Peter Sprunger-Froese is a lifelong advocate for peace and justice who is part of an ecumenical community in Colorado Springs that honors the rights and dignity of marginalized people of all stripes, practices non-violent resistance, and represents an alternative to the Christianized war-making of their surroundings. Peter’s latest project, which was supported by the SEED Committee of the Mountain States Mennonite Conference, involved the creation of a banner that reads, “Conscience against war? Call the Mennonite Church. 719-231-2168”
Peter and his Mennonite and ecumenical communities have committed to hold this banner outside of the military bases and military contractors’ facilities that pervade Colorado Springs. The designated phone number rings on Peter’s phone. His hope is that some of the people that work in these places might just see his sign and decide to give him a call. If your conscience is bothering you about your participation in war, he wants to hear you out, and if your conscience leads you to consider a new form of employment, he plans to call on the larger Mennonite community for support and financial assistance you may need throughout that process.
On July 3, Peter and a companion were holding this banner outside of Fort Carson’s Gate 4 when a large red truck drove up over the curb, and collided with the banner as Peter jumped out of the way. Peter and his friend were shaken up, but fortunately no one was injured. When asked about the incident, Peter speculated that the driver’s actions may have been fueled by the July 4th week timing.
This story illustrates the way in which the war-making-machine limits our imagination. There were all kinds of options available to the driver of the large red truck besides attacking Peter. Options like driving straight through the gate to work and making a significant financial contribution to the campaign of a pro-military spending candidate for office; or driving straight home, picking up his kids and telling them he loved them, and then enjoying his holiday by eating a hot dog and watching some fireworks; or pulling over and taking Peter up on his offer to have some conversation and explore the incredible emotion that he feels when he thinks about his country and its relationship to war.
Violence is not our only option. War is not our only option. Getting rid of people is not our only option. But in moments of intense emotion our imagination fails us and our understanding of the wide array of options that are available to us slips away.
This country has been at war for over 17 years now. That is over half of my lifetime. I was in the 8th grade when US bombs began to fall over Baghdad. What if we had dropped bread instead?
From my experience, and the experience of others from my generation it may seem that war is the only way. But Peter’s banner, and the good news of Jesus of Nazareth would suggest otherwise.
There is another way. Don’t believe me? Call Peter.