Saturday, April 20, 2013

An Invitation: Awaken to Drones!

“The people of the United States would be horrified if they actually understood how many innocent people are being swept up in the maw of these wars. So people are just permitted to sleep. And its going to be very disturbing for the American people when they awake from the slumber to look out upon a world where there’s carnage everywhere that’s created by our nation without any legal process, without any constitutional basis and without any articulated justification.”
Dennis Kucinich, "US Drone Program Is ‘Vigilantism Conducted by Robots’"

“I have been asleep. Where have you been?
Is there any justification for this kind of killing: either killing by cross or
drone? When will we awaken and cry out about the horror of it all?
And once we reach that place of gut-felt anguish,
what will we do about it?”
Susan Soric from her Call to Confession

People across the globe who the US has deemed terrorists awake to drones hovering overhead every day. The noise is incessant and so is the killing---targeted or suspected. Some report that we are killing up to one person per day. So while the rest of the world remains awake or is on constant alert, Code Red, we in the United States, the country that now has thousands of drones (increased 40 fold since 2000) are asleep. Some might say we have been drugged by the illusion that anything and everything is permissible for the sake of our security (or another country’s resources). Others would say the use of drones keep our soldiers safe, out of harms way--- minimalizing causalities. Soldiers can go to work and kill from the safety of an air force base 8,000 miles away from the “enemy combatants” then return home and have dinner with the family. Still others might say, “We didn’t know.” But a growing number are beginning to wake up and say, “No, this is wrong. It’s against international law. It’s against our Constitution. It’s extrajudicial killing. It’s morally wrong.”

Wherever you are on this continuum we invite you to wake up and join us in theological conversation or dialogue about the use of drones for warfare and surveillance. A few of us here in the Chicago area from a variety of faith and spiritual backgrounds have begun to wake up and talk about the horror of it all. We are beginning to question our country’s use of drones instead of due process, our President’s Kill List, the naming of all men above 18 years of ages as “enemy combatants.” It’s made some of us go back and study Just War theory again, dig deep into our sacred texts, examine our consciences. It’s brought us together and made us want to reach out to you.

This blog is a project of Protest Chaplains of Chicago and an extension of our conversation online, an open letter, an invitation for those of you who are just waking up or are insomniacs to join us in a study that will guide and lead us to take actions to stop this warring madness, to ground the drones.

The participants in this conversation include:

Betty Benson
Pat Chaffee
Jack Gilroy
Jack Lawlor
Rev. Loren McGrail
Joe Scarry
Newland Smith
Susan Soric
Meghan M.M. Trimm

Elizabeth (Betty) I. Benson is a member of Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ in Chicago. The Elizabeth I. Benson Award was created in her honor, and she was the inaugural recipient of the award on June 26, 2004. This award is given to a person who works tirelessly and faithfully for social justice in the Chicago area and beyond, while simultaneously shunning personal recognition of their efforts. The awardee receives a magnifying glass, which symbolizes Betty’s unceasing commitment to magnifying the injustices in our world to a level where other people not only are made aware of them, but also are inspired and moved to work in solidarity with others for justice. Learn what Betty Benson will be writing about.

Pat Chaffee has been active in human rights work since 1982. She was director of the Michigan Interfaith Committee on Central American Human Rights (MICAH), and a staff member of the Central American Refugee Center in San Francisco. She has traveled with human rights delegations to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Colombia, the West Bank, Gaza, and Pakistan. She is available for presentations on Pakistan at this time. Learn what Pat Chaffee will be writing about.

Jack Gilroy is a full time human rights/peace activist and former Prisoner of Conscience for the School of the Americas Watch. Gilroy’s two novels of young men who refused to be part of the United States military, "Absolute Flanigan" and "The Wisdom Box", received gold medal awards by OMNI Center for Peace & Justice. He is also the author of The Predator, part of a dramatic trilogy about moral challenges and conscience, especially related to war and violence. Gilroy was arrested during the October, 2012, "Hancock 10" protest, in which he and others the blocked the entrance to the drone command center near Syracuse, New York. See Irish-Americans and War and Drones and Friends of Franz Jagerstatter.

Jack Lawlor was ordained as a Dharma Teacher by Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh at a Transmission of the Lamp Ceremony at the Plum Village monastic center in southern France in 1992. He is a co-founder of Lakeside Buddha Sangha, a 21 year-old meditation community in Evanston. Jack collaborated with Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh in publishing "Friends on the Path; Living Spiritual Communities" in 2002. Jack has served as President of the Buddhist Council of the Midwest and on the National Board of Directors of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Learn what Jack will be writing about.

Rev. Loren McGrail is a minister with United Church of Christ and Coordinator of Protest Chaplains of Chicago. She started at Andover Newton Theological School on September 11, 2001 and has been active in peace making in her ministry ever since. In addition to a Masters in Divinity from ANTS she has a Certificate in World Mission and Ecumenism from Boston Theological Institute in recognition for her work on Muslim and Christian dialogue in Egypt and her field work at the multi faith Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts. She has worked as a hospital chaplain and parish minister. She spent three months with the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel and with Global Missions of the United Church of Christ. She coordinates the Middle East and Southeast Asia Task Force at Wellington United Church of Christ where she is a member. She is seeking a call that allows her to use her creativity and passion for justice and peace. Learn what Loren will be writing about.

Joe Scarry is an IT consultant and antiwar activist based in Chicago. He is a member of St. Luke's Lutheran Church of Logan Square, and is a participant in the ELCA's Peace Not Walls initiative, as well as numerous local other activist groups. He is currently working to spur the development of a nationwide network of grassroots anti-drones groups. His blog is Scarry Thoughts. Learn what Joe will be writing about.

Newland Smith is a member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship's Palestine Israel Network and Committee against Political Repression; member of the Chicago Faith Coalition on the Middle East; President, Anglican Theological Review; Convener, Diocese of Chicago Task Force on the Legacy of Slavery. Retired five years ago as the Librarian of Seabury-WesternTheological Seminary. Deputy to the past nine General Conventions of the Episcopal Church. Current efforts center around advocacy against and reading about the connection of war and poverty and peace with justice for Israelis and Palestinians. Learn what Newland will be writing about.

Susan Soric is a writer, journalist, and theologian. She graduated in May of 2012 with a master of divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in Chicago. Susan holds a master of theological studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and a master of arts degree in performance studies and the interpretation of literature from Northwestern University, also in Evanston. A member of Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ in Chicago, Susan pursing a call to ministry—both chaplaincy and parish work—and is seeking ordination in her denomination. Susan, her partner Claire, and their 20-month-old daughter Isobel, live in Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood. Learn what Susan will be writing about.

Meghan M.M. Trimm is a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a founding member of DePaul’s Nonviolent Living Project and a founding member of Protest Chaplains of Chicago. She will graduate from DePaul University with a Bachelor’s degree in Peace Justice and Conflict Studies in June 2013. Currently, Meghan works as an activist/peacemaker and nonviolence trainer in Chicago’s rich anti-war/anti-drones community. She is also beginning grassroots organizing in the campaign for women’s liberation in the Catholic Church by founding an organization called Sophia. All of Meghan's work is an exploration of the relationship between spirituality and activism. Learn what Meghan will be writing about.

1 comment:

  1. I wish it were true that the American people would be horrified if they knew what was happening with drones. My experience with my own family
    and most certainly all the Catholics, students of Catholic Colleges, feel that drones are necessary or 'collateral damage" in the fight to have Obama get a second term. The most highly educated endorses the militant views of Fox News. I am the only kid( I am 74) who did not go to a Catholic high school or college. I went to public high school and Art School.I am the only one who consistently resists war and annoys and or embarrasses the rest of the family. Truthfully, I never thought of my peace affiliation in these terms before but I commend
    Jack for opening this discussion and putting these questions in stark relief to the words of Jesus. How indeed did we get here? I look forward to the Catholic Worker and National Catholic Reporter which are considered by many of my Catholic friends as Radical. Its not considered a compliment and yet was not Jesus radical?