Peace Boat “Golden Rule” Makes a Splash in Boston

Boston City Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune speaks in welcome of the Golden Rule on the State House steps, June 20, 2023
Boston City Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune speaks in welcome of the Golden Rule on the State House steps, June 20, 2023, flanked by crew members, rally MC Bonnie Gorman, Sen. Jamie Eldridge, and Rep. Mike Connolly

by Kathie Malley-Morrison

For more than three days in Boston, their message rang loud and clear: follow the Golden Rule. If we want to save life on earth, we must embrace that universally revered yet widely subverted ethical principle. That is, we human beings, a species that includes the worst imaginable examples of evolution gone astray, as well as some of the finest examples of virtue and compassion, must recognize at last, before it is too late, that single-minded pursuits of power and possessions at all costs, throughout human history, have already poisoned air, earth, and water across the planet and destroyed countless lives along the way. Moreover, that pursuit of power and possession may destroy all of the lives still struggling to survive if we cannot learn to treat other living beings the way we would like to be treated.

Rep. Mike Connolly presents State House of Representatives' proclamation to Golden Rule project manager Helen Jaccard
Rep. Mike Connolly presents State House of Representatives’ proclamation to Golden Rule project manager Helen Jaccard

With that message, the Golden Rule, the sailboat rebuilt by Veterans for Peace, sailed into Boston Harbor Sunday morning, June 18, 2023—Father’s Day—to an enthusiastic crowd invited there by Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA), Veterans for Peace, and their collaborators, including Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, the Unitarian Universalist Association, Friends Meeting at Cambridge, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Medicare for All/South Shore, KIT, Inc./Fathers for Peace, and Pax Christi Massachusetts.  Indeed, according to Helen Jaccard, Director of the Golden Rule project, our gathering was the largest group yet to welcome the voyagers as they carry their nuclear disarmament message to hundreds of American ports along the “Great Loop” which runs down the Mississippi, up the East Coast, and back to the Midwest through the Great Lakes.

At Fan Pier, the Golden Rule crew and their travel-by-land guidance and support team, Helen Jaccard and Gerry Condon, were greeted by Doug Stuart speaking for Veterans for Peace, John Bach of Cambridge Friends Meeting, and Fr. Steve Josoma of St. Susanna’s Parish, Dedham.  This grand welcome was followed by a Father’s Day March for Peace.  The march headed to “Christopher Columbus Park”, which is disgracefully named for the leader of the deadly onslaught on indigenous lands and people that began with the arrival of European invaders from across the sea centuries ago.

Golden Rule crew with Community Church of Boston's Dean Stevens and MAPA's Susan Mirsky, Bonnie Gorman, and Cole Harrison. WILPF photo/Eileen Kurkoski
Golden Rule crew with Community Church of Boston’s Dean Stevens and MAPA’s Susan Mirsky, Bonnie Gorman, and Cole Harrison. WILPF photo/Eileen Kurkoski

At the park, Susan Mirsky, who chairs MAPA’s Nuclear Disarmament Working Group, had been busy preparing an area where we could share the Golden Rule message with all the visitors willing to listen. A growing crowd was rewarded by a series of short but informative speeches that addressed the crucial importance of the principle of the Golden Rule, the Golden Rule sailboat’s mission, the growing threat of nuclear disaster (and what to do about it), what a peace economy would look like, the ruthless profiteering of Raytheon, and the importance of collaboration among nuclear disarmament groups, climate groups, peace and social justice groups, and all the other groups having a stake in life on earth. These short inspiring talks were interspersed with wonderful musical performances from three remarkable local musicians– Ben Grosscup, Pat Scanlon, and Dean Stevens.

Other highlights included opportunities for the public to board and tour the Golden Rule during the day on Monday. Monday night there was a well-attended hybrid program at the Community Church of Boston, with a reception and a tasty dinner beginning at 5:30. Dinner was followed by a screening of “Making Waves”, a 25-minute documentary about the Golden Rule, presentations by and discussion with Golden Rule project members, Helen Jaccard and Gerry Condon, and joyous music by Dean Stevens.

Sen. Jamie Eldridge with proclamation and Helen Jaccard
Sen. Jamie Eldridge with proclamation, Helen Jaccard, Bonnie Gorman, and crew members

On Tuesday morning, Helen Jaccard and Gerry Condon took questions from Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on WGBH “Boston Public Radio”.  In the afternoon, we rallied at the Boston Common’s steps to the Massachusetts State House.  Other speakers included Dr. Ira Helfand (Nobel Peace Prize winner with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)), Eileen Kurkoski (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom — Boston Branch); Massachusetts State Senator Jamie Eldridge and State Representative Mike Connolly, each of whom read and presented citations approved by their respective legislative bodies; and Boston City Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune.   Toussaint the Liberator warmed up the crowd with chants and drumming, and the Voices of Hope women’s choir sang us out.

The underlying and enduring theme for all the events echoes still: Together, well-informed and buoyed by music, we shall overcome.

Watch the WGBH interview with Helen Jaccard and Gerry Condon:

Watch video of the events:

Kathie Malley-Morrison at Boston Common rally
Kathie Malley-Morrison at Boston Common rally

Kathleen Malley-Morrison, a Professor Emerita in the Boston University Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, chairs the MAPA Public Engagement & Movement Building subcommittee of the Nuclear Disarmament Working Group, and coordinated the Golden Rule Boston planning group.