Protesting our country’s nuclear weapons is (still) worth going to jail for

May 18, 2018


Protesting our country’s nuclear weapons is (still) worth going to jail for

By Nathan Scheider

“On Mother’s Day a year ago, I was staying in a house whose usual residents had gone to visit their mothers, leaving me alone to somehow cook a worthy breakfast for four extraordinary mothers—my own mother, my wife, a Venezuelan professor in exile and Elizabeth McAlister, the nun-turned-war-resister, an architect of the Plowshares movement with her husband, Philip Berrigan. This past Mother’s Day, Liz was in jail again.

Her offense was hardly surprising. On April 4 she was part of a small group that, much like the first Plowshares action in 1980, broke into a nuclear-armed military facility with hammers and bottles of their own blood in order to make literal the prophecy of Isaiah, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.” The ritual was an evolution of the Berrigan brothers’ famous draft-card burning in Catonsville, Md., which took place 50 years ago this week.

“Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order,” Philip’s brother Daniel Berrigan, S.J., testified in court about that day in Maryland. “We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.” Such rituals have resulted in many collective years of jail time since.

The Berrigan brothers were on the cover of Time magazine after Catonsville. Some Plowshares actions have likewise garnered national attention, like the 2012 break-in at Tennessee’s Y-12 nuclear facility led by 82-year-old Sister Megan Rice. But this latest Kings Bay Plowsharesbreak-in, at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia, has been less widely observed outside the several hundred people awaiting news on a Facebook group. But I know some of the seven who participated, including Dorothy Day’s granddaughter Martha Hennessy, and I do not expect that they are worried about whether they are trending on Twitter. As Father Berrigan said, “We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.”…”

Posted in