Frida Berrigan helped to found Witness Against Torture in 2005. She writes the Little Insurrections blog for WagingNonviolence.org and is the author of It Runs In The Family: On Being Raised By Radicals and Growing Into Rebellious Motherhood (OR Books). Frida lives in New London, Connecticut with her husband Patrick and three kids.
Posts By This Author
'May You Live Beloved and Wise'
WHEN I WAS BORN—the first child of Dan Berrigan’s brother Phil and Elizabeth McAlister—my uncle sent my parents a sheaf of poetry. On it, he wrote a note: “Dears, I send these with trepidation. They are uneven; but then so is life, no? Love, Daniel.”
My parents put the dozen or so poems in a book and gave them to me on my eighth birthday with their own note: “We don’t expect you to understand all of them yet but you can now begin to read and grow with them.” Yet. Right. I am now 34 years older than I was when I first opened the little red bound book of handwritten poems, and I don’t understand them any better.
But now that my dearest Unka has passed from this world, I hold on tight to this collection and try really hard to understand. It is going to be tough. The poems are full of words the dictionary either fails to define or further confuses—supramundane, Blake’s child, Dante’s paradise (what are boys from middle school doing in Unka’s poetry?), “the bodhisattva is neither stuporous nor sleek / he is crucified.”
Fragments of these poems cycle through my head all the time, a sort of back rhythm to daily life, especially when that daily life was graced with Unka.
Uncle Dan and I would walk—down New York City’s Broadway and through Riverside Park. He breathed in such love for the natural world, even amid the Upper West Side’s hustles and bumps. He saw everything, and found the beauty that was there. The only people that made him mad were delivery men riding bikes on the sidewalks—he had been knocked down once by them and he worried about the elderly—and people who lost themselves in their phones.
The Power of Prayer: Christian Witnesses at Guantanamo
We are in Cuba. More specifically, 14 members of Witness Against Torture are in the Department of Guantanamo, at the Mirador overlooking the U.S. Naval Base. We are being hosted by the staff of La Gobernadora restaurant and lounge. From the lookout, we can see the U.S. base that has occupied more than 100 square kilometers of Cuban land for more than a century. We can orient ourselves toward the camps where the Abd and Mohammed and their brethren are being held. We are camping. We are praying. We are acting. We are transforming a random international tourist spot — one more site to click photos, drink a beer, and move on from before heading to the beaches — into a place to honor and connect and extend ourselves toward the men our nation has demonized and then forgotten.
New Nukes Trounced
Last week, Congress refused - for a second time - to fund the Bush administration's demand for a new nuclear weapon system, the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW). However, cutting funding for the RRW is one of those big moves destined to generate little fanfare.
It is a little too technical and incremental to be heralded as a decisive step towards nuclear abolition, and yet the RRW program - which over the next decade or so would have upgraded the core workings of all U.S. nuclear [...]
'A Theft from Those Who Hunger'
Taking Names: Witness Against Torture Gets Personal
What does it mean to be a Christian in these times? The works of mercy knock on our door. The hungry, the naked, the sick, and the prisoner demand our compassion -- but more, they demand our action.
A Nuclear Surge
Fearless and full of hope
In prison and out, Philip Berrigan lived for freedom.