I AM AN EARTHFOLK

by Francis X. Kroncke

To understand my claim and its message about masculinity and spirituality, some background about the 1970s anti-war trials of the “Minnesota 8” draft board raiders is required.

“…five years in a federal penitentiary.” I was indicted on “sabotage of the national defense.” Convicted of a crime of violence, I remain a felon for destroying government property-the 1-A files of draftees. At trial it was decreed, “You gentlemen are worse than the average criminal who attacks the taxpayer’s pocketbook, you strike at the foundation of government itself!” After eight days of testimony by historians, theologians, ecologists, Vietnam veterans, anti-war activists, the jury was instructed, “Everything you have heard here for the last eight days is irrelevant and immaterial.”

Torn draft card, 1960s. NYU Archives Collection.

Torn draft card, 1960s. NYU Archives Collection.

Hands dangling down the iron cage, I wondered, What so deeply scared them that they needed to envision me a saboteur and in need of a maximum sentence? My answer stirred up a perplexing fact-they couldn’t understand what type of man I was trying to become. Simply, they understood the male who found initiation and fulfillment through slaying his brother, but they had no place in their mind or soul for a pro-active nonviolent male, except inside a barred cage.

When I burgled draft boards I was seeking to be faithful to the radical spirituality being championed by Vatican Council II. Pope John XXIII was opening the church’s tightly-shuttered windows, letting in the light of day from the outside world of other religions and secular societies. He issued, “Pacem in Terris” (Peace on Earth), and the Council claimed that, “The holy People of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office.” They spoke about “Building up the international community.” Issued warnings about the apocalyptic perils of “Total War” and the need to work towards “The avoidance of war” and “Curbing the savagery of war.” I was cowed by its challenging call for “The total banning of war, and international action for avoiding war.” Most of all, I pondered, “It is our clear duty, then, to strain every muscle as we work for the time when all war can be completely outlawed by international consent.”

“Semper Fi!” Truthfully, the Documents were dead-weight in my hands until their central message was brazenly thrown back at me by a post-traumatically stressed battle-scarred veteran. In January 1970, as a pacifistic lay theologian, I was fulfilling my military obligation by completing two years of Alternative Service at the University of Minnesota’s Newman Center. A Vietnam veteran (and later trial witness) brought the battlefield into my office. A Marine, he had obediently “searched and destroyed” villages, property and people. Once home, he realized that what he had really done was search and destroy his own home, killed his own family. “It socked it to my head. It wasn’t a hootch, it was a home. It wasn’t a gook, it was a person.”

I listened to his heartfelt words and all at once the messages that Vatican Two offered “to all men and nations” found their clearest expression in the simplicity of: “hootch, home.gook, person.” He said-observing my totally stunned, somewhat paralyzed reaction to his gut-wrenching, hyper-violent saga-“What are you going to do?” Do? I thought that I was doing it-completing my Alternative Service. “I’ve heard you preach.” Another indictment! “We’ve got to stop the story from being told. We have to shut the system down.”

Earthfolk. For him, all people were his family and everywhere on Earth his home. He had faced his dark shadowy masculine, embraced its power to destroy and transformed it by opening his heart to all people and to the Earth, herself. To truly protect their families, he urged men to listen to their hearts, feel through embracing arms, and make present the healing spirit that arises when men open to their mothering, nurturing and healing masculinity. His call is to live peacefully and comfortably at-home on the living Earth. He was the first Earthfolk I met. I invite you, “Are you an Earthfolk?”

Francis X. Kroncke is a former novice monk, lay theologian, and Conscientious Objector, with a Masters in Theology, doctoral history studies, served federal prison term for destroying draft board files. “Peace Crimes” a play by University of Minnesota (2008). Two sons. Retired marketing senior manager, in SW Wisconsin. He completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in fall 2008. See, http://www.earthfolk.net and http://www.earthfolk.net/Vietnam_Undeclared.pdf

– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.

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