The Many Faces of Nonviolence - Isaiah Project

Written by David Hart

Nonviolence International Welcomes The Isaiah Project

We are thrilled to welcome our latest fiscally sponsored partner - The Isaiah Project. Please be on the look out for much more about their important work in the months to come. 2020 is the 40th anniversary of the Ploughshares Movement and there is some exciting news coming about how we can celebrate together. 

Many months ago, I dreamed of a series of profiles on our website that could begin to tell the story of a powerful, diverse, creative nonviolent movement growing all over the world. A movement that inspires us to continue taking daily action to build Nonviolence International and thus strengthen our capacity to make a difference in this brutal world. 

Tonight I’ve been reading about seven amazing nonviolent leaders and giving thanks that they are now, in a way, part of the Nonviolence International family. I hope you will join me in learning about these guiding lights at: https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/about/bios/ 

They inspired me to draft a piece about them and their witness against the most horrific weapons in the world. In his history of the Ploughshares Movement, Art Laffin reminds us that we are, “trying to build a new world within the shell of the old.” This is a challenging and essential task. The old world is fading. If the new world is not born quickly, the decay of the old may crush all our hopes. 

Today I had the opportunity to work with the amazing Interns at Nonviolence International and a new friend, former NVI staff, and Ploughshares leader, Paul Magno, to create a donation page for The Isaiah Project.  

I love the beautiful graphic Meagan Hanlon, NVI Intern, found on the Kings Bay Ploughshares 7 website. Together we decided to use this image of painted rocks as the background photo for the new donation page. I don’t know who took this photo, but I can see that the collection of rocks is not just a colorful image to make a webpage pop; it is also the result of committed people coming together to create something unique and precious together. I imagine many hands painting their messages on these rocks.

Maybe someday I will learn the true story of this photo. Now as I ponder this image, I see it as a reflection of the inspirational Ploughshares movements that have taken shape over the last 40 years. 40 years we’ve spent in the wilderness. It is time to come home to peace.

There is a rock painted with the words, “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” One that reads, “Friendship Not Warship.” Another says “Seek Peace.” And one made me laugh with the simple power of its truth, it reads, “It is not ok to kill people.” 

When we realize that we are all part of one another killing people doesn't seem like a good idea. As a Jew, I remember hearing the question - what would we have done if a concentration camp was being built in our neighborhood. I celebrate these faith leaders who decided that they would take it upon themselves to notice the ultimate horor of nuclear weapons being built and deployed in our communities and do what they could to knock down these crematorium towers rising among us.

The Jewish prophet Isaiah said, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

40 years ago dedicated peacemakers inspired by the disarmed Jesus took action against evil. They didn’t know what ripple effects would come of their bold, creative, nonviolent direct action, but they decided they would witness in a way in keeping with their heart’s calling for peace. So armed only with love, they beat the most destructive weapons in the world into ploughshares.

Without any expectation of future actions they created an international movement that has challenged runaway militarism for decades. The movement has shifted and grown in a variety of ways including actions in the US, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, New Zealand and Australia. I predict more to come in additional regions of this beautiful and broken world.

Decades after that first action, Nonviolence International is proud to welcome the Isaiah Project as our latest fiscally sponsored partner. The Isaiah Project is actively supporting the Kings Bay Ploughshares 7. You can learn more about their much needed work at: https://kingsbayplowshares7.org

And starting today, you can donate to support this work right here on our site. https://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/donate_isaiah Check out the photo of the colorful rocks, be inspired by their actions, donate, and spread the word. And, ponder what you can to put your values into action. How can you live out the beliefs that are core to who you are?

I’m still asking myself these questions and while I find no perfect answers, I celebrate the inspiration in the light shining from those whose commitment to peace seems to know no bounds. Thank you to all the Ploughshares activists who for decades have declared that the world can be better than it is today and who, by their actions, have shown us a path out of the darkness and into a future of peace, justice, and environmental sanity.

I am grateful for the Ploughshares Movement and all those whose spirits move them to take bold creative nonviolent action.