by Fr. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
Going to prison for nonviolent civil disobedience against American war-making does wonders to clarify one’s relationship with the U.S. government. I highly recommend it. When I reflect back on my life, it seems I have been preparing for civil disobedience, facing jail or trial, or undergoing probation regularly for 30 years. I’m mainly engaged in writing, speaking and teaching peace to build up the anti-war/global peace movement, but periodic civil disobedience and nonviolent protest have become for me a way of life. Along the way, one meets the best people.
Given our culture of permanent war-making, I think nonviolent resistance to the U.S. government is a spiritual and moral requirement. For me, it’s a prerequisite of discipleship to the nonviolent Jesus. Of course, most people think I’m wrong, if not downright crazy. But I don’t know how one can read the Gospels and not conclude that we are summoned to carry the cross of nonviolent resistance to empire.
Volume two of Rosalie Riegle’s massive oral history project, Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace (Cascade Books, 2013), makes me realize I’m not alone. This massive collection of interviews with U.S. anti-war resisters (along with Doing Time for Peace, which I reviewed last month) provides an unprecedented historical record of nonviolent resistance over the last five decades and shows how many of us have quietly given our lives to resisting American war-making and practicing nonviolence.…