Indiana lost one of its most committed peace activists when 79-year-old Dave Lambert died on July 20.
I met Dave in Indianapolis earlier this year at a going away party he held for his fellow activist and friend Carl Rising-Moore, who was moving to the Philippines. Even though he was from Fort Wayne, Dave was the one who reached out to me, an Indianapolis-based reporter, with an invitation to attend.
He videotaped and posted to his agipanther Youtube channel the many memories guests gathered there to share.Here's the comments that Dave himself offered on that evening:
I learned from his obituary that, as a volunteer producer for Access TV, Dave produced more than 200 Fort Wayne Peace Action shows.
One of his video projects will always stay with me.
Indiana's peace activists were upset that both of the state's U.S. senators were supporting a bill that they felt advocated a bombastic approach toward Iran. The Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, S.1881, included a provision that "if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran's nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide ... diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel."
The activists organized a series of speakers to outline their case that Congress, by advancing such legislation, would hurt ongoing diplomatic efforts in the Middle East — and, ultimately, undermine progress toward peace.
The title page from the video segment in which Dave spoke opened with these words:
"Suppose they held a press conference and nobody came? (Which is exactly what happened on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2014 in Indianapolis, IN ... when 13 different media outlets were contacted ahead of time, asking them to attend a press conference of peace organizations opposing SB 1881 ...
"If passed and not vetoed, this bill could launch us into World War 3. One would think the media would be interested, right? Wrong! Only one media person showed up, and he was from the independent media."
The video then cut to a picture of Dave behind his video camera, a piece of construction paper taped to the base of his tripod with the words "Indy Media" written on it.
The title language on the video continued, "The press conference went on anyway, which just goes to show you ... Don't count on the corporate media to do OUR work for us. Ergo ... WE must become the media!!"
The truth of those words continues to haunt me as I look at my own work and the stories of my fellow reporters: How much coverage do we give to peace work? How many hard questions do we ask of our local, state and federal leaders about the legacy left by hard-line approaches to those with whom we have problems?
We know, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, that "hate begets hate, violence begets violence ... Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." So why do we accept anything less than love?
Death so often just sneaks up on us. People we respect move out of this physical realm before we have a chance to say, "Thank you for all you do. I really appreciate your work."
Since I can't say it to his face, I'll write it here: Dave Lambert was a tireless advocate for peace. I'm grateful for the time he took to ask all of us to be more thoughtful and caring. I pray that the seeds sown by his generation of peace workers will take root.
Members of Indiana's peace community have shared some thoughts about Dave via email that speak to his remarkable character. Here are some excerpts:
From Carl Rising-Moore:
Dave was always on point. The first time I heard him speak was at a rally on the Circle. He did not use notes and spoke directly to the heart. In my opinion, he was the best speaker that we ever heard in Indy and beyond.
When several of us decided to protest the Genocide Summit in Indianapolis when the organizers of that event subscribed to the concept of Responsibility to Protect, (R2P), along with almost the entire peace and justice and so-called progressive movement in the U.S., I called Dave to discuss this issue. He was clear that a protest was in order. That even if it was only me, that I should stand out there and in a clear voice to state that war is never the answer.
Dave is at peace now, even though the job of creating a just world is far from over. He now joins the other heroes like Prof. Mary Mitchell, Henry Gerner, Jane Haldeman, Joe Farrah, Dave Pilbrow and so many others that never gave up on the good work to question the seemingly endless wars and the massive death toll that these wars entail.
When Dave traveled to Nicaragua to help the peasant farmers with their crops while the Contras were busy killing them, Dave was lucky.
Because of his high stature, he would have made a perfect target for the assassins' bullets. Dave never feared death, he has seen so much pain and suffering in his life, it was as though he looked forward to join the grateful dead.
Since his passing to the other side, I remember our conversations about religion and spirituality. We both believe in some sort of spiritual connection, so this is why I speak of him in the present tense. I plan to find a spot in the mountains where I can visit with Dave from time to time. He offered me so much support while alive. I would receive monthly installments of DVDs, like "The End of Poverty". So, now that I know him so well, I will continue to ask him for guidance in the years ahead and I will adopt his comment [repeated at the last protest he attended in Fort Wayne about a month ago] that I will quit when I am in the ground.
Please fellow activists.... take the time to tell your story in a journal. Your efforts should not be forgotten just because you pass over to the other side of life's journey...Here's a video tribute that Dave made for Carl when he moved, it contains pictures of many of the actions in which they were involved over their decades of friendship:
From Bob Baldwin:
I've attached a photo I took of Dave Lambert speaking at the last protest rally he organized in Fort Wayne on Saturday, June 21, 2014. The rally was to protest President Obama's sending troops to Iraq in response to the alleged threat posed by the latest incarnation of al Qaeda — the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
I knew Dave from his many years in the anti-war movement protesting the Afghan and Iraq wars, and then later Obama's not so covert efforts to overthrow the governments of Libya and Syria.
Dave was also active in the short-lived Occupy Wall Street movement in the Fort Wayne area.
At the last event, I asked him where I could obtain a "Fort Wayne for Peace" T-Shirt. He gave me his. He was a great guy. He'll be missed.