NOTE: Starting in this Lenten season and continuing throughout the year up to the mid-term elections in 2022, we’re reimagining a campaign that we launched back in 1999, Bread Not Stones, a campaign aimed at redirecting the obscene amount of money the U.S. invests in military spending to the challenges presented by the pandemic, the climate crisis, racial oppression, and economic injustice. Despite the end of the Cold War in the nineties, the U.S. has continued to operate out of the mentality that peace is assured through military might, the manufacturing of weapons, and investment in preparation for war. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary as a movement this year, we are drawing on the lessons of the past to address the issues of the present in order to create a better future. We draw inspiration from the original Bread Not Stones campaign of 1999-2000 in launching this one, Bread Not Stones 2022 with the statement below. We invite you to fill out the form after the statement if you’d like more information and to help in the promotion and execution of this campaign through November 2022.
“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?” (Mt 7:9)
This question posed by Jesus to his followers seems to have an obvious answer: Who would give a stone to a child asking for bread? And yet, too many people – especially children – do not have access to the resources they need to develop to their fullest human potential. In Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace Message, he highlighted this discrepancy, calling on governments to “develop economic policies aimed at inverting the proportion of public funds spent on education and on weaponry.”
In 2000, when it was apparent that the end of the Cold War had not transformed the budget priorities of the United States away from war-making and military power toward answering the needs required for people to live with human dignity, we launched Bread Not Stones, a national Catholic campaign of prayer, study and action to end exorbitant military spending and answer Pope John Paul II’s plea for “a moral about-face” regarding our appetite for weapons of war. The past two decades – highlighted today by a worldwide pandemic, racial injustice, the climate crisis and the Russian invasion of Ukraine – have made abundantly clear that investing in militarism neither keeps us safe nor promises the peace our communities long for. The military budget continues to grow while our hungry children go unfed. The need for nonviolent solutions remains more urgent than ever.
The U.S. Congress authorized $768 billion for military spending for 2022, which is $25 billion more than President Biden requested. Simultaneously, social service programs remain inadequately funded, under-resourced, and not prioritized. As we survey the health of our democracy and the well-being of our communities, we ask: Is there a better way to safeguard people and protect human dignity than spending hundreds of billions of dollars on militarism and weapons of mass destruction? Can we give our communities more than stones?
Reductions to the military budget must be accompanied by new ideas about what “security” means. Guns offer the same false sense of security to individuals that the military’s strength offers to the country at large. No method of violence will ever lead to more secure communities: we must address the root causes of inequity. Efforts to change the U.S. government’s spending priorities will fall short so long as we remain politically, socially, culturally, and religiously captive to the heresy of redemptive violence – the mistaken belief that violence can ensure our safety and establish peace.
The United States is ranked #1 in the world in terms of military spending, outpacing the next seven highest spenders combined. At the same time, almost half of all the civilian guns in the world are in the hands of people in the United States, who make up only four percent of the world’s population.
By our actions and our inaction, we have demonstrated our willingness to sacrifice everything on the altar of weaponry, including the lives of our children. The violence of weaponry and war is not just a public health crisis; it is a spiritual crisis that challenges the very credibility of the Gospel.
We need to work for a new understanding of security that moves beyond narratives of “us and them” by fostering healthy communities of interdependence and global solidarity. We need a new vision of human security that rejects radical forms of individualism which are too often mistaken for freedom.
WE CALL for a life-enhancing understanding of security that nurtures empathetic and sustainable communities where:
- Healthcare, housing, and food are fundamental human rights.
- A living wage is guaranteed to all people.
- Restorative justice practices, a process for reparations, and other means to dismantle systemic racism are funded.
- The human dignity of all people is protected – especially those who are in any way excluded, marginalized, or oppressed.
- Effective education is free for all regardless of their zip code.
- Care for the earth’s many ecosystems becomes central to our economic model.
WE CALL for a new peacebuilding foreign policy based on just and environmentally sustainable strategies, a fairer distribution of wealth between all people, and the protection of the human dignity of all. The reduction of the military budget and redistribution of resources toward human needs will bring us one step closer to collective liberation.
To this end, Pax Christi USA commits our resources to a reimagined Bread Not Stones campaign for 2022, organizing within the Catholic community and alongside allies to redirect military spending in the U.S. federal budget to the “things that make for peace” (Lk 19:42) and elevating the issue in the 2022 election cycle. Because we deserve bread, not stones.
If you’d like to learn more about the campaign, fill out the form below and someone will get in touch with you shortly. We are looking for local organizers and promoters of the campaign.
Bread Not Stones 2022