Send Rice to Washington
Here is a simple way to protest the war against Iraq. Please read to the end to find out how it influenced Pres. Eisenhower's decision to not use nuclear weapons against China in the 50s. This comes from Susan Ortman Goering, a minister from the Colorado Mennonite Church, Boulder (SOGoering@aol.com).
There is a grassroots campaign begun by a local peace center with a secular
focus. I am hoping that people of faith will want to participate, and I am
suggesting that such people write a faith-based message instead of a secular
message on their note to the President.
Place ˝ cup of uncooked rice in a small plastic bag (a sandwich bag works
fine). Squeeze out excess air and seal the bag. Wrap it in a piece of paper on
which you have written: “IF YOUR ENEMIES ARE HUNGRY, FEED THEM. ROMANS
12:20. PLEASE SEND THIS RICE TO THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ. DO NOT ATTACK THEM.”
Place the paper and bag of rice in an envelope (a letter-sized envelope or
small padded mailer both cost the same to mail) and address them to:
President George Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500
Attach $1.06 in postage. (Three 37 cent stamps = $1.11)
Mail it today. It is important to act now. In order for this protest to be
effective, there must be hundreds of thousands of such rice deliveries to the
White House. We can do this if we all forward this message to our friends and
family. If every Mennonite and every Church of the Brethren household sent one
of these, and the tens of thousands of persons from outside these churches who
think war is a mistake also sent them, that would be hundreds of thousands of
THE HISTORY BEHIND THIS IDEA
There is a positive history of this protest. Read on:
In the mid-1950s, the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation, learning of
famine in the Chinese mainland, launched a “Feed Thine Enemy” campaign.
Members and friends mailed thousands of little bags of rice to the White House
with a tag quoting the Bible, “If thine enemy hunger, feed him.” As far as
anyone knew for more than ten years, the
campaign was an abject failure. The President did not acknowledge receipt of
the bags publicly. Certainly no rice was ever sent to China.
What nonviolent activists only learned a decade later was that the campaign
played a significant, perhaps even determining role in preventing nuclear war.
Twice while the campaign was on, President Eisenhower met with the Joint
Chiefs of Staff to consider U.S. options in the conflict with China over two
islands, Quemoy and Matsu. The generals twice recommended the use of nuclear
weapons. President Eisenhower each
time turned to his aide and asked how many little bags of rice had come in.
When told they numbered in the tens of thousands, Eisenhower told the generals
that as long as so many Americans were expressing active interest in having
the U.S. feed the Chinese, he certainly wasn't going to consider using nuclear
weapons against them. (From “People Power: Applying Nonviolence Theory” by
David H. Albert, p. 43, New Society, 19.)
Thank you all for being people of hope, people of faith.
Susan Ortman Goering