This is a chapter in Guides to Peace and Justice from Ancient Sages to the Suffragettes, which is published as a book. For ordering information, please click here.
I was born in Los Angeles on March 5, 1947 and had a happy and peaceful childhood growing up in the Pacific Palisades. My parents were Republicans, and I had a conservative upbringing. When I was a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley, I participated in the earliest phase of the Free Speech Movement that was led by Mario Savio in 1964. The Dean of Women had made a rule that literature could no longer be passed out on the edge of campus. Nonviolent student protests eventually resulted in opening up the entire campus to this First Amendment right. At first I wanted to study psychology and political science, but I did not like the way the course in each I took was taught. I decided to major in Dramatic Art, because I wanted to study life, motivation, and emotions as well as theories, and it was more experiential than most academic subjects. I believed very strongly in freedom, and during the summer of 1967 I did an independent study, reading just about everything written by Jean-Paul Sartre. After I graduated in December of that year, I continued right on in graduate school.
As a graduate student I no longer had a deferment from the draft. I knew I could not go into the military, because I would not give up my freedom to such an organization. Although I had little religious background, I decided to apply for Conscientious Objector status. When I was 16, I had started reading the Bible; but I got bogged down in Chronicles. Now I began with the New Testament and was impressed with Jesus in the Gospels. I read the Portable World Bible and other existential philosophers such as Ortega y Gasset and Friedrich Nietzsche. I was drawn to Eastern philosophy and was so overwhelmed by Lao-zi's Dao De Jing that I used that as the basis for my conscientious objection to war. Although I had been raised to compete and strive in sports, to be an Eagle Scout, and get good grades, I responded very deeply to this peaceful philosophy of not striving. During the summer of 1968 I was doing research to write a screenplay on Phaedra and discovered the Minoan civilization. While radicals were rebelling against the police in the streets, I was being pulled up to spiritual ideas. I did not like the riots and decided to leave Berkeley. I came back on a weekend in October and on a peace march met friends from my high school who gave me a ride to Santa Barbara, where I enrolled in the Religious Studies program at UCSB.
There I was lucky to find a roommate, Venustiano Olguin, who had worked closely with Cesar Chavez and came to UCSB to study nonviolence and Gandhi. I was to give a presentation to the seminar of Mircea Eliade on the same day I was called before my draft board in Westwood. I asked for an extension; it was denied, and I appealed. In the spring I met Bishop James Pike, who broke bread with us after a one-day fast for peace. Finally in December 1969 I told the draft board that I could not hurt another human being, because we are all one. I said I had never been in a fight in my life. I was granted Conscientious Objector status. As I was having mystical experiences and no longer had financial support for my studies from my parents, I decided to give up all my possessions and dedicate my life to God through the Christ, which I believe is a divine energy in us all. At that time I met John-Roger, who had founded the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA) and called himself the Mystical Traveler Consciousness. His ability to soul travel and help people spiritually amazed me. I had taken some psychedelic drugs, but in June 1970 I decided to give those up for good and have not taken any illegal drugs since.
I completed my Masters degree in Religious Studies in June 1971, and the next year I was ordained a minister by John-Roger through the office of the Christ. In Los Angeles I was very active in MSIA, co-authored and directed a musical comedy, and served on the ministerial board for two years. I founded a spiritual university called the University of the Golden Age (UGA), co-edited and published Across the Golden Bridge about 62 people's experiences in MSIA, taught philosophy in community colleges, wrote and had published Living In God's Holy Thoughts, and went to UCLA for a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Education. In 1976 I began teaching at the World University in Ojai. After I wrote a 500-page dissertation on Confucius and Socrates, my faculty committee at UCLA sabotaged my thesis because of my spiritual philosophy and wholistic approach, deciding I had to do it over their way. I decided to complete my Ph.D. in Philosophy at World University, and I moved to Ojai in 1979.
When President Carter reacted to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan with more militarization, I became very concerned and wrote him a letter. I began teaching courses at World University in world peace and Gandhi's nonviolence as well as in philosophy, religion, and psychology. After translating the Gospels from Greek and putting together a book on the soul, I began researching and writing The Way to Peace, which became the 282-page book that has been replaced by this much longer revision under a new title. I was horrified by the policies of Ronald Reagan and began to consider the need for civil disobedience. I was only earning $400 a month but lived simply, though I collected a library of used books. In the summer of 1981 I was called before the MSIA ministerial board, because I had offered $25 donation instead of the expected $125 for their ministerial training seminar. I raised the issue of civil disobedience because John-Roger had said that ministers should obey all the laws. The board did not think that was important, and they revoked my ministerial credential for being too poor.
In September 1981 I read in the Los Angeles Times about the nonviolent action to stop the nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon. I took the nonviolence training at the camp, joined an affinity group, and the next day was arrested for the first time. The men were put in an old gymnasium for more than a week, and I found the experience very instructive and inspiring. In 1982 I worked on the campaign to freeze nuclear weapons and had a letter complaining about the Cold War mentality of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger printed in the Los Angeles Times. I attended a World Federalist conference, PSR's forum on the medical consequences of nuclear war and other peace activities. I started a networking organization called the World Peace Movement, formulating and printing in a brochure the following Principles, Purposes, and Methods:
1. The earth is one world, and its human beings must learn
to live in peace with each other or perish.
2. The human race is one and interdependent;
the good of each depends on the good of all
and our love for each other.
3. The way of love and peace is nonviolent
and does not hurt anyone.
4. The uniting power of love, peace, and friendship
is stronger than the divisive strife of hatred, war, and enmity.
5. The conversion of a hostile and militaristic world
into a peaceful global society is primarily an educational process
of changing consciousness from fear, suspicion, and mistrust
to love, confidence, and trust in the human capacity
to solve problems, cooperate, and establish justice.
6. Every human being has the equal right
to life, liberty, security, and justice.
7. Respect for individual freedom and dignity requires
the protection of all human rights
by means of a universal system of justice.
8. Justice in human affairs evolves through democratic means
and due process of law.
9. The use of force is justified only when a legal authority,
designated by consent of the people,
is required to restrain and bring to justice a violator of the law.
10. A law enforcement official has legal authority only
within the territory of the people who designate that official.
No nation has the sovereign right to use any force
outside its national borders.
11. War, the use of force outside one's territory,
the threat to use such force,
and the sale or transfer of military weapons outside one's territory
should be prohibited by international law.
12. International wars and internal oppression of human rights
are allowed to occur because there is no enforceable world law.
13. Enforceable world law and justice may be established
by instituting a democratically elected federal world government
to protect human rights and solve international disputes
through a compulsory system of jurisprudence.
14. In a federal world government each nation would maintain
sovereignty over its own internal affairs,
except that the federal world government
would have legal authority to protect human rights
and settle international disputes.
15. Education, communication, democratic process,
and nonviolent protest of wrongs are the purest
and most effective means of social reform.
Peace and justice are attained only by peaceful and just means.
16. Biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons
are so horrendously deadly to people
and damaging to the environment for such long periods of time
that only deluded minds seriously contemplate their use.
17. Belief in deterrence of war
by massive armaments and nuclear weapons
is based on fear, suspicion, mistrust, and insecurity;
this weapons policy perpetuates
more fear, suspicion, mistrust, and insecurity in the world.
18. Those people who have moral courage and faith
in the justice of their economic and political philosophies
and in the nonviolent social change of democratic processes
will support enforceable world law
instead of massive national armaments.
19. Huge expenditures on massive armaments of destruction
are a colossal waste of human and material resources,
causing poverty, inflation, and a lowering of the quality of life.
Such resources could otherwise be used for
improvement of the environment,
food production and distribution,
education, health, and other beneficial purposes.
1. To awaken the inner peace that dwells in the hearts of all beings.
2. To create the consciousness of world peace
and to foster friendship and harmony among all people.
3. To promote and protect the human rights of all people,
regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion,
political or other opinion, national or social origin, property,
birth or other status, as delineated in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.
4. To assure international justice and universal human rights
by developing ways to preserve them,
such as a federal world government,
democratically elected by all the people of the earth,
with a world court of justice having compulsory jurisdiction
to decide all cases of international disputes
and violations of world law and human rights,
and with a world peacekeeping force
of individuals from all countries
who would be dedicated to the whole of humanity
and who would enforce world law
and the decisions of the world court of justice
by the most peaceful means possible.
5. To achieve disarmament and the total elimination of
all biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons in the entire world.
6. To purify and maintain a clean
and ecologically balanced environment
for our health and prosperity and for future generations.
7. To alleviate poverty and hunger, and to improve the health,
education, and living conditions of all people on earth.
8. To encourage all schools from the primary grades
to the university to offer peace education from a global perspective.
1. To live peacefully and lovingly as examples to all.
2. To educate ourselves and others by every means
to increase awareness of the oneness of life,
the interdependence of all beings,
the ecological unity of the environment,
the way of love and nonviolence,
and the urgent need for transnational attitudes,
programs, and institutions for the sake of mutual survival.
3. To communicate by every means the truth
and the facts which reveal and nourish world peace.
4. To pray and meditate and expand the consciousness of peace.
5. To respect and nurture human rights
with tolerance and understanding.
6. To refrain from contributing to the preparations
and activities of war and from hostile and aggressive attitudes.
7. To protest nonviolently against oppression, militarism,
nuclear weapons, pollution, and violations of human rights.
8. To work for the total elimination of
biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons in every country.
9. To promote and practice world citizenship,
and to work to organize a world constitutional convention
to plan the democratic institution of a federal world government.
10. To use all human wisdom, sciences, and technologies
in developing and purifying the environment,
eradicating hunger and sickness in all countries,
and making global education available to all people.
11. To communicate closely with all peace organizations
and dedicated peace workers
to facilitate the forming of a united worldwide network
to bring about the establishment of world peace.
In January 1983 I participated with the Vandenberg Action Coalition in an occupation of Vandenberg Air Force Base to protest the upcoming testing of the MX missile, a destabilizing first-strike weapon capable of destroying ten Soviet missiles. Defense expert Herbert Scoville had stated that the MX missile would not deter a Soviet attack but would give them an incentive to launch their missiles on warning. About two hundred of us were given letters banning and barring us from the base, and we were released. The next month I was arrested in Orange County in an action organized by the Los Angeles Catholic Worker. I cited out of jail so that I could moderate a panel discussion at the Mind-Body-Spirit Festival on Nuclear Disarmament with Daniel Ellsberg, Danaan Parry, Richard Moss, and Yogi Bhajan. In March about eight hundred of us were arrested at Vandenberg, and most stayed in custody in solidarity with those of us who had been banned before. Most of the men were put in the gym at the Lompoc prison camp, and the experience was similar to Diablo Canyon with many educational and entertaining activities.
I had written a letter to Col. Farney warning him and the base that they were violating international law, and I quoted the Nuremberg Principles. In May at a long meeting taken up mostly with people reflecting on the previous action, I was able to get the Vandenberg Action Coalition to approve a letter I wrote to President Reagan, declaring that unless the US Congress stopped all funding for the MX missile, there would be a nonviolent occupation of Vandenberg AFB. I signed the letter, and copies were sent to every member of Congress and to major newspapers and media networks. I insisted on my right to be tried by a federal judge and represented myself in the trial at Los Angeles. Ironically, Judge A. Wallace Tashima would not let my expert witness, Dr. Jimmy Hara, testify on the effects of nuclear weapons, because he would not allow the defense of necessity nor international law. However, his attitude seemed to soften during the one-day trial, and he did not sentence me to any more time in prison. The lawyer Leon Vickman was challenging the legality of nuclear weapons in the Provisional District World Court and asked to add my case to his suit; I agreed. My action was also defended by the legal opinions of Dr. T. P. Amerasinghe from Sri Lanka and A. B. Patel of India.
Meanwhile we organized a local group to protest the testing of cruise missiles at the Point Mugu Naval Base; a cruise missile had even crashed in the national forest near Ojai. In the San Francisco Bay area the Livermore Action Group declared June 20, 1983 International Day of Nuclear Disarmament; so we planned our action for that day. The US Government used this opportunity to begin testing the MX missile in mid-June, and so only about forty people were arrested at Vandenberg then. After much preparation eleven of us blocked traffic going into the Pt. Mugu base on June 20. We stayed outside the federal property line so that we would be given a jury trial. Later it was discovered that they had painted the line in the wrong place, and so those charges were dropped so that we could be tried without a jury by a federal magistrate. We were found guilty, but sentencing was delayed. On August 6 several people began a water fast for life to stop the nuclear arms race. In solidarity I fasted on juices and ended my fast when they did after forty days. On the 28th day of the fast I was arrested in the office of Congressman Lagomarsino, who refused to see me; but I was not prosecuted.
In October 1983 there was a world-wide effort to stop the deployment of the cruise missiles in Europe, and that was the weekend that the Reagan administration chose to invade Grenada. I joined the action at El Segundo organized by the Los Angeles Catholic Worker and the Alliance for Survival. In the Los Angeles jail I was badly treated for refusing to submit to a chest x-ray. The elderly Glafko Sikelianos (son of a famous Greek poet) and I pleaded not guilty and represented ourselves in a jury trial. Although the judge and most of the jury were African Americans, they did not really seem to understand the ideas and methods of Martin Luther King. Refusing probation, Glafko and I were sentenced to 120 days for trespassing. After a month in jail the lawyer Doug Booth got us a sentence modification hearing, and later our sentences were suspended. We both went back and had to serve two-thirds of our 21-day sentences in the Ventura County jail for the Pt. Mugu action. I was moved by the support we got at the sentencing hearings, and the time in jail was easily spent reading. I had appealed my Vandenberg case to the federal circuit court of appeals; but I was not allowed to present oral arguments, because I was in jail on these other cases.
I wrote a short book called IRENE: Realizing World Peace and had 2,000 copies printed in March 1985. The vision of how we can bring about a peaceful world is expressed in rhymed couplets. Then I diagnosed the many causes of wars such as population pressures, eating of meat, tribal hunting, territoriality, male dominance, military organization, warrior elites, honor, religious conflicts, weapons technology, the nuclear arms race, superpower rivalry, a military economy, psychological factors, masculine aggression, ambition for power, belief in deterrence, competition, apathy and despair, and various other current problems. Then I gave a prognosis, describing the tendencies since the reaction to the dramatic events of 1979, when the conflicts with Muslims over Middle-Eastern oil accelerated as did the superpower arms race. The elections of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan made the 1980s dangerous from the hostile policies of these western powers. I examined the current political trends with the wars in the Middle East and Central America and the nuclear arms race. The current economic trends were also short-sighted.
In the last section of the book called "Healing" I described how I believed we could bring about world peace. I suggested that a popular peace movement could change the policies of their governments to reverse the arms race and end the wars, and Green politics could begin healing the Earth and society. I prophesied that Europe would remove all their nuclear weapons and become a nuclear-free zone. I predicted that West and East Germans would unify into one nation, followed later by the reunification of the Koreas as Asia was also demilitarized. A Pan-African movement would also throw off military support. The Scandinavian countries would lead the way by showing how a balance of some socialism and a free market can work well. Corporate profits would be taxed to help to improve the environment, and as society became more efficient and less materialistic, the work week could be reduced gradually from forty hours to 24 hours or less.
Eventually as disarmament proceeded, the people of the world would join together to form a democratic government to resolve international disputes and protect human rights everywhere. A World Assembly would be elected by the people to make world law, and nine presidents from North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, North Asia, West Asia, India, China, and East Asia would be elected to the World Executive Council to make sure that world law was enforced by an International Peacekeeping Service. Each president would appoint one justice to the World Court of Justice. So far only a small part of this has actually happened; but I believe that something like the rest will occur if we are to survive. I mailed a copy of IRENE to about 1300 peace organizations, more than two hundred of them outside of North America.
When I heard about the Great Peace March, I went down to Los Angeles to talk to them about their plans. I was aghast at how naïve they were about the processes needed to keep a moving city of 5,000 functioning well. Apparently the staff expected to give the orders and that everyone would just obey. One person even said to me, "What is there for them to decide? They can't not march." They wanted each marcher to raise $1,000. I decided that if I was going to have to raise more money (after sending out IRENE) that it would be for my book The Way to Peace, which I published in 1986.
By the end of the year I had decided to go on my own peace tour in 1987, and I sent out a mailing to more than three thousand peace groups in the 140 cities on my itinerary from April to November and to about 300 Unitarian ministers. My strategy was to influence the policies of the candidates running for President so that we could elect someone who would go along with the enlightened proposals of Gorbachev. I drew up a "Peace by 2000" petition that asked politicians to work for a plan of complete nuclear disarmament by that year. I hoped that each peace group would make copies of the petition and circulate them. I also included an article of about 5,000 words called "Will We Make Peace in 1989?" that described the current issues and how I believed we could solve them. The mailing also contained the brochure on the World Peace Movement Principles, Purposes, and Methods, a local news article about my peace efforts, and my schedule so that they would know when I would be in their city. I received about thirty responses to this mailing offering to arrange some event for my visit.
Except when I spent a few days in a big city, I traveled nearly every day except on Sundays. I kept a peace journal that I wrote in about once a week, summarizing the contacts that I made, what I learned about their activities, and what we worked on together. At the beginning I spent extra time in San Francisco preparing for a large mobilization rally in April. Then I proceeded up the coast to Seattle. In Great Falls, Montana 22 peace groups had gathered to hear me speak. I managed to contact the most active peace workers in each city and gave out the materials, sold a few books, and cooperated as best I could with whatever they were doing. After crossing South Dakota I went down to Little Rock for the Unitarians General Assembly. Then I went to Oklahoma and turned north. In Dubuque I was able to speak to Michael Dukakis, who claimed he was converted to disarmament, and in Des Moines I talked briefly to Joe Biden, who actually said I would be in trouble if he were elected. From Minnesota I went east across the Midwest to New England. In New York I picked up copies of my new book LIFE AS A WHOLE: Principles of Education Based on a Spiritual Philosophy of Love, but I did not sell many copies of that on the rest of my tour.
I met every person in the Plowshares 8 except Carl Kabat, who was in prison. I attended the Atlantic Life Community retreat in Pennsylvania and went to a trial in Virginia, where some from Jonah House were convicted. In Washington Senator Jesse Helms invited me into the Senators elevator which gave me the chance to warn him that a vote for aid to the Contras is a crime according to the Nuremberg Principles. I also found that there were fine peace activists in the deep South, though not as many. Miami was the only city where I was warned that peace bumper stickers could be dangerous for your car. I stayed with people wherever I went and never had difficulty finding hospitality. I stayed in several Catholic Worker houses. I found that most of the active peace workers were generous and kind although they were often financially poor. Those in smaller cities tended to be more friendly, and some of the more sophisticated were not too helpful. At St. Mary's University in San Antonio I was their featured speaker during their conference on conflict resolution. On my last stop in Las Vegas I was arrested at the test site; but everyone was released without any consequences. When I returned home to Ojai, I had just enough money to pay off the debt for publishing LIFE AS A WHOLE. I had met with about six hundred peace groups and stayed in 130 cities.
When I visited the Walnut Creek Peace Center on my tour, Chuck Goodmacher told me that they were planning Nuremberg Actions to block the trains at Concord that were taking weapons to Central America. I felt drawn to this area and favored the approach of using international law. I was in New York City on September 1 when I heard that Brian Willson had been run over by a munitions train at Concord. So after I completed my peace tour, I decided to go up to Concord and join Nuremberg Actions. The first night I was there, I saw a truck coming out of the base and stood in front of it. They moved me out of the way and said they thought we had an agreement about that. I attended the meetings, worked as a volunteer at the peace center, and began blocking trains. I was hoping to organize a peace community there. When Scot Rutherford purchased a house in a poor section of Pittsburg near Concord, I moved in there.
I was planning on going south to see my family for Christmas and bring back my library that I had reduced to 1500 books. So on December 23 I was not planning on getting arrested; but Greg Getty refused to put his arms behind his back, and because the deputies were inflicting pain on him instead of picking him up, I decided to join him. As I walked into the closed road, I was immediately put in handcuffs and arrested. We were soon released, and Greg, Spalding, and April went south with me to help me move my books and things. Brian's wife Holly Rauen and I organized an event at Bill O'Donnell's Catholic church in Berkeley so that people could hear Katya Komisaruk speak about how she destroyed the Navstar computer at Vandenberg in her plowshares action before turning herself in. Brian Willson also spoke, and there was good music. I did not like to spend long hours at the vigils in the cold wind by the highway and preferred to study and write; but I was intent on blocking every train I could. I also managed to teach a class on Literature and Psychology at John F. Kennedy University one night a week. I was getting arrested at the tracks about once a week, but for a while they would just take names and let us go. Shawna even used the name Emma Goldman, and they did not know the difference. In February we had a fast, and I sent a letter urging every member of Congress to vote against aid to the Contras. After that, Saul Steinberg of Coleman Publishing no longer sent me any more copies of my book The Way to Peace even though I owned the books. I had seen a photo of him standing next to Ronald Reagan.
When I was indicted for the arrest before Christmas, I did not want to waive time. So I defended myself in the first trial of Nuremberg Actions, and Lowell Richards represented Bill Minkwitz. Lowell and I decided not to challenge any jurors. An outstanding videographer named Mark Coplan was allowed to tape the trial. Judge Cunningham seemed reasonable on many things, but he would not allow us to present international law or the defense of necessity. He did allow me to explain my motivation, and in the closing argument he let me read and interpret the Nuremberg Principles. Because my arrest was questionable on this day, the jury acquitted me. One juror refused to convict Bill, and so his was a hung jury. In March 1988 the sheriffs began holding people in jail for up to 48 hours (not counting weekends) and then releasing people without charging them, using some statute designed for holding prostitutes, drunks, and drug addicts. That meant that an arrest on Thursday or Friday resulted on four days in jail. Then they would release us without charging us. I refused to bail out even for my last class, and my teaching opportunity faded to giving one small workshop on nonviolence.
In June we learned that the US Customs was stopping trucks carrying medicine and toys for children from crossing the Texas border, because they were going to Nicaragua. So a group of us went to the Customs building in San Francisco and were arrested sitting outside the door they locked to keep us out. We were given a trial fairly quickly, and some of us were convicted for being in front of the door. I refused to cooperate with probation, and it was terminated "with prejudice." Thirty people from Nuremberg Actions were indicted and tried together in Concord, but once again the jury was hung. I helped Mark with the videotaping by holding the shotgun microphone. Expert witnesses included Karen Parker on international law, ex-CIA agent David MacMichael, a judge from El Salvador, and the Vietnam veteran and physician Charlie Clements.
I offered to write and edit a Nonviolence Handbook; but Holly said they already had one from the Pledge of Resistance, though no one seemed to be using it. Greg would cook soup at the house, and I let him use my car to take it to the vigil. Richard Wilhelm told me he was eating only raw oats; he was not complaining, but I was concerned that people living at the tracks were not even getting enough to eat. I finally convinced a meeting to authorize $75 a week for food. Efforts to draw more people into the campaign were not very successful. There was a large demonstration on a weekend; but the fence gate was locked, and no one was even arrested. We did have one action occupying the area by the nuclear bunkers, and Diane Poole poured her blood. I was discouraged when I was not invited to be on KPFA radio, because a newly hired coordinator wanted "people with jobs." When Joe Cohen completed his walk across the country from Georgia, he stayed at peace house. I had met him several times on my tour, and he offered to let me rent his house on 125 acres of pine forest in Georgia for only $100 per month. So in September 1988 I decided to leave, and after house-sitting for my vacationing parents, I moved to Buena Vista, Georgia. I had been arrested in Concord more than forty times in the ten months I was there.
On May 6, 1989 I participated in a Pax Christi protest at the Trident Submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia. Twenty of us were arrested for stepping over an imaginary line on the sidewalk outside the fence near the main gate that they had arbitrarily drawn, because my friend Joe Cohen and others had tried to climb the fence in a previous protest. Also 54 others were arrested for blocking the road into the base; but they were not even charged. Before I stepped over the line, I said,
This base is in violation of international law;
it is in violation of the United Nations Charter, the Pact of Paris,
the Nuremberg Principles, and the Geneva Conventions.
It is an obscenity against humanity
and an abomination in the sight of God!
Today I am taking one more small step for peace in the world.
At the time the Navy was playing loudly over and over a tape of the commander warning people they would be arrested so that it was difficult for people to hear. Because we were obviously peace protesters, they would not even let us walk to the building where people normally requested permission to enter the base.
We were released and later ordered to appear for arraignment on June 12, and several protesters came back from New Orleans and Michigan for the arraignment. Because of these distances most agreed to pay a fine or spend five days in jail. Only Miriam Hope and I pleaded not guilty and requested a trial by a federal judge. Once again our right to a trial by a jury was denied, and on July 11 we were tried by Judge Alaimo. Miriam wanted more time to prepare and was supposed to have at least 30 days; but Judge Alaimo decided that 29 days was enough. These facts were later missing in the court record. After the prosecution presented their case, I made an offer of proof for the defense of necessity and international law. Judge Alaimo kept interrupting me and asked if I wanted to testify. Only when I was testifying did he inform me that he had ruled against my defense. Judge Alaimo asked me several questions as if he were prosecuting me. During Miriam's testimony Judge Alaimo agreed to assume that the Trident submarine is the worst weapon ever invented. In my closing argument I said among many other things that Gorbachev was moving the Soviet Union toward disarmament, while the United States was developing these offensive first-strike weapons.
Judge Alaimo found us both guilty but postponed sentencing so that an investigative report could be made. I said I did not want to travel back and forth again and would refuse probation or a fine; so he allowed me to start serving my time. I was taken to the new but already over-crowded Glynn County jail. During the ten weeks I waited for my sentencing hearing I read many books and did some writing. Even though she was not in jail, Miriam was sentenced before I was and was allowed to pay her fine to a charity and had to do 500 hours of community service. Knowing I would probably get the maximum sentence of six months, I spoke to Judge Alaimo for about an hour at my hearing without using any notes. I had had a long time to think about it and gave an impassioned speech about my concern for our country and the danger of a nuclear war, how absurd militarization was, the value of nonviolent methods, and I explained the many efforts I had made to bring about peace. I also complained that many inmates in the jail were waiting several weeks just to be arraigned. I was given the maximum sentence and never did pay the fine. I said I wanted to appeal and was assigned a public defender for that.
Because of the overcrowding I advised the officer running the jail to stop accepting federal prisoners, and soon I was transferred to Taladega, Alabama. There we were crowded three men into single cells. When the televangelist Jim Bakker was brought to Taladega only two men were put in each cell in his building so that the media would not learn how overcrowded the prison was. I even had to go to the hole for one day, because every cell in our building had three men. After about a month I was transferred by plane to El Reno in Oklahoma and from there to California. This was apparently done so that California would prosecute me for the Nuremberg Actions at Concord even though moving me for that purpose was a clear violation of federal prison policy. California does not extradite for misdemeanors, and they did not try to pick me up.
I was taken to the camp at Lompoc. I considered myself a political prisoner and refused to work for the Government. So I was taken across the street to a maximum security prison and put in the hole for a month. Because they would not let me use the law library or a typewriter to work on my appeal, I agreed to work and went back to the camp. My lawyer had refused to argue my right to a jury trial or international law, because he was afraid of being fined for a "frivolous" appeal. So I used his research on my solid First Amendment argument and wrote the appeal myself. I was allowed to work on this at the camp until the deadline of December 18. Even though I applied for an extension, I had to take a job during the last two weeks; but I managed to finish my appeal and mail it before I was released on January 5, 1990. By then the Berlin Wall had come down, and the new decade brought a new era. I was given $25 to get a new start in life and was flown back to Georgia. My appeal was later denied, and I was not even given the opportunity to make an oral argument.
The questionable election of George W. Bush and his warlike policies, especially after September 11, 2001, caused another major crisis for the world. So I decided that I could travel around the United States again in order to make my books available personally and speak to people about world peace. I scheduled an itinerary of 180 college campuses to visit in seven months. In November 2002 this crisis inspired me to run for President of the United States myself as a Democrat in an effort to raise public awareness on more enlightened solutions for peace and justice issues. I hoped that I would gain enough support to be included in the televised debates before the Democratic primaries.
I sent the following letter on January 6, 2003 to the United Nations with supportive signatures by 79 people from Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions in Ventura, California:
Dear Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
For twelve years the military forces of the United States and the United Kingdom have been violating international law in Iraq. Those of us in the world peace movement are especially concerned about the imminent war threatened against Iraq by the United States and the United Kingdom. We believe that the numerous attacks on Iraqi air defenses and other targets in the so-called "no-fly zones" are illegal by international law according to the United Nations Charter, Article 2, Sections 3 and 4, which read,
3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
These attacks and the preparations for the aggressive war are also crimes against peace according to the Nuremberg Principles, which are defined as,
Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances.
Although the economic sanctions that were imposed on Iraq by the United Nations Security Council in 1990 may have been justified in order to get Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, since that goal has been achieved, we believe that they are no longer justified. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children have died as a result of these immoral and illegal sanctions. We believe they are crimes against humanity according to the Nuremberg Principles, which are defined as
Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.
They also clearly violate the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Articles 27, 30, and 31, which read:
Article 27. Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honor, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected specifically against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity. Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honor, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. Without prejudice to the provisions relating to their state of health, age and sex, all protected persons shall be treated with the same consideration by the Party to the conflict in whose power they are, without any adverse distinction based, in particular, on race, religion or political opinion.
Article 30. The High Contracting Parties specifically agree that each of them is prohibited from taking any measure of such character as to cause physical suffering or extermination of protected persons in their lands. This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishment, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments not necessitated by the medical treatment of a protected person, but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents.
Article 31. No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.
The stated purpose of these sanctions and the threatened war against Iraq is to make sure that they do not have any weapons of mass destruction, and we support thorough inspections in Iraq by agents of the United Nations to make sure that Iraq does not have any such weapons. Thus far several weeks of inspections have not revealed any evidence that they do. If any programs for developing weapons of mass destruction are found, they should simply be dismantled. A war over this would be unnecessary, immoral, and illegal.
Yet the United States and the United Kingdom are in clear violation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Article 6, which reads,
Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
Therefore we call upon the United Nations General Assembly, as the representatives of the political voices of humanity, to pass a resolution condemning these violations of international law by the United States and the United Kingdom.
We further request that the United Nations Security Council keep their inspectors in Iraq to prevent an aggressive war by the United States and the United Kingdom against the people of Iraq until the United States removes its threatening forces from the region.
We also ask the International Court of Justice to bring charges against the United States and the United Kingdom so that they will cease and desist from committing these crimes against international law.
In the Light of God,
for the world peace movement
The practical Nonviolent Action Handbook was published
in January 2003 to assist peace activists, and the long, one-volume
edition of Guides to Peace and Justice came out in February.
During the weekly marches for peace in Santa Barbara I urged people
to do more and recommended a general strike if Bush gave Saddam
Hussein an ultimatum. I said I would begin a juice fast and did
so on March 17. As the war began two days later, we formed an
affinity group in Ventura to protest at Republican Congressman
Elton Gallegly's office on April 1. During the next two evenings
I marched with protestors in the streets of Santa Barbara, but
only a few people had been arrested for blocking traffic on the
101 freeway in the afternoon. I urged people to protest at Raytheon
or Vandenberg Air Force Base as a more direct confrontation with
the war activities.
I was arrested on Saturday March 22 for crossing the line at Vandenberg AFB, where they were using computers and the space command system to direct the shock-and-awe attacks on Iraq. I made a short speech while Captain Quigley was reading a warning into a loudspeaker. I had to shout and complained that US hypocrisy was demanding a weak country disarm while the US had more weapons of mass destruction than anyone. I appealed to Christians to follow what Jesus taught by loving our enemies. I said that I was running for president on a true disarmament platform, and I prophesied that there would be a new nonviolent revolution "to throw the fascists out." After I was taken into custody, I appealed to the soldiers in riot gear to become conscientious objections by refusing to obey illegal orders according to the Nuremberg Principles. Two women had been arrested before me; after being questioned by the FBI, we were released with court dates in June.
The next day I helped facilitate nonviolence workshops in Santa Barbara at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and in Ventura. Some in Santa Barbara were considering protesting at Raytheon, the county's largest employer and one of the biggest weapons manufacturers. On Monday I felt called to return to Vandenberg AFB, and I arranged to announce my intentions on KPFK's Morning Show with Sonali Kolhatkar and then on KCSB radio. In the afternoon I crossed the line at Vandenberg AFB and again asked to speak to the base commander to tell him to stop committing war crimes. I told Sergeant Malcolm Walton that if they released me I would keep coming back until I could go before a judge with my charge. He arranged for me to be arraigned in Los Angeles on Wednesday and let me go. I stayed at the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, and on Wednesday morning joined their weekly protest at the federal building. Because Martin Sheen was there, numerous media were present. Before being arrested with two other women, I was allowed to make a very brief statement in which I called for massive civil disobedience to stop the illegal war. After an hour I was released and walked next door to my arraignment for the Vandenberg arrests. Magistrate Patrick Walsh showed his prejudice by saying he would not allow any argument related to international law even though he knew nothing yet about my case; he quickly denied my motion for a new judge. He permitted me to defend myself and allowed me to have the advice of a public defender, Davina Chen. In solidarity with the 2300 people in San Francisco I remained in custody for a month until the hearing on April 24.
On that day Judge Walsh would not hear my arguments in response to the prosecution's motion to disallow any defense using international law, necessity, crime prevention, and the first amendment. He urged me to go home, saying "The war is over," and I did not have to pay bail. That weekend I attended the Book Festival at UCLA and saw a woman handing out ANSWER flyers about an anti-war conference; she was doing it furtively because she had been warned she could not do that. I risked arrest for handing out my presidential campaign brochures in the outdoor areas outside of the limited "free speech zone" they set up near one entrance. I talked with the UCLA official in charge about their policy, and he told me that I could do so. I was then interviewed on the KPFK news and explained how this "little victory" had changed their repressive policy about free speech.
The day before my trial the prosecuting attorney told me that they would stipulate to the fact that Vandenberg AFB was involved in the Iraq War so that none of their officers would have to testify. At the trial on May 1 during my testimony and closing argument I tried to explain that I was merely trying to stop the ongoing crimes of murder, crimes against peace, and violation of the UN Charter and other treaties, but Judge Walsh kept trying to limit my time and went past the lunch break well into the afternoon. I defended myself on the Vandenberg charges, and Davina provided an excellent technical defense on the charge at the federal building; but Judge Walsh ignored all but the most narrow-minded issues and found me guilty on all three counts. On May 13 he sentenced me to probation and community service even though I told him that I would not accept probation. In the Nonviolent Action Handbook I had recommended refusing probation, and I would not accept it even though I was alone in this case. I went back to court on August 3 to be sentenced for refusing the probation and was given another three months in prison. I considered myself a political prisoner and would not accept a job because I needed to work on my appeal. I found this time in prison to be a spiritual experience.
I attended a conference in Santa Barbara sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in May 2004 called Charting a New Course for US Nuclear Policy that included David Krieger, Helen Caldicott, Randall Forsberg, Jonathan Schell, Daniel Ellsberg, Richard Falk, Alice Slater, Brent Blackwelder, Michele Boyd, John Burroughs, Jackie Cabasso, Michael Flynn, George Lakoff, Adil Najam, Thomas G. Plate, Tom Reifer, and Douglas Roche. I wrote and distributed the following proposal:
As Randy Forsberg suggested,
I think we should formulate specific goals,
but I think we also need to discuss strategies
for effectively achieving those goals.
Complete nuclear disarmament,
providing clean water for everyone in the world,
health care and education for all,
and phasing out nuclear power
would mean a radical revolution in the United States.
I think we need to realize that
the current US Government is a criminal regime
and that even to pay its taxes is to be complicit in its crimes.
I believe that we can bring about these goals in our lifetimes
if we are willing to make the necessary sacrifices.
Because the problems are complex and immense,
I think we should proceed in stages.
To begin the discussion I am making the following proposal:
1. Reduce nuclear weapons so that no nation has more than 100.
2. All national military forces must be withdrawn
from nations outside their borders and be greatly reduced.
3. IAEA or UN inspections must ensure that #1 has been achieved,
and then they should make sure that
all remaining nuclear weapons are also eliminated.
All nuclear materials must be monitored
until nuclear power plants are phased out.
4. All disputes between nations shall be settled
by a judicial process in an international court of justice.
5. Violators of international peace shall be arrested
and brought to the International Criminal Court (ICC)
in as nonviolent a way as possible.
6. We should make sure that everyone in the world
has access to clean water, health care, and education.
1. Boycott the US Government by refusing to pay its income tax
or cooperate with its crimes
until the first three objectives are achieved.
2. Dedicate our lives to working for these goals full-time
and by donating income above the taxable level to nonprofits.
For some this may mean nonviolent civil disobedience
and refusing to work in prison for an oppressive government.
For others it may mean communicating with people
and organizing nonviolent demonstrations.
After getting out of prison I have completed the first six
volumes of the Ethics of Civilization and revised and extended
Guides to Peace and Justice into this two-volume History
of Peace. In 2005 I wrote and published two short books. The
Art of Gentle Living is a self-help book with a spiritual
philosophy and psychology with ideas how we each can live joyfully,
lovingly, peacefully, and frugally so that we can be happy and
get along better with others in an increasingly crowded world.
Topics include spiritual awareness, conscious self-mastery and
cooperation with the natural self, understanding feelings, using
clear thinking, practicing compassionate communication, and demonstrating
ethical economics and politics. Best For All: How We Can Save
the World is a visionary book that suggests practical solutions
to the most challenging crises humanity faces today in the current
global emergency by focusing on alleviating poverty, disarming
the weapons of war, creating global democracy, radically reforming
the United States government, using restorative justice to improve
the judicial system, developing ecological management for a sustainable
economy, freeing communication from commercial pollution, inspiring
spiritual awakening of truly humane values, and implementing these
reforms by using nonviolent strategies for social and political
change. The appendix includes proposed drafts for a Global Disarmament
Treaty, a Federal Earth Democracy Constitution, and a revised
This is a chapter in Guides to Peace and Justice from Ancient Sages to the Suffragettes, which is published as a book. For ordering information, please click here.