Thursday, January 29, 2009

let the weekend begin

Another so-so day. But at least today had some smiles. and it's the anniversary (Thanks, Nebraskans for Peace!) of the end of France's nuclear testing in the South Pacific.

Talk about NIMBY. Testing in the South Pacific is the ultimate NIMBY for Western civ.

Tomorrow I drive to a Quaker silent weekend. I am so looking forward to it! Maybe I will come home refreshed and happier.

All is well, or at least okay

Peace, y'all


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Protect children

Today I am in a prayerful mood, and not my usual ebullient self. So I will visualize myself as a hot knife slicing through butter, and get to the point (and then move one, prayerfully of course).

"There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace. "
Kofi Annan, in "Foreword" to The State of the World's Children 2000

This one resonates with me because I am praying for the child of my coworker, whose troubles are acute, scary, and I hope not scarring. I also pray for my own child, who gets along with her father so poorly we are seeking counseling.

Peace to you


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

auschwitz, evil, and oblivous good-intentioned folks like me

The wonderful folks from Nebraskans for Peace made a great calendar that informs me that this is the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz camp. Only 64 years ago! That's one lifetime, or even less for the long-lived.

What is wrong with humans that they can do genocide? I really don't know, and that scares me. I believe good people can go with the flow and if the flow is toxic then good people do horrible things.

I know I am a good person and wonder what have I done, in oblivion, that is evil or toxic? They say if you pluck a flower, you shake a star. Our actions affect others just as ripples across a pond.

I would like to think good actions have good repercussions, so I will have to do some more good and find out.

Peace, y'all, like our lives depended on it! Perhaps they really do


Monday, January 26, 2009

How to talk with folks from the other view

My teenager chided me for bringing up the topic of the inauguration with one of her companions who is from a conservative home. Of course I knew her family's orientation. I wanted to open dialog. The companion didn't want to engage, so it didn't go anywhere (except my kid chiding me).

How should I open dialog with those whose views differ from mine? What I want is for us to look forward and find common ground. Positive ground. How? Maybe I should pose a question like, "What are your hopes for the next year?" or "next administration?"

Or perhaps I could share one of my favorite lines from the inauguration speech (or the invocation!!) and ask if others find inspiration in it as well.

I hope I can make some headway. I really want to make a little more peace in the real world.

Peace, y'all


Friday, January 23, 2009

small thoughts

My decision to stop partisanship is proceeding well enough. I haven't moved a mountain but I have changed myself and am working on those around me. So that is progress.

I received a nice thank you note today (for the inauguration eve party we held Monday) and think one good turn deserves another, so I will write a few notes today myself.

Peace....and quiet

Peace...and love with you


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An end to bitter partisanship

Here is a happy convergence of my peacemaking urges and our President's call to action. Now is the time to set aside childish things, and work together to make America better. To choose our better history. President Obama also reminds us we cannot do great things unless we work together.

"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is goined to common purpose, and necessity to courage."

He wants an end to bitter partisanship, and so do I.

Now I have criticized the other party in the past, with ease and enthusiasm. But I am ready to STOP and to look ahead. I am willing to find and build from common ground.

I think it's easy for most political people to slip into the end zones and ignore the huge common ground in the middle. Perhaps it's our baser nature. But we should live from a higher place, our better nature.

I don't think I can ask the other side to stop name-calling until I do, until my "side" does.

True, the other political side has made mistakes. True, they have zipper troubles, just as some of our side did. It's true the recent administration has eroded our nation's reputation and has driven up the deficit to terrifying levels.

But we cannot blame every problem on them. And even if we could, to what purpose? Rather, let's understand the problem and work together to find a solution.

I hope I don't sound pollyanna-ish. I want our country to heal and become a more perfect union, and don't think name-calling is the way, nor do I think that only half of this nation is right.

Please join me in ending bitter partisanship. Find and build on common ground, and treat fellow Americans with respect.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

To form a more perfect union...

We the people of the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union...

So begins the preamble to the Constitution and to Obama's March 18, 2008 speech about race in America.

The theme recurs in Sunday's Parade magazine: In a letter from Barack Obama to his daughters, he said their grandmother "helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better--and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us."

So... how? If you are reading this, would you please send me an idea? Or two, or a few? Something we the people can do.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

What I learn while preparing for a party

Tomorrow is our Obama inauguration party. I have learned a few things.

I live in a relatively small city, and the retail options for some things are limited. So I can't sashay into a party shop two days before a party and expect to find bunting and patriotic banners. I'm sure a larger community can support a store with far more inventory. I could have ordered them online but alas, we will do without. Darn.

I also learned that hot items are anything with Obama on them, such as dress-up magnets and bobbleheads. Darn again.

I have learned which grocery stores have better spice selections as I searched for something for one of the Kenya recipes.

I am impressed by how many pictures I see of Obama in the media. Bring it on!

I am delighted that the deputy director of my agency will allow us to watch the inauguration on TV while we're at work on Tuesday.

Peace is not prevailing in my home today. My two loved-est loved ones are sniping at each other and it isn't too peaceful in the cross-fire. But reading my own blog inspires me to focus on gratitude and the spiritual aspects of home caring and cooking. One of these I've done lots of and the other I'm about to. Peace in my own head.

Tomorrow we entertain on a far larger scale than usual. That puts me in a prayerful mood.

Viva Obama!

Peace, y'all


Friday, January 16, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr and Obama

Still depressed by all the evil and conflict in the world, and also still devoted to increasing the level of joy and love in the universe. So today I keep my misery to myself, mostly.

Here are a few MLK jr quotes to inspire me and perhaps thee

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the staircase.

Let no man pull you low enough to hate him. (I love brevity.)

...And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. ... (this last was uttered the day before Dr. King was killed in Memphis in 1968)

Perhaps MLK is in heaven and will be looking over Obama's shoulder in four short days?

Peace, y'all


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Depressing thoughts after diversity training

What's new today? I took a diversity appreciation course that depressed me. What depressed me is how the world's only superpower has treated its natives.

I used to work for a guy who said "history is written by the winners." I understood his point and for the most part (sadly) agreed. Recently I heard a slightly different version -- "History is not what happened, it's what is written down."

Genocide, racism, murder, discrimination, rape, torture, yup, we've done it all. I learned the rocks that "stone-wash" jeans comes from a site sacred to native Americans.

Ironic, isn't it, that the qualities that are good in our nation--the First Amendment in particular-- are what let us know about our nation's flaws.

Now somethng less depressing. Today is the anniversary of some good peace milestones.

On this day in 1784, the brand new United States signed a peace treaty with ex-Mother England, ending our revolution and beginning the saga we are still participating in.

And 220 years later, in 1994, President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed accords in Moscow to stop aiming missiles at any nation and to dismantle the nuclear arsenal of Ukraine.

In 2005, just 4 years ago today, Army Specialist Charles Graner Jr., the reputed ringleader of a band of rogue guards at the Abu Ghraib prison, was convicted at Fort Hood, Texas, of abusing Iraqi detainees. (He was later sentenced to 10 years in prison.).

Thank you New York Times for distilling these anniversaroids.

Peace, y'all


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Abu Ghraib prison abuses went public 5 years ago today

How time flies!! The cat lovers against the bomb calendar (Thanks, Nebraskans for Peace) tells me that today is the fifth anniversary of the exposure of abuses in Abu Ghraib. I recall the nation's (and world's) outrage, and my personal outrage at how quickly the mass media abandoned the topic when Ronald Reagan died in June 2004.

But the stain of shame and the loss of American honor persist. For how long, I don't know. I pray our new President will work actively to repair the harm and restore our honor.

I have often said I don't feel proud to be American, but I feel very LUCKY to be American. On election night I thought I might once again feel pride.

Less than one week until we have a new President in office!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

A bodily look at peace

Today I looked afresh at the stuff on my fridge. I noticed a magnet that reads "Peace on Earth, one heart at a time."

We cannot impose peace. It's up to each of us to forgive, to accept, to love actively-- to make peace. And if our heart isn't in it, there's little likelihood of success.

So peace does require our hearts. And our souls, and our minds--and sometimes our voices, our feet, our vote, and our arms.

Today I will use my voice to sow harmony. I will use my feet to guide me through my chores, my arms to hug the ones I love.

Peace, y'all


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thank you Carrie Chapman Catt and United Nations

It's really cold here (Spokane), and the snow is high in a lot of places. It's snowing. The sparrows are taking shelter in a shrub and under a car. Yuck. I now their caloric requirements must be sky-high and doubtless many die when they can't get enough to eat. That's enough to kick in my gratitude reflexes.

150 years ago yesterday was the birth of Carrie Chapman Catt. This woman worked tirelessly to bring the vote to American women. If you are a woman, you should thank her and give her honor and credit. You should do so even if you're male, because having women participate in the voting process makes things better for all of us.

63 years ago today was the first assembly of the United Nations General Assembly. Now the UN's ability to foster peace has a few blemishes but on the whole it does a LOT of good. When I was a kid all the kids carried cardboard UNICEF containers when we trick-or-treated. I wonder why they don't any more?

Thanks, Nebraskans for Peace for your wonderful calendar.

Feeling lots of gratitude today.....

Peace, y'all!


Thursday, January 8, 2009

There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of A. J. Muste. Who was this, you ask? (at least I did.) Ah, the internet is wonderful. A.J. Muste was a peacemaker. He (and sometimes Gandhi) is credited with this:

There is no way to peace -- peace is the way.

That is why I call my blog Let's MAKE peace. Because it's in what we do, in how we face the world and answer its inhabitants. MAKING peace - here are a few ways that come to me
  1. Resolve conflicts in your life
  2. Give to the needy
  3. Use less
  4. Smile
  5. Speak out for what is right

That is a simple little list. But a good one.

While browsing online to learn about AJ Muste I found another quote I really like:

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

This was from Albert Pike. You can google him for yourself, and then tell me.

The neat thing about Pike's words is that what we do to the world might be good but is certainly also bad, if we are part of the wasteful mainstream American culture.

Thanks again to Cat Lovers Against the Bomb and the fine people at Nebraskans for Peace, which created this nifty calendar.

Peace (resolve conflicts, use less, give to the needy, smile, use less) y'all


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Peace in my home

I crave it, I value it, I often miss it. My husband and teenage daughter spar a lot. It's part of her adolescence, of course, and he is far from retiring himself. So my nest has prickly things in it.

Here's a nice quote from Oscar Arias, the former president of Costa Rica and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate:

"Peace is not the project of a victory or a comment....Please is a never-ending process, the work of many decisions."

Thanks again, Nebraskans for Peace for your wonderful calendar, Cat Lovers Against the Bomb.

Arias's words fit my home situation these days. Thank you Oscar Arias.

Peace ya'll


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Cat Lovers Against the Bomb calendar reminds me that today is Epiphany, and in 1941, President FDR gave his "Four Freedoms" speech.

It's old-fashioned sounding--not sound-bite-ish but the words ring true. If you don't want to click the link, the four freedoms are of

- freedom of speech and expression,
- freedom of every person to worship God in his way
- freedom from want
- freedom from fear

I still think FCNL's mission statement works better--and more concisely, because it relates to the whole planet, not just its human inhabitants.

Peace, y'all

Monday, January 5, 2009

461 years ago today.....

My family's "Cat Lovers Against the Bomb" calendar brings me wonderful facts on peacemakers and cats. The entry for today is that in 1548, Francisco Suarez was born.

Who was Francisco Suarez? I admit I had no idea, but now I do and so will you. He was a pioneer of international law. And a Catholic superstar.

Come to think of it, international law didn't just hatch one day. Someone had to start it.

Suarez entered the Society of Jesuits at age 16. He was ordained in 1572. During his lifetime he was regarded as the greatest living theologian and philosopher. He rejected the divine right of kings. He argued only the Church was established by the Divine, and states were creations of the people.

I can't describe Suarez's legacy in short readable sentences so I'd just say this--Google him yourself if you want to learn more.

Also, think about international law. Do you take it for granted? How does a nation's sovereignty fit with international law? How should international law be enforced?

Peace, y'all


Saturday, January 3, 2009

I am going to Costa Rica

Today I decided to go to Costa Rica this spring on a gonzo birding trip. I like bird-watching, but this is the big leagues. I expect I will love it, with guides and birding pro's to help me find birds and learn what they are. I want to bring my daughter along so we can enjoy each other and experience this together, and she may learn to like birding more--and practice her Spanish!

What has this to do with peace? It's a dividend of peace that we can contemplate such a trip. And one reason Costa Rica is such a mecca for eco-tourism is that it has no military sucking up its budget and terrorizing its own people. Costa Rica is a functioning democracy that lives in peace. No civil wars. Nearly universal literacy, though it's defined fairly liberally.

I am thrilled. I am grateful.

Peace, y'all


Happy Birthday Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott was a mother of the women's rights movement.

On January 3, 1793, Lucretia Coffin Mott was born. She was a Quaker, and back in those days, men and women treated each other far more equally than they did in the larger culture. Lucretia's leadings brought her to forefront of the anti-slavery movement. In that capacity she traveled to England for an anti-slavery convention. But she could not sit with the rest of the delegates because she was a woman!!! This made quite a stir, but that is another story.

It was here she met another Quaker lady, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The women decided they would have a women's rights convention along the lines of the anti-slavery convention, and in 1848 it materialized in Seneca Falls, NY. There she and others penned a "declaration of sentiments" based quite directly on the Declaration of Independence. This is considered the birth of the women's rights movement. But the Civil War loomed, and the larger issue of ending slavery took precedent.

Suffrage for women took a back seat to suffrage for blacks. Suffragists suppressed their pursuit of the vote to pursue basic freedoms for blacks. The fifteenth amendment gave black men the right to vote.

Then suffragists pursued the vote for women. Quaker ladies - Mott, Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul--led these efforts. In college I attended Meeting in Gainesville Fl. The meeting had an old, old man named Roy Anthony. And when he was a boy, he spent time with his cousin (or aunt) Susan B. So I am one person removed from this other great Quaker lady.

I am proud (uh oh! grateful, grateful) of the Quakers of the past. Quakers found the truth of the evils of slavery much sooner than other Americans. They led the anti-slavery movement. They led the suffrage movement. What next?

What can any of us do if we have righteous passion? Then link up with others of the same nature. And move mountains? At least move part of the universe along in the right direction.

Peace, y'all


Friday, January 2, 2009

United Nation's Conventional Arms Registry

Happy New Year! On this day in 1952, the United Nations established its first conventional arms registry. Hey, they mean well.

But where exactly do the weapons come from that are used on citizens of countries with civil wars or abuses of human rights? Does the republic of Congo make the weapons soldiers use to dominate every element of the economy? Does the former Burma make the weapons its military uses to terrorize citizens and even its Buddhist monks?

The United States' two biggest customers for weapons are....Egypt and Israel. (so I have heard-but maybe my info is out of date or wrong.) Do we have blood on our own hands for the havoc in the Gaza Strip this week? How would we know?

Thanks to the folks at Nebraskans for Peace, who published my family's new "cat lovers against the bomb" 2009 wall calendar, and thanks again to our friend Gene for giving to us.

Peace, y'all