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On living without compromise

      Sr. Anne Montgomery, a Religious of the Sacred Heart, died on August 27th 2012, at 85 of cancer, in her California community's elder care centre. She was a member of the original Plowshares 8 action at King of Prussia General Electric, a member of the Pershing Plowshares, the Trident Nein, of the Kairos Plowshares, Kairos Plowshares Too, the Thames River Plowshares, Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares, actions. Many of these brought short stretches of prison time. "The Chronology of Plowshares Disarmament Actions," by Arthur J. Laffin, is available at She was well recognized and respected by the Catholic peace community. She lived and taught her faith. She believed in love and John Dear quotes her as saying "The opposite of love is fear, and the government tries to keep us in permanent fear." When we stayed over with Elmer Maas, another Plowshares activist, Julie and I would try to clean his stove and refrigerator and kitchen closet where the trash bags piled up. Once he said in protest, "That's what Anne Montgomery's always trying to do !" and it struck me that aside from being an icon of the left she was a person.

      On August 28th, Shulamith Firestone, author of The Dialectic of Sex: the Case for Feminist Revolution, was found dead at 67, alone in her Lower East Side NYC apartment. An article in The Villager says she was born in Ottawa, she had pushed away friends, isolating herself, and that she suffered mental illness and sometimes couldn't pay the rent. I met her once in the Sixties when she first came to New York from Chicago. We were sitting on a bench in Tompkins Square Park on the Lower East Side, and she was explaining the ground rules of feminism as though I might understand. I was distracted because she was attractive. She was also cogent, amused, deeply revolutionary, wise, and absolutely normal. She didn't dislike men, she just didn't compromise what she understood was true. She explained she grew up in the midwest where her parents had an art supply store in St. Louis. A quote from her book: "to be worshipped is not freedom." She shouldn't have become isolated for being aware. She shouldn't have died alone.

      On the afternoon of Aug. 28th I went to Home Depot to get some gravel, a toilet seat and small fan, returned and when I got out of the car a seagull approached to about five feet off and stood there. Seagulls find their way up the Ottawa River from the St. Lawrence. It was still there after I added the gravel to the parking space, so I went for some bread which I tossed piece by piece. The seagull was white with brown streaks and a few dark lines - neither of its wings looked broken but some if its tail feathers were missing. I set out a tin bowl of water by the remaining bread crumbs. That night Julie and I were sitting out on the deck enveloped by a barricade of Virginia creeper and grape vines mixed together, and through its entry you could see the seagull back by the wall, as if nesting, still white in the dark, calm. In the morning the gull had moved about ten feet, with its stomach up, relaxed, motionless. Light as a feather to bury, heavy to forget.

Partial sources online: "‘Violence ends where love begins’: A conversation with Sr. Anne Montgomery," John Dear SJ, May. 01, 2012, & "Sr. Anne Montgomery – Presente!" Society of the Sacred Heart, Aug. 28, 2012, The Nuclear Resister; "Peacemaker Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, dies," James Martin, S.J., Aug. 29, 2012, In All Things; "Shulamith Firestone," current, Wikipedia; "Shulamith Firestone, radical feminist, wrote best-seller, 67," Lincoln Anderson, Aug.30, 2012, The Villager.


3 september 2012
gerald and maas