Confessions of Crimes Against the State
BY JOHN DEAR
With the Bush Administration's admission of widespread surveillance upon ordinary Americans in pursuit of its empire, I thought I would save them the trouble of further harassing me and confess my crimes.
I am, after all, an ex-con. I've have been arrested scores of times, imprisoned in jails across the country, even had a national guard unit march upon my house and church--all because of my public stand against the state's wars and nuclear weapons. I'm sure I'm on somebody's list.
Forty years ago, the great Trappist monk Thomas Merton wrote "A Signed Confession of Crimes Against the State," where he made the shocking announcement that he had been sitting in the woods, enjoying the sunshine and listening to a mockingbird. He confessed that he was useless as far as the state was concerned. "I am shattered by the realization that I have never attributed the sunshine to its true cause, namely the state," Merton wrote. "Clearly I am not worthy to exist another minute." Alas, my crimes are equally deviant.
First of all, yes, I live in the desert, off the grid, far from the mainstream culture, and like Merton, that makes me useless, unsuccessful, unAmerican, an unproductive cog in the all-American wheel. Worse, I live not far from Los Alamos, where the state builds its nuclear bombs, spending billions for global destruction while poisoning the land and the population. Yes, I confess it, I hope and pray that this work, which I name as demonic, will end immediately. Yes, I admit, last August, for the sixtieth anniversary of Hiroshima, I joined hundreds of friends, and put on sackcloth and ashes, like the people of Nineveh long ago, to repent of the sin--the crime!--of war and nuclear weapons.
Yes, it's true, I sometimes wander the desert like John the Baptist denouncing the crimes of the state, and call for its leaders to fall from their thrones as Jesus' mother Mary did famously in the Magnifcat. Yes, I confess, too, that I have been telling audiences around the world about my criminal hope for the disarmament of Los Alamos, and for that matter, Livermore Labs, the SAC Base, the Trident Sub bases, the Oak Ridge Labs, and all other imperial installations of nuclear genocide.
Yes the state should know I have not been rehabilitated. I'm proud of hammering on an F15 nuclear-capable fighter bomber in 1993 in Goldsboro, North Carolina to fulfill the prophet Isaiah's commandment to "beat swords into plowshares." We upheld international law, the Nuremberg Principles, and God's law of nonviolence. I believe that anyone involved with the production, maintenance and use of nuclear weapons is engaged in criminal behavior.
Worse, I confess that I have traveled into enemy territory. I admit I have not killed my enemies; I have not hated my enemies; I do not wish my enemies were dead, like most patriotic Americans do, as the state orders. I not only like them, I love them, as Jesus commanded, and I have met tens of thousands of them over the years--in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Haiti, Palestine, India, the Philippines, yes, even in Iraq. Tomorrow, I am doing it again. I go to Colombia to befriend the people targeted by U.S. military and economic domination. I know I shouldn't, but I am called by a Higher Power to love them. I just can't help myself. I'm so sorry.
Yes, I confess it: I'm also against the death penalty, not only because it's unjust and racist, but immoral, cruel, inhuman. I not only want a moratorium, I want it outlawed. I hope that every electric chair will soon be dismantled and we will stop injecting people with lethal poisons--as if killing people who kill people is the way to show that killing people is wrong. I am also against the state's preferential option for the rich, for corporations and billionaires. I want free healthcare for everyone, massive new funding for schools and teachers, food and clothing and decent jobs and affordable housing for everyone, and a clean, healthy environment for all. All of this is possible if we disarm, but you can't have a culture of justice and peace and a culture of injustice and war at the same time. It's one or the other. My criminal mind thinks that all the money spent on war and weapons and killing should be spent instead on human needs.
Yes, I confess it: I am against the U.S. war on Iraq, and always have been. The state has lied and continues to lie. It couldn't care less about anyone anywhere; about democracy at home or abroad; about rebuilding Fallujah or New Orleans; about disarmament in Iraq or New Mexico. It wants control over the world's oil, especially in the Middle East, for economic hegemony, and it will gain that control at any cost, including the death of tens of thousands of beautiful children. I don't care how patriotic or unpatriotic it sounds: I do not support the killing of children, even if every other God-fearing American insists we be number one, even with the "collateral damage" of the dead bodies of children. To my way of thinking, the death of one child is a crime and must be avoided at all costs, including the loss of oil. I know this goes against U.S foreign policy, but this is the bottom line.
Now we get to the worst crime of all, my criminal vision. I confess it: I envision a world where the United States is not killing anyone, threatening anyone, or preparing to destroy the planet. I want to live in a world without war, poverty and nuclear weapons. Yes, I know, such a world means the demise of the state. No more empire, no more Pentagon, no more nuclear weapons, no more unlimited money for Exxon and Cheney's friends, no more military bases around the world, no more torture, no more F15s and F16s, no more Trident subs, no more bombs and guns and bullets.
In my criminal vision, everyone will become nonviolent. We will be a nation of Martin Luther Kings, Coretta Scott Kings, Dorothy Days and Thomas Mertons. We will love everyone, welcome everyone, care for everyone, and serve everyone, even spend our resources to eliminate hunger, end disease, and promote peace with justice around the entire planet. Yes, I admire those unAmerican, unpatriotic abolitionists who worked for the end of slavery. I consider myself a new abolitionist, working for the end of war, poverty and nuclear weapons.
(I even think that every minister, preacher, priest, bishop, and cardinal who supports war and preaches heretical sermons like "God Is Pro-War," should just quietly resign, join a Trappist monastery or move to the desert, and dwell in the peace of God for the rest of their lives to relearn the holy wisdom of Gospel nonviolence.)
So there you have it. I confess it. I will live in peace with everyone. I refuse to be part of your global violence. I will remain a person of nonviolence for the rest of my life.
According to you, the state, that is the greatest crime of all. I will not go along with the state's intent to kill anyone, even if I'm one of the few people left in the country who refuse to kill. The state can lock me up, bug me, wiretap me, harass me, follow me, arrest me, and jail me, as you have done many times before. The state can even kill me, as it killed Martin Luther King, Jr. I will not give in to its violence, support its wars or weapons, pay taxes for its killing sprees, pledge allegiance to its imperialism, listen to its media sycophants, wave its idolatrous flag or sit quietly while it massacres my beloved sisters and brothers around the world.
I will stand with the global human family. I insist we are all equal, all children of the God of peace, all deserving of a life of peace. I pledge allegiance to God's reign of perfect peace, nonviolent love and equal justice for everyone, including the children of Iraq.
Alas, poor state, your days are numbered. You better confess it, shut down your surveillance program and get on with the work of disarmament. A new day of peace is coming. A new day of peace is coming.