Lay your weapons down

There are those who are trying

to set fire to the world,

we are in danger,

there is time only to work slowly,
there is no time not to love.

We are, once again, in a conflagration, once again at war. Once again, we must find the heart of peace, even now put out the fires, even those in our hearts.

Deena Metzger

In the late 80s and early 90s, I was involved with a Bay Area group called Women’s Alliance that produced two major events in response to the first Gulf War: one was a summer solstice camp in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada focusing on women’s spirituality and activism; the other was a speaking event in Berkeley entitled Women’s Voices In Troubling Times that featured prominent women activists and authors such as Dolores Huerta, Wynona Laduke, June Jordan, and Marion Woodman among many others. This is when I first became aware of Deena Metzger’s concept of personal disarmament as a necessary prelude to creating worldwide disarmament and peace. Inner work precedes outer work. At the time I was volunteering at FCI Dublin, the West Coast federal prison for women, where I had created a holistic health program staffed with volunteers from the Bay Area. I immediately saw the power of introducing this concept to the women with whom I was working.

Since I have so far been unable to find any reference to these events on the Internet, I will have to rely on my memory. With a nod to Deena, I acknowledge that any errors in her concept are mine.

As I remember it, Deena put her concept into the form of questions for self-reflection. I have added to this list as the spirit moves me. The questions can and should be taken both literally and metaphorically perhaps as kick starts to journal writing and action:

  • Do you harbor hatred in your heart?
  • Do you use violent language and thought?
  • Do you invest in closed or open borders?
  • Are you a stalker? A thief? A bully?
  • Do you keep grudges that one day will demand vengeance?
  • Do you lay landmines and/or booby-traps?
  • when considering the immense stockpile of weapons held and protected by many nations, do you yourself have a stockpile of weapons that you hold and protect?
  • Do you have first strike capability and the willingness to use it?
  • Do you spy? Do you keep dossiers? Do you cultivate enemies? Do you trade in secrets?
  • Do you conduct secret trials and imprison or ostracize those whom you judge guilty?
  • Do you elbow to the front of the line using your own privilege as a weapon?
  • Do you believe that you are better than other people?
  • Have you been abusive to yourself, an animal or other living being, or another person?
  • Do you weaponize your love or make it contingent on certain behaviors?

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