By Louis Rodemann
Christian Brother Louis Rodemann made this statement during his Feb. 18 trial for civil resistance at the KC National Security Campus May 31, 2021. The judge sentenced him to pray for the judge and judicial system, and to keep protesting.
My name is Louis Rodemann; I am 82 years old. I am a member of a religious order in the Catholic Church named Christian Brothers. As a member of this community, I have made vows to live my life in a certain way. All of my adult life I have been engaged in a ministry which serves special needs: a high school for students of poor working families; a high school for students who had been expelled or dropped out of previous schools; a Catholic Worker House which served breakfast and dinner to the poor and homeless in Midtown KC, and a shelter for homeless families with children. All of this was done by a small volunteer staff living in community, and hundreds of other volunteers from the KC area.
In addition to providing these services to this at-risk population, we felt called to educate about, call to attention, advocate for and protest against systems, structures and institutions which contributed significantly to the poverty and disenfranchisement of the people we were committed to serve. How and why was there such disabling, dehumanizing poverty in the United States, arguably the most powerful and richest country in history? How was this overwhelming power and wealth distributed? One of the answers pointed overwhelming to our military industrial complex. Over half, 53% of the US discretionary budget is allocated to the plans and preparation for war, our carrying out these plans, and addressing the long-term physical and mental effects of our veterans.
Every budget is a moral document! Under this criteria, our country, the United States of America stands indicted: sinful, guilty, immoral!
It was in this context that I, the community I lived with, along with others, added another vow to our way of life: the vow of nonviolence. Its practitioners take the love and example of Jesus as the basis for this vow. It is meant to permeate a person’s whole way of life. In part it reads:
by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
by persevering in nonviolence of tongue and heart;
by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
by actively resisting evil and working nonviolently to abolish war, the weapons of war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the Earth.
It is living in fidelity to the last element of this vow of nonviolence that brings me, once again, to face this court today. To live true to my life stance, I cannot not nonviolently resist the immorality of the plans and production of the weapons of war, which is the sole purpose of the thousands of persons employed at the National Security Campus located at 14520 Botts Road in south Kansas City.
What if we decided to wean ourselves from our national war culture and shifted equivalent resources to address the drastically unmet human needs? We could adequately undo poverty: none of our citizens hungry, homeless, lacking healthcare, child care and education.
© 2022, Louis Rodemann, Jane Stoever, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License.