"The Soldier above all other people prays for peace,
for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds
and scars of war."
---General Douglas MacArthur
as quoted in Will War Ever End?
by Paul K. Chappell
To My Fellow Veterans:
I am a former Navy Electronics Technician having served my eight years between 1999 and 2007. I was stationed aboard the aircraft carrier, USS George Washington out of Norfolk, VA as well as at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda, MD. I worked as a government employee there and later at the National Institutes of Health until June 2011.
Since the Spring of 2012, I have been endeavoring to ride a geographically continuous route across the country under my own power. My motives were many at first, but they have narrowed down to one: I want to help bring peace to the world.
In November 2011, I became friends with Paul K. Chappell as a consequence of reading an article he posted on-line regarding the Occupy Wall Street Movement. He raised questions concerning how effective the movement would be, whether or not its members were well trained enough, disciplined enough, or strategic enough, to make their movement a success.
Chappell is a graduate of West Point and an Iraq war veteran. He left the Army in 2009 with the rank of Captain. Chappell is also a survivor of child abuse having been beaten by his father regularly from the time he was four years old until he was in his early teens, when he finally became big enough, and strong enough to ward off his father's attacks. Chappell's father was a veteran of the Vietnam and Korean wars. Given the abusive nature of their relationship, from a very early age Chappell has questioned the idea that human beings are naturally violent by asking, "If human beings are naturally violent, then why doesn't going to war make them more mentally healthy rather than less?"
As a consequence of his study at West Point as well as his own diligent (sometimes bordering on obsessive) research, Chappell has been able to answer that question and has come to the conclusion that, "No. Human beings are not naturally violent." However, just as a doctor must understand illness in order to cure it, so we must understand the roots of violence and aggression in human beings in order to heal our wounds and bring peace to the world.
In February of 2012, Chappell sent me a copy of his then most recent book, Peaceful Revolution: How We Can Create the Future Needed for Humanity's Survival. I read its 200+ pages in a couple of days, and it changed my life. Prior to reading the book, I was feeling pretty disheartened and hopeless about the future of our country and of the world, but reading Peaceful Revolution gave me hope - as Chappell calls it, "rational hope". He helped me to see that human beings are not naturally violent and, therefore, war is not inevitable. At the same time, Chappell made it very clear to me that the road to peace would not be an easy one - that it would take as much if not more effort to become trained, disciplined, and strategic enough to Wage Peace and effectively counter the forces around us that are determined to continue waging war.
And that is why I am riding my bicycle across the country. It is my way of actively "Waging Peace". During Stage I, I rode from east to west, following in the footsteps of the earliest pioneers of this country. By riding east to west, I was riding (for the most part) into the wind, and this is a powerful metaphor for our collective struggle to Wage Peace in the world today, as the world's military industrial complex is a very heavy wind that is blowing against all of us. As I ride, I am taxing my own physical strength and mental toughness, to "go the extra mile", and to Keep On Keepin' On in spite of the challenges and obstacles I may face. I am also riding solo to show others what one person, even one somewhat more mature woman, can do to make a difference!
Finally, I am riding to validate the idea that most human beings are not inclined to be violent, but, instead, they are actually warm and generous and willing to help a stranger like me to accomplish such a worthy mission. This has already been proven in my experience over the past two years and the 1700 miles of Stage I and Stage II, and now as I am continuing with the 1400 + miles of Stage III, this time reversing my course from Santa Barbara, CA and aiming to reconnect with my last stop from Stages I and II in New Braunfels, TX.
In addition, with Stage III, I want to bring special attention to the actions of the Marshall Islands, filing lawsuits in the International Court of Justice as well as U.S. Federal Courts to hold the nine current nuclear armed countries accountable for being in violation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. I had the privilege and honor of meeting and talking at length with Tony DeBrum, then Senator from the Marshall Islands, who received the NAPF Peace Leader Award in October of 2012. His dedication to abolishing nuclear weapons is not only for the suffering and injustices the testing of these weapons brought to his homelands, but also for the benefit of all living beings on this planet who will continue to be threatened with extinction as long as nuclear weapons remain.
If you would like to support my efforts or those of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation you can do any of the following:
1. Should we meet face to face, direct cash donations are always welcome and at present they are my primary means of ongoing support while I am on the road.
2. You can send Cashier's Checks, Money Orders, or pre-paid gift/credit cards (no personal checks please) to my friend and another fellow Navy veteran, Alisa Cutcher. As she will most often be channeling the money to me through her personal account, the Cashier's Checks and Money Orders should be made out to her with my name in the "For:" section. In addition, she will always know where to find me so she can forward prepaid gift/credit cards as well. You can mail any of these forms of support to: 7721 Pepper Circle East, Jacksonville, FL 32244.
3. You can make donations to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation where Chappell also works as their Peace Leadership Director (NAPF Donate). None of this money will come to me, however, you are free to let them know that you found out about them through contact with me or through this blog.
4. Another way that you can support the overall mission of the NAPF is to sign-up to become a Free Member. You will receive the Sunflower newsletter once/month via e-mail as well as important "Action Alerts" that will bring specific, mission relevant government actions or legislation to your attention that can be influenced by a collective public response. Just go to WagingPeace.org.
5. To help support the Marshall Islands legal actions go to NuclearZero.org and sign the petition.
In closing, let me say that based on everything I have learned thus far from reading all of Chappell's books, from actually having spent several months on the road in 2012, 2013, and now 2014, as well as from having attended the First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop led by Chappell and sponsored by the NAPF, I continue to be hopeful, and I continue to be motivated to keep "Pedaling for Peace." There really is nothing I would rather be doing, there is nothing that has brought more challenge and meaning to my life, and apart from all of the really hard work that such an undertaking requires, I have never been Happier or more Peace-Full!
I Thank You in advance for your consideration and support - for my current efforts to "Wage Peace", for the mission of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, for the critical writing and education work of Paul K. Chappell, and for the current efforts of Tony DeBrum and the Marshall Islanders to hold the Nuclear Nine accountable for their ongoing proliferation of nuclear weapons. In addition, I would like to take this opportunity to Thank You for Your Service and Sacrifice as a U.S. Military Veteran.
Lori L. Bell
Formerly: ET2 Bell, USN
Currently Known As: The Peaceful Blue Turtle