Here I am, George . . . Come and Get Me
Kim Redigan, USA
December 20, 2005
Far be it from me to ask the government to take money it needs to wage
war and enrich the arms industry to track down yet one more peace
activist. Therefore, I consider it my civic duty to say, "Here I am,
George. Come and get me." No need to squander cash that could be spent
on refining the techniques of torture on costly surveillance projects
and electronic wiretaps to track the likes of me.
That overweight middle-aged woman in bifocals standing on the street
corner and marching in demonstrations would be me.
Age 48, married, mother of four, high school religion teacher,
Catholic, garden-variety activist.
Yes, George, I was the one standing outside the doors of recruitment
stations quoting Oscar Romero, who said, "God's law must prevail. No
soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God." Not
terribly original, I know, but that great cloud of witnesses that goads
me on to do this work included people who were so much more articulate
than I. At one recruitment center, I even quoted Pope John Paul II who
told young people: "Do not listen to voices which speak the language of
hatred, revenge, retaliation. Do not follow any leaders who train you
in the way of inflicting death."
The woman wearing a Pax Christi tee shirt and a green bandana at the
gates of a nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee is none other than yours
truly. Yes, I confess to standing in the street when ordered by police
to move and, yes, I did lock the gates of the plant in violation of the
law, but how could I have done otherwise? I openly admit to praying at
this death site that our nation might turn away from the idolatrous
belief that this nation's stockpile of weapons can bring security.
Besides, I'm a mom and a teacher and nuclear weapons are not
When brought before the judge, I own up to carrying a stuffed body
representing the children who are dying from this nation's use of
depleted uranium in Iraq as well as the impoverished children in our
own nation's cities who are bearing the brunt of this country's bloated
I confess, George, that I was the one whose microphone was turned off
by a judge who did not want to hear about international law or the
beatitudes in his court of law. While I'm coming clean here, George, I
also confess to making toilet paper peace cranes with the women in the
county jail and leading a recovery meeting for inmates who are offered
little in the way of rehabilitation in a for-profit prison system.
Now, for those overseas phone calls that you have been illegally
monitoring. In my fumbling effort to follow the instruction of Pope
Paul VI who said, "If you want peace, work for justice," my peace
activism has taken me to the Occupied Territories where I have served
on peace teams working for an end to the occupation and for a just
peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Since so much of my tax money
is being sent to this part of the world, I consider it my duty to see
for myself what the newest high-tech weaponry purchased in my pacifist
name looks like.
Please tell your agents that the static they picked up had nothing to
do with a bad connection. What they were hearing was the explosion of
sound grenades being hurled at nonviolent demonstrators and the noise
of bulldozers erecting walls and tearing down homes. Not to mention the
cries of children—Palestinian and Israeli—entreating the adults of
this world to put an end to the violence.
As one of those quaint Catholics who takes Jesus at His word when he
tells us to put up the sword and love our enemies, I also joined an
international delegation of similarly naive activists who gathered in
the desert in the shadow of Israel's Dimona nuclear plant to pray for
As a woman of conscience who believes in telling the truth, I also feel
I owe it to you, George, to explain my book-borrowing habits in order
to spare some "radical, militant librarian" the trouble of having to
retrieve the list of books that I have read these past few years.
Regrettably, since you have seized power I have had little time for
fiction. With the exception of a brief sojourn through the pages of
1984 to make sense of the strange turn this country has taken, I have
spent most of my time reading books on the Middle East, cultural
trends, and the world's religions.
Yes, I confess that I have been reading Edward Said, Arundhati Roy,
Thich Nhat Hanh, and, for spiritual edification, the poetry of Daniel
Berrigan and the sermons of M.L. King, Jr. As one look at the pictures
taken by your agents who have nothing better to do than monitor peace
vigils will show, the books I borrowed on exercise and vegan cooking
went largely unread.
Regarding the films I have borrowed from my local library, allow me to
recommend Control Room, a clear-headed look at the complicity of the
U.S. media in selling an unjust and immoral war. And all those
musicals? No subversive intent there, just a peculiar affection for tap
dancing and big sets. As for Gandhi and Pay It Forward . . . arrest me,
if you must.
And just to save you time, I'll tell you exactly where to look in my
bible if you want to know what I've been reading. Start with those
lines that I've highlighted from the Hebrew Scripture that talk about
beating swords into plowshares and then turn to the Gospel sections
that talk about the preferential option for poor, loving one's enemies,
and dying rather than killing. Don't overlook Mary's Magnificat or the
story of Jesus overturning tables in the Temple. I will save you time
and tell you that I'm partial to Isaiah and Luke.
Finally, George, if you insist on subverting the law and choose to
violate the Constitution by paying my home a visit, know that "Mi casa
es tu casa," but do not expect dinner. If you should to drop in while
I'm not at home, please overlook the dirty dishes and do not allow the
cat to go near the turtle's aquarium. You may want to check the
bookcase in the living room where I have a great collection of books on
peace and justice, including the Holy Bible.
Of yeah, I forgot. Reading's not your thing.
At any rate, on this cold winter night, children across this country go
without because we are spending money to kill children in faraway
lands. How can I, in good conscience, allow my government to spend more
money that it doesn't have to monitor yet one more peace activist?
We all know that the cost of monitoring those crazy Quakers and
Catholic Workers is bleeding this country dry. I must do my part to
preserve the national budget by stepping up and saying, "Here I am,
Call out your agents and surveillance squads and spies. Look for the
matronly woman bearing a sign that reads, "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and
remember what I said about keeping the cat away from the turtle.
Kim Redigan is an activist, writer, and teacher from Detroit. Email
Kim at: email@example.com.
From Common Dreams, December 20, 2005.