The one thing which every jail and prison does more than anything else is counting people. We’re counted five times a day here. Three times we’re returned to our housing units to stand by our bunks and be counted, and they come through twice at night after lights out. We’re counted to the extent that when the announcement came over the intercom last night, “count time, back to your bunks for standing count” that one of the guys said, “Ok fellas, time to go to work”. In Tennessee and Georgia we were counted five or six times each day and always by two guards to ensure accuracy. They take great care lest even one of us be lost.
Ironically, I crossed the barbed wire fence at the Y-12 nuclear bomb plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee because I want to be counted. I want to be counted without mistake as against the nuclear weapons made there which can kill every child, woman and man on the planet several times over. I want to be counted as against the upgrading and “life extension” of every nuclear warhead in our stockpile and against the building of new bomb plants. I want to be counted as against the research, production, testing, proliferation, deployment, threat and use of nuclear weapons. I want to be counted as against depleted uranium munitions, nuclear power and the burgeoning collection of spent fuel rods and radioactive waste. I want to be counted as against the vaporizing, killing, burning, maiming, blinding, driving mad and making orphans of any human being in nuclear (or conventional) war. I want to be counted as against the doctrine of nuclear deterrence and its corollary mutually assured destruction before it should happen rather than in the midst. I want the worlds’ children, all of whom are targeted by nuclear weapons, to have no doubt as to how to count me. I want to be counted for complete disarmament, unilateral if necessary. I want to be counted on the side of the God of life, who creates, loves and nurtures every living being.
And if it means being counted a fool, so be it. We’re all called to stand up and be counted, to live lives that count. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but rather of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) I am counting on God to grow such a spirit in me.
Steve Baggarly is serving an eight month sentence for trespass July 5, 2010 at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.