Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist

Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist


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ISBN-13: 9781629630342
Publisher: PM Press
Publication date: 11/01/2014
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

David Hartsough is the executive director of Peaceworkers and a cofounder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce. He lives in San Francisco. Joyce Hollyday is a cofounder and copastor of Circle of Mercy, an ecumenical faith community. She served for 15 years as the associate editor of Sojourners magazine and is the author of several books, including Clothed with the Sun: Biblical Women, Social Justice, and Us and Then Shall Your Light Rise: Spiritual Formation and Social Witness. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina. John Dear is an internationally known voice for peace and nonviolence. He is the author/editor of 30 books, including The Nonviolent Life. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. George Lakey is a visiting professor of peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore College and was recently named Peace Educator of the Year by the Peace and Conflict Studies Association. He is the author of Toward a Living Revolution and writes a weekly column “Living Revolution” on WagingNonviolence.org. Ken Butigan is the director of Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service and teaches in the peace, justice, and conflict studies program at DePaul University. He lives in Chicago.

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Waging Peace

Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist

By David Hartsough, Joyce Hollyday

PM Press

Copyright © 2014 PM Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62963-051-9


The Seeds Are Sown: A Childhood Experiment with Nonviolence

It was 1960, and I was twenty years old. I was sitting on a stool at the lunch counter of the ironically named People's Drug Store in Arlington, Virginia, along with ten African American classmates from Howard University. The voice I heard was laced with venom, and the eyes of the speaker were filled with hatred. He was threatening to thrust his knife — its blade just inches away from me — through my heart. We were both shaking.

How did I come to be here? Why wasn't I safely at some liberal white college, studying for some safe and predictable occupation? More importantly, where could I find the strength and love to match this man's fury?

My first encounter with the power of nonviolence came early. I was seven years old, trudging home from school through a park that I crossed every day on my way to and from the second grade. A bitter wind was blowing that winter day in Gilman, Iowa. The ice balls that landed on my face and chest stung, some fortified with stones to increase the pain on impact.

My face started to bleed. I was mystified by the glee on the faces of the small gang of older boys who were pelting me. A quick mental review told me that I had never done anything to them to merit this treatment.

On a recent Sunday in church, my father had preached a sermon about love, based on Jesus's command: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:43–44). I was certainly feeling persecuted.

I hadn't yet lived long enough for the questioning realism that often overtakes adults to have settled on me. It didn't occur to me to ask: did Jesus really mean these tough words? Will loving these guys make a difference? If I don't fight back, aren't I giving in to evil? I just took Jesus's words at face value and asked myself: how do I love these guys?

I stood still for a few moments. Then I faced those boys and piped up, "I'd like to be your friend, and I certainly don't have anything against you guys." I wanted them to know that I wasn't afraid of them. They threw a few more ice balls. But eventually the thrill wore off, as I wasn't throwing any back or reacting in any aggressive way to their onslaught.

I walked on home, trying to figure out what else could I do in this challenging situation. The previous summer I had visited several Indian reservations in the Southwest with my family, and my most prized possession at the time was a little copper letter opener inlaid with an Indian precious stone. I decided to give it to the boy who appeared to be the leader of the gang. He received it with surprise and gratitude, and we became good friends after that.

I suppose that my calling in life was given to me on that cold Iowa day. I have tried through the subsequent decades to take Jesus's command to love enemies just as seriously as I did as a seven-year-old boy. That pursuit has led me to practice active nonviolent resistance on behalf of peace at weapons labs and in war zones, on train tracks, and in front of bomb-loaded ships. It has pushed me to cross borders and brought me friendships in far-flung corners of the earth where violence has visited, from the Philippines to Nicaragua, from Russia to Gaza and Kosovo. I have had an amazing and wonderful journey.

It's no mystery to me where my instincts originated. My mother, Ruth Goodell Hartsough, was a teacher who overflowed with kindness and affirmation. She was also an artist, whose paintings of nature and landscapes expressed the beauty in her soul. She had lost her first child soon after birth; she rejoiced when I was born healthy and poured her love into me. Many other people also benefited from the wide embrace of her compassion and adoration. Our home was always open, filled with guests who reveled in her loving, gracious, and joyful hospitality.

My father, Ray Hartsough, was a Congregational minister. During the Second World War, the U.S. government had tried to get him to go into military service as a chaplain, but he had refused to participate in the military in any way, choosing instead to support conscientious objectors. While serving the community church in Gilman, he learned about Quaker peace projects. He told George Willoughby, head of the regional office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), to call on him if the Quaker service organization ever needed someone like him.

He didn't have to wait long. I will never forget the day before Christmas in 1948. I was eight years old then. My bedroom was the upstairs front room of the parsonage where we lived. We owned a wire recorder, which used tiny wires on spools to make sound. We played music of Christmas chimes at full blast out my open window in the middle of winter. It was our way of sharing the spirit of Christmas. That afternoon, Dad told me we had to go to the post office. He pulled me on a sled, and we picked up a telegram from the AFSC. It was a request for my father to go to work in Gaza, Palestine, with the tens of thousands of refugees created by the war between Israel and the Arab states. He had to be on a plane in two weeks. I didn't know anyone who had ever flown on a plane or worked in a refugee camp, and I remember wondering if he would come back alive.

Dad's work involved getting tents, food, and medicine to refugees on both sides of the conflict. He carried supplies across battle lines into camps in a truck that bore a red-and-black star, an AFSC symbol. It was a signal at Israeli checkpoints that he was not an enemy but someone on a mission of compassion, as he intrepidly crossed the "no man's land" strewn with land mines between enemy soldiers pointing guns at one another. I remember praying for my dad every night. He wrote to my younger brother Paul and me every week, sharing stories of what he was witnessing. We were without a father at home for nine months and we missed him terribly. But I was deeply impressed that he was willing to risk his life day after day to get supplies to thousands of traumatized and hungry people, who owed their lives to the courage of my dad and others like him.

My father was a shining example of what it means to be a caring Christian, and I was very proud of him. When my brother and I were young, family friends used to say, "Paul is cute — and David looks like his dad." I took that as a compliment. I was happy to look like my dad.

While my dad was away, our mom, Paul, and I moved in with my grandmother in North Jackson, Ohio, to finish the school year. In June 1949, we moved to Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat and study center near Philadelphia. This was my first introduction to Quakers who were not only living their Faith, but trying to put their beliefs into action and help create a more peaceful and just world.

When Dad returned safely from Palestine and Israel in October, we moved into a big, old house in Gwynedd, Pennsylvania, that we shared with another family, the Hoskins. Dad continued working for the American Friends Service Committee, first as College Secretary and later as Peace Education Secretary But it was my mother who participated in our family's first nonviolent direct action. In 1951, the U.S. Congress was considering legislation mandating a peacetime military draft for all young men. I was ten at the time, and Paul was eight. Mom went to Washington, DC, where she fasted for a week and visited many members of Congress. Despite the strong opposition registered by her and many others who wanted peace through peaceful means, the legislation passed.

That same year, I had a fifth-grade teacher who was also the principal of my school. Extremely patriotic and very law-and-order, Mrs. Alexander ran the school like a queen and our class like a general. One day she told us we were all going to go outside and march around the flagpole.

"I don't want to march," I told her.

"You have to," was her brusque reply.

I went outside, and while the other kids marched around the flagpole, I sat and watched. Mrs. Alexander was very upset with me. She threatened, "You have to march, or I'm going to call your mother." Little did she know ...

I just shrugged my shoulders and refused to march. Mrs. Alexander left and went inside, then came back out and told me she had talked to my mother, who said I had to march around the flagpole. Out of deference to my mom, I very sadly marched with the other kids, trying to hold back my tears.

When I got home, I found out that the principal had never talked to my mom. I lost a lot of respect that day for law and order.

When I was twelve, my dad learned about Tanguy Homesteads, founded after the Second World War by conscientious objectors who had done alternative service, such as fighting forest fires and being guinea pigs for new medicines. Some of them had become good friends in the camps where they had been placed during the war, and they wanted to continue the sense of community they had shared there. So in 1947 they bought a piece of land in Tanguy, Pennsylvania, surrounded by cornfields and orchards, which they owned cooperatively. Families held ninety-nine-year leases on two-acre lots, where they built their homes.

In 1952, my parents bought a house in Tanguy from a family who was moving away. The house was very small, built of cement blocks with a cement floor. It had big windows and a three-foot overhang on the south side — passive solar heating, ahead of its time.

Moving there was one of the best decisions my parents ever made. (I often say that I chose my parents very well.) Paul and I believed that our parents' philosophy was "Keep the boys busy and they'll stay out of trouble." So we had goats and chickens, a big garden, and a nursery.

The chickens were my responsibility. They often laid more than one egg per chicken per day, which the experts said was impossible. I delivered eggs to all the neighbors, and some joked that I must have been taking eggs out of the refrigerator and sticking them back under the chickens.

The nursery was started by our Uncle Charles, my mother's brother, who was well-known for his "green thumb." He had been a nuclear safety engineer during World War II, first in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and then in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He was involved in top-secret work related to the development of the atomic bomb. He wasn't allowed to leave the research sites for a very long time — not even to attend his father's funeral in 1944.

In 1950, he finally left Los Alamos and his work on nuclear weaponry. He went on a retreat of several months in Death Valley, to "cleanse" himself and search out next directions. Then he drove across the country and showed up at our house in a '36 Oldsmobile with a rumble seat, stacked to the brim with beautiful wooden boxes that he had made, which were filled with sweet dates from the desert.

Uncle Charles had planned to stay a couple of weeks but ended up living with us for the rest of his life — until 1976, when he died of cancer, most likely caused by his exposure to radiation. He was like a second father to Paul and me during those years when Dad traveled so much with AFSC. I shared his love of nature, his friendliness for everyone around him, and his affinity for glazed donuts, which he brought home on a regular basis.

Tanguy was a wonderful place to grow up. We had workdays one or two Saturdays a month, when we all pitched in on community projects. Paul and I learned basic construction and carpentry skills from Uncle Charles, which Paul applied with artistry later in life to the homes he built.

An old farmhouse served as a community house, where we held square dances, potluck meals, and other gatherings. I particularly remember the times when Tanguy member Charlie Walker, who made several trips to India to meet with Gandhi's disciples, regaled us with his adventurous and riveting tales. At Tanguy, we lived like a great big family and were always welcome in one another's homes.

Don and Violet Richman, who were accomplished musicians, taught Paul to play piano and guitar, which he did beautifully. As a teenager, he sang just like Ricky Nelson. During a talent night at the end of a week of camp that we attended, Paul sang and played his guitar. As he was finishing his last song, a throng of adoring girls rushed at him.

Paul's guitar flew up into the air, and I rescued it. I began to regret that I hadn't taken advantage of the free guitar lessons at Tanguy. But I did love to sing. My style, however, was folk music — not quite so popular with the girls.

Another gift of Tanguy was that I encountered and lived with people from a diversity of backgrounds. We were one mile from the very small town of Cheyney, where Cheyney State Teachers College, an African American institution, was located. Most of the faculty at the college had to live twenty miles away in Philadelphia. Blacks could not live in our area because of zoning and discriminatory real estate practices — except at Tanguy.

One of the community members took us children into local prisons to sing to, and with, the inmates. And many of us also participated several times a year in weekend work camps in Philadelphia, where we got to know people who were living in very poor and tragic circumstances. The work camps opened our eyes to a world that the average young person living in the suburbs knew nothing about.

I remember one family, a mother and her four children. I felt sorry for the children because they had no place to play. They lived in a rundown apartment that had been neglected for years by the landlord. It was winter and very cold, especially at night, and they had no heat. In the middle of the day, melting snow came in through a leak in the roof.

We worked with the family, painting the rooms of their apartment. When it came time for lunch, we discovered that their refrigerator was completely empty. We shared our sandwiches with them.

That family and the other people I met through the work camps in Philadelphia had a profound impact on me, enlightening me to the harsh realities of poverty close to home. My experiences there played a key role in helping me feel that I needed to do something with my life to try to challenge and change the terrible injustices in our society.

The leaders of those work camps acted out of compassion and a deep spirituality. Dave Richie, John Ingersol, John and Betty Corry, and Peter Hill were early role models for me, and some became very good friends over the years. It was from them that I first learned about the practice of war tax resistance. Opposed to offering their support to the killing of other people, they were consciously living on an income below the taxable level, so that they didn't have to pay federal taxes that would be used to pay for war.

In high school, I began attending Quaker seminars in Washington, DC, and at the United Nations in New York City. Visiting the embassies of other countries, including Arab nations, Israel, and the Soviet Union, opened my eyes to a variety of perspectives. At the Soviet Embassy in particular, I wondered why our governments didn't seem as committed to talking with one another as we teenagers were. I found it inspiring to meet other high school students who shared an interest in trying to build a more just and peaceful world.

In 1953, my father answered another call to a place of conflict. He agreed to direct a Quaker work camp in Berlin, with volunteers from around the world, to rebuild a community center that had been destroyed during the Second World War. Berlin had been partitioned right after the war, and that year an uprising against the Communist regime in East Germany had been violently repressed. Dad was headed to a hot spot near the border with East Berlin, where the United States and the Soviet Union were threatening a nuclear showdown. Before he left, we held a family worship. I remember Dad quoting the 23rd Psalm: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me ..."

As with his trip to Gaza and Israel, Paul and I had the feeling that he was going off to a war zone where we would contribute our beloved father to the cause of peace. Scared, we wondered again if he would come back alive. Dad was open about his concern that he might not come back, but he felt a deep devotion to that work and to the well-being of all God's children, and that helped us to accept it.

I was attending Westtown, a Quaker school that was two miles from Tanguy. I rode my three-speed bike there for the first few years and then lived on campus the last two. I remember a film that we students saw one day called Children of the Atomic Bomb, about the U.S. nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

A young woman who was a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing spoke with us after the film. She had been disfigured by the bomb and was in the United States for plastic surgery. She told us, "We in Hiroshima have experienced the horror of the bomb, and we are committing our lives to make sure this never happens again to anyone else in the world."


Excerpted from Waging Peace by David Hartsough, Joyce Hollyday. Copyright © 2014 PM Press. Excerpted by permission of PM Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Foreword by John Dear,
Introduction by George Lakey,
Acknowledgments and Thanks,
CHAPTER 1 The Seeds Are Sown: A Childhood Experiment with Nonviolence,
CHAPTER 2 One Common Humanity: Meeting Dr. King and a Lunch Counter Showdown,
CHAPTER 3 Crossing Borders: Citizen Diplomacy in Cuba and Yugoslavia,
CHAPTER 4 Bridging the Divide: Forging Peace at Checkpoint Charlie,
CHAPTER 5 Meeting the "Enemy": Making Friends with Russians During the Cold War,
CHAPTER 6 Taking a Stand: Life as a Conscientious Objector,
CHAPTER 7 Blockade: Standing in the Way of Bombs Headed for Nam,
CHAPTER 8 Reversing the Blueprint: Saying No to Nukes,
CHAPTER 9 Accompaniment: Into the Central American War Zones,
CHAPTER 10 Assault on the Tracks: Facing Violence with Love and Courage,
CHAPTER 11 The World Is Watching: Facing Down Death Squads,
CHAPTER 12 A Force for Peace: Creating a Nonviolent Army,
CHAPTER 13 Taking the Long View: Active Nonviolence in Palestine and Averting War with Iran,
CHAPTER 14 Transforming Our Society from One Addicted to Violence and War to One Based on Justice and Peace with the World,
Proposal for Ending All War: An Idea Whose Time Has Come,
Resources for Further Study and Action: What You Can Do,
Ten Lessons Learned From My Life of Activism,
Hartsough's Sentencing Statement for Nonviolent Protest Opposing Drones at Beale AFB,
Suggested DVDs, Books, and Websites for Further Study and Action,
The Six Principles and Six Steps of Kingian Nonviolence,
Afterword by Ken Butigan,
About the Authors,

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Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The fear that we citizens of the United States have been seduced into since 9/11 spreads across our benighted nation like a fog, inhibiting all policy alternatives not based in blind vengefulness. Special are those who have the spiritual clear-sightedness and persistence to make people-oriented global connections that pierce the fog of fear with the light of visionary possibility. One such giant is David Hartsough, whose vivid, even hair-raising, memoir of a lifetime of peace activism, Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist, has just been published by PM press. It ought to be required reading for every U.S. citizen befogged by the crude polarization between Islamic extremism and the equally violent, ineffective, but seemingly endless Western military reaction it has elicited. It hardly seems possible that Hartsough has been able to crowd into one lifetime all his deeds of creative nonviolence. He was there with Martin Luther King in the late fifties in the South. He was there when a train loaded with bullets and bombs on their way to arm right-wing death squads in Central America severed the leg of his friend Brian Willson in California. His initiatives of support for nonviolent resistance movements span both decades and continents, from efforts to get medical supplies to the North Vietnamese, to reconciliation among Israelis and Palestinians, to support for Russian dissidents as the Soviet Union was breaking up, to the resistance to Marcos in the Philippines, and on and on. Hartsough’s book thus becomes a remarkably comprehensive alternative history to set against “the official story” of America’s—and many other nations’—often brutal and misguided reliance upon military intervention. David Hartsough gave himself a head start by getting born into the right family. As a boy he heard his minister father preach the gospel of loving your enemies and almost immediately got a chance to try it out when bullies pelted him with icy snowballs. It worked, and Hartsough never looked back. Having determined to do integration in reverse by attending the predominantly black Howard University, he soon found himself sitting in with courageous African-American students at segregated restaurants in Virginia. A white man crazed with hate threatened him with a knife. Hartsough spoke to him so gently that the man was “disarmed” by the unexpected shock of a loving response and retreated open-mouthed and speechless. Sixty years of innumerable protests, witnesses, and organizing efforts later, Hartsough is still at it as he helps to begin a new global movement to end war on the planet, called “World Beyond War.” While his book is a genuinely personal memoir that records moments of doubt, despair, fear of getting shot, and occasional triumph, even more it is a testament to the worldwide nonviolent movement that still flies completely under the radar of American media. Living in a bubble of propaganda, we do not realize how intrusive the bases of our far-flung empire are felt to be. We do not feel how many millions worldwide regard the U.S. as an occupying force with negative overall effects upon their own security. Even more importantly, we remain insufficiently aware how often nonviolence has been used around the world to bring about positive change where it appeared unlikely to occur without major bloodshed. The U.S. turns to military force reflexively to ”solve” problems, and so it has been difficult indeed, as we are seeing in our ham-handed response to ISIS and the chaos in Syria, for us to learn lessons that go all the way back to the moral disaster of Vietnam. We have not registered how sick of the madness of war the world really is. Now academic studies are starting to back up with hard statistical evidence the proposition that nonviolent tactics are more effective than militarism for overthrowing dictators and reconciling opposing ethnic or religious groups. Coincidentally, the book I read just before Waging Peace was its perfect complement: a biography of Allen Dulles, first director of the CIA, and his brother John Foster Dulles, longtime Secretary of State. The Dulles book goes a long way toward explaining the hidden motives of the military-industrial-corporate behemoth which Hartsough has spent his life lovingly but persistently confronting—truly a moral giant named David against a Goliath of clandestine militarism that props up narrow business interests at the expense of the human rights of millions. Always this David has kept in his heart one overarching principle, that we are one human family and no one nation’s children are worth more than any other’s. Hartsough’s tales of persistence in the face of hopeless odds remind us not to yield to despair, cynicism, fear mongering or enemy posing, all temptations when political blame is the currency of the day. Hartsough is a living exemplar of the one force that is more powerful than extremist hate, reactive fear, and weapons, including nuclear bombs—the human capacity to be harmless, helpful and kind even to supposed adversaries. If—let us say optimistically when—peace goes mainstream and deluded pretentions to empire are no longer seen as the royal road to security, when we wake up to the hollowness of our selfishness and exceptionalism, when we begin to relate to other nations as opportunities to share good will and resources rather than to bomb, it will be largely because of the tireless efforts of insufficiently heralded giants like David Hartsough.
David-Hazen More than 1 year ago
I consider myself to be a peace activist, and after I read David Hartsough's "Waging Peace," I could hardly avoid comparing my minuscule efforts to his lifelong dedication to nonviolence and fearless love.  His quietly under-stated story of returning again and again to the front lines of conflict left me wondering if I could ever make a difference, and this is where the real value of his writing shines forth: yes, I can; yes, you can; we all can make a big difference. The appendices provide an exhaustive list of resources for motivation, practical steps, and hope. Hartsough condenses the lessons he has learned, references sources for further study, and compiles a long menu of possible alternative strategies for personal development, witness, study, low-risk nonviolent actions and direct confrontation. This concluding section is where I gain my courage to follow Hartsough's giant steps with baby steps of my own. The size of step does not matter, simply taking any step matters a great deal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago