Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Coming back to the US

The month after I finished my military service in 1994 in the Protection against Submarines unit in Blekinge archipelago in the south of Sweden I moved to the United States. During one year I worked as an au pair in an enormous house in New Jersey on the American east coast. Then I was basically unaware of the great American influence on world politics and pretty much unaware about international issues in general. I had only a vague idea about the fact that the US has been a warrior nation during all of its history and has today military bases all around the world. I knew even less about America’s strong nonviolence tradition. Because the paradoxical fact is that parallel with USA’s giant army and deep militaristic traditions it also has one of the world’s strongest nonviolence movements and strong historical roots in nonviolence.

This realization has grown stronger and stronger in me since I began to work at SweFOR (Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation) as secretary of nonviolence in 2001, only a few days after 9/11 and the terrorist attack that crushed the two towers which I had visited during my trip in 1994. One of the things I have done in my work is to deepen my understanding of my namesake, Martin Luther King, and the inspiring civil rights movement. In my studies of Dr. King my longing to return to the USA grew increasingly stronger. I am curious to see in what way the methods of nonviolence which were developed by the civil rights movement are used today by the peace movement.

Last Sunday I took my first steps on my return to American soil. During almost three months I will travel in the footsteps of nonviolence and examine the peace/nonviolence movement in this country. I have arrived in Tucson, Arizona where I will join a delegation organized by CPT (Christian Peacemaker Teams). The delegation will study and raise awareness about the situation for those who try to emigrate from Latin America to the US. After the week-long trip I will begin to move eastwards and northbound when I get to the coast, trying to meet as many nonviolence activists and friends as possible along the way. I end my stay in the US with a month long nonviolence training in Chicago, also organized by CPT. I hope you will plan to join me on my nonviolence tour in this warrior nation! Look forward to hear from you along the way.

yours sincerely, Martin Smedjeback

Updated preliminary itinerary for the summer of nonviolence 2007
Places and organizations/people I hope to be able to visit.

Tucson/Mexico – 20th of May - 10th of June
New Orleans – 12 - 14th of June
Atlanta – 14 - 17th of June
Washington DC/Baltimore – 17 - 24th of June
Jonah House, Dorothy Day Catholic worker, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, Sojourners, AFSC, Vigil at the Pentagon.
New York/Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Atlanta – 24th of June to the 8th of July
War Resisters League, United for peace and justice, Walter Wink, Center for Nonviolence and Peace, FOR USA (go to US Social Forum in Atlanta with them), Richard Deats, Muslim Peace Fellowship.
Chicago – 9th of July – 17th of August
Voices for Creative nonviolence, CPT nonviolence training.
– 18th of August