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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience 2006 - SOA 16 Tina Busch-Nema
Tina Busch-Nema PDF Print E-mail
Biography:
Tina Busch-Nema is a stay-at-home mom who describes herself as a "very ordinary person". She loves to garden, hike, canoe and watch St. Louis Cardinal baseball.

In her "other life" she was a School Sister of Notre Dame for 11 years. While in the convent, she visited Honduras and at Mesa Grande, a refugee camp on the Honduran/Salvadoran border. It is there that she witnessed some of the effects of the tactics of terror and intimidation taught at SOA/WHINSEC.

Tina resides in Kirkwood with her husband, three children and their chocolate Labador, Thunder Bolt.

On Monday January 29,2007 Tina was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison, she reported to FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, TX on April 17th. She was released on June 14, 2007

Read Tina's On-line Blog about the trial!

Tina's Statement:

Your Honor, Counselors, Prosecuting Attorney, My community of peacemakers and my friends:

Shelly Douglass once wrote: "Going to jail, doing probation time, doing civil disobedience isn?t all that special or threatening. It's just something that has to be done in a world where insanity is legal. Civil disobedience is a fact of life. I hope we learn to accept it gracefully."

When I first began to compose the thoughts I wanted to share today, I was going to give my views and opinions as to why WHINSEC should be closed. Then I figured, Your Honor probably know the argument better than I do having listened to my friends year after year. So I just want to share a short story. I think it will illustrate the reason I crawled through the fence to mingle the earth of Honduras with the red clay of Georgia and carried the cross of a young Honduran man, Jose Eduardo Lopez who is one of the Desaparcidos and the brother of a friend of mine.

While preparing for final vows in the religious community I belonged to at the time, I asked to join one of our sisters who lived in a refugee camp called Mesa Grande. Situated on the border of Honduras and El Salvador, this camp housed hundreds of El Salvadoran children, women and men who had fled the violence of civil war in their own country. I listened to the women tell stories of how they were shot at in the dead of night as they tried to cross the river. Tearfully they recounted the scenes of the bullets which ripped through their children's bodies as the helicopter gun ships sprayed machine gun fire from the air. Listening to their stories had enormous consequences for me.

Each day I played with the children. Dressed as a clown, I played with puppets and kicked around a homemade soccer ball with them. Their huge smiles and even bigger eyes captured my heart and again bore great consequences for me.

One of the reasons foreign nationals lived at the camp was because refugees were being taken at gun point. Since the refugees could not leave the confines of the camp, they had no way to let the world know what was happening to them. Part of our job was to just be present and tell the outside world what was happening. The grief I witnessed from those whose loved ones were among the "desaparecidos", also had grave consequences for me.

One day, I was walking from one camp, situated on a hillside to a second camp which was located on the opposite hill. Between the camps ran a long valley. As it had rained the night before, I was paying close attention to my feet so as not to slide down the muddy hillside. I remember how I cursed the mud, the constant rain and my inferior sandals.

At one point I stopped to see where I was and how far I had to go. What I saw ahead of me caused my heart to race. I had accidentally run into a group of armed mercenaries who were only a few yards away. I couldn't run because of the slippery mud and I couldn't scream because nothing would come from my mouth. The clicking sound I heard as they readied their guns even today sends jolts of fear through my body. I remember the grim look on their brown, sun hardened faces, their muddy boots, and drab green uniforms and hats. At some point I closed my eyes thinking they were going to kill me and hoping they would not rape me first. I had no way to defend myself. The terror which ran through me then is difficult to describe even today.

After a while, I opened my eyes and they were gone. My legs became like jello and I sank to the ground covered with the same mud I had tried so hard to avoid earlier. I can't explain why they didn't take me; maybe they were as surprised to see me as I was to see them. But those feelings of terror, which so many people of Latin America have faced and still face today are indelibly etched into my mind. Facing those soldiers with guns had consequences for me then and still do today. I survived the terror and can give it a voice. So many thousands of innocent men, women and children did not survive and their voice was silenced. By my action, I want to give their terror a voice. My act of civil disobedience on November 19 was and still is, simply the consequence of living with and loving people. I can do no less.

I would like to close with a quote from Reinhold Niebuhr. He says, "Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.

And so Your Honor, in the end three things remain, faith, hope and love...And the greatest of these is love.
Thank you.


Why I Cross the Line

People ask me how I can "cross the line" at Fort Benning in an act of civil disobedience. ?Why now? Why Fort Benning and the School of the Americas? How can you do this when you have three children at home??

The answer is that I first "crossed the line" spiritually. If teaching and practicing torture and violence are the means to secure the safety of our nation, then what is there to protect if in the process we have lost our soul?
So I reply, "Why not now?"

I reply, ?It is for my children.? Because of them, and what I have learned from them, it makes sense to me that the force of love is stronger in securing life and freedom for all children. It is because I have an extraordinary hope for a peaceful world for my children that I honor the line outside Fort Benning by an outward act of non-violent civil disobedience.

What I am called to do is love. I am called to love in a world that depends on massive slaughter of civilians to settle disputes, where torture is practiced in order to protect "national security," and where we are held hostage by unprecedented weapons of war-making.

While my act of civil disobedience at SOA may not stop our military from teaching methods of torture, intimidation and extermination to our neighbors in Central and South America , it is one more drop in the bucket for peace. It is an act of love for my children and all children the world over.
I believe the day will come when it will take only one drop to make that bucket overflow. When it does, there is no army, no governmental proclamation, and no weapon on earth that will quell the sound of peace.

I am supported by a community of peacemakers here in St. Louis who make my public act of peacemaking possible. They have promised to take their own actions: to care for my children, prepare meals for my family, coordination of my children?s activities, write letter to public officials, and pray for the success of my action?small and not so small actions?that will support me. Each act on the part of others is another drop in the bucket for peace. No one action is more important or more courageous than another because peacemaking is by its very nature a communal act.

It is not up to me or my actions alone to stop the war making. I am only doing my small part. What is important is that day by day, person by person, with each act of loving kindness, we will fill the bucket. Change will happen when our desire for peace is stronger than our fears. It is difficult but not impossible.

This is the approach I take with this act of non-violent civil disobedience. My desire for peace outweighs my fear of what could happen. I can not just sit safely on the sidelines all the while disapproving but not acting. It is the boldness of love which prompts me to "cross over the line" and take a stand for peace.

Crossing the Line
by Tina Busch-Nema

I crawled through a hole in a fence
And found, to my surprise, the land on the other side the same
Yet they arrested me
Saying I had trespassed
But I only came to say a prayer, was my response
To mingle the soil of the suffering poor
With the soil of those who cause the suffering
I came because we all are one and this fence divides our oneness

You are delusional he said
Your talk of God and oneness
There is no God, no oneness, no connection
You broke the law
That's all

Thank you she said.
You give us peace
I wish I could do the same.
Your welcome, I said
I felt honored to carry your brother's cross.

And so we cross lines every day
From the angry words that go too far
To the passionate prayer spoken to a God we can not see

Some lines are drawn to keep us out and some are drawn to keep us in
Some are there daring us to make a difference
And then with knee-shaking, heart-thumping courage and sometimes with no courage at all
We dare to cross those lines
To make a change
To be the difference
 

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