May 9, 2013

Sister Megan Rice- at age 83- gets 20 years.

I found this story deeply moving, sad and inspiring all at once, especially Sister Megan's courageous remark that she wished she hadn't waited 70 years to take action. This is the essence of following in the way of Jesus in confronting the principalities and powers of this world. A truly brave woman, our prayers should be with her, as she begins her ordeal at such a late age. She will, no doubt, die in prison. She reportedly smiled as the verdict was read. It takes a burning love for the Crucified to imbue a person with such joyful acceptance of the cross, and reminds me of the peace and joy of the early Christians marching to their deaths in the Roman Colosseum, yearning to give their all for their Divine Master. As Blessed Charles de Foucaud said so eloquently, expressing his own burning desire for martyrdom:

       When one can suffer and love, one can do almost anything, even things in this world which seem impossible. 

Sister Megan Rice enters prison for all of us. Would that we had her resolute faith and her unshakeable serenity in the face of trial and suffering. To this way all Christians are called, depending on their capacity for love and sacrifice. 

However, here is a dissenting view from National Catholic Reporter well worth pondering:

It seems to me that Arun Gandhi's criticism of the Plowshares actions back in 1995 also applies to the
"Transform Now Plowshares".
Arun Gandhi said: "You can quote me as saying Mahatma Gandhi would disagree with the Plowshares actions because they employ tactics of secrecy and destruction of property. I also think locking up the most courageous and devoted peace leaders for long prison terms is a way of weakening the peace movement. Those leaders could do much more for peace outside of jail than in it." ( The Jesus Journal - Summer 1995 - No. 77 - page 44 )
"Common people who are not directly involved in social debates and political conflicts have their lives to live, they become angry at those who are disturbing their lives or damaging property that has to be repaired using public funds. Thus the average person, whose support is often necessary for lasting success, is alienated. Rather than leading to a resolution, they escalate the conflict and create more deeply entrenched opponents." (Legacy of Love by Arun Gandhi – page 132)

Finally, here is the news:

An 83-year-old nun who broke into a Tennessee depleted uranium storage facility in 2012 and splashed human blood on several surfaces, exposing a massive security hole at the nation’s only facility used to store radioactive conventional munitions, was convicted Wednesday and sentenced to a term of up to 20 years in prison.
The only regret Sister Megan Rice shared with members of her jury on Wednesday was that she wished 70 years hadn’t passed before she took direct action, according to the BBC. She and two other peace activists, 64-year-old Michael Walli and 56-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed, were convicted of “invasion of a nuclear facility” in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, even though investigators admitted they did not get close to any actual nuclear material.
The three activists are part of a group called “Transform Now Plowshares,” a reference to the book of Isaiah, which says, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares. They shall learn war no more.” All three face individual sentences of up to 20 years, along with a litany of fines.
As they invaded the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, a perimeter fence was cut, several surfaces were spray-painted, banners were hung and activists read from the Bible. They also spread human blood on several surfaces, saying its use was symbolic, meant to remind people “of the horrific spilling of blood by nuclear weapons.”
“The shortcomings in security at one of the most dangerous places on the planet have embarrassed a lot of people,” the activists’ attorney, Francis Lloyd, told members of the jury according to the BBC. “You’re looking at three scapegoats behind me.”
Sister Rice has been arrested between 40 or 50 times committing acts of civil disobedience, according to The New York Times, including once in Nevada after she physically blocked a truck at a nuclear test site.
Depleted uranium munitions like the kind stored at the facility Sister Rice targeted are blamed for some of the worst birth defects and soaring cancer rates seen in post-war Iraq, particularly in the city of Fallujah following the siege of 2004, in which U.S. soldiers killed thousands of civilians.
The city has never recovered, particularly from the use of depleted uranium munitions, and to this day residents suffer from health effects “worse” than those seen following the nuclear detonations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, according to a study by theInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
“I believe we are all equally responsible to stop a known crime,” Sister Rice said from the witness stand, according to quotes published by her group. She called herself a “citizen of the world” and reportedly smiled as the verdict was read.
This video is from ABC News, aired August 2, 2012.