By David Swanson
New Year’s resolutions come in a lot of shapes and sizes. I don’t think New Year’s 2009 is a year to aim low. So, I’m resolving to create peace on earth. And I intend to follow through. The catch, of course, is that unless a couple of million other people make the same resolution and really commit to it, then I will have been a liar.
I do think just a couple of million people would be enough, especially if they are heavily concentrated in the United States, and the closer to Washington, D.C., the better. I think it will be easy to spread the word and reach two million people who want peace. I think we could find them without even setting foot outside Washington, D.C. The question is one of commitment, time, energy, and resources. Do you just want peace or are you willing to endure some inconvenience and unpleasantness to get it?
I get paid to work for peace, so I have no business asking anyone else to devote more time to peace work. But that’s exactly what I get paid to do and I feel guilty only when I hold back from doing it. I am resolving this New Year’s to increase my own efforts in solidarity with those increasing theirs. I am resolving to do everything I can to encourage as many people as possible to do everything we can to launch a lasting peace.
Everyone has different skills and resources to offer. Some have money. And most who do have money, have no idea the extent to which they have more than others. The organizations that do the most for peace are constantly scraping for pennies. Some have access to people and groups who need to be influenced. Some have skills at speaking or writing, for broad audiences or with small groups or individuals. Some have artistic abilities. Some have information, knowledge, sources that can prove invaluable. Some can produce videos, photos, or reports. Part of this resolution must be a full examination of what we each have to offer and a commitment to offer it even if it means a little less comfort, troubled relations with certain parties, time taken away from other priorities.
Whatever unique resources we each have, we all have the ability to take part in mass actions by phone, Email, mail, and especially in person. We cannot always all make it to particular locations. We cannot always all risk arrest or jail time. We cannot always all take part in fasting. But part of this New Year’s resolution is recognition of the essential ingredient of mass action in any movement for peace and a commitment to push ourselves past the point of comfort, and to encourage others to do the same.
On January 6th a new Congress will begin, and on January 20th a new presidency. What ever our hopes and expectations are for this new government, it is important to recognize that in a democratic society ruled by a representative government, an active citizenry is both the surest protection of our rights and the highest praise. To sit home and allow the government to act without us would be to treat it like a dictatorship, and would increase the likelihood of it behaving like a dictatorship. When we elect representatives we take on the responsibility to constantly let them know how to represent us. If history is any guide, elections do not bring peace, but what happens in between elections can.
This January, there are things that you can do to get us off to the right start. Below is a calendar that includes numerous events in Washington, D.C., and a few national events happening all over the country. Please resolve to make this a month of major impact for the creation of peace on earth.
1/1-31 Georgetown: The Peace Mural, the unbelieveable 2,000 paintings exhibition of art on war, peace, and torture that the Vietnamese-American artist Huong has on display in a 10,000 square foot galllery on M Street in Georgetown: http://www.peacemural.org
1/1-31 Busboys and Poets at 14th and V Northwest and 5th and K Northwest: place to hang out and eat and drink and groove.
Here’s Congress’s Schedule: PDF.
1/6-31 Ask Congress members to sign onto Rep. Nadler’s resolution against Bush pardoning crimes he authorized, and Rep. Lee’s H. Res. 1535 rejecting the Iraq Withdrawal Agreement as unConstitutionally created without ratification by Congress.
1/2 Peace Mural concert at 7:30 p.m. Details.
1/6 Capitol Hill: March of the Dead on Opening Day of Congress: help us carry the names of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and demand that Congress end the occupations. JOIN US!
1/8 Madam’s Organ: Peace Center Happy Hour. Details.
1/9 Warmonger’s Wake at DC Peace Mural at 7:30 p.m. Details.
1/10 Annapolis: Polar Bear Plunge. Details.
1/10 Richmond: Virginia People’s Assembly: PDF.
1/10 Peacebuilders Reception (National Peace Foundation) at the DC Peace Mural from 7 to 9 p.m. Details.
1/10 Participants in tomorrow’s prisoners march are encouraged to attend a final planning meeting and training from 4 to 6 p.m. After dinner, there will be a public program on Guantanamo from 7 to 9 p.m. Location: St. Stephens and the Incarnation Church, 1525 Newton Street NW, at 16th Street.
1/11 Supreme Court: prisoners of Guantanamo march at 10 a.m. http://www.witnesstorture.org
1/11 Organizing Meeting for DC Chapter of the U.S. NONVIOLENT PEACEFORCE at 11 a.m. Details.
1/11 White House and around the country: Demonstrate on anniversary of Guantanamo prison camp beginning operations. Meet at 12:45 p.m. in DuPont Circle. Demand an end to unlawful detentions, rendition, torture, and murder. Promote the prosecution of those responsible, and oppose unconstitutional presidential pardons of crimes authorized by the president. Join with Witness Against Torture, and World Can’t Wait. March from DuPont Circle to White House. Over 40 people will begin a liquid-only fast that will continue through Inauguration Day. Please join us!
1/11 At 7 p.m. at Huong Peace Art Mural, 3336 M Street, NW. Presentations by Hector Aristizabal, Torture Survivor, Theatre Director and Actor, Family Therapist.
1/14 Richmond: Rally to Bail Out the People, not the Bankers! PDF.
1/15 Senate: Confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Eric Holder, who should be asked: Is the water torture torture? Are beatings, shocks, sleep deprivation, hanging by wrists, dogs, temperature extremes, sexual humiliation, and murder tortue? Is it a violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture to fail to prosecute war crimes? Will you create an independent prosecutor to prosecute the top officials responsible for these crimes?
1/15 Everywhere: national Healthcare Not Warfare call-in day in support of H.R. 676, led by PDA.
1/16-21 Dupont Circle: Performances, speeches, merchandise, literature, and gathering point.
1/17-18 U. of D.C.: Progressive Democrats of America Annual Grassroots Leadership Conference. Register now to join progressive congress members, strategists, and activists for a conference that’s all about what we need to do and how we can get it done.
1/17 Newseum at 1 p.m. The first edition of the newspaper tabloid “War Crimes Times” is being published and over 2,000 free copies will be “hawked” inside the building as visitors wander around. The newspaper contains 12 pages packed with real news articles written by Michael Ratner of Center for Constitutional Rights, Professor Lawrence Velvel, and many others. This action will be very exciting and requires about 30 to 40 people who will be willing to pay the $20.00 admission fee to get into the Newseum that day, and hawk newspapers, wearing ARREST BUSH sweatshirts. There will also be something else occurring during the day. For more information and if you would like to participate please contact email@example.com
1/17 Friends Meeting of Washington: Film: “MLK Jr, A Historical Perspective.” Details.
1/18 War Crimes of the Bush Administration: Discussion with Ann Wright, David Swanson, Ray McGovern, Jesselyn Raddack at 6 p.m. at the Peace Mural Gallery in Georgetown: http://www.peacemural.org
1/18 Everywhere in D.C. Distribution of prosecute the war criminals flyers and posters. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
1/19 Shoe Bush! People will converge at DuPont Circle at 11 a.m. for a rally. Speakers include author David Swanson, www.afterdowningstreet.org , and Debra Sweet of the organization World Can’t Wait, www.worldcantwait.org. People will march to the White House and in the spirit of journalist Mutadhar Al-Zaidi, will hurl shoes at the White House: http://shoebush.org
1/19 Bethesda: Annual MLK Day protest at war profiteering Lockheed Martin. Details.
1/19 Everywhere: National Day of Community Service.
1/19 Union Station at 3 p.m. FREEZE action. Please wear black if possible, and join us. World Can’t Wait will be placing on the floor “shoe sole prints” with the slogan Prosecute the War Criminals on them.
1/19 White House in the evening: Prosecute the war criminals action with World Can’t Wait.
1/19 DANCE-OBAMA: The Pulse of Peace is now the name for a NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL event: one we plan to broadcast online, if not in real time, soon after. The Democracy Cell Project is partnering with the Peace Mural Organization, the American Dance Therapy Association, and the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. The event is a participatory celebration of movement and music; one that we are hoping will take place all across the country (one is forming in NYC, for example). In Washington DC, the event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. (and possibly, weather permitting, into the streets and beyond) at the Peace Mural Gallery in Georgetown: 3336 M St. NW. Food and drinks will be served. There will be a DJ playing energizing inspiring celebratory music, African drummers, and a movement choir: a participatory devised and improvised series of SIMPLE movements that result in empowerment and what Barbara Ehrenreich calls “collective joy”. TICKETS are donations-based: $15.00 advanced donations can be made at the Democracy Cell Project. Please specify that you are donating to the Inaugural event.
1/19 All Souls Church: MLK Birthday Observance at 5:30 p.m. Details.
1/19 Busboys and Poets at 14th and V Northwest, PDA gathering 10 p.m. to midnight: a Martin Luther King Day Pre-Inaugural Tribute. Gather and share intimate conversation with PDA Board Members and friends including Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Jim McGovern and Tom Hayden. With music by Dan Reed. $300 each, $500 per couple; Join our host committee for $1,000–receive 3 tickets. Tickets are available in limited quantities, act quickly!
1/19 Busboys and Poets open 24 hours for food, open mikes, and readings.
1/19 Clarendon Ballroom 7 p.m. to midnight Bloggers Ball: Netroots Nation YES WE CAN Party: tickets $90 here.
1/19-20 Pennsylvania Ave: Join us with your Arrest Bush & Cheney sweatshirt on the sidewalk in front of the FBI building where we have a permit for thousands and will have signs, food, blankets, and busses for a 24-hour vigil leading up to the inaugural parade. We’ll put the ARREST BUSH message front and center on the parade route: http://www.arrestbush2009.com
1/19-20 Be prepared to react to Bush pardoning crimes that he himself authorized. This will be unprecedented and unConstitutional.
1/20 McPherson Square: rally for peace and justice.
1/20 Protest of Rick Warren at the Martin Luther King Church from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
1/20 Peace demonstration organized by World Can’t Wait.
1/20 Smithsonian National Postal Museum: Inaugural Peace Ball: http://www.peaceball.org
1/21 Bring the Guard Home: It’s the Law. Press Conference at National Press Club Zenger Room at 1:30 p.m., and Launch Party at Busboys and Poets at 14th and V Northwest at 6 p.m.: http://guardhomelaunch.com
1/21 Day of Action for Immigrant Rights, Moritorium on Raids and Deportations, Just and Humane Immigration Reform, Health Care for All, and Worker Justice, Organizaed by the National Capital Immigrant Coalition
1/21 James Yee, former Army Chaplin who served as Muslim Chaplain at Guantanamo, will tell his story at 7 p.m. at George Washington University, exact location TBA. While ministering to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Captain Yee advised camp commanders on detainee religious practices and objected to the cruel and degrading abuses to which the prisoners were subjected. Chaplain Yee’s gripping account of his Guantanamo experience and struggle for justice is entitled For God And Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire. This event is co-sponsored by Witness Against Torture and GWU Muslim Law Students Association.
1/25 Text messaging for peace at DC Peace Mural from 3 to 8 p.m. Details.
1/25 Vigil at Walter Reed Hospital. Details.
1/26 The Case of Guantanamo vs. The Constitution at 7 p.m. at Huong Peace Art Mural, 3336 M Street, NW, Washington, DC. An Evening with Center for Constitutional Rights Lawyers. What Can I Do to Shut Down Guantanamo? This evening’s event will feature an overview the campaign to shut down Guantanamo as well as speakers from the Center for Constitutional Rights who will address the matter of legal representation of Guantanamo detainees. Participants will learn about the moral and practical consequences of torture and the call to shutdown Guantanamo and other prisons working outside the Geneva Conventions.
1/27 “Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq” an afternoon with Matthew Alexander. Noon to 1:30 p.m. at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies, Lower Level, 3600 N. St. NW, Washington, DC 20007. Matthew Alexander led an interrogations team assigned to a Special Operations task force in Iraq in 2006. Writing under a pseudonym for security reasons, Alexander is the author of “How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq.”
1/28 Book Party for Witness Against Torture Book at 7 p.m. at Church of the Savior Festival Center, 1640 Columbia Road NW, Washington DC 20009. As Witness Against Torture enters what it hopes will be Guantanamo’s final chapter, the 100 Days Campaign (www.100DaysCampaign.org), the grassroots movement shares the story of its work. This book tell the story of Witness Against Torture, charting the efforts of thousands of American citizens who have squarely and thoughtfully confronted the question: what does it mean to be a conscientious American? The book also presents the writings of the detainees and their lawyers, the pleas for an end to cruelty and for the restoration of habeas corpus, and it chronicles the actions required when those pleas fell on deaf ears in the nation’s corridors of power: the marches, street theater, civil disobedience, and jailings as WAT brought the campaign directly to the White House, the Supreme Court, the Congress, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and to parks and street corners across the country. The book also comes with a DVD of six short films detailing various actions which WAT has carried out. Matthew Daloisio, one of the main WAT leaders and the author of the book, would speak about the book, the campaign past and present.
1/28 War, Memory and Representation: The Visual Arts, War and Peace at 7 p.m. at the Institute for Policy Studies.
To add to or correct this calendar, send an Email to email@example.com
And into February…
2/2 An Evening with Howard Zinn: The People’s Historian at 6:30 p.m. at Busboys and Poets, 14th and V Streets, NW. Howard Zinn, historian, peace activist and author of must-read A People’s History of the United States and many other books, needs no introduction in most circles. When Witness Against Torture marched to Guantanamo in 2005, he said “Those who protest against the horrible practices at Guantanamo represent the best in our country, and want to say to the world that our government and its policies in Guantanamo violate the principles this nation is supposed to represent. It is therefore the responsibility of all of us as citizens, both of the nation and the world, to speak out for human rights.”
2/4 Guantanamo’s Cost to Our Humanity, an evening with Bush Dissident Ann Wright. Location and time TBA. Ann Wright is a retired 29-year US Army Reserve colonel and a 16-year US diplomat who resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war in Iraq. A prolific writer and indefatigable resister, Colonel Wright is the author of Dissent, Voices of Conscience: Government Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq. In January 2007, Wright was part of an international delegation of former Guantanamo prisoners, families of current prisoners, US lawyers and human-rights activists marched on the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to demand that the prison there be closed. The march is a part of Witness Against Torture’s International Day to Shut Down Guantanamo.