Editor’s note: This letter was originally sent to Vermont’s two U.S. senators: Peter Welch and Bernie Sanders.
I am moved to write to you since I am a Quaker. I have a request for both of you. I hope that you can get some help in the Senate to introduce the idea that the time has come for the U.S. to help out with diplomatic efforts to negotiate a cease-fire in Ukraine and then help with negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.
First, I thank each of you for your work. Senator Welch, thank you for reaching out, with understanding, to rural communities. Senator Sanders, thank you for reaching out to veterans. Thank you for honoring adolescents as they share their thoughts through writing. Thank you for connecting with those of us, both young and old, who appreciate nature. Thank you for understanding what Memorial Day is all about. Here is a quote from your communication to Vermonters regarding the emotional honoring of those who have died at war. “Lastly, it is a day in which we recommit ourselves to doing everything possible to end the scourge of war. In the 21st century, nations should be able to resolve conflicts without the horrific amount of bloodshed we see year after year.”
Senator Sanders, you, especially, understand that we must speak up for the process of nonviolent negotiations.
In my small way, in my daily prayers, I say hello to Vladimir Putin and tell him that I keep my mind and heart open to him. I ask for his help. I tell him he has the power to make commands: Cease fire. Withdraw troops. I also tell him to figure out how to soothe his fears without hurting others. I also tell Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Vladimir Putin to figure out how to talk with each other and begin to end this war. I voice my gratitude.
There are others who are crying out for the attention of the U.S. government to use its power through the process of negotiating. Pope Francis wants to end Ukraine’s armament by the West and negotiate an immediate cease-fire, (Atlantic, May 5, 2023).Fifteen national security experts signed onto a full-page ad in the New York Times, May 16, 2023, “The U.S. Should Be a Force for Peace in the World”. (The ad was paid by the Eisenhower Media Network.) Here is some of what they wrote: “We deplore the violence, war crimes, indiscriminate missile strikes, terrorism, and the atrocities that are part of this war. The solution to this shocking violence is not more weapons or more war, with their guarantee of further death and destruction … we urge President Biden and Congress to use their full power to end the war speedily through diplomacy, especially given the grave dangers of military escalation that could spiral out of control.”
Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, and other peace groups sponsored a full-page petition ad, May 23, 2023, in The Hill, a daily newspaper which hopefully is delivered to your offices in Washington, D.C. “The longer the war goes on, the greater the danger of spiraling escalation, which can lead to a wider war, environmental devastation and nuclear annihilation.”
Once again, the request is for a cease-fire and negotiations. Daniel Ellsberg had the chance to sign onto this petition before he died.
I am very concerned that the U.S. is engaged in the deadly game of upping the ante. I just read that we are about to send new long-range missiles to Ukraine. In the future, will the U.S. send cluster bombs to Ukraine? (The U.S. still has not signed onto the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Neither has Russia.) These weapons are so unpredictable. Each weapon breaks into smaller “bomblets.” Has Russia already sent nuclear weapons into Belarus?
Let us engage in the process of reflection and figure out how to end this war. We need your help, Senator Sanders and Senator Welch.
Thank you for listening, reflecting, and acting.