Peace Muscle

Oklahoma Peace Strategy Newspaper, May 2007

A blizzard of activities for social justice and peace in recent months, both locally and nationally, reflect growing passion among citizens to end and reverse the US occupation of Iraq – but more – to return to the truly American values of democracy, peace, and justice for all. It has been a dizzying and exhilarating time. Let’s hope this energy builds and expands!

Once upon a time, it was possible for a person to attend almost every peace and justice event in central Oklahoma. Now, events, lectures, workshops and films are scheduled north, south, east, and west, often on the same evening. Did you go to hear Jane Goodall at OCU, or journalist Anthony Shadid reporting at the Unitarian Church speaking about shoddy media coverage of the Iraq War? Or perhaps you just rested up so you could go the next evening to hear Lt. Col. Robert M. Bowman, USAF (ret) speak for peace at Mayflower Church. There is a lot going on!

Sat, March 17 Peace Rally:
On Saturday, March 17, marking four years of war in Iraq, some 400 Oklahomans gathered for a peace rally on the State Capital Plaza, for music, reading the names of fallen Oklahomans, and listening to notable opinion leaders speak for peace. Music by the Electric Primadonnas welcomed folks to the plaza, where tables of information were set up by the Peace House, CodePink, Veterans for Peace, and the Department of Peace Campaign. Speaking were State Senator Connie Johnson, Rep. Anastasia Pittman, USAF Col (ret) Katherine Schierman, Iraq Veteran Brandon Jackson, Gold Star family Warren, Kay, and Jamie Blake Henthorn, and Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers of Mayflower Congregational Church. Dr. Meyers invited people to come forward to read names of the more than 50 Oklahomans who have died in Iraq, and a gong was sounded after each name was read. Dr. Meyers’ comments are posted at:

Sun, Mar 18, Spiritual Walk for Peace:
The next afternoon, some 250 citizens gathered at the Episcopal Center for encouraging words for peace and a silent peace walk encircling the Murrah Building National Memorial. Music by Mary Reynolds, Louise Goldberg and friends set the tone on a glorious Sunday afternoon. Dean George Back of St. Paul’s Cathedral welcomed the crowd and gave a prayer for peace. Senator Connie Johnson spoke again, and Rev. Lance Schmitz made an impassioned plea to support peace. Rex Friend staged the silent walk. Peace walkers stretched two blocks, as on-lookers visiting the Murrah Memorial stopped to watch the procession. At the Jesus Wept statue, the crowd paused for song and words from Cynthia Johnson and Rex Friend, then Rev. Meyers and others read again the names of Oklahomans killed in Iraq. Back at the Episcopal Center, State Representative Al McAffrey spoke strongly for an end to the Iraq conflict. Sister Benedicta Boland with the Red Plains Monastery of Benedictine Sisters then closed the event with teachings from St. Benedict and a peace prayer.

April 18, Lt.Col Robt. M. Bowman USAF (ret):
Dr. Bob Bowman spoke April 18th to a crowd of some 175 at Mayflower Congregational Church, as part of a 100-city speaking tour around the US. Bowman was a fighter pilot in Vietnam, and, with a PhD in Aeronautics, directed US military research into space-based weapons under the Ford and Carter administrations. Since his retirement, Bowman has directed his own non-profit organization dedicated to justice, peace, and the appropriate use (only) of the US military. Bowman is an outspoken opponent of Bush administration policies including the Iraq war, unwarranted surveillance of US citizens, torture and rendition of US prisoners, ignoring global warming and environmental challenges, endangering Social Security, and failure to implement a national health insurance policy. Dr. Bowman’s website about his speaking tour includes his analysis and prescriptions for US politics.

The spirit of people rising is always good news. Your efforts inspire me, just as others’ efforts inspire you. If everyone will follow the counsel of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, the victory of justice and peace in the world becomes possible. He said, “Everyone can do something.”