As light gives way to darkness, we stand with hope at the Advent Vigil for Disarmament at Bath Iron Works. We meet across from the BIW administration building on Washington Street in Bath from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on all the Saturdays of Advent: Nov. 27 and Dec. 4, 11 and 18.

Shebang Street Theater and other groups demonstrate in 1997 outside the gates of what was then Bath Iron Works’ Portland repair facility. Missiles carried by the BIW-built Aegis destroyers “travel thousands of miles and kill indiscriminately,” Maureen and George Ostensen write. Jack Milton/Staff Photographer

We stand with signs calling for an end to the production of weapons of mass destruction by General Dynamics here in Maine. Specifically, we stand in opposition to the Arleigh Burke class of Aegis destroyers and the Zumwalt destroyers, which cost billions of dollars apiece.

These are guided missile warships that are nuclear capable. The missiles travel hundreds of miles and kill indiscriminately. They have been used in all of our recent wars including Afghanistan and Iraq. They are now deployed in the Pacific threatening China and perpetuating an arms race. The building of these warships should be considered a war crime, and yet the Navy now has more than 60 of them all over the world. They are a key component of the theatre missile defense system, yet they are truly offensive weapons.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, there is a well known passage that speaks of a time for everything under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to reap, a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time for war and a time for peace. We have long endured a time for war. The slaughter of the innocents seems unending. More children and civilians than military personnel have been injured or killed in these wars, according to Brown University’s Costs of War of Project. The numbers are unbelievable and the tears are endless.

Advent gives us the opportunity to create a time for peace. We stand in recognition of the light within all of us as we are steadfastly aware that those in the sights of our guns, our missiles, our drones shine in their worlds as bright stars. A time of peace is ours when we hold that children all over the world are as important and as precious as the life of the child we await during Advent, that child born under the star.

It is not realistic to believe that, while our government insists on spending more on war than the next 11 countries combined, we will ever have peace or the ability to address the ongoing climate crisis. Peace comes only from disarming our military and our hearts. Although we inflict war on countries thousands of miles away, we live in a fantasy in which we don’t see the war that is raging. But it is raging and children are dying, and this is our responsibility. This terrible crime needs to end if we want our children to experience what peace is all about.

So, please join us for an hour on these four Saturdays before Christmas to hold a light in the darkness and help create a disarmed world.


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