By Mary Hladky
Cris Mann, co-chair of PeaceWorks Kansas City, was our entertaining host for the 2022 Annual Meeting, held March 6 by Zoom. Cris began by introducing Ron Faust, PeaceWorks’ resident poet and long-time peace activist. He read his latest poem, Nuclear Elephant, reflecting on the fears of a nuclear war in Ukraine.
Spencer Graves, PeaceWorks’ secretary and prolific writer, described two articles he posted to the PeaceWorks website. First, “How Can We Know” asks: How can we know the truth? Spencer says people think they know more than they do; they become the media they consume. The article is accompanied by a wonderful illustration of Arrogance and Humility by Ann Suellentrop. Second, “The NYT only has the Guts to Shoot the Wounded” asks why the New York Times only goes so far in its reporting when the NY Times proudly proclaims it publishes all the news fit to print. Graves contends it only publishes what will not offend its advertisers!
Kristin Scheer, a PeaceWorks Board member, has initiated a book club that is reading Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Scheer read a lovely passage from the book. Kimmerer is a botanist trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. She is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, which embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. Contact Kristin, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to join the book club.
I gave a quick description of the voting process and the slate of candidates. Graves prepared a short slideshow displaying each candidate’s photo and personal statement in preparation for the vote, which was taken immediately by acclamation.
Newly elected 2022 Board members: Co-Chairs – Cris Mann and Henry Stoever; VP – Mary Hladky; Treasurer – Dave Pack; Secretary – Spencer Graves; Board Members: Charles Carney, Sunny Hamrick, Chris Overfelt, Kristin Scheer and Jon Shafer. Shafer, the only new Board member, offered this reflection: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine provides us a good opportunity to show that Peace Works. Using passive resistance and financial sanctions, we can demonstrate that nonviolent responses to violence are more effective, delegating war to the dustbin of history.” Note: Ann Suellentrop continues on the Board for the second year of her two-year term.
Dave Pack, treasurer, gave us a detailed account of PeaceWorks finances. PeaceWorks is in good standing financially, even without the income from the art fair. We have no paid staff and have been well supported by the generosity of our members and donors. Charles Carney’s 253-mile Peace Walk was inspiring and brought in almost $3,000. ICAN (International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) donated $1,700, which paid for the four no-nukes billboards placed around KC MO. PeaceWorks has been able to continue our support for KKFI, The Learning Club, Peace Action, ICAN, Poor Peoples Campaign, etc. PeaceWorks continues to network, to remain connected to others. As Pack said, “We are only effective if we are part of a bigger whole.”
Henry Stoever provided an update on the two February trials of the five men—Jim Hannah, Tom Mountenay, Brian Terrell, Christian Brother Louis Rodemann, and Stoever—who crossed the property line at the KC MO nuclear weapon parts plant last May. All the line-crossers indicated it was their religious beliefs that compelled them to resist. Nuclear weapons are the great evil of our age, the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Resisting means making “good trouble” because it is the right thing to do.
Stoever’s court brief, which was not permitted to be entered into the court record, stated, “We are addicted to war and, with nuclear weapons, we are on the verge of omnicide. It is necessary to do an intervention. Our tool is the courage of nonviolence.” Stoever was found guilty and was placed on two years’ probation, with a 180-day jail sentence that was suspended. He is appealing his case, having filed a motion for a jury trial.
For details about the two trials, read the stories “Judge tells nuke resisters ‘Continue to fight for what you believe is right’ and “Judge gives Henry Stoever 2 years of probation, plus fees”
Hannah led us through a very educational game of Truth or Consequences, basically on US history we may have missed. Jim told us most US citizens could not pass the citizenship test taken by immigrants. Less than 20 percent of college-educated persons could identify, by multiple choice, the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation; less than 29 percent could define what Reconstruction was; only 22 percent could match the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” with the Gettysburg Address. All of these pertain to Black history. We learned, while playing Truth or Consequences, that the first book banned in the US was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, banned 170 years ago. Also, what Hitler admired most about the United States were our Jim Crow laws, basically American racism. Hannah said he has enjoyed reading The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones and the New York Times Magazine.
To close our Annual Meeting, we sang “Happy Birthday,” marking PeaceWorks’ 40th anniversary—relishing our long work for a nuke-free world!