Wednesday, May 18, 2016

PHOENIX and GOLDEN RULE (6) Convergence

     "We Sail Again for Bomb-Test Area Wed. June 4th at Noon--Aloha!" the sign on the stern of the 30-foot ketch would read.
     The crew of the Golden Rule had been changed. Seasoned civil rights and conscientious objector Jim Peck, author of We Who Would Not Kill, had been sent out from the NVA (Non-Violent Action Against Nuclear Weapons, organized by Bert Bigelow and others in June 1957) on the mainland to replace Bill Huntington. Bill was qualified to captain the ship and he proposed he wait and skipper a second sailing if the June 4th attempt failed. 
     Capt. Bigelow writes in his book, The Voyage of the Golden Rule: An Experiment in Truth, "If Golden Rule sailed without Bill and got clear; well and good. If we were arrested, as there was a high expectation, then Bill, having recruited another crew, would take over. There was little likelihood that the government would impound the vessel itself. . . the state can hardly arrest a thing for intent to do something. . ."
    We did not know any of this at the time--the historical background of civil disobedience, its organizations, its purposes, its commitment to peace. We were not in on the planning of the Golden Rule's protests. We did not know that when the appeal court refused to set aside the lower court's injunction, the crew had come to a decision.
     Bigelow writes of the "steady stream" of "several hundreds" who came to see them: "A few tourists took taxis directly from the steamer or airport right to the Golden Rule! They would drive by and walk by, stop, photograph, and talk with us.
     "Two visitors I shall never forget. One was a dumpy man about my age. He was dressed in an ill-fitting, mussy brown suit. His arms hung at his sides. He was crying unashamedly. The tears welled out of his eyes, ran down his cheeks, and plopped onto the front of his suit or onto the pier under his feet. In badly broken English, with a thick Japanese accent, he managed to tell me that he was a native of Hiroshima. All his immediate family, his wife and twelve children, had been killed by our first A-bomb. He pressed my hand and kept saying, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.'
     "Another visitor was also in tears. She was no stranger. She was Barbara Reynolds. Early one morning, late in May, she stood in almost the same spot on the pier that the man from Hiroshima had stood. She was breathing quickly and tears stood in her lovely eyes. 'Bert, Bert,' she said, 'we think we have to go. We've been up all night talking, we think we must go. Can you please come over, all of you, right now, and help us and talk with us?'
     "But that was after we had decided that we had to sail again."

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