The Plowshares 8: Thirty Years On | Sojourners

The Plowshares 8: Thirty Years On

While imprisoned after his 1967 Baltimore 4 action, Philip Berrigan, in his Prison Journals of a Priest Revolutionary, wrote:

When a people arbitrarily decides that this planet and its riches are to be divided unequally among equals, and that the only criterion for the division is the amount of naked power at its disposal, diplomacy tends to be essentially military, truth tends to be fiction, and the world tends to become a zoo without the benefit of cages. And war tends to be the ultimate rationality, because reason has been bankrupted of human alternatives.

Post-Vietnam, the American political, economic, and militaristic landscape described by Berrigan had worsened. The "naked power" of the United States now included an arsenal of 30,000 nuclear warheads and a first-strike policy. On September 9, 1980, Berrigan and seven others said a decisive "NO!" to nuclear madness by entering the General Electric Re-entry Division in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Along with Philip, Fr. Daniel Berrigan (his brother), Sr. Anne Montgomery, Elmer Maas, Molly Rush, Dean Hammer, Fr. Carl Kabat, and John Schuchardt hammered on two nose cones of Mark 12A warheads, poured their own blood on warhead documents and order forms, and prayed for disarmament and peace. With this act, the first of more than 75 Plowshares disarmament actions came into being. The "Plowshares disarmament movement" is now international in scope. Many of its activists, who understand that waging peace has its price, have served a substantial amount of time in prison.

Art Laffin, a lifelong Plowshares activist and community member of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington, D.C., speaks to what Plowshares activists hope to communicate through their actions in his introduction to Swords Into Plowshares: A Chronology of Plowshares Disarmament Actions 1980-2003: