We get a clue from one of those giants, Dan Berrigan. In his 10 Commandments for the Long Haul, he begins even before the 10 Commandments (Scripture). Telling a story of how he was constantly asked by groups, “How do you become an activist?” His reply, “But that is not the question at all. Here’s a better one: Can we uncover the contemplative springs that are a source of our Humanity? Can we clear the waters of our soul that the streams may run free?”
Dan goes on immediately to say this was the gift of another giant—Thomas Merton, whose death we remembered last week, Dec. 10th. Merton taught us that there is always something deeper than what we see. We are much more than the dammed up muddy water of our own empirical egos. Our desire to triumph over our fears—fear of failing, fear of others, fear itself, which Merton writes, is the root of war. In fact, we are all walking around shining like the sun! Deep down is our true self, one with the Divine. You simply cannot be without God. We are all made in the Image and Likeness of God. Protect the image of human beings because they are the image of God.
Merton’s vision in Louisville, on the corner of 4th and Walnut: “Then it was as if I suddenly saw the sacred beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge could reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we can see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed.…” No more drones, no more CIA, no more Empire.
We are all one.
This is not a pie in the sky dreaming… Not a navel gazing meditation. For the dark night of the soul genuinely entered will necessarily lead you to the Dark Night of Resistance! You liberate the truth in yourself by seeking true liberty for all.
This is what Phil Berrigan referred to as personal and political disarmament. The yin/yang of action /contemplation—mysticism/resistance. It’s not that you first find inner peace, then seek Peace in the world. I believe it’s more of a dialectic, a cycle. It’s fleshed out in the struggle, in a lifetime, never ending always going deeper.
As Merton would say, and all the giants seem to have this in common, “You can’t see it, you can only believe it.”
That’s why faith is a Dark Night.
It takes us beyond ourselves to a place we don’t know. “Eye has not seen, Ear has not heard…” (1 Cor. 2:-12).
Dorothy said, “Never underestimate the eternal significance of giving a crust of bread to a hungry person.”
I think it applies to resistance, too. Never underestimate the eternal significance of even one person holding a sign in the pouring rain.
In conclusion, Nelson Mandala spent 27 years in prison. One letter from his time underground is entitled, “The struggle is my life”. And recently NPR aired a Poem written about Mandela, entitle, “Black Pimpernel, Scarlet Pimpernel” Here are a few lines:
“…Mortal, man, one against many
You led yourself and lead us to the same
Of what you could not give
We will remember that you did not take
We will make our own meaning
This Hope, it belongs
It is ours
We claim it
This is the hour of tomorrow
And if we have stood on the shoulders of Giants
We are giants still
And giants, we will come again
Because we are all Nelson Mandela
And because the struggle continues”