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Plowshares Please

Several people requested we post this song, performed at the most recent Festival of Hope. Lyrics are by Ralph Hutchison; the performed version lifted the tune from Joel Rafael’s excellent piece, China Basin Digs.

Plowshares Please

They cut the fence and they started in about a half past two
They had no doubt when they thought about what they were called to do
The prophet said that hammers would make plowshares out of swords
And people turn their hearts to study peace instead of wars

They scaled the ridge in darkest night, couldn’t see what lay below
But they knew the bomb plant was out there, they headed toward the glow
One building gleaming white stood out ‘gainst the darkened July sky
Three fences blocked the way ahead, but they knew they had to try

The second fence had a low wall, and bright light shone beyond
They sprayed a message “Disarm Now” before the chance was gone
In a moment they’d be surely caught, and so they poured their blood
A symbol of the justice that will flow down like a flood

Before them stood the Y12 plant, where nuclear bombs are made
Where Hiroshima’s death was formed, and where the devil’s paid
Their cutters snipped the second fence and they headed for the third
Compelled to act by lessons they had learned from Nuremberg

When people see the government is bent on doing wrong
They have no choice, they have to act, they can not go along
Whispering prayers they forged ahead, the nun was first in line
They reached the third fence and they read the lethal warning sign

But the cameras failed to capture them, the alarms were all ignored
They crept ahead and came to where the nuclear swords were stored
But no guards came—they later said it was a miracle
They were kept at bay, heads turned away, the angels in control

They unrolled crime scene tape to say, “What happens here is wrong”
Poured blood and painted “Plowshares please;” they wouldn’t have too long
They painted on, each letter seemed a dove that was released
The words were like the voice of God; the fruit of justice, peace

And when the guard finally arrived, they met him with a bow
No gun was drawn, the guard could see there was no danger now
They offered him some bread to eat; the offered him their prayers
He radioed his bosses he had peace protesters there

They locked the Transform Plowshares up, for how long no one knows
But the seed of peace they planted there has sprouted and it grows
Who knows what act will turn the tide and lead the way to light
It’s the reason we’re required to do what we see is right

You don’t need all the answers, may not know precisely how
But ignorance is no excuse; the time to start is now
It’s enough to know we can not stand in silence anymore
Every dollar spent on bombs and guns is stolen from the poor

What started at Y12 that night in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Is somehow still a living thing, it lives in you and me
A dream, a vision, a prayer, a call for all those who have ears
Transform swords to plowshares, please, make pruninghooks from spears


2 thoughts on “Plowshares Please

  1. What I just shared on Facebook:
    “What an incredible new song! In the middle of doing so much it is remarkable that Ralph found the time to write such a meaningful song summing up the Transform Now Plowshares Action in a way that is inspiring us all to do what we can to stop the plans for a new Uranium Processing Facility (nuclear weapons production plant) at Y12, Oak Ridge, TN.

    Posted by Kim Bergier | March 1, 2014, 1:52 pm
  2. We are awaiting our instructions to help. Please apprise.

    Posted by MaryAnne Coyle | March 1, 2014, 7:04 pm

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Support Transform Now Plowshares

Contributions for jail support for the Transform Now Plowshares activists are welcome and needed! You can mail checks to:

Catholic Worker
PO Box 29179
Washington DC 20017

please mark your check for "Transform Now Plowshares" in the memo line.

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