Over the hills and far away, the Yorkshire Dales National Park unfolded before us. Slowly, Footprints for Peace
headed east from Sellafield. Upon the fells of the Lake District, down to the fields and across an Area of Outstanding Beauty, we waded the waters. In our shoes pools formed, sufficiently pruning our feet. The blisters swelled and the afternoon’s sandwiches became soggy. Day in and day out, we were wet, as England received record rainfalls for the month of June. In one day’s time, the city of Sheffield found itself floating in 250mm of water. Summer, wasn’t it? Climates undeniably changed.
The floods arrived throughout the land as our energies waned and the dynamics of the group teetered. And suddenly, swiping it all off our tables to begin anew, we strolled on to what appeared as a massive driving range. They were the largest “golf balls” we had ever seen. And once more, the rains came, cleansing our 4th of July celebrations. Yes, we were in the middle of the United Kingdom, but some of us were closer to home then we imagined—in fact, we were at America’s secret doorstep. M
enwith Hill is the world’s largest golf ball retailer. That’s
what a father might tell his children as they pass on the motorway. But it is far from this. It’s beyond an intelligible, respectable, comprehendible reality. And to be even more improper, no one knows exactly what National Security Agency Menwith Hill is. Signs read “RAF Menwith Hill”, yet not a single Royal Air Force jet resides on the base or circumnavigates the skies above. Currently, a trial in the courts proceeds to prosecute citizens who have acted to shut down the site, and when the judge asked authorities of Menwith Hill who owns and operates the base, the room went silent, leaving all tables, chairs and pews dumbfounded. So the trial adjourned until an answer to this simple question could be brought forward. Is it the RAF? Obviously not. Is it Her Majesty’s SAS? Nope. Then who could it be?
Our group walked along Menwith Hill’s outskirts, approaching its’ main gate for CAAB’s (Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases)
annual 4th of July demonstration. Tall, twisted 8-foot high fences bordered the base’s property and infrared CCTV cameras kept a watchful eye. Inside, all-terrain vehicles paralleled our movements. Men in black drove the machines furiously, each slung with semi-automatic rifles in search of the
Beyond, a grove of young pine trees lightened the scenery. They were green and beautiful, mystique and of pure innocence. Like the sun and moon, their image of Nature was pristine. And as we moved onward down the road with Menwith Hill to our right, the blue horizon above the pine canopy transformed into a shiny white. There, like a block of coal hung beside handmade Christmas ornaments, was a “golf ball”. It was huge, massive, towering forth from earth to sky as though we were suddenly transported to Disneyworld. It shone like a magic orb. It glistened like a crystal ball—a smooth surface under scattered clouds. It was fantasy, and all we needed was a gargantuan club to smack it into outer space. But let’s get back to reality.
To be proper, this golf ball was no golf ball at all. It was a radome, and to clear things up just a bit, it is
going to outer space. This is fact, and it is
secret. Our eyes further opened to reality as we reached the front gates. There, the judge’s question could be answered, along with all the other mysteries involving global corporate
greed. The flag flew, stars and stripes and all, and the day’s celebrations were underway. Deserved Independence Y
es, I’m an American. I admit it, and have learned not to hide this particular identity. Along my travels I’ve met other individuals who choose otherwise, disguising their Americanism by claiming to be Canadian or of other origin. I considered this. I even tried it. And I came away feeling as fearful as I was to begin with. I realized I was locking myself in my own prison cell and going nowhere with this worry. So I dropped it and accepted my Americanism. The response was gallant.
People from the corners of the planet, whether in Kashmir or Costa Rica, embraced this honesty. It was truth at complete face value, and without fear of having to hide my secret, having to run from my own self, I told the truth and was accepted for who I was. Conversation flourished around cultures and beliefs—smiles, laughs, common threads and deep bonds. We were human, yet being human harbored an exception to my openness…I did tread with a sense of judgment and reservation. I was in their culture, on their land, and
this requires respect. Often on queries regarding American politics and about our current ruler (flaunting his image in crisp army fatigues saluting the troops), I would come to full agreement with my host.
A Kashmiri man once yelled out to me after Mr. Bush came away with his second presidency, “You voted for Bush?”
“Never!” I exclaimed.
His arms were thrown up in the air with exuberance, rocking his boat back and forth, and shortly I found myself seated before him with a cup of tea at a table of hospitality.
Yes, I’m an American male and more than ever do I embrace my Americanism, while at the same time continuously keeping it on question: Am I an American? Do I believe in my consumerist culture that promotes a degrading system of capitalism? Do I want my tax dollars to pay for the murder of thousands upon thousands of people? Do I willing give Uncle Sam the right to dig into my pockets for His own benefit? Do I agree with a lifestyle run by multinational corporations and their lobbyists funding puppet governments? Am I willing to kill Muslims for the spread
of Christianity? And am I completely satisfied to remain within my own bubble oblivious to the rest of the world’s beauty?
NSA Menwith Hill. This is America in the middle of England, operating a military complex that seeks to dominate space. It’s part of the United State’s National Missile Defense program, better known as “Star Wars”. And as an American citizen I was at the demonstration, acting to shut down the base and allow the British a reclamation of their culture—just as Gandhi had against the British Empire over half a century ago, just as the Iraqi people (and millions of others around the world) dream of today. Call it “Independence from America”. The Colonialists’ Terror I
t is modern day colonialism. Or maybe we can just call it world dictatorship. Or how ‘bout terrorism? America is the world’s greatest threat of terrorism to all persons (including Americans, British and the West as a whole) and Menwith Hill plays a central role. Each radome (or golf ball) encapsulates a radar, and thus behind the guise of material, the direction of its’ signal is undeterminable.
Within the range of golf balls, American radars
spy on common communications ranging from person to person to corporate communications throughout Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Africa. Once the communications are recorded, the information is than relayed to Colorado where large supercomputers beneath Cheyenne Mountain decipher the material. It is then fed to the American government as the intelligence agencies’ little kept secret. And despite Menwith Hill’s location within the UK, all information is classified, disclosed to no one beyond the insides of the world’s most lethal terrorist—America.
Welcome to Menwith Hill—the Star Wars complex of Europe—and it is here, according to a January 2001 report called the “Space Commission” (which was chaired by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld), where the American government performs “operations to, from, in and through space in support of its national interests both on earth and in space.” Previously in 1996, the US Space Command’s “Vision for 2020” states its mission as exact: America is to dominate “the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment.”
So we protested to keep Mother Earth and Space for peace with the annual demonstration of July 4th outside the American complex. One hundred and fifty world citizens gathered and
each put in their energy for peace and love of all life. We sung songs, played and listened to drums in celebration, and heard various speakers’ messages. One of the readings came from “The Declaration of Independence from America”. Upon the large scroll of paper, the people called for a peaceful Earth, Sea, Air and Space: We encourage the United States of America and all governments of the world to uphold the keeping of International Laws and Treaties thus ensuring that the Heavens and every corner of the Earth are free from domination and greed.
Throughout the demo there were police on foot, horse, motorcycle and vehicle. They were in full force; following, photographing, filming and making inane arrests during the day. Some smiled and were kindly. Others frowned, provoked confrontation and used tactics of intimidation to make an example of a few. But what mattered most was we were all there as world citizens, not from any particular nation, but from this planet, believing and living as peaceful warriors. Our love was great. Our visions far. What’s Flying Over the Moor? A
far we walked, and afar we flew. From Menwith Hill we reached Leeds in
central England, by far the most populous city during our peace pilgrimage. On a rest day at the Quaker’s Friends Meeting House, the group was caravanned out to a site off the local radar.
Unlike NSA Menwith Hill, Fylingdales is on the Yorkshire Moor. There is nothing, a seemingly stark land except for the rolling hills and rough heather. As the highway wound among the barren landscape, we rounded one bend after another until there it stood. Literally, the American military complex of Fylingdales was a barracks of electromagnetic waves in search of public and private communications.
Like its’ larger companion, the site acts as another Menwith Hill, but keenly special. This specialty is derived from one radome called “Mill Star” that is in direct contact with the nuclear submarines and their warheads. It is also home to the early warning detection system that triggers an automatic detonation of all nuclear warheads within America and throughout Europe if the radar maps any incoming strike. The countdown used to be a standard fifteen minutes until a full-fledged nuclear legacy, but at the last committee the time was decreased to a mere four minutes.
minutes. Think about this…
Four minutes according to a machine, which searches the skies for potential nuclear strikes. Four minutes we have allowed a machine to determine our Life or our Death. Four minutes.
If one reading from the radar is incorrect (which has occurred in the past), and within those four minutes the scurrying militiamen cannot discover the system’s malfunction, all out nuclear war is unleashed. This is war, not only upon Russia, North Korea, the Middle East, India, Pakistan and China, but upon the whole entire human race, for once the West’s nuclear weapons are launched, detection systems in the targeted countries will pick up the strike and launch their warheads. This will result in complete destruction of the human race—a simple probability equation of dominos. This will result in the death of potentially all life upon Mother Earth.
A slight miss alignment within the detection system, four minutes and counting, and then goodbye. Say goodbye to the safety of your children. Say goodbye to the future of your loved ones. Say goodbye to reality as we know it, for this is reality. Tracing the termination of life on earth, the catastrophe
leads us back to this very location, Fylingdales in the middle of the Yorkshire Moor in England. Remembering a Child Within F
rom Sellafield, east to Menwith Hill and Fylingdales, and then south toward London, we pick wild cherries and raspberries beside the roads. It’s July as the rains continue to fall and young blackberry brambles and apple trees leave us drooling for ripening. In thought, in meditation, in conversation and in silence; we think of today, we think of tomorrow. We think of our purpose here and the role we play as human beings.
South out of Leeds, our trail appears direct. Throughout England, we have been on a Quaker pilgrimage, receiving their genuine hospitality along route. We sleep at their Friends Meeting Houses. We eat their food and have an abundant fill of puddings. In conjunction with Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), music is performed in our honor and various vigils are held in schedule to the Peace Walk’s arrival.
While at the Friends House of Barnsley, I came upon a youthful book. Entitled The Peace Book
, my eye was drawn with interest, and unfolding its pages I discovered the simple message. Written
for children and conscious humans of all ages, the following passage inspired more needed hope: We, the children of the world, represent almost half the people on earth…very soon…if we live…we will inherit the earth…and it will be up to us to nurture it…and try to make it well again, so that we in our turn may pass it on to our children…
It seems to us that ever since the world began good and evil have existed…kindness and brutality, compassion and selfishness; it is not new…but what is new is that science has unleashed forces so vast that in their wildest dreams…or nightmares, our forefathers could not have conceived of them.
The evil forces have always hungered after POWER, the good…never. So the evil forces have taken over, and now have the power to kill the world.
But it seems to us that those who want power so badly will now understand that in trying to seize it, they may well lose all, that they, their families and their goods could very well be totally destroyed. And even if they could hide in very strong shelters, when they came out they would find only corpses
and ashes to have power over.
So the world we are inheriting is a totally different world from the one which you inherited. You have changed it to what it is now, but you are running it as though it was the same as before. You are quarrelling like badly brought up children…but you are now armed like monsters…Please stop doing it…it’s very dangerous! (Benson, pg 109).
Benson, Bernard. The Peace Book
. Jonathon Cape Ltd., London, 1981. 223 pages. To be continued...
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