Court Statement by Al Simmons Print
For the past 30 years, I have worked with two through five year-olds in childcare.  It’s been amazingly satisfying work:  teaching children how to take turns, how to share and form friendships.  Really, the early beginnings of how to become a civilized person.  During those years, a couple of my mantras were “Don’t hurt, use words” or “It’s okay  to be angry, but it’s not okay to hit”.

I would sometimes have worried parents come to me and say:  “Al, what about the alphabet and learning their colors?”  After assuring them that all those skills would come, I let them know that all the 20 year-olds I know know red and green and A to Z, but many of them have few cllues about how to build a good friendship.  Helping children move toward non-violent problem-solving, create friendships and build a more gentle community had geat value not only for the children but for me.

When I returned from Vietnam in 1968, like many of my fellow soldiers, I was angry, confused, lonely, and well on my way to becoming an alcoholic.  Looking back, I wish someone I trusted would have pulled me aside and said: “Al, it’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to hit”.  Maybe it wouldn’t have helped, but perhaps the dim bulb in my head would have gone on a little earlier.  Unfortunately, those people weren’t around, so I wandered awhile, dazed and drunk, with unresolved anger and unarticulated feelings.

I was fortunate to run into a gentle woman, full of kindness, patience, with good sense, who found something worth loving in me.  I also began going to AA and learning to take responsibility for my actions while learning to cope with my feelings without being numbed by alcohol.

This woman, Marcia, who loved me when I found so little to love in myself, began in her own quiet but powerful way to teach me the virtues of sacrifice and the beauty and strength of family love.  Our journey of awareness and self-awareness continues these many years later.  Like any journey, there have been some unexpected turns and bumps, but our trust and love continue to grow.

That growth has led me to this moment on this stand.  It led me to a belief in the world family.  I love my country, but I also love the world. My own world has food, water, shelter, medical care, freedom from physical fear, and the possibility of creativity, humor and love.  These human needs should be available to everyone everywhere.

I am no longer a person of faith, but, when I was growing up, my mother taught me:  “As you do to the least of these, you do also unto me.”  Don’t you just love the generosity of that statement?

Your Honor, I need to exercise more.  I need a stronger, more spacious heart to wrap around that thought, “As you do to the least of these, you do also unto me”.  That’s the world I want to  leave to our children and their children.

Who are these people we bear witness for today?

Are they foreigners?  I don’t think so.

They are our sisters and brothers, and they are being raped, tortured, murdered and disappeared.

Who are these people we bear?

They are our sisters and brothers, and they are being raped, tortured, murdered and disappeared.

Who are these people?

Who are we?