Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Protected by or from?

A Tennessee judge has sentenced an 84-year-old nun--Sr. Megan Rice--to nearly three years in federal prison. She trespassed with two other nonviolent activists into a US nuclear weapons facility in Tennessee and--gasp--did so by using wire nippers to breach a fence and then--gulp--poured a baby bottle of her own blood on the bomb factory. As if those acts weren't enough to ship that Sister to Guantanamo, she and the others spraypainted peace slogans. OMG--elderly nuns don't hardly get much more dangerous than this.
Sister Megan is off to prison to cool her heels and, we can only hope, get some rehabilitative counseling so she can eventually return as a productive member of society. I mean, she's 84, which the new 44 for nuns, right?

OK, inventory Sister Megan's character to see what needs to be fixed. Violence? Never been. Robbery, thievery, or burglary? Never done. Scofflaw attitude? Well, see, there we have the problem. Sister Megan and her fellow defendants Greg Boertje-Obed, 58 (the youth contingent) and Michael Walli, 65, argued that since the nuclear bomb facility violates international law to which the US has signed and ratified, there needs to be a reconciliation of the laws. They are hoping for rehabilitation for the law, not so much themselves. For this civic attempt the two men have been smacked with 70 months in prison--more time than the total Gandhi served in his entire life.

This was also the defense of other Tennessee cases--all the sit-ins in Nashville and elsewhere beginning in January of 1960. Those defendants were also nonviolent and were also arguing about a tension in the law--that local and state laws did not match federal laws. Jim Crow segregation, they said, needed to be challenged legally, even if that meant that some people of conscience needed to break the lesser law nonviolently in order to bring forward that question. We all know how that worked out. We hold those 1960s nonviolent Civil Rights activists in high regard. One won the Nobel Peace Prize and is the only American for whom we have a holiday. Another is still a highly beloved and respected Congressperson from Georgia. Two others still work to help activists around the world succeed with nonviolent struggle.

How do you rehabilitate someone who has lived a life of service, performing works of mercy, is absolutely nonviolent, and whose actions betrayed not a single whit of self-aggrandizement? 

Sister Megan Rice and her co-defendants are trying to help us protect our children, our grandchildren, and all of life from these unsoldierly omnicidal threats to life on Earth. We need more protection by these sorts of people, not from them. Thank you, Sister Megan Rice. Shame on you, Judge.

No comments: