Art Gish was a hero of mine. I remember the sense of awe in seeing his famous photo for the first time several years ago. Arms raised to heaven, his eyes non-anxiously staring down the barrel of a tank gun as he shouted to the Jewish soldiers, “”Baruch hashem Adonai” (Blessed be the name of the Lord). He was in Palestine with Christian Peacemaker Teams protesting the destruction of a Palestinian farmers market by Israeli bulldozers and tanks, and the Spirit led him to respond in this way. The photo is stunning; no less so than the infamous Tiananmen Square photo of a Chinese student holding a tank at bay. But it only chronicles one moment in his extraordinary life, a life lived for peace and issues of justice around the world. So, in the end, it’s not the photo that inspired me, but the reality that he lived out that same boldness in thousands of moments throughout his life.
As a young adult, Art awakened dreams of peace in me, and courage to act. In a recent video about Art, he challenged me once again by saying that everyone has visions of peace, but only a few do anything about it. Art most certainly did. Art died on Wednesday morning in a tragic farming accident at his home in Athens, Ohio. His wife Peggy, every bit the peace hero as Art, is in Iraq at this time working for peace in her own way. Please keep her in your prayers.
I can’t help but wonder who will take his place. Who will transform their vision for peace into bold action? Who is willing to stand up to the bully’s in our world, no matter the cost? Who will respond to the Spirit’s leading with the same openness and courage? Who will work for peace in our world which so desperately needs it?
Rachel Corrie did in March 2003, and died in a similar scene Art experienced as an Israeli bulldozer crushed her before illegally destroying a Palestinian home. Emily Henochowicz did earlier this year, and lost an eye as a tear gas canister was shot directly into her face by an Israeli soldier as she stood up on behalf of Gazans who could not stand for themselves.
Perhaps the Spirit will open you and I to such worshipful action sooner rather than later. May Art’s spirit live on.
To read more about Art check out: http://www.athensnews.com/ohio/article-31680-prominent-local-activist-dies-in-farming-accident.html