Pointers for Peaceworkers:
Ed Kinane Leaves for Iraq

Paul Frazier

Editor's note: Ed Kinane, born and raised in Syracuse, NY, has served the Peace Council as a staff member and more recently as a member of the Editorial Board of the Peace Newsletter (PNL). He is a full-time peace activist, working with the campaign to close the School of the Americas (SOA). Ed will serve as foreign correspondent for the PNL during his stay in Iraq. As this article was being written, we received word of Ed's safe arrival in Baghdad.

Subtle changes in the Central New York landscape started to unfold as Ed Kinane departed for Iraq on Saturday, February 8. Some changes you may have witnessed, some you might notice in the weeks ahead, and some, like the small ripples extending from the center of energy on a quiet pond, will eventually reach the shore.

Ever consistent, Ed's departure reflects several of the words of wisdom he has left behind. In nonviolence training workshops preparing for civil disobedience, his "Pointers for Peace Workers" has been a regular handout. The Pointers come from an outline of a brief talk Ed gave to students of the Fellowship of Reconciliation's Peacemaker Training Institute in 1992. As we look for these ripples Ed creates, I will share some of his Pointers.

Certainly it was no surprise when Ed announced his decision to travel to Iraq. Voices in the Wilderness, a grass roots organization headed by Kathy Kelly, currently in Iraq on her 20th journey there over the last eight years, established an Iraq Peace Team (IPT) last fall. Simply put, the ITP will live among the Iraqi people and use their presence and nonviolent actions to protect, if they can, the civilian population of Iraq. PNL readers have seen accounts from Cynthia Banas, a Central New Yorker who fasted and vigiled for 40 days in New York City the past two years, traveled twice to Iraq in those years, and left mid-October of 2002 for Baghdad with the Iraq Peace Team. She writes, "I am looking forward to seeing Ed!"

The train station on the Saturday of Ed's departure drew about fifty "concerned citizens," wishing Ed well on the first leg of his journey: a train to New York City, a flight to Jordan, and then about sixteen hours, overland, across the desert, to Baghdad, Iraq.

Trust the road: hitchhike; take risks; security is an illusion.*

What has been unthought, discouraged, even illegal _ traveling to be with the people of Iraq and bringing gifts of toys for children and medical supplies for those in need _ became Ed's baggage.

Personal is political: keep means and ends consistent; every act, every purchase, is a vote.

Some may remember movies (and even reality) where the good-bye scene at the station for "the boys" going off to war had a backdrop of flags and occasionally a local band. The tunes of war have been replaced by the songs of peace and resistance: "Turning swords into plowshares, nations will go to war no more." A not-so-subtle difference these days. Not going off to kill on command, but to join the peacemakers of the Iraq Peace Team.

First, do no harm.

Most of the train station well wishers had gathered at Slocum House, a Catholic Worker community house and home of Jail Ministry, two nights earlier to celebrate with Ed his decision to go to Iraq with the Iraq Peace Team. Ed's wishes for a small gathering to share with friends his upcoming journey took a slight sidetrack: over 75 well-wishers, laden with delicious and bountiful plates of food, filled the house, brought funds that Ed distributed to Voices and the Syracuse Peace Council. Celebrating in times of war seemed good for the soul. And how energizing to be with new and young faces, a complement to the usual over-50, over-60, and over-70 crew that often gathers under the Pax Christi banner at the house. It would be remiss not to mention the presence of recently arrested Angus MacDonald, the only current member of the 90 and over crowd _ who shares a birthday with Ed.

Build community: mend fences; don't compete, cooperate; bring others into the loop.

Cynthia Banas sent along this tentative schedule of actions the week of February 10. Once Ed had crossed the desert into Baghdad, he found:

Monday, Feb. 10 _ Vigil at the Al Amariyah shelter

Tuesday, Feb. 11 _ Banner hanging on an electric power station

Wednesday, Feb. 12 _ Banner hanging on a hospital in Baghdad

Thursday, Feb. 13 _ Banner hanging on a water treatment plant in Baghdad

Friday, Feb. 14 _ Banner hanging on a bridge in Baghdad. Peace Lanterns floated down the Tigris River.

For those discouraged about the drive of the war-makers to push for war despite the efforts of busses to Washington and New York, weekly morning vigils, lawn signs, mall tables, civil disobedience _ take heart: the Iraq Peace Team, in the heart of the target, gets to the streets, makes noise, gets public, sends out press releases, works hard. Ed will find good company. Let our efforts here at home, in the belly of the beast, join with the peacemakers in Iraq!

If you want peace, work for justice.

The Central New York landscape _ Ed's domain of well-crafted words, carefully prepared agendas, and succinctly written notes of meetings, and acts of civil disobedience _ will shift in Ed's departure. Look for a misplaced modifier or a typo in the next few issues of the PNL and think of Ed. Read the minutes of the SOA Abolitionists' meetings and remember that Ed has passed along that task for the interim. Don't look for someone sitting on a folding chair at the Tuesday 7:30 a.m. vigils the SPC organizes. When the next civil disobedience actions take place in Syracuse to oppose the attack against Iraq, don't expect to see Ed in the mix. But whatever it is you do, remember:

Question Authority.

Asked about the potential dangers of the trip, Ed called it "dicey." He went on to say he would not have to endure the added fears Iraqis have for the safety of family members and loved ones.

Ed journeys to Iraq as a peacemaker, a peace-making worker. How fortunate we all are: the Iraqis, the Iraq Peace Team, the Central New Yorkers who have and will experience the subtle shift in the landscape as Ed exchanges Syracuse for Baghdad. I now need to find another copy-editor for this article.

God is in the details: be mindful; treat all work as craft.

Ed, go in peace.

*Excerpted from Ed's list of "Pointer's for Peace Workers."

Paul lives at Slocum House, works part-time with Jail Ministry and helps the Peace Council with the Pledge of Resistance.