Peace Walk (Part VIII): Day to Day Toward Aldermaston


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July 28th 2007
Published: August 5th 2007
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Outside the West Gate of AWE Aldermaston
This article has been re-published due to system failure.

Saturday, July 21st:

Milton Keynes came into our sights this day. We stretched our legs after seventy days of walking, having first moved north out of Dublin, walking up to Belfast, then riding east into Scotland. Starting from Faslane Trident Submarine Base just out of Glasgow, our United Kingdom exploration began. The footpaths and roads guided us south along the Irish Sea until we crossed up and over and into the Midlands. Now, a mere two weeks north of London, the days ahead seem to vanish quickly, and the completion of this pilgrimage for a nuclear-free future will end only to begin again.

Milton Keynes is home to Honda-shonin, our accompanying Nipponzan Myohoji monk, and as we neared his temple in Willen Peace Park I could see his step raise, his back straighten and the clarity of his voice thunder. With calm cloudy skies throughout the day, the winds eventually changed. Just thirty minutes from the park, the rains fell once more, drenching us in a way we know all too well (It seems to be the norm for us to arrive like soggy felines, dripping and matted—chilled to the bone. Our ponchos stick wet to clothes and our toes squish in their shoes). But as Honda-shonin lead us into the grounds, the energies suddenly shifted.

The Willen Peace Park is where we have our rest day, and it is the location where we’ll return to after our London completion. With its lush greenery and thoughts of Eastern ritual, we walked off the busy streets. Under the leafy canopies and upon the pebbled footpaths, a nature of stillness returned. Soon we began climbing the steps toward the Nipponzan Myohoji Peace Pagoda, and as if in timed sequence, the skies spoke. With the first footsteps up the stairs, a bolt of lightning alighted the shades. Immediately following, was the groan; a long, low, rolling growl of thunder beginning at one end of the horizon and ending at the other. For some split moments within our imagination, the darkness of the woods became lit and the noises of modernity drowned.

Once upon the hill, the white spire of the peace pagoda rose in our foregrounds. Like a simultaneous snap of all of humanity’s fingers, the raindrops seized and the sun shone between the clouds. Above the foray of lawn and the circling the swans on the lake, a stretch of color spanned the skies. It was the rainbow we were dreaming, ironing out the gray skies, fulfilling our purposes. Daylight was renewed. Welcome to the nature of peace.

Walking provides time for reflection. Being within close quarters with your fellow pilgrims twenty-four hours a day seven days a week encourages communication. And stepping far away from what you know best inspires the emergence of new doorways with their unique experiences to be explored. In recent writings, I made a remark regarding my native country, easily stirring feelings among its citizens. The reference to America as the world’s largest terrorist can be offensive. It can be harsh, anti-patriotic, and a threat to the pride and possessions of such local persons. But instead of arriving in my mind as an offending gesture towards a nation that has provided myself (and many others) with so much experience, its’ intention was beyond something so belittling. It was not delivered to point fingers. It was not a source of blame, placing all the world’s problems upon a single point. It was not fabricated without intense thought and reflection. This specific phrase—America is the world’s largest terrorist—is a basis of responsibility.

We are responsible, as Americans, and I am specifically responsible as an American. But going beyond that belittling surface, we are responsible as world citizens.

From tax dollars and elections (the gross energies within this physical world), to the subtle influences from our thoughts, desires, dreams and emotions in which we all emit; each ingredient has from every source created this very reality we live today. The big We have created it: We have manifested its beauty. We, as a human family living in one planetary community, have designed its destruction and despair.

Yes, I’m saying We are responsible, and with this responsibility, Western culture (as well as others throughout the world) have unconsciously coined the term “terrorist”, bringing life to the thoughts of fear. Once created and brought into society, the fact of embarking upon a vengeful lifestyle in search of the enemy—seeking out the caves, caverns, conferences and communities of terrorists—only promotes the life of terrorism. When the two towers of New York came down; when the aircrafts full of loving beautiful citizens slammed into the soils of this earth, what do you think would have happened if
The Axis InterpretationThe Axis InterpretationThe Axis Interpretation

Outside the Rolls Royce factory in Derby.
America’s leaders stood before the world with forgiveness? Where would we be today?

Tuesday, July 24th:

The sun beckons to shine and we’re feeling dry. Standing in the Market Square of Aylesbury, everyone around us becomes silent. It’s like a sheet blanketing the mind, calming the internal and disseminating outward to those around. We become silent in its wake: an innocuous effect where we simply sit—still, quiet, reserved and observant.

Around us the world moves. It’s Tuesday afternoon and the Farmer’s Market hustles with action. In and out, the pertinacious footsteps of mankind scurry; hither and thither, dressed and gowned for a lifestyle directed as though in an act of the play. And all we do is sit, twelve peace walkers and seventy-five Quaker children and their councilors.

Be still, and know that I am God—this assertion is a basis of the Quaker religion, and as these children from the ages of thirteen to eighteen remain in their stillness for twenty-five minutes, I’m appalled. Not a sound rises. Few bodies stir. These adolescents are disciplined and respectful, and they were about to prove this all the more as we take to the roadways towards Thames—nine miles south.

The Quaker group was a weeklong summer school and their theme coincided with ours: Footprints. It is the mark you leave on Earth within your lifetime, and it is the choices you have to make to benefit its’ worldly life. Hearing about our Peace Walk, the flame was lit and the organizing to make it happen set in motion. Approval within the Quaker community passed and the chaperones volunteered. With timing between the UK’s cyclonic summer, the sun appeared. Soon, the silence was broken, and with a parading roar for joy, for the creation of Life, our peace walk (once a mere twelve now hovering around one hundred) started afresh. The sun was overhead, and our shadows emerged, trailing the many footsteps.

The day was brilliant to the effect that these were young people, young adults who came out onto the streets to present to the public their belief for a peaceful and just world. They stood among us in solidarity, placing their footprints on Mother Earth with respect for Her and all the life She provides. They were taking their responsibility in their own hands. They accepted nobody’s answers but their own. It was their life, and they were the creators—forever they would remain so.

This is the very point in which I’m trying to make, and these youths lived it. It was Mahatma Gandhi who spoke the famous Truth: Be the change you wish to see in the world. He spoke from his heart, for he knew we are all our own creators, the collective creators of the world. If we believe others are terrorists, we are just as equally a terrorist. If I harbor hatred for someone and project this anger with violence, I am equally harming my Self and the character of me in which the hated is hated for. If a nation declares war on another, not only will war be on the other’s land and within their homes, but so it will be back home as families are torn asunder and economies become meek. Life is squeezed out of all persons involved.

By harming others—emotionally, physically or spiritually—we are equally harming ourselves. And to create peace within the world, we must first create peace at home; within the mind, body and spirit of our Self where the footprints originate.

Friday, July 27th:

Bright and blue. I awake at 6 AM; energized, strong, the currents of my blood flowing through the finely tuned muscles. It’s day seventy-four…no…seventy-five?

Today is the day we reach A.W.E. (Atomic Weapons Establishment) Aldermaston—Britain’s nuclear weapons facility where its’ warheads are assembled, commissioned and upgraded. It’s the location of the new multi-million pound Orion laser system. And today means we’re a week—one week—from our arrival in London. In the room where I slept, a washing closet in the recreation center of Theale, a bright light enters the window and slants across the tiles of my cathedral. I’m on my back, the position in which I fell asleep seven hours ago, and my blankets are orderly. They lay upon my body as if I were just tucked in. Restful, I stretch my arms, scratch my head and other parts, and then rise. I’m off for a morning practice of meditation and yoga. Yes, today is a good day. It is one of undisturbed, dreamless sleep, as individuals prepare for direct action.

Limber and moving steadily; it’s a casual stroll to the site from the town of Theale, through Aldermaston Village, and along the outskirts of it’s barbed gates. By midday, sixteen walkers appear outside the West Gate of Aldermaston. Amidst our surprise, our presence is grossly underestimated. Compared to Menwith Hill, Sellafield and Faslane, only a total of six police officers await. Not fifty. No horses or vanloads waiting by the wayside. In fact, the number of eager reporters and photographers equal that of the officials. So we roll up, loose legged and accustomed to the proceedings, and come to a stop. Our flags and banners are flying high.

At a vigil, emotions are directed inward. There, they seem to gather strength and a depth of purity before being tendered. Through words, through the practices of ritual and repetition, we chant and offer prayers. We stand together for the end of violence, for the devolution of the nuclear industry to end their lawless system for the sake of humanity and Life as a whole. As thoughts are released—as our expressions of peace and love are shared with the group, with Aldermaston and the nuclear facilities worldwide (those who have suffered and continue to suffer due to man’s selfish greed)—the action suddenly begins.

From individuals young and old, it’s a lifestyle of change. Peace is a decision of one’s own, and it first begins with the choice to choose the path of peace. The walk is a constant observance of awareness and a continuous check of one’s conscience. Never does a day pass without questioning into one’s own thoughts, words and actions: What would I really do? Or put more simply so as to scrape away any hardened layers of personality: What would Love do?

Peacewalker Daniel Viesnik of London lives his personal beliefs. As he stepped onto the pavement outside Aldermaston’s gates, our resident chef and poet lived his message: “The UK government’s decision to spend tens of billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money upgrading the Trident system is illegal, immoral and will further destabilize global security. The ongoing proliferation of activities at AWE Aldermaston… only serves to highlight the total hypocrisy of my government, of which I am deeply ashamed.”

Bernie Meyer from Olympia, Washington, USA expresses his truth: “The Trident System symbolizes human failure to care for the earth and the living species of creation. The system is a massive failure of humans to get along together and nurture life together. We must reverse our way of thinking and acting.”

Again, I pose the question: What
Nuclear DisguiseNuclear DisguiseNuclear Disguise

Rolls Royce - the Rolls Royce - are the manufacturers of the nuclear reactors within Britain's Trident submarines.
would Love do?

Peace and Love are never stagnant. They must be monitored because they changed with each moment, with each encounter and each cycle of the day. From sun up to sun down, something new awaits us all; and it is the grace of living in peace, it is the simplicity of sharing our love. In this realm of living, a terrorist does not exist; neither do weapons of any kind; or the need for more, or the need for less. Fear is absolved. Fear is the illusion. And here, now—in today’s action of beauty—there awaits the reality of peace.

Together, along with Liana and Aleta Johannaber (two sisters from Atlanta, Georgia), these walkers of peace sat down on the pavements outside AWE Aldermaston. They used their arms for linking. They used their hearts for expressing. They used their souls for the lives they live today. And they made the conscious choice to be responsible, to be world citizens responsible for their lives—from thought, word and action—and the Life of Mother Earth with the direct influence they have upon humanity. Their direct action symbolizes their dedication to peace.

To be continued...

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