We Shall Overcome (reflection from Jeju)
|Breakwaters for the Navy base on Jeju|
I am home and feeling overwhelmed emotionally. Gratitude, outrage, solidarity, humanity, pain, sadness, celebration, beauty, resilience, change, military and corporate power, faith, truth......
I woke last night with Gangjeong [village] overflowing my head and heart. Physically one circle away-- connected by spirit. What resonates loudly is the powerful ritual, of art, music, dance, faith, the struggle of indigenous people to protect heritage, life and place.
A large chunk of sacred shoreline has been taken -- a tall white fence with barbed wire separates the naval base from the village and its people. On the west sea side there is a river estuary and a rock jetty. It is a beautiful spot- heron, egrets feeding in the river, gentle fresh water flowing into the sea, Tiger island arising from the sea close by..... a group of stored kayaks-- a peace fleet. The west side of the naval base dissects the scene. There are protest flags and paintings all along the river path from the sea...and an encampment supporting the struggle.
Walking north along the riverside fence line arrive at the bridge, the main road into town. It is another site of significance, heavily decorated with anti-base flags and flowers. A few hundred feet up the road from the bridge is a shrine and large permanent peace tent, one side set up for Mass, all decorated with logs carved with prayers.. The other side of the road the base fence line is adorned with illustrations, peace poetry , flags, murals up to the new main gate.
Six days a week mats are placed on half of the main gate road at 7am with activists and sisters bowing with peaceful intentions spoken over a loudspeaker "as I hold in my heart....I make my 1st, ..30th..88th.. 100th bow. Later, at 11am a full mass with communion and rosary is celebrated both in the tent with villagers and extended along the road over a loudspeaker to priest and activists in chairs blocking the gate- stopping construction trucks. Police interrupt every 10-15 minutes to remove and contain resisters to the side for 10 minutes of truck flow... After mass is a human chain, and 3-4 dances in the street.
From the gate walk on a path decorated with murals and flags on the fence side depicting Gureombi rock, the imprisoned activists, and lined with several greenhouses. Arrive at the communal kitchen, the residence for sisters, and several living/storage containers abutting the north side of the fence. Resume walking along the continuously protested fence line to the road where the fence turns south toward the sea along the road to the marina. The unfenced side of the road has a large 24 hour peace encampment and campfire blocking the proposed naval housing construction.. The last of the fields on this eastern side of the naval base were still being bulldozed and fence erected during our visit.
The walk ends just past the marina --a large crucifix where Father Moon was pushed off the rock by police at the end of a high cement dyke facing west toward the base -- an evocative shrine.
Every centimeter of land that was taken is a passionate colorful tragic place of resistance -- a cry for peace...