Monday, April 15, 2013

Open Hearts in Austin to Our Ideas

Well, I arrived at the IRS Regional Center in Austin, Texas about 7:45 a. m. this morning.  The old parking area is gone, but there was a large parking lot available a few dozen yards down the street from where I parked the rv in 2003.  I put on my sandwich boards, as the pictures relate (see: and, and I was off to old memories of ten years ago.

I took a picture of the "Liberty Tree" that has clearly grown these ten years, where I sought shade from the Texas sun in my fasting against the IRS.

As I walked around the whole street side of the fenced complex, an officer approached the fence from inside and made inquiry of my motives and wanted to read the sandwich boards.  I gladly complied and explained that I was Gene Chapman, the man who did the forty day fast ten years ago down the street.  I related the story of how I was fasting there in my lawn chair ten years ago and that I'm pretty sure Joe Stack walked up to my left, took a knee and asked if 'we were going to be able to resolve this IRS issue nonviolently.'  I shared with the officer that I related to Joe that 'I was not sure.' I explained that what I was doing at the IRS today was trying to make sure we resolve our problems with the IRS nonviolently and that there would be no need for more Joe Stacks to become hopeless in the future in their dealings with the IRS.

The officer was glad to see a nonviolent voice and wanted to make sure that I and others understand that the tall building he guards is the Veteran's Administration, not the IRS, which I knew was behind his building. He indicated that he scans the sky for another Joe Stack plane and did not want one in his building.  I agreed and we both openly hoped that the Gandhian ideas I propose will make headway.  Several copies of the blue flier were passes out to Veteran's Administration employees, and I went on.

As I came near leaving the IRS portion of my Austin visit, a Department of Homeland Security truck pulled into a parking spot, and the officer who emerged greeted me with a big smile on his face, as he related that he remembered me from ten years ago.  He shook my hand and took one of my blue fliers.  I related the same Joe Stack story, and he was very happy to see an effort at nonviolence on the issues.

I then drove over to the Texas State Capitol Building to place a blue flier into the hand of Governor Rick Perry's secretary.  As I neared the Capitol, a staffer I was speaking with interjected that Governor Perry no longer offices in the Capitol Building but in the Sam Houston Building next door (pictures on website).  I mused aloud if the move might be "because of the Joe Stack event?"

I entered the Capitol and handed the blue flier to the officer at the screening line and a dozen more to various State Representatives on the way to the Governor's office in the building.  (I guess it's just a fake office to make people think he is there.)  Anyway, I left a blue flier for Mr. Perry and got a contact to mail books to the Governor from the library.

What I noted is that the bravado of ten years ago is gone in the officers, both at the IRS and the Capitol, and the dozen or so Texas Representatives with whom I interacted in the halls of the Capitol are very happy to entertain a nonviolent voice, after Joe Stacks' tornado of destruction.  There has been a very real attitude adjustment in Austin since Joe Stack put the fear of God in the city's leadership.  They realize they are not the all-powerful indestructible state, and they are ready for constructive dialogue.

Let us pray that the government will choose nonviolence.  After being the voice of nonviolence in the Branch Davidian Situation in 1993 and seeing 80 people die while I was on the phone with the FBI negotiation room begging them to pull the tanks out of the Davidian's livingroom, after 168 people died in the Murray Federal Building in the Timothy McVeigh retaliation for Waco, after being the voice of nonviolence refused in Austin in 2003 and seeing Joe Stack go off after my and other's failure to reach government nonviolently, let us pray that nonviolence will become the order of the day.

Gene Chapman, Founder
Mahatma Gandhi Global Library and Book Exchange