American Friends Service Committee
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.
Editorial material in Peacework is published under a Creative Commons
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
From the Editor's Desk
From the major US news coverage of the protests at the World Trade Organization's Ministerial in Hong Kong, you might have thought it was really no big deal for thousands of farmers to travel to another country and protest an international trade agreement. Reporters used the occasion not to remark on the astonishing commitment and awareness demonstrated by ordinary hardworking, rural citizens, but instead to falsely represent their cause as irrelevant to the real business of the WTO. Although they did dutifully report on the protesters who wielded sticks to try and force their way through the line of police protecting the WTO, the activities of the far more numerous peaceful demonstrators did not merit much serious attention from US reporters. So if it had not been for the irresistible photo opportunity offered by several protesters who jumped into the icy waters of the Hong Kong Harbor to try and swim to the Ministerial, news readers might never have had to wonder just what might be so important to that many people. For this and many reasons, we thank the nonviolent protesters - not only the swimmers but also the marchers, the teachers, the meditators, and the dancers - for their courageous witness in Hong Kong.
We are fortunate to have reports from three AFSC staff who were among these protesters, and who are able to explain the real-life implications of the wheelings and dealings that took place in the building behind the police lines. Along with these reports, we offer Jim Shultz's jubilant account, from another region of the world, of a resounding victory in the struggle of global activism against global capital.
From Hong Kong to Bolivia to the Middle East, protesters are working not only with determination and passion, but with intelligence. Noah Merrill reports on a conference held in Palestine, with a focus on "strategies for nonviolent resistance." Thea Paneth, who represented the US peace movement at a world gathering in London to stop the war in Iraq, emphasizes the vital importance of pooling our knowledge to strengthen the "nascent global peace movement." Here in the US, Wal-Mart's exploited workers are making use of new and old organizing strategies to gain recognition and better conditions.
Yet the work of revolution - the work of naming injustice, of reclaiming wholeness, of standing up for ourselves and our sisters and brothers against all who would harm or demean us - does not only take place at the world gatherings, or even in the streets. The Jerusalem Stories project uses the sharing of stories and the art of photography to make a safe space for a quiet shift in perspective. Wendy Sanford, reviewing a chapbook by writer Deidra Suwanee Dees, considers the vital work of "decolonizing the heart." And Vine Deloria, whose work has inspired more than one generation of indigenous activists, urged Native Americans to claim the realm of the intellect as their battleground.
Also in this issue are a few reports from rebuilding efforts in devastated Third World areas. In rural Thailand, NGO worker Natassia Pura observes the difficulty of satisfying far-off donors while keeping the work rooted in the self-expressed needs of the people at the receiving end of the donations. In New Orleans, Mississippi, and Alabama, a recent volunteer reports that the real work of rebuilding is happening at the most basic, people-to-people level - "peace in action," while the government has still not shown up on the job.
Once again, all our organizing goes on in the deepening shadow of nuclear threat. Joe Gerson explains that this threat is not only, or even primarily, from Iran, and urges all parties to be "more imaginative" in their diplomacy. The same goes for all of us.
In the streets, in our writing, in our faith - let's surprise everyone, even ourselves, with the intensity of our commitment. Let's jump.