“Der Krieg der Pazifisten”

Wie Dienstverweigerer den Militarismus in der Schweiz beeinflussten

Schweizerisches Kriegsgerät im Einsatz für die Menschlichkeit: Von den Behörden nicht anerkannter Zivildiensteinsatz als “Bergheimat” Betriebshelfer , Alpe Loasa, 1985

Ich möchte hier einen Artikel aus dem Tagesanzeiger zum Thema Repressionen gegen Dienstverweigerer in der Schweiz wiedergeben. Leider ist der Titel zum Artikel ungeschickt, aber verkaufswirksam gewählt. Doch der Inhalt hat bei mir Erinnerungen an meine eigenen Erlebnisse der Achtziger Jahre wach gerufen!

Der Krieg der Pazifisten

von Beni Frenkel

Alter Backstein, von Pflanzen überwachsen. Der Klingelknopf aus Bakelit. An der Gartenhofstrasse 7 in Zürich-Aussersihl ist die Zeit in den 1980er- Jahren stehen geblieben. Ein hochgewachsener Mann öffnet die schwere Tür. Schlohweisses Haar, spöttischer Blick. Peter Weishaupt. Er bittet den Besucher in den grossen Konferenzraum. Weishaupt ist Autor der «Friedenszeitung». Die Auflage pendelt zwischen 1800 und 2000. Tendenz eher sinkend, da die Abonnenten sterben und wenig neue dazukommen. Die Zeitung wird vom Schweizerischen Friedensrat herausgegeben. Und der hat sich viele Jahrzehnte lang für die Einführung des Zivildienstes eingesetzt. Erst seit 1996 gibt es überhaupt diese – Alternative zum Militärdienst.

Wer vor diesem Datum den Dienst verweigerte, landete meist im Gefängnis.
Continue reading ““Der Krieg der Pazifisten””

Eye Catching Art with a Message

ungewöhnliches Kunsthandwerk mit einer Botschaft


Please, watch this short documentary about the art work of a friend of mine in the United States: “Eye Catching Art with a Message” documentary.
Dieser Doku Film ist über die Arbeit einer guten Bekannten von mir in den Vereinigten Staaten, die ihre Lebenserfahrung als Pflegefachperson am Rande der Gesellschaft nun ausdrückt in Skulpturen und Bildern. Leider nur auf Englisch.
The award-winning news anchor, Steve Long, from KEVN – Black Hills Fox television, gently introduces Yoko Sugawara and her unusual art work.
Yoko has been painting for many years. She started with Japanese calligraphy and drawing, then expanded her repertoire to include Western art forms and themes from her professional and volunteer nursing work of her first station in the US. Deeply compassionate about social justice, based on her lived experience in Pine Ridge Reservation, her next series of painted works is titled Shadows and Lights.
About ten years ago, Yoko spent much time exploring a new medium to express herself: ceramic art. As with her paintings, her sculptures and installations are deeply influenced by her life experiences, as well as by her compassionate service (i.e. as a nurse with Doctors without Borders, or during the recovery from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown).
I have had the opportunity to model for this under-appreciated artist.
Yoko says, that she was told many times to produce still life paintings or landscapes in order to make a living from her art work. But she remains committed to her message: “Through the journey of self-reflection, I want to foster the courage to embrace ourselves the way we are. My art mirrors the complexity of the human condition. Empathy that I cultivated as a nurse helps me perceive situations with deeper understanding. New concepts for my creations often emerge through these perceptions and insights.”
Her work is deeply personal, and yet universal. And still, she accepts no compromise for the sake of achieving commercial success.

The (personal) impact of working with Doctors without Borders (+de)

Community mobilization and health education during a malnutrition crisis in Babalmé/Chad
Community mobilization and health education during a malnutrition crisis in Babalmé/Chad

The following article has just been published this week in The Canadian Friend, 108(5) p.13 , a publication of the Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. You can find the current and many back issues online: The Canadian Friend.

Für eine deutsche Übersetzung klicke hier:
Arbeiten mit Ärzte ohne Grenzen – der Einfluss auf mein persönliches Leben

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders in Chad

by Othmar F. Arnold

I have been asked: “How did this service work change me? What impact did the experiences have on my life?”

I must acknowledge that I have not been working as a nurse since that time. I am not the same person as before the mission. A major shift began in my life several years ago. I was called back to my roots, to become radical again, and there were other factors enabling a mid-life reorientation

My children were growing up and becoming more and more independent. Though the high-paying nursing work in Nunavut enabled me to liberate myself from financial obligations accumulated over the years, I was becoming less and less convinced by the direction nursing was going.

Continue reading “The (personal) impact of working with Doctors without Borders (+de)”

Life-long learning – a professional and a monastic path

The last few workdays, I had a chance to be with people in a professional manner again. Yes, it is in many ways a different way of being, no matter what the personal intention behind it is. There is often a very clear mandate, a professional framework, and whole lot of professional culture that determines in various ways the interactions and relationships in such a setting. I have considerable experience in the field of nursing, which operates within the health care system. This most recent experience was in the field of education. I found many commonalities in how we as professionals relate to those in our care.

The most limiting factor I find is the schedule – the work hours. Although the job mandates to relate to people, work hours are a very foreign framework: They are governed by transactional considerations in collective agreements, agency funding, institutional culture, and individual rights and responsibilities. I find this internally inconsistent with the mandate of being with – of relating to people with multiple needs. How often are we forcing our professional expertise (“we know what to do, what is best for you”), our learning goals and plans, our labour benefits (such as break times) onto the individual lives of those who we care for during work hours? It is not possible to catch that learning window when it is open, we have to pry it open: It is time to do crafts, music therapy, spell and sign… because our schedule demands it at this point.

Many times I have been frustrated by these constraints. But I have also witnessed, that it is so much easier, successful, and satisfying to be with people and weave the learning goals and activities into daily living (instead of simulating a formal lesson): Why not sing and engage in musical activity when the person we are caring for is open to engage, even if it is while out on a walk? The squirrels and ravens don’t mind if I sing and if we clap the rhythm to the song together.

A creative result of applied math and social studies: Grittibänz baking for Dec. 6 celebration (Nicholas of Myra feast day)

I remember the days when we home schooled our children. We never did any formal math classes for three years: our children learned their additions, subtractions, multiplications and divisions by working with and adjusting recipes to bake muffins or cup cakes. Continue reading “Life-long learning – a professional and a monastic path”

Feast Day: Othmar

für eine deutsche Version: Namenstag: Othmar

Today I am going to tell you a story of a gifted little boy born on the shores of Lake Constance. He grew up in a place where he would speak an Alamannic German at home and Latin in more formal settings. He was born into a privileged family: He got the chance to go to school at an early age. The intent was to groom him for service in the royal administration. For his postsecondary education he is being sent abroad where people speak Romansch. There he lives in a palace with the family of a powerful mentor. After he mastered the sciences, he continued to study theology and became a priest.

The young man wanted to return to the shores of Lake Constance, but his mentor had a strategic placement for him in mind. He served for a number of years as parish priest and gained a reputation for compassionate service and his special attention for the marginalized. Eventually, he got called by an even more powerful landlord to establish a monastery in the woods of the Steinach valley. The local ruler secured a royal order to do so, and thus to establish a cultural and religious defence post on the margins of competing jurisdictions.

Abbot Otmar (photo source: http://www.santiebeati.it)

Continue reading “Feast Day: Othmar”