Then & Now
By Judy Salamacha
“Our task, in these dark times, is simple: to speak the truth, resist war and injustice, practice nonviolence, walk with the poor, love everyone, say our prayers, and uphold the vision of a new world without war, racism, poverty, or nuclear weapons,” stated John Dear, who helped draft Pope Francis’ message for the Jan. 1, 2017 World Day of Peace.
He’s been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “John Dear is the embodiment of a peacemaker. He has led by example through his actions, his writings and numerous sermons, speeches, and demonstrations. He believes peace is not something static, but rather to make peace is to be engaged, mind, body, and spirit.
“His teaching is to love yourself, to love your neighbor, your enemy, and to love the world and to understand the profound responsibility in doing all of these. He is a man who has the courage of his convictions and who speaks out and acts against war, the manufacture of weapons, and any situation where a human being might be at risk through violence.”
Dear, a peace activist, will reflect on the world of violence and the alternative of nonviolence as embodied by Gandhi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he appears at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church Parish Hall, 962 Piney Way in Morro Bay. The appearance is sponsored by The Women’s Guild of St. Timothy’s Church and Yes We Can Peacebuilders. The public is invited to this ecumenical lecture and discussion. Attendance is free. Donations are welcome.
Morro Bay’s Ruth Ann Angus befriended Dear while attending a retreat with him last April at the Kirkridge Retreat Center in Bangor, Penn.
“We’ve corresponded since and I’m proud to say he’s become my mentor,” said Angus. “I was looking for an answer to our violence in Morro Bay, not so much people gunning others down but the violence we harbor in our thoughts and words. I had met him briefly in 2015 as a visiting priest. At that first contact John was saying that he felt no one should ever go to prison for any reason.
“I figured he was a nut case. The Women’s Guild hoped to bring him to Morro Bay in 2015, but it was canceled. But in 2016, I finally Googled him, discovered the website [see: www.paceebene.org/programs/campaign-nonviolence] and I signed up.”
Dear is an internationally known voice for peace and nonviolence who for 35 years has traveled the world teaching, lecturing, organizing and practicing nonviolence in the pursuit of a more peaceful world. His 35 books, include “The Beatitudes of Peace,” “Living Peace,” “The Nonviolent Life,” “Disarming the Heart,” “Peace Behind Bars,” “Walking the Way,” and his autobiography, “A Persistent Peace,” have been translated into 10 languages. His forthcoming book is “They Will Inherit the Earth,” and addresses the issue of climate change and how its violence is affecting peace on earth.
Dear has also been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and National Public Radio’s “All things Considered.” He is featured regularly on the national radio show, “Democracy Now!”
As Archbishop Tutu said Dear practices what he advocates. He has traveled the war zones of the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Colombia; lived and worked in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Northern Ireland; and worked in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and community centers.
Dear has been arrested over 80 times in acts of civil disobedience in the name of peace and nonviolence. He spent nearly a year in federal prison for a Plowshares disarmament action, and in the 1990s arranged for Mother Teresa to speak to various U.S. governors to stop the death penalty.
He was Red Cross coordinator of chaplains at the Family Assistance Center after the September 11 attacks.
Dear is also on the staff of Pace e Bene and www.campaignnonviolence.org; is a co-founder of Campaign Nonviolence and director of the Nonviolent Cities Project. Every September he helps organize a national week of action against poverty, war, racism, and environmental destruction across the U.S. A former Jesuit, he is now a priest of the Diocese of Monterey, Calif., and lives in New Mexico. See: www.johndear.org for more of his story.
As a special surprise for Dear who once wanted to be a rock ‘n’ roll star, The Stereo Chickens will perform. For more information email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (805) 458-3548.
Freelance writer, columnist and author of “Colonel Baker’s Field: An American Pioneer Story,” Judy Salamacha’s Then & Now column is a regular feature of Simply Clear Marketing & Media. Contact her at: email@example.com or (805) 801-1422 with story ideas.