" THE BERLIN WALL WALKER "

( also dubbed "The Father of the Stonepeckers" )

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John atop the wall breaking out a piece with his sledgehammer.  This chunk of the wall is on display at the "Checkpoint Charlie Museum".  This event is captured in the video "Something to do with the Wall".

     John was pulled off the "Wall" by the East German guards and arrested.  He then became the first person in history to have gone over the wall from west to east and back to the west again, all without a passport.

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(Photos: John Runnings on the Berlin Wall, c.1986)  

     John Runnings, known as "The Wall Walker", for his efforts from 1986 - 1989 in helping to bring down the Berlin Wall.  In Berlin, he was also dubbed "The Father of the Stonepeckers".

     For over twenty years, John has  tirelessly put himself on the 'front lines' internationally and often at personal risk, to help bring his anti-war concepts of  'vulnerable challenge' and 'universal civil law' to the public.  

     In 1962, in response to the American involvement in the Vietnam War, he and his wife joined the "peace movement" in Seattle with the Quakers.  After 15 years of sporadic efforts in this direction, U.S. troops were withdrawn from Vietnam and John changed the focus of his anti-war effort to protesting the arms race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

     The U.S. was building a base near Seattle for the Trident Submarine which was said to be capable of destroying the major cities of the Soviet Union.  At a Quaker meeting, Runnings learned of  "Gandhian" political tactics and began to contemplate similar action against militarily drawn and imposed property lines worldwide.  He continued to develop his political ideas to the end that property the world over, be administered in the light of his concepts of  'vulnerable challenge' and 'universal civil law'.

     After serving a 45-day sentence for action against the Trident Base at Bremerton, he turned his efforts to the 'Odessa Odyssey', a marine attempt to confront the militarily imposed lines that define the Soviet Union.  His next venture took him to Germany in an effort to politically dismantle the Berlin Wall.  By making himself vulnerable to the forces guarding the wall and provoking arrest by walking it, he helped bring international media attention to this militarily imposed line dividing a population.  His ongoing efforts to promote his political views resulted in a sustained effort to cross international lines and travel around the world without a passport during the years 1990 and 1991. 
 
     Now 81, and still very much alive and active, John Runnings continues to campaign to have his views entertained by the powers that be and by the general public at large.  The account of his world adventures as an activist protesting militarily imposed conditions internationally and his unique political point-of-view can now be read in four separate books, accessible at this site.   It is John's hope to begin a respectful critique of anti-war efforts of the 20th century and to propose an alternative perspective for the 21st century. 

     Currently, John is working on a project to recruit and send an activist to Israel by the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, November 9, 1999, to once again 'vulnerably challenge' the military authorities of both opposing, hostile nations, and to foment some political solution.  If you are interested in being a part of this peaceful action, please contact John by phone or email address provided at the bottom of this web page.  
 

"Discovering the Obvious"

For Universal Civil Law      For a World without a Military.

     The subject matter is a reappraisal of Ghandian politics for the 21st century.  This is a "How To" book for a non-military approach to war, a unique approach to international conflict.  War is abolished by legislation.  Ask not for world peace, ask for world legislature.  Ask not how to disarm, but how to legislate international relationships.  Where there is legislature, the tools of war are harmless (unnecessary).  This book defines war as militaries in contest with militaries.   Peace is defined as politicians in contest with politicians.  When universal civil law exists between nation states, militaries and weaponry become superfluous.  World peace will require that the latter condition prevail worldwide.

Chapter 1 - King County Jail:   
In which John is sentenced to 45 days in jail for his activities protesting against the Trident Submarine Base at Bangor, May 22, 1978.
Chapter 2 - The Essay Contest: 
In which John, as coordinator of Unilateral Initiative, a Seattle-based group working to promote better political relationships as an alternative to military struggle, offers $2,000 in prizes and mounts an international essay contest with the theme "The Drift toward War between the United States and Russia Seems Inexorable: What Fresh Ideas and Plans for Their Implementation Could You Offer toward A Constructive New Relationship between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.?"
Chapter 3 - Toward A World Without A Military: 
In which John explains his fundamental ideas and offers pragmatic suggestions for achieving a citizens' world community by transforming the turbulent world of international anarchy into a new order of peaceful and creative inter-dependence.
Chapter 4 - Toward Universal Civil Law: 
In which John proposes a form of politics in which there are legislated relationships between international states, obviating the need for any national militaries because world peace and political unity will be maintained, instead, through political action and world legislation via the development of global institutions and organizations such as a world court or universal forum of justice.

 

"Facing Down the Military"

     John's 1986 protest activities against the Wall in Berlin are revealed through his candid letters back home to his wife, Louise.  Through those letters you will see how the Berlin Wall could become a political device for helping to unite the two Germanys, exemplifying the means toward a politically integrated world by showing that militarily imposed borders were vulnerable to political action.

     These letters to Louise reveal his innermost thoughts and frustrations with candid humor.  It outlines his first action against the wall which was a "National Pee-In".  The letters detail his plans to paint out the white dividing line at Checkpoint Charlie with black paint and move it over a few feet.   He also describes his plan of action to mount the wall and start bashing it down with a sledgehammer, all with the intent to get arrested by the East German police.

     These "actions" against the wall are captured on the documentary video "Something to do with the Wall" produced by Ross McElewee and his wife Marilyn Lavine.  The video is distributed by "First Run Features" in New York City. 

(editors note:  This was the first book of John's that I read and I was amazed at the humor he maintained as he orchestrated all his actions against the wall.  I was also confused as to why he did not attain world-wide media attention in light of the gravity of his actions.  He was evidently even photographed and interviewed by Lord Snowden.  I found this a very compelling, entertaining and interesting read.  I also have a copy of the above mentioned video "Something to do with the Wall" and hope to insert clips in the near future.)

       

 

"The Political Battering Ram"

     This book is comprised of letters written to Louise, John's wife, from Berlin in 1989.  They reveal how John further tests the efficacy of Ghandian political techniques applied to militarily opposed divisions.  John endeavors to demonstrate the political potential of a battering ram by provoking the 18 month East Berlin sentence promised him in February,1987, pursuant to the events recounted in his previous book "Facing Down the Military".  This is to show how such a sentence would serve as a political beachhead to raise the issue of ONE BERLIN.

       

 

"Round the World without A Passport"

     From One Berlin, to One Germany, eventually to One World, this book is comprised of letters written to Louise, John's wife, from Berlin and Baghdad in the years 1990 and 1991.  During those years, John attempts to cross militarily imposed lines, international borders, without official sanction, as represented by carrying a valid passport with the proper authorizations.

       

       These books are dedicated to civilization and may be copied all or in part by anyone, anywhere. .They are available here for download or online reading.  John wishes to hear from anyone who visits this site.  He welcomes feedback, whether in the form of criticism, question, commentary, conversation or conspiracy. 

    

For more pictures of John Runnings click here