American Friends Service Committee
Patrica Watson, Editor
Sara Burke, Assistant Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
From the editor's desk
March. We've been trudging out daily to check on our pussy willows; we want to cull a few stalks to bring inside at their exact moment of imminence-poised between bleak winter and the promise of spring, which in New England is tantalizingly elusive.
They call it Women's History Month. We can't help but notice-as we gather in committee rooms, shift on uncomfortable chairs in church basements, come out to the rallies, sit in our legislators' offices-the preponderance of women. Women naming the problem, doing the planning, walking the picket lines. So it's no accident that a number of our authors this month are women writing about problems women have to deal with. Who's poor? Well, women, principally; women and their children. Who raises the kids? Women, principally. Who is dying of cancers that may be partly caused by a toxic environment? A lot of women are dying.
And water, what about water? In many parts of the world it is women who carry the scarce water, sometimes walking hours to get it and wondering if it is safe to give their families after they bring it home. Susan Murcott, returned from a gathering that was an outgrowth of the 1995 Beijing Women's Conference, sees in the question of women and water a powerful metaphor for all life on earth.
The women at the Women's Community Cancer Project have developed what they call the "precautionary principle: indication of harm, not proof of harm, is our call to action." It's a useful working principle that can guide action while we wait for the epidemiologists and the economists and the political scientists and the lawmakers to catch up: if things look badly awry, they probably are.
The rest of this month's Peacework is devoted to reports from five troubled regions (we could easily, easily have come up with a dozen more), a warning on the ominous courtship of global agriculture by biotechnology, and a few examples of the many stubborn, quixotic people who are choosing not to be complicit with injustices and warmaking.
In our Quaker Meeting this morning the children were restless. They couldn't settle; they whispered and rustled and fidgeted and made funny noises. After they had left to go to their classrooms, it was quieter; we adults are too well-trained to rustle and make funny noises. But there was fidgeting all the same; our hearts were not quiet. How are we supposed to feel about the sentence of lethal injection-a murder by the state-for the man who feels no remorse for the monstrous killing of James Byrd? How are we to react on hearing from the UN truth commission in Guatemala that, yes, genocide took place, and that our government didn't just turn a blind eye; it helped the perpetrators? What are we to make of that? The precautionary principle tells us that there was indication of harm.
We brought in our pussy willows today-harbingers of spring, reminders of bleak mid-winter.