Thursday, May 31, 2007


Three days of actions, May 28, 29, 30 at the gates of Faslane Royal Navy Base for the Trident submarine. On Monday I danced with Dancers for Peace from 11:30 AM until 5:30, using many inspirations for life to counteract the nuclear warheads lethality. We sang many tunes for liberty.

On Tuesday four men and three women from Japan, Australia, England, Scotland, and the United States bound themselves in a circle to block the North gate, while the American Gandhi stood facing them and the base.

Message: The words of Gandhi to Margaret Burke-White hours before the assassination in answer to the question, "What do you think of the Atom Bomb?" "Nonviolence is the most powerful weapon, stronger than any weapon made. If humanity does not get rid of the Atom Bomb, I do not see much future for the human species." The American Gandhi added words to the effect: "Truth is our way. We live by truth. Love is clinging to the truth with unwillingness to harm another. Nuclear weapons, biological weapons, weapons of mass destruction counter truth and love." And, Gandhi's words were repeated, as the circle was carried away to the waiting police vans. Then, the police approached Gandhi and asked him to leave the road. I said, "I am with them." "You will be arrested." Gandhi spent the night in Dunbarton jail with the others.

On Wednesday, four repeaters and two others tube locked themselves blocking the road to the South Gate. After the tubes were cut open, they too were carried to the vans and to jail for the night.

The police conducted themselves with the utmost courtesy.

Much more could and will be written about these few days. I must add the my arresting officer said the my portrayal was "most effective." Others used the word "amazing." All involved are possessed with amazing grace, one of our songs.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


The American Gandhi arrived on May 24th in Glasgow, Scotland at 7:45 AM. The head stewart on the plane in Newark said, "You know you are on a plane to Glasgow, don't you?" In addition to my loincloth and white cotton shirt, I had my straw hat on. I looked like someone heading forHaite. My luggage failed to make it on the Glasgow plane in transfer from Cleveland. Now, I await for my clothes so I can go to the Foot Steps For Peace meeting to plan Tuesday's Faslane CD action. Showers interspersed with sunshine and temperatures in the 40s or 50s is our "typical weaather."

My Gandhi experiment in travel seems to be saying that I am recognized as being from a different place, but not as Gandhi. This is all from nonverbal communication. Bix observed that the airports are full of the global diversity facilitated by air travel. We walked aroound downtown Glasgow last night, windy, cold in a setting sun. Teenagers were often dressed in less clothing than I had on. We could hold a contest about who was more noticed.

Today, we plan the Walk Faslane action; tomorrow, a different group will plan our Dance For Peace Monday Faslane action. And, we are off!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ignorance about Gandhi

One last blog before going to the airport: At the Asian Garden restaurant, conversation with the proprietor led to the Revelation that he sold Indian food to a woman who taught GED women. That was Julie. When told that I portrayed Gandhi for the women, he said: "Sixty percent of Indian youth do not know about Gandhi! Let me know when you portray in Cleveland next."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The American Gandhi is off to the UK

Tomorrow, I leave Cleveland by air for Glasgow Scotland in my new wool loincloth and shawl. My Cleveland visit has been full with interest and support. On Sunday evening the Catholic Worker community blessed me with prayer and well wishes at their Pentecost ritual. Pentecost celebrates the spirit descending on Jesus' disciples, inspiring them to carry the message of love and nonviolence to the world. Flaming fire is the symbol. Like at Traditions in Olympia and Seneca College in Toronto, the assembly laid hands on me with heartfelt words. How could I not be moved to undertake this walk and action!

On Monday, the editor of India International photographed me in character before the powerful memorial statue of Gandhi in Cleveland's cultural gardens. Gandhi is walking at full gait with stick and streaming shawl. His words are quoted, "No weapon is more powerful than nonviolence."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer will have a short article about my journey in tomorrow's paper.

As morning news comes about the United States' president sending a Navel force to the shores of Iran, sending covert destabilizing forces into Iran, and the Senate authorizing $94 billion to continue the assault on Iraq without any commitment to withdraw, I could not have more motivation to seek a new human presence on earth with a renewed spirit.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Necessity amid possibility

Discoveries in recent years have have led me to intense awareness of possibilities among impossibilities. What is sustainable? What is meant to be on earth? What are human possibilities at our stage of evolution? Every culture is a "gamble with nature." (Marshall Sihins) This is a gamble with necessity, that the entire field of possibilities will remain stable. But, a middle ground exists among possibilities. "The middle ground is the place between in between cultures, peoples, and in between empires and the non state world of villages...On the middle ground diverse peoples adjust their differences through what amounts to a process of creative, and often expedient, misunderstandings...They often misinterpret and distort both the values and the practices of those they deal with, but from these misunderstandings arise new meanings and through them new practices of the middle ground." (Richard White)

A fifteen minute walk from my host home on the Near West Side of Cleveland at the edge of the Cuyahoga River is a memorial to Standard Oil, founded by John D. Rockefeller and his partners. This is where the mega oil world began, where they concentrated the refining capacity to form the basis of energy power. This is what brought on anti-monopoly laws. This is what enabled the auto industry and our love affair with cars. This is where the river burned in the 70's.

Now, we prepare for a middle ground of sorts between energy intensive technology and a more primitive way of life. At this writing, the oil companies lobby for diluting the legislation to reduce global climate change. The question is open about whether or not humans will find a middle ground among the possibilities of necessity.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Worlds Apart

The American Gandhi visited a community center class for GED students yesterday. The students were young women between the ages of 18 and 21, mothers without spouses, and ethnically diverse. I shared my message of truth, love, and suffering compassion briefly. Then, launched into the tumultuous marriage at 13 through South Africa and India. Four sons, commitment through celibacy in 1906, to Kastur's death in prison with me in 1942. And, the warts were shared in their reality as I remember them. Kastur taught me nonviolence.

I could not be more conscious about the sociological differences of family and culture than I was between my experience in India and these young women's experiences in Cleveland. Yet...yet. While they did not believe that the world would become nonviolent, I felt a sense of acceptance. The teachers felt the experience was well worth it. I wondered what it would be like to develop trust which would bring out an honest discussion about sexuality, urban living in our United States ethos!

I hope to get the video to share with you.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Discovery, Symbols, Meanings

My old community on the near West Side of Cleveland has evolved into a collage of meaningful expressions. I'm having a fine time going from one event after the other. On Thursday evening I participated in a Catholic Worker community bible study discussion, Friday morning a Zen Buddhist meditation at a storefront amidst drug houses, today a yoga of the mind/then body exercise, and later a Catholic Mass in an archaic Irish church. The original Thomas Merton Community, which I cofounded in 1969 with many of these folks, has emerged into a beautiful blend.

The Bible study dwelled on Luke 14, four scenarios about who is invited to table. Those invited limited themselves by not coming. Healing became truncated through personal choices and the power dynamics of hierarchial social structure. As a result, Jesus taught the disciples to go out into the highways and byways to bring in the lame, the disenfranchised, the rejected. Still, there was more room at the table. Making a long and lively discussion short, Megan shared how she recently chose to downsize by moving into the Catholc Worker house. Megan, a bight young woman who has spent a year in Chile, was on fire with the vigorous insights of the discussion she helped lead. The room contained folks who work with the homeless, who just returned from Palestine with the Christian peacemaker team, or who have been or are going to work with New Orleans post Katrina community. Of course, I shared that my journey to the UK in Gandhi loincloth dress was another way of sysmbolizing "going out to the highways and byways" to include the impoverished masses.

If we go deep enough, we can find common truth.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

My transformation

One of the themes of these blogs is transformation, personal/individual and societal/humanity. Yesterday, I experienced an unusual view of my own transformation. Previewing my Gandhi presence in the UK, I donned my loincloth and shawl to walk the half mile from my near West Side Cleveland home to St. Ignatius High School where I graduated in 1956. A neighbor on a front porch asked, "Are you a Hare Krishna?" "No, I'm Gandhi." He looked puzzled. Then, I said I'm working for peace. He seemed happy with that and gave me the peace sign.

At Ignatius, a Jesuit school which is perhaps the best academic school in Cleveland, I was being photographed by a journalist who was writing an article about my Gandhi portrayal experiences for the alumni magazine (a contrast to alumni who are in the military, one of whom carried the Nuclear Red Button for President Reagan.) We were taking photographs outside in the square among the buildings with many students walking between classes or just hanging around. A cluster gathered around us to see what was happening. I addressed them about my Gandhi journey and we entered an interesting conversation until an art prof entered to check us out. This served to end our dialogue. But, each student shook hands with me often with heartfelt eye contact. An impression was made, a note was struck. I felt moved and sensed that they were too.

For me to be in this situation brought up memories of my high school years here, where I was most shy about speaking in speech class before my classmates. Today, I felt confident and determined. Gandhi too was so shy that he had to ask others to read his talks before the Vegetarian Society in London. As a new lawyer, he was tongue tied in the Indian court. Under the shyness lies a sentiment, a character that is only discovered over time. Shyness, fear of conflict, uncertainty about one's mission or the world with its meaning, can be overcome by experience, study, discipline. Today, I want to offer a different vision than the mainstream US "superpower" exploits. Friends are making me aware of the school's positive efforts in this direction, while using me to challenge the alumni.

Gandhi's words resonate with my own sense and speak to his appeal to me: "I claim to be a votary of truth from my childhood. It was the most natural thing to me. My prayerful search gave me the revealing maxim "Truth is God" instead of the usual one, "God is Truth." That maxim enables me to see God face to face as it were. I feel Him pervade every fiber of my being."

It may have been "the most natural thing" for Gandhi, but took a while to surface in his being! It takes decades of experimenting and of creating mistakes to come to these insights and beliefs.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

In persuit of transformation

I have been in my hometown of Cleveland Ohio for a week already. And it is good to be with friends and family.

I am experiencing many stimulating readings related to the what this trip is about. In preparing the workshop which I conducted last week in Toronto, I explored Thomas Merton's insights into the significance of our age. He has profound insights into the crisis of the West, and shows how the crisis of meaning is subverting the East. I will share some of this as I go along with these blogs. This thoughtful meanderings into meaning add significance to this journey to the UK. While the journey is to contribute to peace and saving life on earth, much has to do with what it means to live. Thus, in challenging ourselves to preserve life on earth by living sustainably, we have to transform ourselves to mature, wise, and sophisticated beings. This is no small order. In these short blogs I will give snippets of my findings.

One example is a man, whom I will name Mac. I met Mac in my Olympia laundromat. Mac approached me with alarming statements about his experiences as a Brown Beret special forces warrior in Vietnam between 1968 and 1972. "We killed 2,000,000 Vietnamese. Only 58,000 US military were killed. You tell me who lost the war. And, we Brown Berets killed more that all the other branches of military together." Mac indicated how they parachuted behind lines and did their work. Mac is articulate and not bragging, though proud, although I was not sure at first.

I told him that while he was doing his work, I was resisting the war and the Dow Chemical Co, producers of Agent Orange, napalm, and other weapons, and that I went to prison for my actions.

Mac went on to tell me his present story. Now, he practices healing through Eastern methods. He is healing himself and others like he killed many in Nam. Yin and yang. He tells amazing stories and presents them as reversing what he did in Nam.

Mac was given the option at the age of 17: "Behind the bars or put on the bars." He had the choice of joining the military or going to prison for four years. That is how he got into the Brown Berets. He did not know the implications of his choice to join the military. I think he is living a new way, a transformed way. I look forward to meeting him again (twice so far) to learn more of his story...and share more of mine.

Gandhi believed that, if you are not able to kill, you are not able to truly be nonviolent. Nonviolence of the strong takes courage.

In this story about Mac's transformation, I find some hope of transforming the world from its violence. Mac did not know what he was getting into when he was drafted. Later, he found a different way. The human world did not know the implications of nuclear weapons when they were developed during WWII. I see a growing consciousness in humanity of the folly of nuclear armaments. Will humanity overcome all the vested interests involved in their production? I.E. scientists, engineers, corporations, military leaders, and politicians? I hope we are around to see it. Will humans learn and transform before their demise? I hope my children and all children are around to see.