Our April 17, 2015, the Rev. Jerry Stinson provided the program which was entitled "Bug Splat -- PlayStation Warriors" ("Bug Splat" being the actual military term for a drone kill). It was a superbly researched account of the history of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) -- that is, drones -- and their increasing use around the world for surveillance and by Israel and the United States for targeted assassinations.
While drones, which can be as small as an insect or as large as a cropduster, can have positive uses such as search and rescue or firefighting, it is the escalating use by the military and especially the CIA (which denies using them so cannot be held accountable) that is cause for grave concern.
One of the major myths defending their use is that they are safer ("When a robot dies, you don't have to write a letter to its mother"). The opposite is true. Even pilots ordering strikes from the safe distance of an armchair in Las Vegas suffer emotional trauma and burnout from long days of surveillance leading to "triple taps," first killing what is presumed to be a terrorist, then the people who rush out to help the victims of the attack, targeted or otherwise, and finally the mourners at the funeral.
These long-distance pilots are then expected to go home that evening to their families and try to live normal lives. An even more devastating argument against drone warfare is the "collateral damage," the immeasurable noncombatant casualties, which have become a powerful recruiting tool, creating many more new terrorists than we kill.
Drone warfare not only violates international treaties but the U.S. Constitution which prohibits premeditated murder. "We've shifted from boots on the ground to assassinations in the air" was the powerful conclusion of the presentation.
How can we protest? Call for the repeal of the AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force). Ban the use of weaponized drones. Divest from the companies that build them.
In addition to this presentation, our resident troubadour, Stephen Fiske, gave a moving reflection about finding common ground for all faiths in the practice of meditation, where we exist in a state of being "before thoughts begin." In this state we feel most connected to the earth and all forms of life around us. For him personally, music, which is a universal language that transcends religion and politics, is the means of connecting to that "divine essence" we all share.
Signed: Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey