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Annual Meeting: love, peace, standing together, the nonviolent way

The PeaceWorks KC Annual Meeting featured two awards--to Al-Hadaf KC and to Eyyup Esen of the Dialogue Institute.
Maha, at the microphone, speaks of the war in Gaza while Layla stands near; both are Al-Hadaf KC leaders.

By Mary Hladky

Tommy (as Sen. Josh Hawley) and Hailey (as a CNNN reporter) spice up our PeaceWorks meeting with their skit, written by Tommy.

Inspirational and informative—that was the PeaceWorks Kansas City Annual Meeting, held Sunday, March 3, 2024. The day’s events started with a short MO Peace play demanding a Gaza ceasefire–with everyone at our meeting chanting, “Free Palestine, Free Palestine!” For fun, see the skit at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCr0n2MWFkM; the statement, “Thank Gawd Almighty, we have the atom bomb factory!” stirred us up. 

Moment of Silence for those lost in the Palestine/Israeli conflict. Jim Hannah spoke about the paradox of a moment of silence for highly motivated activists who are always speaking out. He reminded us of the power of silence, the importance of listening in silence, and that silence is the presence of deep meaning. He welcomed us into a few moments of active silence, listening with heart and mind, together generating what some recognize as A Force More Powerful than tyrants and tyrannies. (See the second half of the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-cvC4T03qo.) As we observed silence, we heard windchimes outside—a gift from the wind, captured in the video.

Indigenous Statement (abbreviated here) by Breanna Crawford: Osiyo (oh-see-yo), my name is Bre. I am a Dakota/Cherokee woman. When asked to reflect on my ancestors, and injustices against them, and that these lands are Indigenous—I want to be honest, it’s hard. It is important to remember where we came from and who we are. Understanding history and all of its pain—we must learn from history! We must see the truth for all that it is. Which is not easy. I believe that my ancestors have always wanted what was best for humanity and this Earth as a whole—to respect all that the Creator has given, to not take any of it for granted. When you leave today’s event, take time for yourself. Go outside and be one with the Earth, and thank her for supporting your existence. (Listen to the full statement at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-cvC4T03qo.)     

Guest Speaker. Dave Pack introduced Kevin Martin, president of Peace Action, a national organization with which PeaceWorks has been affiliated for 28 years. Kevin, via Zoom, thanked PeaceWorks for its decades of peace activism, given the many challenges we face in building a more peaceful world. 

Kevin Martin calls for contacts with senators to seek an expanded RECA (Radiation Exposure Compensation Act).

Kevin said peace activists have had some recent successes. First, the continuous resistance to the war in Gaza has forced the hand of the Biden Administration to implement a 6-week ceasefire. This is not sufficient, there must be a complete ceasefire, but this step wouldn’t have happened at all without the people’s pressure.  Second, activist pressure ended Saudi Arabia’s support for the war in Yemen by convincing Saudi Arabia it couldn’t count on the US government’s continued support due to intense activist pressure. 

Kevin stated Sen. Josh Hawley will introduce an expanded/extended RECA (the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act) this week. The RECA (reauthorized) would provide compensation to people exposed to radiation in the development and testing of nuclear weapons, including downwinders in states not covered in the former RECA. The reauthorized RECA could benefit many people living in Missouri and Kansas.    

Finances. Dave Pack, PeaceWorks’ treasurer, provided a financial update, letting us know that 5 years of a struggling Art Fair (Covid 3 years, and 2 art fairs with stormy weather) have depleted our finances. We rely on our membership and the Art Fair fundraiser to make ends meet. So … we hope for better art fair weather this year and ask those who can, to please financially support PeaceWorks KC. See https://peaceworkskc.org/donate/.

Back from the Brink.  Dave told us about the Back from the Brink campaign and its 5-point mission to eliminate nuclear weapons. This national campaign is supporting H.Res. 77, “Embracing the Goals and Provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.” The flags in the photos represent the 70 countries that have ratified the “ban treaty.” PeaceWorks plans to work with the city councils of KCMO, KCKS, Independence, and Overland Park to try to get the Back from the Brink resolution passed locally. Please email Dave at djpack.12645@gmail.com if you would like to help. 

Catholic Worker Retreat & Resistance 4/12-15. Jane and Henry Stoever spoke about this upcoming weekend event. Henry began with “love is an active force,” and this Catholic Worker retreat is a discernment of what type of action should be taken on Monday, April 15, at the KCMO nuclear weapon plant. The weekend begins on Friday evening, April 12, with the 8 pm film “Downwind” at Jerusalem Farm, 520 Garfield, KCMO.  Everyone is invited to participate in this retreat of fellowship, prayer and discernment. There is no charge; there is a simple request to bring desserts Saturday/Sunday. For info and registration, go to www.JerusalemFarm.org.

Eyyup Esen, left, and Jim Hannah display the Bebb Award Eyyup has just received from PeaceWorks KC.

Bebb Award. Jim Hannah introduced Eyyup Esen of the Dialogue Institute as this year’s winner of the Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award. Eyyup Esen was born and raised in Turkey. He is an outstanding individual who is pioneering a cause so similar to PeaceWorks that we could easily tack their mission statement onto ours. The Dialogue Institute has a major focus on fostering community. The Dialogue Institute grew out of the need to address the question, “How can citizens of the world live in peace and harmony?”  Eyyup has organized a variety of Kansas City area events to promote peace, and he is dedicated to the deep desire expressed in his first book, the Global Warming of Hearts.  View Eyyup Esen’s award acceptance speech at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmWF4wKfhWY.  

Cheatum Award. Kimmy Igla introduced Layla and Maha, representing Al-Hadaf KC, recipients of the Kris and Lynn Cheatum Community Peace Award. Kimmy said she was not told about Palestine growing up. As an adult, she said, she has educated herself about Palestine’s history and is grateful for the spiritual and emotional generosity of community leaders with Al-Hadaf. In late October, there was an interfaith vigil at City Hall, organized by Al-Hadaf. People prayed outside on the steps of City Hall and shared the truth with the public, mobilizing people to act. The leaders at Al-Hadaf KC deserve to be acknowledged for their outpouring of generosity and dedication to the truth, said Kimmy. Even while undergoing immense tragedy and loss, Palestinian leaders still engage the uninformed masses, calling people to learn and join the fight to free Palestine. Because of Al-Hadaf, Kansas City started to wake up, and has sprouted a vibrant and loving coalition that stands with Palestine. View Layla and Maha’s award acceptance speeches for Al-Hadaf KC at https://youtu.be/FyV7wieCoxA and see Kimmy’s reflections at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CBc0Ee4ewI.

Cris Mann announces the 4/5-7 Midwest Anti-War Conference: Decolonization & the Fight Against Imperialism.

The two Al-Hadaf KC leaders Layla and Maha expressed the grief of Palestinians worldwide over the loss, by now, of about 30,000 Palestinian lives. Layla said one of the Al-Hadaf KC leaders has an uncle who was recently released from prison and who phoned his nephew to thank Al-Hadaf for reaching out to many in KC. Maha, in immigrant, denounced “the mass murder and subjugation of Palestinians.” She said, “I lost over 100 members of my family … in the last 5 months alone.” She urged, “Call your representative. Say no more financial cover should be offered to Israel. Vote for change!”

And the rest of the meeting … we covered a lot of territory. We elected Board members, including the new chair of the Board, Tommy Indigo, the Annual Meeting’s emcee. See https://peaceworkskc.org/election-results/ for more on the election. We noted that Jon Shafer and Charles Carney were receiving certificates for their dedicated work as past Board members. Cris Mann, the outgoing chair of PeaceWorks and now a vice chair, asked us to come to St. Paul, MN, 4/5-7, for the Midwest Anti-War Conference: Decolonization & the Fight Against Imperialism, with info at https://unacconference2024.org/.

Spencer Graves invites us to 5/4-5 events with Mubarak Awad, expelled from Jerusalem after founding the Palestinian Centre for Study of Nonviolence.

Spencer Graves, PeaceWorks’ treasurer, announced events at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church featuring Mubarak Awad, a Palestinian expelled from Jerusalem after founding the Palestinian Centre for Study of Nonviolence. Spencer and Mubarak will lead the Saturday, 5/4, 2:30-5:30 pm workshop: Role of the Media in Violent and Nonviolent Conflict, with a fundraiser dinner following, plus an All Souls Forum 5/5 at 9:45 am.

We let people know how they can contribute to PeaceWorks and how they can support four KC young people to attend ANA (Alliance for Nuclear Accountability) DC Days to educate and inspire them to demand an end to nuclear weapons. And we ended the day’s events with Ron Faust’s poem “Waiting to Cease Fire,” at ­­­­ https://peaceworkskc.org/waiting-to-cease-fire/.  

–Mary Hladky serves on the PeaceWorks KC Board. (c) 2024, Mary Hladky, Kriss Avery, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License.

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