For many years I have been thinking about doing civil disobedience for peace. For the first years I doubted that it was ethical or the most effective way of working for peace. Then when I had come to the conclusion that it was a good or even necessary method I needed some more years to overcome my fears and worries about using this method. I have been working in SweFOR now for four years using more conventional, law-abiding peace work. I have not given up my faith about the effectiveness of this work I still believe that SweFOR and other similar peace organisations do crucial and effective work for peace. But I have been increasingly convinced that there is also a great need for groups of people that are ready to cross the threshold of law through civil disobedience for the sake of peace.
When I received the invitation to plant vine and fig trees at the Aldermaston nuclear weapons factory in England I couldnt resist any longer and I had enough time to do it during my summer vacation. I was extremely attracted by the positive message and content of the action (see Stephen Hancocks excellent article Beyond Protest). I felt that I could commit to the two weeks of community building, nonviolence training and the action. I was not prepared to stay months or years in prison, but to pay fines or serve some days or weeks was something I could be prepared to do. For years I have read and lectured about Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi and others who have served time in prison because of their convictions. I felt that to be credible, not at least to myself, I could no longer promote this kind of nonviolent action without being willing to do some of it myself.
I still have a lot of worries, fears and doubts. I am worried by what kind of sentence we may get at the trial that will come later and I am worried about getting hurt or exploited in prison if I go there after the trial. But for now I can handle those fears, mainly because of the community we formed during the preparation, the action and the post-action. Without the others I couldnt have done it. We were a great mix of people, from Dutch Barbara with her brave and young mind, to British Sister Susan (58-year old catholic nun) with her compassion and strength in spite of her serious lack of sight. The Catholic worker house in Oxford was a support and generous home for us during the action. It also strengthens me to see that we have received some coverage in the media, especially in the Swedish media where the Swedish newspaper DN among other papers wrote an article, and a little less in England where at least a local paper (Newbury Today) wrote an article. The support from friends and family (although my father doesnt approve much) have been great. This is a great comfort for me.
You are all invited to continue the planting with us or in another part of the world.
peace, Martin Smedjeback