Friday, May 20, 2016

PHOENIX and GOLDEN RULE (4) Mum's, Nick's perspectives

     Looking back at this crossroads in our lives, Mum wrote, "By the time we returned to Hawaii (where we had stopped for four months on our outward voyage), two of the Japanese had left us and the third had become like one of the family.  We had all experienced that 'consciousness raising' which only life itself can give.  We were ready to be shoved onto the stage as 'peace activists.'
     "It was at that point that Phoenix--Bird of Peace, risen from the ashes of Hiroshima--met the Golden Rule, sailed from California by four Quakers for the purpose of protesting the U.S. nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific.
     "'Crackpots!' was our first reaction.  What could four men on a tiny boat do to change government policies?  But we were concerned about the dangers from radiation and soon realized that the presence of Golden Rule was stimulating a discussion of the issues.  For me, it stimulated much more."  (From "Sailing into Test Waters," included in the book, Reweaving the Web of Life: Feminism and Non-Violence, 1982)
     Mum was struck by the amazing series of interlocking factors which to her (then a believer in an impersonal but benign Deity) could not be accounted for by coincidence:
     Skipper was a leading world expert on the dangers of radiation and concerned about them.  We had spent three years in Hiroshima, had built a boat there named after a bird which (Western mythology) rises from its own ashes and (Eastern mythology) appears only in a time of universal peace.  One of our crew was a citizen of Hiroshima. We had deep-sea sailing experience and were ready for a long voyage.  We had arrived in Honolulu while the U.S. was doing a series of atmospheric nuclear tests.  We had arrived the day after the Golden Rule was hauled back from attempting to sail to the nuclear test zone to protest those tests.  And we were on our way back to Hiroshima.  We wouldn't have to go out of our way to enter the test zone.  In fact we would have to go considerably out of our way not to enter it.
     In short, we were ideally positioned to take over where the Golden Rule had been forced to leave off.
    "In court," Mum continued in her essay, "where we went to a hearing on an injunction forbidding Golden Rule to sail--an injunction which was upheld--I heard George Willoughby's quiet statement: 'When the laws of men are in violation of the laws of God, I must obey God.  You can send me to jail but you cannot imprison my conscience!'  I felt a deep affirmation.
     "For the first time, I knew that God was and that He was in charge.  I knew, too, what it was to be God-fearing.  For Phoenix to pick up the protest voyage after the crew of Golden Rule had been sentenced to sixty days in jail was not an action I felt we could evade.  Rather, it was a decision for which our whole lives had prepared us. To have said, 'No, I have other plans for my life!' would have taken more courage than I possessed.
     "I shared my conviction with my family.  After some discussion (and perhaps for different reasons) we found ourselves in agreement. 

Niichi (Nick) Mikami
"As for our Japanese companion, Nick Mikami, there was no hesitation.  'I am from Hiroshima!' he said.  [Nick's mother and brother had been in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped. For days, his mother had crawled through the radioactive rubble, searching for her brother-in-law.  She never found his body.]
     And so, with no knowledge of the peace movement nor any background in nonviolent action, we sailed. . .
     "I became an 'activist' out of a deeply felt inner compulsion, as instinctively as a dog responds to his master's voice. . ."


     In Mum's slide show of her spiritual conversion, she wrote, "That same “Inward Voice” Quakers referred to was speaking to me: You thought that you were sailing for your own pleasure, it said, but I have been preparing you against this day. It was I who led you to Yotsuda [the shipbuilder], I who named your boat and chose your crew. Who else—what human committee—could have brought together such a group with the knowledge and experiences I have given you? I have been teaching you the needs and longings of ordinary people, the evils of war, the poisons of wrong attitudes, the fragility of life. . . Now, when nations are polluting the atmosphere and threatening the quality and well-being of all life, what are you going to do about it?" (See also The Phoenix and the Dove)


     "Barbara feels this is the hand of Providence," Skipper wrote in The Forbidden Voyage.  "I am more inclined to feel it is just damned bad luck. Anyway, we talked almost all night, and finally decided to sail, but to postpone any final decision until we are close to the area of the testing zone."




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