Friday, July 15, 2011

Support Thomas Drake at his July 15 sentencing/"Witness to Empire" by Pete Gallagher



Thomas Drake, the NSA whistleblower, is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, July 15 at 3 PM at the Garmatz Building in Baltimore.  I plan to attend to support him.


Let me know if you can attend the sentencing.  And would you be interersted in standing outside the courthouse around 2 PM with signs?  We may get some media attention.  Let me know if you can be at the Garmatz Building on Friday afternoon,  Thanks.






From: Wes Howard-Brook <>

Thu, Jul 14, 2011


We had our arraignment today in federal court for our Good Friday liturgy. Trial is set for October 13. Meanwhile, I thought your readers might enjoy this reflection from one of our group, 21 year old Peter Gallagher, a former Los Angeles Catholic Worker intern who intends to move into that community as soon as the courts allow.


Witness to Empire


by Pete Gallagher on July 14, 2011


Today, I’ll be going up in front of a judge at the federal courthouse downtown for an indictment hearing.  This is an unprecedented moment in my life: for the first time, I’m having to face the consequences for acting out my faith and values in a concrete way.  I was arrested on Good Friday for taking part in a liturgy/protest, where myself and seven others covered our hands in fake blood and smeared it on the wall of the federal building as a small act of resistance, as an expression of penance for our complicity and austerity in the midst of endless wars of aggression being waged in the name of our government.


I write this to inform, to process, to reflect on what I have done, but more importantly, to discern and share why I have done it.  There’s no use keeping this to myself: we need to lift each other up, to draw inspiration and forge deeper bonds through solidarity and collective struggle. I write this so as to further that process with all those I love, in Seattle and beyond.


So far, reflecting on my impending foray into the federal legal system has not been fun.  It has injected an unwelcome current of uncertainty and fear into my consciousness, given how I had been envisioning the post-collegiate chapter of my life.  It took us so long to receive a notice to appear in court that we had assumed it would never come, and I had planned my life accordingly.  I had made arrangements to return to Mexico to live and work in community with good friends, and eventually end up in Los Angeles with the LA Catholic Worker.  Both are thriving communities of love that practice their faith by positioning themselves on the margins of society.  Based on the experience I had with these communities, it is an exacting and grinding life, but it is also a meaningful life, with meaningful work.  It seemed the logical next step on my own personal journey. As such, as much as I have loved my Seattle family, and as much as it would hurt to leave the Northwest, I was so yearning to move on, to begin the process of trial and growth that inevitably comes with new surroundings and new challenges.


The realization that an extended trial might keep me in Seattle for months to come, eclipsing my plans to go to Mexico in LA and charting a completely different course for this year, has been incredibly difficult to come to terms with.  It may not seem like such a large sacrifice (and in the grand scheme of things, of course, it’s not), but still, the repercussions have been emotionally jarring.  I had grown very attached to the plans I had made, the trajectory of life and growth I had laid out for myself, the fulcrum of which was a departure from Seattle into spiritually-oriented social justice community.  I’ve been forced to reevaluate my life here in Seattle, and not rely on a change of vocation and location to impel growth and change, at least for the next few months.


But, thanks be to God, through contemplation and the loving support of my friends, I’ve come to a deeper understanding of the trial, my witness and what it means for how I want to live my life.  The crux of which is the following: God has a much more wonderful plan for me than I could ever make by my own volition.  It’s an odd paradox: the more I am forced to detach from my own plans for meaning and happiness-the more I feel that I have lost-the more I realize that I truly have, how bountifully I have been blessed. I have food on my plate, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, loving family and friends, and a budding spiritual understanding of my place in the world.  God has been so good to me.  And the best way for me to fully feel and act on that gratitude is through orienting myself towards those who are not as lucky, those that bear the brunt of what ails modern society.  In so doing, I realize that-despite the existential insecurity that is instilled in all of us-I have nothing to lose, nothing to fear.  And then I am truly free; peace coming only in solidarity with the entirety of the human family.


I’ve just finished up a wonderful university education, and I’m so grateful to have been pushed and stretched, to have experienced so much growth in my values and worldview. Borne out of love for humankind that has inspired me in unprecedented ways, I’ve grown into an extremely critical and “radical” perspective on politics and society-radical only because our broken world needs fundamental change.  I have come to embrace the dismantling of systems and institutions of power and oppression (referred to by some as “anarchism”, referred to by Jesus as “Heaven”) as a path that would lead humanity to societies wherein it is easiest to be good, easiest to love one another.


But what use is all that growth trapped up in my head?  Such growth must beget a change in how I relate to the world and the institutions that dominate it.  And that’s the hard part: to change one’s worldview is effortless; to change the way one lives is one of the hardest processes a person can undergo.  Because our habits are so ingrained, because in modern society it is so much easier to follow societal norms without questioning. Most of all, because it takes sacrifice and suffering to change how we move in the world, in accordance with a propensity towards compassion. Perhaps the surest way to know that we are indeed enacting meaningful change in our life is if our actions are received with hostitility by the powers that be and result in an acute and considerable feeling of loss


When many years have passed and I’ve arrived at a period of repose and reflection, I don’t want to have to regret my prudence and caution.  I want to give the movement everything I have.  I want to experience the foolishness of putting yourself on the line for people you will never even meet, to share in the suffering manifested by our world and its wretched institutions.  I want to act and live in accordance with what I so deeply believe: we are all one family, and an injury to one is an injury to all.


I’ve come to believe that it is no “coincidence” or “bad luck” that I may go to trial and have to rearrange my life around it.   It happened as a direct consequence of one of the most spiritually significant actions of my life, and accidents do not follow from such graces.  It’s tangible evidence that life can do right by us in ways that seem paradoxical, that God need make us hurt in order to fully feel.


To most, smearing fake blood on a building (and facing the modest legal repercussions) may not seem like much more than a symbolic gesture that heaps unnecessary burden and inconvenience onto myself.  I won’t pretend that our witness will singlehandedly herald a new revolutionary spirit, but I do believe that it plants the seeds for a shift in consciousness, a different paradigm for life as it relates to our world’s urgent need for courage and action.


At least, that’s what it has done for myself.  And it’s indescribably wonderful.  There is a joy to be found deep within ourselves, found only through plunging deep into the folds of suffering and loss in the name of Truth: a joy that transcends preference and circumstance and envelops all whims and longings in the tender embrace of Love.


Especially as a person of immense privilege and blessing, the recognition that being of service entails suffering and sacrifice is instrumental to how I perceive my purpose in life.  But above all, it’s an integral component to the realization of my own freedom: a modest and steadfast submission to the rhythms of life and flow of the universe that the most wise have come to know and the deepest elements of our human nature long to accept.


So please, send us your prayers/good vibes Thursday morning, as this story continues to unfold.  We will need them.  And by all means, let’s continue to come together and figure out bolder and more audacious ways of resisting empire and lifting up our own beloved communities.





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