What You Learn on a Train
- I'm at the Ecumenical Advocacy days conference in Washington now waiting for my workshop to begin. Also speaking in the workshop will be Joseph Gerson (AFSC), David Vine (American University) and Dante Simbulan (Philippines). Our subject is the growing danger of war due to militarization of the Asia-Pacific. Joseph is a long-time expert on the Asia-Pacific, David has written a book about US military bases around the world, and Dante is a former political prisoner in the Philippines after opposing the Marcos dictatorship. The crowd waiting in line to get to the coffee service after one session was quite impressive. One thousand people are attending the confab.
- The conference is being held at a hotel just three blocks from the Pentagon. I took the subway and got off at the Pentagon metro stop. All along the walls of the underground were big displays of space warfighting technology advertising the Orbital corporation.
- On my eight-hour train ride here from Boston yesterday I sat next to a man for several hours who works for the weapons corporation Raytheon. He happened to mention he had recently returned from an overseas trip to a certain country. I was able to piece together that he was servicing a US "missile defense" deployment in the Asia-Pacific. He was more than surprised that I knew anything about the subject and did not argue with me about MD being a key element in US first-strike attack planning. After a bit he acknowledged that he'd rather be working on something less militaristic but when he went looking for a high-tech job after college there was nothing else out there except working for the military industrial complex.
- I'm staying in DC at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House - a place I often stay at when I come to DC. The folks who live there are very active peace workers and take in refugee mothers and small children from Latin America and Africa.
- I head back home on an early train in the morning. Sitting for eight hours on the train gives me lots of time to catch up with reading and Internet correspondence. On the way here I read a fascinating article about the history of conflict between the Vatican and the Orthodox Church. What was most interesting was how the Vatican has been deeply involved in continued military attacks on Russia over the centuries due to the presence of their major competitor, the Orthodox church, based in that country.