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.
Mossarat Qadeem, Executive Director of PAIMAN ("Promise") Alumni Trust, does not make the nightly news or the front page of The New York Times, despite the fact she has worked miracles in Pakistan. She works every day promoting sociopolitical and economic empowerment of marginalized Pakistanis, keeping families together. Her goal: turning young Pakistani boys away from extremism.
Good things happen when a group of mothers determine to act on behalf of families. These moms have decided that the gun culture in the United States is a threat to their families and families everywhere and are acting to change that culture.
A recent headline read: "Moms Wholesome Win: Chipotle says "No Guns!" When extremists brought semi-automatic guns into a Dallas-area restaurant, Moms went to work and gathered 10,000 names on a petition in just a few hours. In less than 48 hours Chipotle Mexican Grill responded: "…we are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel."