Gladwell and strong tie social media networks

A lot of peo­ple, include Jeanne Burns over on Quak­erquaker, are talk­ing about Mal­colm Gladwell’s lat­est New Yorker arti­cle, “Small Change: Why the Rev­o­lu­tion Will Not Be Tweeted”.

Mal­colm Gladwell’s modus operandi is to make out­ra­geously counter-intuitive claims that peo­ple will talk about enough that they’ll buy his boss’s mag­a­zine, books and bobble-head like­nesses. I find him lik­able and divert­ing but don’t take his claims very seri­ously. He’s a lot like Wired Magazine’s Chris Ander­son, his some­times spar­ring part­ner, which isn’t sur­pris­ing as they work for the same mag­a­zine empire, Conde Nast Pub­li­ca­tions.

In his arti­cle, Glad­well takes a lot of pot­shots at social media. It’s easy to do. He picks Clay Shirky, another New York “Big Idea” guy as his rhetor­i­cal straw­man now, claim­ing Shirky’s book “Here Comes Every­body” is the “bible of social-media move­ment.” Read­ing Glad­well, you kind of wish he’d get out of the echo box of circle-jerk New York Big Talk­ers (just get­ting out of the Conde Nast building’s cafe­te­ria would be a good start).

Gladwell’s cer­tainly right in that most of what passes for activism on Twit­ter and Face­book is ridicu­lous. Click­ing a “Like” but­ton or chang­ing your pro­file image green doesn’t do much. He makes an impor­tant dis­tinc­tion between “weak ties” (Face­book “friends” who aren’t friends; Twit­ter cam­paigns that are risk-free) and “strong ties.” He cites the Civil Rights move­ment as a strong-tie phe­nom­e­non: the peo­ple who put them­selves on the line tended to be those with close friends also putting them­selves on the line.

What Glad­well misses is strong-tie orga­niz­ing going on in social media. A lot of what’s hap­pen­ing over on Quak­erQuaker is pretty strong-tie – it’s trans­lat­ing to work­shops, arti­cles, and is just one of a num­ber of impor­tant net­works that are form­ing. Peo­ple are find­ing each other and mak­ing real con­nec­tions that spill out into the real world. It’s not that online orga­nizes cre­ates real world changes, or even the reverse. Instead, under the right cir­cum­stances they can feed into each other, with each com­po­nent mag­ni­fy­ing the other’s reach.

One exam­ple of non-hierarchical involved social media is how Quaker blog­gers came together to explain Tom Fox’s motives after his kid­nap­ping. It didn’t have any effect on the kid­nap­pers, obvi­ously, but we did reach a lot of peo­ple who were curi­ous why a Friend might choose such a per­son­ally dan­ger­ous form of Chris­tian wit­ness. This was all done by inter-related groups of peo­ple with no bud­get and no orga­ni­za­tional chart. But these things don’t have to be quite so life-and-death.

A more recent exam­ple I’ve been able to see up close is the way my wife’s church has orga­nized against dioce­san attempts to shut it down: a core group of lead­ers have emerged; they share power, divide up roles and have been wag­ing an orga­nized cam­paign for about 2.5 years now. One ele­ment of this work has been the Savest​marys​.org blog. The website’s only impor­tant because it’s been part of a real-world social net­work but it’s had an influ­ence that’s gone far beyond the hand­ful of peo­ple who write for it. One of the more sur­pris­ing audi­ences have been the many staff at the Dioce­san head­quar­ters who visit every day – a small group has taken over quite a bit of men­tal space over there!

It’s been inter­est­ing for me to com­pare Quak­erQuaker with an ear­lier peace project of mine, Non​vi​o​lence​.org, which ran for thir­teen years start­ing in 1995. In many ways it was the big­ger site: a larger audi­ence, with a wider base of inter­est. It was a pop­u­lar site, with many vis­its and a fairly active bul­letin board for much of it’s life. But it didn’t spawn work­shop or con­fer­ences. There’s no “move­ment” asso­ci­ated with it. Dona­tions were min­i­mal and I never felt the sup­port struc­ture that I have now with my Quaker work.

Non​vi​o​lence​.org was a good idea, but it was a “weak tie” net­work. QuakerQuaker’s net­work is stronger for two rea­sons that I can iden­tify. The obvi­ous one is that it’s built atop the orga­niz­ing iden­tity of a social group (Friends). But it also speaks more directly to its par­tic­i­pants, ask­ing them to share their lives and offer­ing real-world oppor­tu­ni­ties for inter­ac­tion. So much of my blog­ging on Non​vi​o​lence​.org was Big Idea thoughts pieces about the sit­u­a­tion in Bosnia – that just doesn’t provide the same kind of imme­di­ate per­sonal entre.

Mal­colm Glad­well min­i­mizes the lead­er­ship struc­ture of activist orga­ni­za­tions, where lead­er­ship and power is in con­stant flux. He like­wise min­i­mizes the lead­er­ship of social media net­works. Yes, any­one can pub­lish but we all have dif­fer­ent lev­els of vis­i­bil­ity and influ­ence and there is a fil­ter­ing effect. I have twenty-five years of orga­nized activism under my belt and fif­teen years of online orga­niz­ing and while the tech­nol­ogy is very dif­fer­ent, a lot of the social dynam­ics are remark­ably sim­i­lar.

Glad­well is an hired employee in one of the largest media com­pa­nies in the world. It’s a very struc­tured life: he’s got edi­tors, pub­lish­ers, copy­ed­i­tors, proof­read­ers. He’s a cog in a com­pany with $5 bil­lion in annual rev­enue. It’s not really sur­pris­ing that he doesn’t have much direct expe­ri­ence with effec­tive social net­works. It’s hard to see how social media is com­ple­ment­ing real world grass­roots net­works from the 40th floor of a mid-town Man­hat­tan sky­scraper.

Related Read­ing:

New Monastics & Convergent Friends update

My work­shop part­ner Wess Daniels just posted an update about the upcom­ing work­shop at Pendle Hill. Here’s the start. Click through to the full post to get a taste of what we’re prepar­ing.

Mar­tin Kel­ley and I will be
lead­ing a
week­end retreat at Pendle Hill in just a cou­ple weeks (May 14 – 16)

and I’m start­ing to get really excited about it! Mar­tin and I have been
col­lab­o­rat­ing a lot together over the past few months in prepa­ra­tion for
this week­end and I wanted to share a lit­tle more of what we have
planned for those of you who are inter­ested in com­ing (or still on the
fence). Dur­ing the week­end we will be encour­ag­ing con­ver­sa­tions around
build­ing com­mu­ni­ties, con­ver­gent Friends and how this looks in our local
meet­ings. I wanted to give the descrip­tion of the week­end, some of the
queries we’ll be touch­ing on, and the out­line for the week­end. And of
course, I want to invite all of you inter­ested par­ties to join us!

Read the full post on Wess’s blog

Movement for a New Society and the Old New Monastics

Robin wrote a lit­tle about the New Monas­tic move­ment in a plug for the Pendle Hill work­shop I’m doing with Wess Daniels this Fall. 

Here’s my work­ing the­ory: I think Lib­eral Friends have a good claim to invent­ing the “new monas­tic” move­ment thirty years ago in the form of Move­ment for a New Soci­ety, a net­work of peace and anti-nuclear activists based in Philadel­phia that cod­i­fied a kind of “sec­u­lar Quaker” decision-making process and trained thou­sands of peo­ple from around the world in a kind of engaged drop-out lifestyle that fea­tured low-cost com­mu­nal liv­ing arrange­ments in poor neigh­bor­hoods with part-time jobs that gave them flex­i­bil­ity to work as full-time com­mu­nity activists. There are few activist cam­paigns in the 1970s and 1980s that weren’t touched by the MNS style and a less-ideological, more lived-in MNS cul­ture sur­vives today in bor­der­line neigh­bor­hoods in Philadel­phia and other cities. The high-profile new monas­tics rarely seem to give any props to Quak­ers or MNS, but I’d be will­ing to bet if you sat in on any of their meet­ings the process would be much more inspired by MNS than Robert’s Rules of Order or any fif­teen cen­tury monas­tic rule that might be cited.

For a decade I lived in West Philly in what I called “the ruins of the Move­ment for a New Soci­ety.” The for­mal struc­ture of MNS had dis­banded but many of its insti­tu­tions car­ried on in a kind of lived-in way. I worked at the remain­ing pub­lish­ing house, New Soci­ety Pub­lish­ers, lived in a land-trusted West Philly coop house, and was fed from the old neigh­bor­hood food coop and occa­sion­ally dropped in or helped out with Train­ing for Change, a revived train­ing cen­ter started by MNS-co-founder (and Cen­tral Philadel­phia Meeting-member) George Lakey It was a tight neigh­bor­hood, with strong cross-connections, and it was able to absorb related move­ments with dif­fer­ent styles (e.g., a strong anar­chist scene that grew in the late 1980s). I don’t think it’s coin­ci­dence that some of the Philly emer­gent church projects started in West Philly and is strong in the neigh­bor­hoods that have become the new ersatz West Philly as the actual neigh­bor­hood has gen­tri­fied.

So some ques­tions I’ll be wrestling with over the next six months and will bring to Pendle Hill: 

  • Why haven’t more of us in the Reli­gious Soci­ety of Friends adopted this engaged lifestyle?
  • Why haven’t we been good at artic­u­lat­ing it all this time?
  • Why did the for­mal struc­ture of the Quaker-ish “new monas­ti­cism” not sur­vive the 1980s?
  • Why don’t we have any younger lead­ers of the Quaker monas­ti­cism? Why do we need oth­ers to remind us of our own recent tra­di­tion?
  • In what ways are some Friends (and some fel­low trav­el­ers) still liv­ing out the “Old New Monas­tic” expe­ri­ence, just with­out the hype and with­out the buzz?

It’s entirely pos­si­ble that the “new monas­ti­cism” isn’t sus­tain­able. At the very least Friends’ expe­ri­ences with it should be stud­ied to see what hap­pened. Is West Philly what the new monas­ti­cism looks like thirty years later? The biggest dif­fer­ences between now and the hey­day of the Move­ment for a New Soci­ety is 1) the Internet’s abil­ity to orga­nize and stay in touch in com­pletely dif­fer­ent ways; and 2) the power of the major Evan­gel­i­cal pub­lish­ing houses that are hyp­ing the new kids.

I’ll be look­ing at myself as well. After ten years, I felt I needed a change. I’m now in the “real world” – semi sub­ur­ban free­stand­ing house, nuclear fam­ily. The old new West Philly monas­ti­cism, like the “new monas­ti­cism” seems opti­mized for hip twenty-something sub­ur­ban kids who roman­ti­cized the gritty city. Peo­ple of other demo­graph­ics often fit in, but still it was never very scal­able and for many not very sus­tain­able. How do we bring these con­cerns out to a world where there are sub­urbs, fam­i­lies, etc?

RELATED READING: I first wrote about the sim­i­lar­ity between MNS and the Philadel­phia “New Monas­tic” move­ment six years ago in Peace and Twenty-Somethings, where I argued that Pendle Hill should take a seri­ous look at this new move­ment.

The peace of Christ for those with ears to hear

Over on Quaker Oats Live, Cherice is fired up about taxes again and propos­ing a peace wit­ness for next year:

My solu­tion: Quak­ers, Men­non­ites, Brethren, and whomever else wants to par­tic­i­pate refuses to pay war taxes for a few years, and we suf­fer the con­se­quences. I think we should cam­paign for a war-tax-free 2010 in all Quaker meet­ings and Mennonite/Brethren/etc. com­mu­ni­ties. What are they going to do – throw us all in jail? Maybe. But they can’t do that forever. No one wants to pay their taxes for a bunch of Quak­ers and other paci­fists to sit in jail for not pay­ing taxes. It doesn’t make sense.

A com­menter chimes in with a warn­ing about Friends who were hit by heavy tax penalties a quar­ter cen­tury ago. But I know of some­one who didn’t pay taxes for twenty years and recently vol­un­teered the infor­ma­tion to the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice. The col­lec­tors were non­cha­lant, polite and sym­pa­thetic and set­tled for a very rea­son­able amount. If this friend’s expe­ri­ence is any guide, there’s not much drama to be had in war tax resis­tance. These days, Cae­sar doesn’t care much.

What if our wit­ness was directed not at the fed­eral gov­ern­ment but at our fel­low Chris­tians? We could fol­low Quaker founder George Fox’s exam­ple and climb the tallest tree we could find (real or metaphor­i­cal) and begin preach­ing the good news that war goes against the teach­ings of Jesus. As always, we would be respect­ful and char­i­ta­ble but we could reclaim the strong and clear voices of those who have trav­eled before us. If we felt the need for backup? Well, I under­stand there are twenty-seven or so books to the New Tes­ta­ment sym­pa­thetic to our cause. And I have every rea­son to believe that the Inward Christ is still hum­ming our tune and burn­ing bushes for all who have eyes to see and ears to lis­ten. Just as John Wool­man min­is­tered with his co-religionists about the sin of slav­ery, maybe our job is to min­is­ter to our co-religionists about war.

But who are these co-religionist neigh­bors of ours? Twenty years of peace orga­niz­ing and Friends orga­niz­ing makes me doubt we could find any large group of “his­toric peace church” mem­bers to join us. We talk big and write pretty epistles, but few indi­vid­u­als engage in wit­nesses that involve any dan­ger of real sac­ri­fice. The way most of our estab­lished bod­ies couldn’t fig­ure out how to respond to a mod­ern day prophetic Chris­tian wit­ness in Tom Fox’s kid­nap­ping is the norm. When the IRS threat­ened to put liens on Philadel­phia Yearly Meet­ing to force resis­tant staffers to pay, the gen­eral sec­re­tary and clerk said all sorts of sym­pa­thetic words of anguish (which they prob­a­bly even meant), then docked the employee’s pay any­way. There have been times when clear-eyed Chris­tians didn’t mind loos­ing their lib­erty or prop­erty in ser­vice to the gospel. Early Friends called our emu­la­tion of Christ’s sac­ri­fice the Lamb’s War, but even seven years of real war in the ancient land of Baby­lo­nia itself hasn’t brought back the old fire. Our meet­ing­houses sit quaint, with own­er­ship deeds untouched, even as we wring our hands won­der­ing why most remain half-empty on First Day morn­ing.

But what about these emerg­ing church kids?: all those peo­ple read­ing Shane Clai­borne, mov­ing to neigh­bor­hoods in need, orga­niz­ing into small cells to talk late into the night about prim­i­tive Chris­tian­ity? Some of them are actu­ally putting down their can­dles and pre­ten­tious jar­gon long enough to read those twenty-seven books. Friends have a lot of accu­mu­lated wis­dom about what it means the prim­i­tive Chris­tian life, even if we’re pretty rusty on its actual prac­tice. What shape would that wit­ness take and who would join us into that unknown but famil­iar desert? What would our move­ment even be called? And does it mat­ter?


Any­one inter­ested in think­ing more on this should start sav­ing up their loose change ($200 com­muters) to come join C Wess Daniels and me this Novem­ber when we lead a work­shop on “The New Monas­tics and Con­ver­gent Friends” at Pendle Hill near Philadel­phia. Methinks I’m already start­ing to blog about it.

Sheehan thoughs over on Non​vi​o​lence​.org

Just a lit­tle note to every­one that I’ve blogged a cou­ple of posts over on Non​vi​o​lence​.org. They’re both based on “peace mom” Cindy Sheeran’s “res­ig­na­tion” from the peace move­ment yes­ter­day.
It’s all a bit strange to see this from a long-time peace activist per­spec­tive. The move­ment that Sheehan’s talk­ing about and now cri­tiquing is not move­ment I’ve worked with for the last fifteen-plus years. The orga­ni­za­tions I’ve known have all been housed in crum­bling build­ings, with too-old car­pets and fur­ni­ture lifted as often as not from going out of busi­ness sales. Money’s tight and careers poten­tially sac­ri­ficed to help build a world of shar­ing, car­ing and under­stand­ing.
The move­ment Shee­han talks about is fueled by mil­lions of dol­lars of Demo­c­ra­tic Party-related money, with cam­paigns designed to mesh well with Party goals via the so-called “527 groups”: and other indi­rect mech­a­nisms. Big Media likes to crown these orga­ni­za­tions as _the_ anti­war move­ment, but as Shee­han and Amy Good­man dis­cuss in today’s “Democ­racy Now interview”:, cor­po­rate media will end up with much of the tens of mil­lions of dol­lars can­di­dates are now rais­ing. Shee­han makes an impas­sioned plea for peo­ple to sup­port those grass­roots cam­paigns that aren’t sup­ported by the “peace move­ment” but this rein­forces the notion that its the mon­eyed inter­ests that make up the move­ment. I’m sure she knows bet­ter but it’s hard to work for so long and to make so many sac­ri­fices and still be so casu­ally dis­missed – not just me but thou­sands of com­mit­ted activists I’ve known over the years.
There are a few peace orga­ni­za­tions in that happy medium between toad­y­ing and poverty (nice car­pets, souls still intact) but it mys­ti­fies me why there isn’t a broader base of sup­port for grass­roots activism. I myself decided to leave pro­fes­sional peace work almost a decade ago after the my Non​vi​o​lence​.org project raised such piti­ful sums. At some point I decided to stop whin­ing about this phe­nom­e­non and just look for better-paying employ­ment else­where but it still fas­ci­nates me from a soci­o­log­i­cal per­spec­tive.

On shoestrings and keepin’ on

There’s some inter­est­ing follow-up on the Cindy Shee­han “res­ig­na­tion” (see yesterday’s post). One fel­low I cor­re­sponded with years ago gave a dona­tion then sent an email urg­ing us not to fall into despair. It’s hard.
Go beyond Demo­c­ra­tic Party fronts like MoveOne and you’ll find the most of the peace move­ment is a ridicu­lously shoe­string oper­a­tion.’s four month “ChipIn” fundrais­ing cam­paign raised $50 per month but the sac­ri­fice isn’t just short-term – just try apply­ing for a main­stream job with a resume chock full of social change work!
Michael Westmoreland-White over on the Lev­ellers blog talks about “keep­ing going through the despair”:
bq. This is a cau­tion­ary tale for the rest of us, includ­ing myself. Out­rage, right­eous indig­na­tion, anger, pub­lic grief, are all valid reac­tions to war and human rights abuses, but they will get us only so far. They may strain mar­riages and fam­ily life. They may lead to speech and action that is not in the spirit of non­vi­o­lence and active peace­mak­ing. And, since impe­ri­al­ist mil­i­tarism is a sys­tem (bib­li­cally speak­ing, a Power), it will resist change for the good. Work for jus­tice and peace over the long haul requires spir­i­tual dis­ci­pline, requires deep roots in a spir­i­tu­al­ity of non­vi­o­lence, includ­ing cul­ti­vat­ing the virtue of patience.
Michael’s answer is specif­i­cally Chris­tian but I think his advice to step back and attend to the roots of our activism is wise despite one’s moti­va­tions.
Sheehan’s retire­ment didn’t stop her from “talk­ing with Amy Good­man on Democ­racy Now this morning”: She talks about cash-starved peace activists and con­trasts them with the tens of mil­lions pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates are rais­ing, most of which will go to big media TV net­works for ads. Shee­han says we need more than just an anti­war move­ment:
bq. Like, end­ing the Viet­nam War was major, but peo­ple left the move­ment. It was an anti­war move­ment. They didn’t stay com­mit­ted to true and last­ing peace. And that’s what we really have to do.
More Cindy Shee­han read­ing across the blo­gos­phere avail­able via “Google”: and “Technorati”:
And for those look­ing for a lit­tle good news check out the brand new site for the “Global Net­work for Nonviolence”: I designed it for them as part of my “free­lance design work”: but it’s been a joy and a lot of fun to be work­ing more closely with a good group of inter­na­tional activists again. Their “non­vi­o­lence links”: page includes sites for some really com­mit­ted grass­roots peace­mak­ers. This long-term peace work may not give us head­li­nes in the New York Times but it’s touched mil­lions over the years. If human­ity is ever going to grow into the kind of cul­ture of peace Shee­han dreams of then we’ll need a lot more won­der­ful projects like these.

Cindy Sheehan “resigns”: It’s up to us now

Poor Cindy Shee­han, the famous anti-war mom who camped out­side Bush’s Craw­ford Texas home fol­low­ing the death of her son in Iraq. News comes today that she’s all but “resigned from the protest movement”: She posted the fol­low­ing “on her Daily Kos blog”:
bq. The first con­clu­sion is that I was the dar­ling of the so-called left as long as I lim­ited my protests to George Bush and the Repub­li­can Party. Of course, I was slan­dered and libeled by the right as a “tool” of the Demo­c­ra­tic Party… How­ever, when I started to hold the Demo­c­ra­tic Party to the same stan­dards that I held the Repub­li­can Party, sup­port for my cause started to erode and the “left” started label­ing me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid atten­tion to me when I said that the issue of peace and peo­ple dying for no rea­son is not a mat­ter of “right or left”, but “right and wrong.”
The sad truth is that she was used. Much of the power and money in the anti-war move­ment comes from Demo­c­ra­tic Party con­nec­tions. Her tragic story, soc­cer mom looks and artic­u­late ide­al­ism made her a nat­u­ral poster girl for an anti-Bush move­ment that has never really been as anti-war as it’s claimed.
Con­gres­sional Democ­rats had all the infor­ma­tion they needed in 2002 to expose Pres­i­dent Bush’s out­landish claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruc­tion. But they “autho­rized his war of aggres­sion anyway”: More recently, Amer­i­cans gave them a land­slide vote of con­fi­dence in last November’s elec­tions but still they step back from insist­ing on an Iraq pull-out. The Non​vi​o​lence​.org archives are full of denun­ci­a­tions of Pres­i­dent Clinton’s repeated mis­sile attacks on places like the Sudan and Afghanistan; before rein­vent­ing him­self as a earth-toned eco can­di­date, Al Gore posi­tioned him­self as the pro-war hawk of the Demo­c­ra­tic Party.
Anti-war activists need to build alliances and real change will need to involve insid­ers of both major Amer­i­can polit­i­cal par­ties. But as long as the move­ment is fueled with polit­i­cal money it will be beholden to those inter­ests and will ulti­mately defer to back-room Cap­i­tal Hill deal-making.
I feel for Cindy. She’s been on a pub­lic­ity roller coaster these past few years. I hope she finds the rest she needs to re-ground her­self. Defeat­ing war is the work of a life­time and it’s the work of a move­ment. Sheehan’s wit­ness has touched peo­ple she’ll never meet. It’s made a dif­fer­ence. She’s a woman of remark­able courage who’s point­ing out the pup­pet strings she’s cut­ting as she steps off the stage. Hats off to you Cindy.’s fundrais­ing cam­paign ends in a few hours. In four months we’ve raised $150 which doesn’t even cover that period’s server costs. This project cel­e­brates its twelfth year this fall and accu­rately “exposed the weapons of mass destruc­tion hoaxes”: in real time as they were being thrust on a gullible Con­gress. Cindy signed off:
bq. Good-bye Amer­ica …you are not the coun­try that I love and I finally real­ized no mat­ter how much I sac­ri­fice, I can’t make you be that coun­try unless you want it. It’s up to you now.
Some­times I really have to unite with that sen­ti­ment.

Webb on SOTU: We owe them loyalty, we owe them sound judgment

I must be hon­est and admit that I’ve always found Pres­i­dent Bush’s State of the Union speeches unbear­able. The dis­tor­tions and half-truths are infu­ri­at­ing and the unearned con­fi­dence of a draft-dodging rich kid turned failed mil­i­tary adven­turer just sends my blood pres­sure through the roof. I wish I could be detached enough to lis­ten at least to the art of fine speech-writing but the mes­sage gets in the way.

Bet­ter then to lis­ten to the Demo­c­ra­tic response, given by Sen­a­tor James Web. The tran­script is over on the NYTimes and the video is over on YouTube. Here’s a taste.

Like so many other Amer­i­cans, today and through­out our his­tory, we serve and have served, not for polit­i­cal rea­sons, but because we love our coun­try. On the polit­i­cal issues ­ those mat­ters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death ­ we trusted the judg­ment of our national lead­ers. We hoped that they would be right, that they would mea­sure with accu­racy the value of our lives against the enor­mity of the national inter­est that might call upon us to go into harm’s way. We owed them our loy­alty, as Amer­i­cans, and we gave it. But they owed us ­ sound judg­ment, clear think­ing, con­cern for our wel­fare, a guar­an­tee that the threat to our coun­try was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defend­ing it.

Worth a look: Josh Mar­shall over at Talk​ing​PointsMemo​.com had the neat idea to set up a YouTube group for peo­ple to give their own video responses to the State of the Union. 

Warriors against the War

In the news:  more than 1,000 ser­vice mem­bers sign peti­tion to end Iraq War (Stars and Stripes), orga­nized by the Appeal for Redress cam­paign spon­sored by a hand­ful of mil­i­tary anti­war groups includ­ing Non​vi​o​lence​.org alums Vet­er­ans for Peace. The sim­ple peti­tion reads:

As a patri­otic Amer­i­can proud to serve the nation in uni­form, I respect­fully urge my polit­i­cal lead­ers in Con­gress to sup­port the prompt with­drawal of all Amer­i­can mil­i­tary forces and bases from Iraq. Stay­ing in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.

Sup­port­ing the troops means mak­ing sure Amer­i­can lives aren’t being wasted in dead-end wars. Their ser­vice and their sac­ri­fice has been too great to con­tinue the lies that have fueled this con­flict since the very begin­ning, start­ing with the myth­i­cal Saddam/Al Qaeda con­nec­tion and the phan­tas­mic weapons of mass destruc­tion. The cur­rent esca­la­tion (euphemised as a “surge”) of troop lev­els is sim­ply an esca­la­tion of a badly-run war plan. When will this all end?
*Update*: Pres­i­dent Bush has admit­ted that the Iraq gov­ern­ment “fum­bled the executions.”: Mean­while, the UN puts the “2006 Iraqi death toll at 34,000”: When will Bush admit he’s fum­bled this whole war?

Christian peacemaker Teams News

On Sat­ur­day, Novem­ber 26, 2005 four mem­bers of “Chris­tian peace­mak­ers Teams” were abducted in iraq. On March 20th the body of Amer­i­can Quaker Tom Fox was found; on March 23rd, the remain­ing three hostages were freed by U.S. and British mil­i­tary forces.
Here at Non​vi​o​lence​.org, we have always been impressed and highly sup­port­ive of the deep wit­ness of the Chris­tian peace­mak­ers Teams. Their mem­bers have rep­re­sented the best in both the peace and Chris­tian move­ments, con­sis­tently putting them­selves in dan­ger to wit­ness the gospel of peace. Not con­tent to write let­ters or stand on pick­ett lines in safe west­ern cap­i­tals, they go to the front­li­nes of vio­lence and pro­claim a rad­i­cal alter­na­tive.
While we can be grate­ful for the release of the three remain­ing hostages, we should con­tinue to remem­ber the 43 for­eign hostages still being held in iraq and the 10 – 30 iraqis report­edly taken hostage each and every day. As iraq slips into full-scale civil war we must also orga­nize against the war-mongerers, both for­eign and inter­nal and finde ways of stand­ing alongside those iraqis who want noth­ing more than peace and free­dom.

Here’s links to recent articles on the situation: https://​deli​cious​.com/​m​a​r​t​i​n​_​k​e​l​l​e​y​/​n​e​w​s​.​c​p​t​-​f​o​u​r​.​f​o​x​m​e​m​o​r​ial

And a per­sonal note from’s Mar­tin Kel­ley: I myself am a Chris­tian and Quaker and one of our folks, Tom Fox, of Lan­g­ley Hill (Vir­ginia) Friends Meet­ing is among the hostages. I don’t know Tom per­son­ally but over the last few days I’ve learned we have many Friends in com­mon and they have all tes­ti­fied to his deep com­mitt­ment to peace. Some of the links above are more explic­itly Quaker than most things I post to Non​vi​o​lence​.org, but they give per­spec­tive on why Tom and his com­pan­ions would see putting them­selves in dan­ger as an act of reli­gious ser­vice. I am grate­ful for Tom’s cur­rent wit­ness in iraq – yes, even as a hostage – but I cer­tainly hope he soon comes back to his fam­ily and com­mu­nity and that the atten­tion and wit­ness of these four men’s ordeal helps to bring the news of peace to streets and halls of Bagh­dad, Wash­ing­ton, Lon­don and Ottawa.

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