Our first impression of the People's Climate March was that there were a lot of people. The organizers reported that over 400,000 people marched to show the leaders coming to New York City for the Climate Summit that saving our planet was important. NPR called those of us who marched ‘activists’ and there was an amazing diversity of people and causes…long hair, short hair, curly and straight hair, blond, brown, blue and green hair. And that was just the men! Small children rode on their parents’ shoulders; seniors were pushed in wheelchairs; students and teachers; doctors and nurses walked in solidarity, and only in New York, dogs watched from baby strollers. I walked next to a man in a suit and a young woman covered in tattoos. Religious sisters, Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews came together for this common cause. Along the route, we saw a group sitting in meditation as we passed by.
By now most television watchers have seen the video of Baltimore Ravens player, Ray Rice, hit his girlfriend in an elevator and drag her face down, like a sack of flour, out of the elevator. What was as shocking as this event was the response before the full video appeared. The Ravens owner, general manager, and coach defended Rice. Ravens fans gave Rice a standing ovation when he took the field in a preseason game. Law enforcement officials in New Jersey permitted Rice to begin counseling, and this will result in all charges being erased from his record. Michael Vick received a 19 month prison sentence for engaging in dog fights. Is the message, dogs are more important than women?
When reflecting on 9/11, I remember a time of great pain and great love, a time of faith and testing, of endings and beginnings. The sky was the bluest I can remember, in contrast to the grayness of the events to come.
Soon after the second plane hit the second twin tower I joined members of the Kentucky Council of Churches for a scheduled meeting. The previously planned agenda was ignored. We shared tears, prayers, silence and fears. What happened at that meeting carried on in the days to come—compassion and gentleness with those around us. Wherever I went I heard people on cell phones saying ‘I love you’ to parents, spouses and friends. There was a sense of urgency to reach out and make certain that people knew we cared.
At a recent fund raising dinner for Interfaith Paths to Peace I had the privilege of hearing a reflection on "how I go about peacemaking in my daily life." There were many creative examples of furthering peacemaking in one’s everyday life. I would like to share a few.
Widen your circle. No one is a stranger. We are all just branches of the same tree. When I help you, I am helping myself. This is true, but difficult to see unless we are willing to look deeper and see our common roots. Genetically we are 99.5% the same. Let's build on that circle.
Keep a good question in front of you. A good question focuses our attention without closing off discovery. What does compassion want for ______________ (name of your city/town). Sit with that question for a lifetime.
In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil, while Abel, for his part, brought one of the best firstlings of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not. Cain resented this and was crestfallen. When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He answered, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" - Genesis 4: 3-9
In Genesis we read the tragedy of Cain and Abel, a metaphor for violence in human history. Two sons, representing light and shadow, symbolize the light and shadow within every human.
Every few minutes my e-mail is binging with yet another message on the September 21 People's Climate March in New York City, NY. This may be the "mother of all marches." According to those planning the march, hundreds of thousands of activists from around the country will take to the streets to share their concerns about the most critical social issue of our time. While it is important to make phone call, send e-mails and sign petitions to our legislators demanding action on climate change, nothing focuses the attention of those in power as a huge crowd of determined people calling for action.
From the demonstrations to end segregation in the 1960's and 70's to the "no nukes" movement of the 1970s and 80s, activists have worked relentlessly for a belief in what is right and urgent. The time for serious action on global climate change is now.
A tug of war continues between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA. The long awaited report on the Bush administration’s use of torture ("enhanced interrogation") following 9/11 has been made available to the committee. Just one problem—someone in the CIA has a very thick black magic marker to make it impossible to read key parts of the torture report. CIA officials stated that "only 15% of the document was "redacted," read, censored. They have eliminated key details that support the report’s findings and conclusions."
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. - US Constitution – Amendment 1
Every meal is a time for thanksgiving. As we enjoy the vegetables and fruit that fill our plates we can be thankful for the 2.5 million farmworkers who sacrificed health and living wages to provide meals for families around the country. Most of the time I do not think of that reality until I receive an urgent message. Recently I received such a message from the United Farm Workers: "Speak out to protect farmworkers."
An estimated 5.1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops each year, and thousands of farmworkers experience the effects of acute pesticide poisoning, including headaches, nausea, shortness of breath and seizures. Many times pesticides lead to cancer, infertility and neurological problems.
"Peace will come when we love our children more than we hate our enemies." - Golda Meir
Watching the news recently requires nerves of steel, aspirin nearby, as well as a positive attitude that things can change. Within a few weeks we have viewed the horror of remnants of a commercial airline with 298 people aboard being shot down by militant separatists in Ukraine. While the world deals with this shock, Israel invades Gaza. Over 500 Palestinians are killed and over 3,000 injured. Food, medical supplies, and water are in short supply. Even though Iraq is not in the headlines, Iraqi citizens are still suffering as ISIS remains a threat. All this, while children from Central America flee the violence that threatens the lives of many.