Order of Preachers
Carol Gilbert, OP -- Lent, 1999
Peace and Justice Makers Par Excellent!
It is an honor for me to offer a brief glimpse into the lives of Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert -- who are peace and justice makers par excellent! They are women who make dreams and visions happen. They produce amazing results. The ability to collaboratively transform ourselves and societal institutions requires special people. Ardeth and Carol are special people!
Both are members of the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters. Ardeth entered in 1954 and Carol in 1965. Each loves their religious congregation. Each is a deeply religious woman. Their prayer and faith-in-action are the grounding of their vision, values, and lives.
During their early years as Grand Rapids Dominicans, both women were school teachers. While teaching in Saginaw, Ardeth became one of the few Catholic Sisters in the country to be elected to public office. She served on the City Council of Saginaw for twelve years, and she was Saginaw's Mayor Pro Tem for two years.
In Saginaw, Ardeth and Carol established the Home for Peace and Justice. This analysis-reflection-action center became a hotbed for personal and societal transformation. People of power, influence, and wealth came to the center. Caring folks from every walk of life came, too.
Poor and oppressed people were especially welcome at the center because Carol and Ardeth understand what relationship and connectedness means. Also, they know that God relies on poor and marginalized people to maintain humanity's aspiration towards peace and justice and to awaken the conscience of people who are good and, at the same time, too comfortable. Some impoverished people came to the Home for Peace and Justice for emergency assistance to ease the burdens and misery of poverty; others came to participate in service activities on behalf of the greater Saginaw community; all came to contribute insight, talent, and gifts.
In greater and greater numbers, peacemakers from around the state of Michigan came to the Home for Peace and Justice. It was a time when nonviolent resistance communities were beginning to protest the manufacture and deployment of cruise missiles, and the Home for Peace and Justice was a gathering place.
When cruise missiles were deployed at the two Strategic Air Command Bases in Michigan, Ardeth and Carol felt the need to become more deeply immersed in nonviolent resistance as a way of life. So, they moved to Oscoda, Michigan, which was the home of Wurtsmith Strategic Air Command Base. They lived there three years. In Oscoda, they made new friends; daily, they went to the gates of the base to leaflet and to pray for peace and economic conversion; and they organized local and statewide folks to participate in large civil resistance actions at the base.
When Wurtsmith Air Force Base closed, Carol and Ardeth moved to Gwinn, Michigan, home of KI Sawyer Air Force Base. They lived there two years. In Gwinn, they made new friends, leafleted, prayed, and organized small and large civil resistance actions at the base.
Mission at Jonah House
When KI Sawyer closed, Ardeth and Carol moved to Jonah House in Baltimore, Maryland, where they have been since 1995. The mission of Jonah House is community living, serving the poor, caring for the environment in the inner city, and responding by action to the systemic evils of militarism. Often the Jonah House community turns to Isaiah 2:2-5 and to Micah 4:1-4 to express their vision for the earth community--
Come let us climb the Lord's mountain,
He shall judge between the nations,
O house of Jacob, come,
On a regular basis, Carol and Ardeth and the other members of the Jonah House community go to the doors of the Pentagon. Also, they have been part of two Plowshares actions:
Ardeth and Carol have been in and out of jail and prisons for the last 15 years as a result of their nonviolent civil resistance actions. With faith-filled passion and energy, they have continued their nonviolent civil resistance action on behalf of peace with justice! Thanks to these two remarkable women, we have a much greater reason to believe that the Pentagon's days are numbered and that transformation to a peaceable community is coming!
It is evident, or should be evident, for all who have 'eyes to see and ears to hear,' that we have deep faith, informed by the poorest, our church, congregations, communities, prayer, and love of God, neighbor, and earth.
In our testimony we each gave the accurate version of our participation in a sacred liturgy of disarmament and transformation -- of "hammering swords into plowshares" on May 17, 1998.
We have also substantiated that we acted without willful destruction, a criminal act, but rather willful healing. We acted without malice, in adherence to law, both the law of God and international law. Nourished and informed by faith, conscience, and international laws, under Geneva, the Hague, Space, Genocide Treaties, Nuremberg Principles, and the World Court decision, we attempted to prevent crimes and eradicate violence and evil. We were completing a willful healing, certainly not a willful crime.
We have shown beyond a reasonable doubt our innocence and should be acquitted. The government has failed to prove its case against us in:
We have exercised our right to stop/prevent crime under the supreme laws of the land.
We have given evidence through Francis Boyle, an expert witness, that:
Our witness and plea were for something better for our children than training with little guns and big guns for their 'security.' We plead for something better than violence and killing."
On October 6, 2002, the anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, Carol and Ardeth -- together with Jackie Hudson, OP -- entered Minuteman II missile silo No. N-8 site in northern Colorado. Acting out Isaiah’s prophesy, "they shall beat their swords into plowshares," they hammered on the concrete silo lid and the tracks that carry the lid to its firing position. They were arrested and charged with sabotage and malicious destruction of U.S. property.
In a pre-trial motions hearing in Denver before Judge Blackburn on February 21, 2003, they stated: "The symbolic disarmament of the MM III at N-8 on high alert is a warning to the nation and the world that these horrific weapons are evil and criminal in the hands of any nation." Their actions were part of the Plowshares Movement.
Following their March/April 2003 trial, they were sentenced -- Jackie: 30 months, Carol: 33 months, and Ardeth: 41 months. in March 2005, Jackie completed her sentence. Jonah House, Carol's home, had a big celebration in honor of her release in May 2005, and for Ardeth in December 2005. Diane Carmen continued to report on their indomitable spirit.
Pictures -- thanks to Carol, Ardeth, and friends