Wednesday, December 31, 2008
My life has really been impacted by the events of this year. The first and most significant was the death of my Mom. She was 88 years old and I am 66. I still wonder how I can get along without her. She was the wise woman who knew the answers, and it was always comforting to know she was close by. She's even closer now, living in my heart. But it's a change that's difficult to get used to. I am trying. I know she would want me to. Thanks Mom for being a presence in my life that was always bigger then life. I am happy the cosmos is now your playground. Tell Dad Hello and all the rest of the family who waited patiently for you.
For the first time in my life I went to trial and to prison for standing up for something I am passionate about: Justice. I'm happy I had the guts to follow my heart and do what was my right thing to do.
Two of my daughters became engaged and two of my sisters moved back home, and another sister retired. Older age brings transitions, and change seems to be in the air. My family remains my center. They help to define me. What blessings and gifts I have been given. I am thankful for each and every day.
I always look forward to the New Year. Maybe more this year. I have great hopes that this country that I love so much will become new again.
From me to you, Pax Tecum and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Monday, December 29, 2008
Four days after Christmas. The war gods are rumbling. Trying to get rid of that yearly pesky peace stuff. Pakistan and India gearing up, Israel and Humas already engaged, not in the peace of the Child who was born on their soil, but intent on shedding blood all over His legacy. Not even to mention Afghanistan, where 14 young students, barely older then that babe in the manger, were blown to bits on their way to school.
I sit in my warm comfortable home and wonder what it would take for you and me to influence that process, to tip the scale in favor of peace instead of war. It seems to be a daunting task. What can little people do to stand up to the power of corporations, greed, and money. War is big business and that's survival, and that over-rides peace anyday.
But, wait a minute. That little spark of hope, put there by the birth of that babe flickers in all of us. We must protect it and nurture it and talk about it loud and clear. That in itself will lead to more action, and someday good men will win. We learned recently that YES we can. If we can elect an African American President of the United States, why not decide to have a peaceful world?
Welcome to the New Year. Let us decide that it will be more peaceful for the babe in all of us.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
And then last night happened. A night I was nervous about because I wanted it to much, because during this amazing campaign, those long ago dimmed hopes exploded to life and hope became real again. I cried when Barack Obama won the election. I was not the only one, to be certain, but if he could awaken the spark of unity and honor and pride of country in this old woman, what did he do for the future of us all?
I remember the Civil Rights Movement, when the dignity of man was largely ignored. When Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream of being "free at last" Well, guess what...last night we all gave each other a gift. We all became free at last! We chose to be the deciders of our own destiny. No more fear or inertia or indifference. We will, with Barack Obama's help, follow a different path, work on a new understanding, and become a proud American citizen of the world.
I have come full circle and I am once again, ready to embark on a new adventure.
Monday, August 25, 2008
The summer went fast. Jail time and my Mom's death threw me into June. It brought a large, always fun family reunion in Northern Wyoming, the birth place of the Kraen and Bates families. We had smiles from Heaven all during that time.
July was a busy home month and August brought busy big-time. With family and extended family we attended my nephew's wedding at Lake Tahoe. Spending time there and in the Reno area was fun and renewed memories of how neat that area is. The wedding on the beach was beautiful as was the yacht trip on Lake Tahoe to Emerald Cove. How gorgeous that was! Good company and good times, especially joyful after the sadness we experienced in May.
Last week I went to Denver as a volunteer for the Democratic National Convention in partnership with the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee. I was assigned to the American Presidential Experience, a nonpartisan tribute to Presidential History. It was located in a 40,000 square foot tent in the parking lot at Invesco Field at Mile High. What fun that was! The exhibit included such things as a replica of the West Wing, Air Force One, famous chairs used by presidents, JFK and Jackie Kennedy items, first ladies gowns, and one of the remaining original copies of the Declaration of Independence.
The biggewst thrill was meeting the other volunteers. So many came from all over the country to be there. Committed, articulate volunteers who wanted to be a part of the process. The three days were wonderful. My husband and I re- acquainted ourselves with Denver, and spent some quality time in Boulder with my daughter and her fiance. Now I can spend this Convention week holed up in my house watching the events in Denver in TV, knowing I helped out a little bit.
Monday, June 30, 2008
I had mixed feelilngs about leaving jail. My spirit was re-energized there, for reasons not even clear to me. Coming home created new challenges. My mother was admitted to the hospital the day I was released from SeaTac and died thirteen days later. Processing these two major events in my life has been rough, but I'm working my way through it, and making notes of the signs floating my way.
I will help facililate an educational module on prison reform in the Fall and with the cooperation of the Director of the local detention center, will start collecting books (paper back only) for the inmates. I correspond and support lady inmates at SeaTac and they continue to minister to me from behind those locked steel doors.
I communicate with many of the SOAW 11. They, like me, are trying to understand the changes we all feel inside from spending time in jail. I eagerly await to re-unite with them during the November Vigil in Columbus, at the next SOAW rally. Did we make a difference by crossing the line?? The answer has always been YES. Visable changes in ourselves and invisible changes we don't even fathom. There is movement in the legislative process for defunding SOA/WHINSEC. Demanding transparency has cleared the House and it goes on to the Senate. Being a tiny puzzle piece in that big picture soothes my heart.
For you out there in cyber-space: Extend yourselves in one small way. Pull out of the "I" realm into the "WE" realm, and act on it. The result will be clarity for you and a goodness for the world.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Their stories were bleak. Abuse, neglect, abandonment, too trusting of men and not enough trust in themselves. Making wrong choices, usually not once but many times. In and out of jails, violating probation. Being seperated from their children and elderly parents for months and years at a time.
How dare I go among them for a reason difficult for them to understand, with an unbelievable support system and enough money to call home as often as I liked, and only staying for 30 days. But they included me in their lives, shared with me their stories and hopes and dreams of a life free.
I invaded their world for 30 days--with their permission and their generosity. I was honored and overwhelmed. Release came with a cost, because they came with me. They taught me that dignity is taken from them only if they let it be taken, and it was protected at all costs.
It was a jail--after all and there were constant controls--lock downs and counts and strict rules and DON'T CROSS THE LINE, or you will end up in the SHU, the jail within the jail. The food was not good. Starches and fat. I never got used to it. Sometimes I only picked at it and took a few bites and left the rest. Only white bread, and limited fruit and milk. Not much taste to anything. Coffee was a gray color. I took the first sip and didn't drink anymore for the rest of my stay.
The bunks were metal frames with thin mattresses. It was like sleeping on concrete. We had two thin blankets. I slept in my clothes, or sweats, with socks and sometimes my jacket on to keep warm.
It was a liberating experience. I learned I could do it and survive. I learned I could live without television, and radio and coffee and all the other stimulants thrown to us by a consumer crazy society. And it created a serenity inside of me. And my insides are rearranged, and I will never be quite the same again.
Monday, April 14, 2008
The most difficult part of jail is getting in. Processing took a long time and getting to my unit late was tiring and somewhat frightening. I've been in a week already and my time is finally settling into a routine. It is a confusing system to get used to. My unit consists of 60 cells with about 110 women.
The cells surround a large dayroom. TV's, a walking track and exercise equipment are available. But it is a jail. We have counts and shut-downs. Our lives are controlled. We are told when to eat and sleep. There are few options. We can't go outside. My slit of a window faces another building so I can't see but a tiny patch of the sky. Some women stay here three years. I don't know how they tolerate not going outside.
In spite of this restrictive environment, the women here have forged a community of people who help each other, work, have fun and welcome new inmates. I marvel at their ability to focus on the now. Few of them dwell on the past or the future. They don't know for sure where they will end up or how long they will stay.
I have only three weeks left. It's been an interesting journey. Will I be changed when I get out? You bet. Pax Tecum
This post was received with a letter from my mom today. I promised to update her blog and help spread the word. My dad spoke with her since the letter was written and said that the other inmates are calling her "Grandma". There is a certain irony that she had to go to prison to be called that.
Monday, March 31, 2008
I am on my way to Seattle on Wed. April 2nd, and will report to SeaTac Detention Center on Thurs. April 3rd for a 30 day stay. I am so happy about entering into the final phase of this non-violent action. I know my reality will change, I think prison does that to you, but I will also feel good about what I set out to accomplish. To take a stand, to bring SOA/WHINSEC more in the open and to continue to try to make this school HISTORY. We can do it, and we will do it.
I am including my address in prison. I will enjoy hearing from anyone that wants to write. I will try to answer all the mail I receive. Until my release, I will say Happy Trails. My daughter, Tara, will update this blog while I am in prison.
Take care, all of you out there, and remember that we all can make a difference. Just don't stop trying. Pax Tecum.
Joan Anderson, #93649-020
Federal Detention Center
PO Box 13900
Seattle, Washington 98198
Thursday, March 6, 2008
I am to report on April 3 at the Sea-Tac Federal Detention Center in Seattle. I felt instant relief. Now I have a date and a place to complete the last phase of my action for justice. I will be in for 30 days. I will spend Easter on the outside and march toward Pentacost on the inside. I plan to participate in the SOAW fast for 3 days in late April and I would encourage you to do likewises. You can get more information from the SOAW website (SOAW.org).
Thanks to all for your interest, and prayers. I will be remembering you in all my prayers in prison. I ask that you remember the poor and powerless in Latin America and to encourage your U.S. Reps to stop the funding for WHINSEC. The Establishment never moves unless they are pushed by the people. And the people are us!
Sunday, February 3, 2008
My name is Joan Anderson. My husband is Tom, and we have three daughters, Tara, Katie, and Lisa. I was born and raised in Wyoming. I can go a few miles from my home, turn around in a circle and see the horizon where the land meets the sky in every direction. As a native Wyomingite, space and freedom are very important to me. I love this country.
I’ve had a difficult time writing this statement. The reasons for committing an act of nonviolent civil disobedience that becomes an action for justice are highly personal. The reasons lie deep within my heart and in my gut. It’s greatly about acknowledging the Spirit of God within me.
I have been a public health nurse for 40 years. I am well aware of my rights and responsibilities. I plead GUILTY to “crossing the line” and trespassing on the grounds of Fort Benning on Nov. 18th. It is one of the most important things I have ever done in my life. I have never been arrested before nor do I plan on being arrested again. I will honor the Ban and Bar Letter. I am a care-giver for my 88 year old mother and both she and I would prefer that I get probation.
I join the ranks of those who have been here before me and those who are with me today to denounce the well documented atrocities performed by graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC. I am concerned that my taxes and your taxes are keeping this school operational. IT’S TIME TO STOP THE FUNDING NOW! Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that an individual is expressing the very highest respect for law if he breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and accepts the penalty in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice.I come from the same city as the Vice President of the United States. In fact, I was a year behind him in high school. And also living there is a former United States Ambassador to Guatemala in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I find it interesting that they have never been in a courtroom like the one I am in today to answer for the tortures that happened during their watch. I crossed the line nonviolently opposing that torture and I face prison time. And so injustice continues. I am proud and honored to stand in solidarity with the poor and powerless in Latin America who have been and are victims of this flawed U.S. foreign policy. I pray that one day human rights will become a priority in this country. GOD BLESS US
I went on trial in federal district court in Columbus, Georgia along with ten other defendants, charged with trespassing onto the grounds of a military installation. The site was Fort Benning, the purpose: to non-violently oppose the School of the Americas, also known as the Western Institute of Security Cooperation. It has a well documented record of training Latin American security personnel in methods of torture. They, in turn, return to their respective countries and many of them make the school proud. We were all charged with a misdemeanor.
We knew, from past experiences with the Judge (G. Mellan Faircloth) that the trial and sentences would be pretty much cut and dried. Some of us pleaded guilty, some non-guilty with stipulations, and one went to trial. I pleaded guilty, because I was guilty and said so. I was allowed to give a statement which I will post on this blog. My sentence was a $500.00 fine and 30 days in prison. As a care-giver for my elderly mother I requested probation. The Judge didn't care much about my situatuion. The other defendants received similar sentences.
To be truthful, I'm glad I got prison time. It's about the only way I can show how strongly I feel about human rights abuses practiced by our government. It's time that regular, normal people like myself stand up to the big powers that be and say, ENOUGH!!!! And my time is now.
And so the waiting begins again. Actually, I'm becoming pretty good at it... Just to let everyone know that I will be back in Columbus in November, to continue demonstrating and working to stop the funding for this school. Please think of me in prison by writing to your congress-person demanding that their vote will be to eliminate this "teaching torture" institution.