We have tried traditional avenues of influence. We have lobbied our politicians. We have marched in permitted rallies millions strong. We have signed petitions, prayed and held vigils for a peaceful solution. We have broadcast pleas from the Iraqi people to stave off the looming war against them and their families. Yet these pleas have fallen on deaf ears, and none of our efforts have proven successful.
We must now use what remains of our democratic heritage: the right to use nonviolent civil disobedience in the tradition of the Boston Tea Party, the women's suffragette movement and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. We are aware that our attempts to shut down the Financial District will inconvenience many people. While we and others may suffer disruptions and lost wages on this one day, ask yourself, "What is a human life worth? What are the lives of thousands of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians worth?"
We feel strongly that any inconvenience on this day is dwarfed by the horror of death that will be experienced around the world during this time and beyond. We feel a moral imperative to demonstrate to the Bush administration and to the world that Americans are willing to risk their own freedom and their own comfort to confront the atrocities being committed in our names.
We invite business leaders, workers, students and others to close their doors for the day and join us in the streets. We are people from all walks of life and all political backgrounds. We are families, workers, business people, artists, activists, community organizers and people of faith. We come with diverse political perspectives, but we stand together with one voice to say no to war. When democracy has failed us in our government, we must take democracy to the streets.
We hope you commit to act in the name of peace. We hope you join us.
Father Louis Vitale is pastor of St. Boniface Church in San Francisco's Tenderloin District. Sister Bernie Galvin heads Religious Witness with Homeless People. The Web site for Direct Action to Stop the War is www.actagainstwar.org.