Saturday, February 7, 2015

Feb. 6 Silent Vigil, potluck and DVD showing of They Killed sister Dorothy/A Tale of Two Movies

There is usually a silent peace vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St. The Feb. 6 vigil will remind us that War Is Not the Answer and that there is the need to stop torture, and prosecute the torturers. Following the vigil, there will be a potluck dinner and a DVD screening.

The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee, Baltimore Quaker Peace and Justice Committee of Homewood and Stony Run Meetings and Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility are continuing the FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS DVD SERIES. After dinner at 3107 N. Charles St., around 7:15 PM, a DVD will be shown with a discussion to follow. There is no charge, and refreshments will be available. Call 410-366-1637 or email mobuszewski at

The series theme is CAN WE SAVE THE PLANET??? See “They Killed Sister Dorothy.”

Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

They Killed Sister Dorothy, Directed by Daniel Junge

On February 12, 2005, a 74-year-old American-born missionary, Sister Dorothy Stang, was murdered in the Brazilian Amazon. She had been working on behalf of the peasant farmers in the area teaching them sustainable farming techniques. Among the poor, she was seen as an angel, but the powerful ranchers, rainforest loggers, and other advocates of Brazilian "progress" saw her as a troublemaker and a hindrance to their profit-making ventures.

Daniel Junge, a documentarian who specializes in social justice films, focuses on the trial of the two men who were present when she was killed, a middle-man, and two wealthy landowners accused of funding the murder. According to the Catholic Church's Land Pastoral, a group monitoring land violence in Brazil, as many as 800 settlers, union members, and priests have been killed in the Para area of Brazil in land disputes in the last 30 years. Martin Sheen narrates this documentary.

Sister Dorothy's youngest brother, David, also a missionary, goes to Brazil for the trial and provides a brief overview of her life, ministry, and love of the rainforest, which is disappearing at a rate of 20 square miles every day. The trial was important to many poor people since Sister Dorothy was seen as a leader in the movement for sustainable development on a level akin to Chico Mendes, the rubber tapper who was killed in 1988. The man who shot her admits doing so and is given a 28-year sentence.

But the real interest of David Stang and the other Catholic sisters and friends of Dorothy is whether the court will convict and sentence the two rich and powerful ranchers on charges of paying to have her killed. In order to deflect attention from one of these accused men, their attorney paints an outrageous picture of the nun as a person who advocated violence and was used as a tool for American imperialism. Although that rancher is sentenced to 30 years in prison, the other doesn't come to trial. At the end of the documentary, Sheen states that the imprisoned rancher was later retried and acquitted on charges of ordering the killing of Sister Dorothy.

Short clips of Sister Dorothy speaking to the peasants and advocating for change before the authorities reveal a woman with an open heart, a ready smile, and deep compassion. It's obvious why she was so loved and is now so missed in this community. But her spirit lives on in those still committed to saving the rainforest and promoting sustainable farming in the region.

On Behalf Of David Swanson
Thursday, February 05, 2015 11:41 AM

A Tale of Two Movies

By John Reuwer, MD, Adjunct Professor, Conflict Resolution, Saint Michael’s College

As a student and teacher of nonviolent action, I was disheartened last week to wake up and read of the box office success of what I thought was yet another shoot-em-up action film, the American Sniper, while the same day noting that a film about my field, Selma, though successful, was not even in the same ballpark with the money. It made me wonder why, so I went to see them.

These movies tell the story of two American heroes, the most lethal sniper in American military history, Christopher Kyle, and the most remembered name in the US civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. We are presented with two very different kinds of heroes, by many accounts both played accurately by their actors.
What makes these men heroes? They both loved their country, and both saw their country in trouble. King saw people of color being shut out from the American dream, and brutalized when they stepped up to claim it. Kyle saw a threat from the Middle East as he heard news of terrorist attacks and watched as the World Trade Towers fell. Both men were willing to risk their lives in dramatic ways, fighting battle after battle over many years to make things right.

Beyond these things, these men were very different in the way they saw what was wrong in the world and how they should make it better.

The movie depiction of Kyle’s formative years relevant to his heroism, besides establishing him as a hunter with good aim, is a lesson from his father about the three kinds of people in the world: the sheep, the wolves, and the sheep dogs whose job it is to protect the sheep. He clearly sees himself as the sheep dog through the movie, and everyone else becomes a sheep or a wolf, mostly devoid of humanity or personality. His world is black and white, and his mission is clear – kill anyone who appears to be threatening his buddies, regardless of age, gender, or the impossible situation in which they find themselves.

In Selma, we don’t get King’s background, but his mission is clear – overturn the obstacles to blacks’ voting in Alabama. The difference in his view of the world is that it is not so black and white. He knows that each human being is capable of good and evil ( a point ironically made in Sniper by one of Kyle’s soldiers who had become disgusted with the war). King’s mission is to change wrong behavior, not the people doing it.

In Kyle’s world, there is a clear line between “us” and “them”, repeatedly referring to “them” as “savages”. “Our” killing is justified and good, “theirs” is bad. Evil can be banished by killing those doing it. In King’s world, “we” and “they” are all children of God, no matter how abhorrent the behavior. Killing is out of the question; his genius is in finding more humane ways of changing evil behavior.

So which hero has the more accurate view of life? That is something that each of us must decide. I look at the aftermath for evidence. Immediately I am saddened that both men were killed in their prime by presumably unstable men with guns. Beyond that, the contrast is stark.

King won the battle for Selma, among other victories that made life for blacks in America more tolerable, and led to 50 years of painfully slow and not even close to complete, but mostly peaceful progress toward equality. I cannot help but think that had he been of Kyle’s mindset, we might have had another civil war, or perhaps even a second American genocide. Instead he called for unity and equality among Americans, and for love to be the nation’s guiding principle. Most importantly, he demonstrated the power of extremely active nonviolence to confront and defeat some of the most entrenched hatred in our history.

On the other hand, the mess in Iraq is worse than ever. Many of the places Kyle and his buddies fought so hard for in the film, are now in the hands of ISIS, despite a trillion dollars spent, hundreds of thousand Iraqis and 4500 American soldiers dead, and our VA system left to care for tens of thousands of maimed and many more psychologically traumatized veterans. Never mind that no one in Iraq had anything to do with the attacks on New York on 9/11.

Unlike Kyle’s apparent black and white picture of good and evil, American Sniper is anything but black and white. It shows the horror of war, the difficulty of deciding who dies in their own country at the hands of foreigners, the physical wounds and PTSD of the combatants, the suffering of their families, and the contradictions between saving and destroying that are inherent to war.

Having seen these two excellent films, I am hopeful that Sniper’s popularity shows not a love of simplistic killing, but Americans’ willingness to wrestle with the tough issues of our time. My wish is that nonviolent action would attract the same attention, so that more folks could better understand the powerful alternatives to the misery of endless war.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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