Saturday, July 31, 2010

Missing July but Finding My Way

July almost escaped me entirely without even a single blog post. It's been such a high speed, world traveling month for me that writing has been mostly of the private note-taking variety in hopes that I might sort it all out later and make some sense, or better yet, some use of it all. I attended the International Peace Research Association, IPRA, conference early this month in Sydney Australia. It was my first time in the Southern hemisphere, and my first time mingling in the international peace community. Both firsts were expansive and exhilarating for me.

Elise Boulding was one of the founders of the field of Peace Research and of IPRA. She passed away June 24th after an amazing life brimming with contributions to our understanding of ourselves and how relate with one another. I'd heard of her through many friends and colleagues. She was one of the first financial contributors to Nonviolent Peaceforce, and the inspiration to many of the original founders and supporters. The more I learn of her the more I continue to feel her hand changing my life's trajectory. I'd all but given up on getting a PhD, but when I learned she received hers at age 50, I realized I too might be able to do it. Who knows, I might even finish by age 50. The global reach of her work has further erased borders from my imagination. I hope to work in a global capacity, raising my little wonder girl to see the world as one large home with plenty of room and food for all. Looking at pictures of Elise, her sparkling eyes and warm smile convinced me to dust off the feminist hat and fit it squarely and proudly back on my head. Women and children are key to opening the doors of peace in this world.

As I began to consider various career paths from here, I found myself perusing the classes being offered at Portland State University this Fall. As I scrolled through the Psychology I notice the class, "psychology of women" and I had to wonder why we need to study that and not the "psychology of man", which wasn't listed. It seems to me that it's the abnormal psychology of man that has put us on the brink of extinction. If we could get some better understanding of that psychology we just might be able to save ourselves. I suspect that this class was designed by men for men - feels very Fruedian.

There was no point to that last paragraph, just an amusing aside as I ponder this passing month. I try to find the unifying theory of my lifeline. I still love technology, discovery, science, both social and physical, and I can only wonder at where all these passions will lead me as they churn and swirl around with peace and social justice issues in a world gone mad with war and the suffering it brings. I wonder if humans can learn to enjoy the benefits of technology without destroying each other and the planet in the process. What a terrible shame if we can't. Our entire food system, and likewise our health, has been ruined by the technicians approach to raising crops and animals. Now our food poisons us, millions of animals live in misery without ever seeing the sun or touching grass only to die at the hands of a frustrated and under paid immigrant trying to make his own way in life by taking this dangerous unwanted work. Technology at it's absolute most evil sees its anniversary in a week, the dropping of the first atomic bomb. August 6th, 1945,  America dropped the bomb, instantly killing over 100,000 human beings and slowly killing in excruciating pain another 100,000 in the days following.  If you haven't read John Hersey's account of that terrible event, you must.  That day, 65 years ago, Americans danced and celebrated in the streets. The day the Twin Towers fell in Manhattan, Muslim fundamentalists and others wounded by America's policies and actions abroad, danced and celebrated in the streets. We do unto others as they do unto us, over and over again in a retributive dance of death. And now technology makes it all the easier.   We can watch each other die and dance on YouTube, or get instant messages and Tweets as events unfold for our brothers and sisters.  And it also allows me to sit here and ramble on in this public forum or to say "I'm sorry" for America's horrible sins against humanity.

Each public event I attended in Sydney was started with solemn recognition of the First People of the area, the aboriginal tribe who had once lived on that land.  There was even a public apology from the white community to the aboriginal community for the missing generations, including a march that filled the Harbour Bridge with apologetic people.  The first event was followed by an annual "Sorry Day".  It will take a long time to restore the dignity to the First People just as it will for the First Nations here in America.  We haven't even begun the process of healing in America.  White America has never offered an apology to the African Americans or the First Nations, much less offered any reparation to ease the hardships faced by over a century of subjugation, abuse and treaty violations.  I for one am very sorry and will continue to work for an equal and just world. 

Communication is another key to unlocking the puzzle of peace in this world. I met Birgit Brock-Utne in Sydney. She was friends with Elise and has been a global researcher since the beginning of IPRA. She's studying the relationship between security and language. She's also looking at how histories are being rewritten with the radical changes taking place in South Africa. Language, communication, technology, dignity, respect, indigenous wisdom, equality, women, children...these are the rubrics of change that we must strive to satisfy. Somewhere in this matrix I will find my way. We must learn to bridge the barriers of culture, gender, language in order to build a better world for all our children and their great great grand children. Let's not allow the human race to end with us just because of some abnormal male psychology that we forgot to study before it was too late.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Killing from a Distance

The age of heroes
brave men
Fades with the parchment their stories are told on

Murder is mechanized
In graphic color and surround sound war hums a new song

Only that dot blinking
A heart beat
A soul
A glassy eye can not see the tears
Cannot see the young of years

Sit safe in a bunker
while she cries
While he dies
And another dot on your screen goes out

Another dream ends
a nightmare begins
You play unseeing God with joystick in hand
As you spray the blood and brains of one "could-be" terrorist
You seed the ground to sprout a hundred more

You think you're safe
And for now you are
But we are all less safe for what you do
And who you give your dogged obedience to.

Pavlov is dead
Bite the hand
Put down the game of death
And come home.

War is over.

When you understand you cannot help but love

When you understand you cannot help but love. Thicht Naht Hanh

Sometimes I feel as if I'm walking in a wold of blind, deaf and dumb creatures - my fellow humans. At the same time I also recognize that my true nature is identical to theirs in that I'm also just a walking, talking cadaver temporarily gifted with breath and thought. I'm but a speck of dust that for some mystical reason has this amazing opportunity to experience wonderment, love, fear and anger. Each and every one of us is destined to die. What death is and what happens beyond death, or what happened before our birth, no one can say. It is the uncertainty that drives myth. We build enormous stories that place our existence within a larger context, anchoring us to something permanent. But reality pricks our thoughts, constantly reminding us with each passing moment that nothing of our world is permanent.

Many are born to unfortunate circumstance of place (man-made or nature made devastation), time, or with physical limitations or ailments, or preoccupied parents. Many of us will never grow old and many who do will feel pain and sickness as the body decays, eventually forcing them to abandon the shipwreck of a body. Some may never experience the comfort of a warm and loving home while others will have it in spades. Just as we have no control over the place and time of our birth, we also can not choose the time or place of our death and I wonder if this isn't part of what drives our insanity. We try to control the middle portion of our life, that brief wink between two unknowns. In this desperate attempt to find something solid, something not changing, not decaying, not falling in or out of love, but just there, we have caused much damage to the planet and each other.

Contemplation of the nature of our existence melts away the artificial divisions that separate us from each other. Eventually we will all return to dust and mingle again with the Great Mother. Regardless of our political views, our skin color, gender, sexual identity, our intellect, our wealth or poverty, we will all be equal in the end. The addled addict begging for spare change at the train station is no less than the Donald Trumps of the world, just as the obese, video game playing American boy is no less or more than the bone thin, starving babes of Africa. The rapist and the victim, the soldier and pacifist, the mothers that kill their children and those that nurture, we will all share the same coffin called Earth. All that ever remains is the whisper of our actions carried in the breath of those that follow. Did we make a child smile? Have we opened our hearts to those who suffer to ease their pain without questioning the cause. Did you plant seeds of love as you stepped through life, or did you cling too tightly to a false belief of security and permanence?

When the Buddha achieved enlightenment he smiled. Boy, howdy, are we lucky he smiled. That when you understand all there is to understand about the reality of this existence, there is joy, there is love. There can be no more or less. Maybe this is the truest test of knowledge and understanding.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Peace and Christianity

For those of us standing outside the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions looking in often wonder how these religions claim to speak peace while at the same time they draw boundaries and build walls between themselves, each feeling that they are the chosen ones of God.  I have no doubt that this is why John Lennon wanted us to imagine a world with no religion.  It does simplify the equation.  But the same religions used to bash and genocide indigenous cultures with are the same religions that often inspire the work of peace and justice.  I support my religious siblings who take that vow of peace by peaceful means, working for justice and equality in this world.

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is recruiting and hoping to unite Christians in their latest campaign against gun violence.  So many of our youth are embracing violence as the primary conflict resolution method because it's all they know.  This is how our country settles all it's conflicts abroad and the way that Hollywood portrays all of humanity.  There are many alternatives to this violent option and we, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, ALL of us, must set aside our petty differences and work to save our species.  We must engage our natural love of life and help remove the fog of hatred and fear from the eyes of others.  Here's but one initiative you can engage in.

Gun Violence: Heeding God's Call
The National Committee of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has spent the last six months discerning how to get more deeply involved in the work of preventing gun violence in communities here in the United States. We have made a decision that we would like to partner with a project called “Heeding God’s Call” that started last year in Philadelphia.
Heeding God’s Call is a partnership between urban and suburban churches who band together to ask gun dealers to sign onto an agreement that they will act responsibly. If dealers refuse to do so, the churches organize to use nonviolent direct action to call attention to the irresponsibility of the gun store owners. HGC is interested in expanding into other communities across the country, and is looking for partners like the PPF to do so.
If you would like to get involved with our effort to support and expand the work of Heeding God’s call, please send an email to let us know. We will respond with the information you will need to participate in a conference call on Wednesday night, June 2, at 9:00 Eastern Time.

 To learn more about the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship here's a nice video to help you meet some of the good Christian Peacemakers in our world.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Movers and Shakers

There are so many things to be afraid of in the this life, but "change" seems to be the one that gets most of us shaking.  I've heard more than one person state that they prefer to deal with the devil they already know than to face the unknown.  Even when change is for the best, we face it reluctantly if at all.  But, for some unfathomable reason when I see change coming my way, I tend to charge into it head first and see it as a window of opportunity for even more change.  Basically, if I'm going to throw my world into a tail spin anyway, I might as well tackle as many changes as I can so that once the dust settles, I'm done for awhile and can rest.  It reminds me of the Buddhist practice of meditating on death.  It is a major event, one of the biggest changes we each have to face, so it seems quite natural to want to practice for that moment so that as the knots of life begin to unravel we can propel ourselves into that change with the aspiration of achieving giant strides toward enlightenment and an auspicious re-birth towards that goal.  My recent life changes may not get me any closer to enlightenment but they do take me closer to my goal of a more nonviolent existence. 

Last month I moved.  But more than just a move from one place to another, it was a move from one way of thinking and living to another.  I have lived alone most of the last five years (with the exception of my daughter) and now I'm living with another adult, a fellow peace and nonviolence advocate, in a house that provides shelter to other activists working toward a world free from war and weapons of mass destruction as they pass through our lovely city of Portland.  We're vegetarian (even the cats), drug and alcohol free and welcoming to new ideas and strategies for building toward that peaceful future.  The house is Whitefeather Peace House, named for the Native American playwright and plowshares activist Larry Cloud-Morgan.  If you're in our area you should keep an eye on the calendar for upcoming events including roundtable discussions, thought provoking films, guest speakers and of course lots of delicious vegetarian potlucks.  Alexa, my daughter, welcomes all other children to visit and participate in our community. 

We strive toward responsible stewardship of this planet and all its creatures, human and otherwise.  To this end I will soon be car free.  Between my bike and mass transit I'm finding creative ways of getting around town.  It helps that I found child care that provides both pick-up and drop-off service, not to mention that my daughter loves her new friends.  I'm also reaping the benefits of alternative transportation including feeling healthier, a strong sense of independence that mingles with feelings of being more connected to the human life and nature around me.  I'm also learning that riding my bike in rush hour traffic provides me an excellent opportunity to practice deeper courage.  I must place a certain level of trust in my fellow humans as they barrel toward downtown at 60 miles per hour on wet foggy mornings while I try to maintain my calm center and stay in the narrow bike lane. 

As the dust settles and routine begins to assert itself, I find myself contemplating impermanence.  The essence of this existence IS change.  To fear change is to fear life itself.  When I think about the movers and shakers in the world of peace and nonviolence I recognize that their acceptance of change and their flexibility in the moment was key to their courage and success.  We have to recognize that change is inevitable, so why not work to ensure that the changes are good for everyone and not just a privileged few.  Whether it's climate change, peak oil, police brutality, nuclear weapons, poverty, war, or any other issue, it will change but it's up to us to make sure that change happens in the right direction.  It's this work that calls me and others dedicated to peace.  I used to wonder what Gandhi's trainings in courage might look like, but I think I'm beginning to see how we can increase our courage simply by embracing change in its every form.  Even in facing the ultimate change, that of death, may we find the courage to hold fast to the truth of nonviolence.


Monday, March 29, 2010

The Eighth Adventure in Nonviolence - Animals

This Thursday April 1st from 6-8pm at First Unitarian

Gandhi once commented that "the most violent weapon on earth is the table fork." Thursday night, April 1st, we will explore the connection between nonviolence and animal rights with the help of two guest speakers.

Our first speaker is Chelsea Lincoln, animal activist and amazing vegan chef. She will share some of her journey with us and discuss how nonviolence has played part in her decisions and actions on behalf of the animal world. To see some of her great recipes and beautiful photography visit her blogs, and

Courtney Scott will share her latest project with us. The War on Animals ( is a documentary film that chronicles myth vs. fact about the use of animals in industry. It documents the power of industry representatives to control the message about animal suffering and death in medical labs, factory farms, rodeos, racing tracks, circuses, zoos and through animal traders like the “Class B” dealers who buy stolen pet dogs and sell them to labs and veterinary schools. The film also illustrates the many ways activists are working to alleviate the animals’ suffering, including the refuges and sanctuaries that offer a new lease on life to old or disabled farm, lab, zoo and circus animals. The film is in post production - watch for its release this summer!

Where: First Unitarian Church - Daisy Bingham Rm (below Main St. Sanctuary)
1211 SW Main St. PDX
There is a causeway between the two buildings on 12th. At the end take the door on the left, go down the stairs and then to your right.
If you find the door locked, please ring the doorbell labeled Daisy Bingham on the door to the left of the causeway, facing 12th.
When: 6pm - 8pm
Our Adventures are based on Coleman McCarthy’s Class of Nonviolence. Reading materials for each section can be viewed for free at

Adventures in Nonviolence are part of the peace and nonviolence outreach of Peaceforce Oregon, a local chapter of the US Nonviolent Peaceforce Chapters Association.

There will be light snacks provided.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fasting for Rachel

Today is the monthly Fast for Gaza. As my stomach begins to rumble this afternoon, my thoughts travel back seven years to the day that an Israeli soldier cold-heartedly ran over Rachel Corrie, ending her short but meaningful life.  This anniversary of her death is even more poignant as her parents are finally getting a hearing in Israel regarding her murder.  Rabbi Brian Walt sat with the Corries in the courtroom and provides us with this heartbreaking report on his blog

From his observations I found this short paragraph to be very telling.

There was a lot of tension in the room.  Here was a Palestinian Israeli lawyer cross-examining an Israeli soldier, demonstrating the lack of seriousness of the military investigation for which he along with two others, was responsible.   And this clash was being played out in front of a group of “zarim” foreigners, including the parents of the person whose death was being discussed.  In this little courtroom we were watching the enactment of the complex relationships between Americans and Israel, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and people of other faiths.

When I break fast tonight I will do so in honor of Rachel and her family. May we all be witness and stand next to them for justice.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Giving and Recieving Help - even when it's not asked for

Taking the time to help a stranger seems like an easy enough task for most of us, but once the car is in gear and your mind is racing to the next stage of the day's game it's hard to put the brake on, get out of the car and offer assistance. I remember leaving a bank parking lot after using the ATM. There was an elderly man standing next to his car which had the hood up. He had a kind face and I felt ashamed as I pulled into traffic and sped off. I had basic tools and jumper cables. I'd worked on cars out of necessity and probably could have helped him out or at least used my cell phone to call someone that could. I don't know where I was headed in such a hurry, but I do remember the feeling of guilt. I wonder how many people I could help that I don't even see because I'm looking the other way. Studies show that the main reason we don't help each other is the sense of being in a rush. We're so preoccupied that we don't help.

When I'm working on something at home, my attention fully fixed on the project of the moment, and my daughter interrupts my thought for something I feel anger arise. It's taken some practice to realize that it's the same impulse that kept me from helping that man so many years back. Whatever I'm doing is more important than the well being of the other. Or more simply, I'm more important to me.  My own self absorbtion is one of the biggest obstacles to my practice of compassion and ahimsa.

Walking out to my car in the grocery store parking lot one day a woman approached me and asked if I could give her a ride home. She was carrying two boxes of wine, not a light load. The day was colder than she had anticipated and she was recovering from foot surgery. Her foot was hurting much more than she expected from her walk there. I gladly gave her the ride home and enjoyed our brief conversation. I felt so good for days after that experience that I wondered if I shouldn't just don't go around offering more people rides. But she asked for help. I don't think I've ever turned down someone who has asked for help. But as a stubbornly independent person I know that asking for help is not an easy step for most of us. If the man in the parking lot had asked I'm sure I would have stopped instantly. His eyes asked and I knew it, but his ego stopped him from asking. 

It is interesting to note that as debase and flawed as some like to paint the human picture, we find ourselves exceedingly happy when we give of ourselves.  I chide my friends, who like myself, will suffer in isolation when ill instead of asking me or another friend for help.  We cheat ourselves of some much needed comfort and also cheat our companions on this journey of the great euphoric joy of helping out.  Movies that show tremendous personal sacrifice for others are the ones that bring tears, even to the tough guys in the audience.  The nonviolent path is challenging, but it has many rewards. 

Sometimes it's even nice to help someone without asking, maybe even anonymously.  To the anonymous kind souls of the world, namaste.

Asking for and giving help...may we stop struggling with the simple things.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Connections and Fall Out

When one tugs at
a single thing in nature,
he finds it attached to
the rest of the world.

~ John Muir

James Cameron's blockbuster movie, Avatar, reminds us of the subtle connections we have to this planet.  Although the Na'vi are highly idealized, falling easily into the category of Rousseau's Noble Savage, it challenges us to question our version of civilization, technology, science, etc., over the simpler state of existence or have we reached a place where the two can enhance one another.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Starbase - Education that Kills

In other countries children are abducted from their beds and forced to serve in a military.  In our country the child recruiters don't have to go to all that trouble, they have full access to our children at school.  Not only that, but the school provides the Department of Defense with the personal information on our children, unless we fill out a form to "opt-out".  Under the No Child Left Behind (a program that becomes more sinister as we learn the military implications of this program) schools are required to report to Uncle Sam certain demographic information on our kids.  Is your child struggling with math, chemistry, etc.?  Is your child late or absent often?  Is your child from a single parent home or on reduced lunches or from a poor neighborhood?  Uncle Sam wants to know if your child fits any of these markers.  If so your child will become the target of aggressive recruitment.  But now DoD has taken another big step in recruitment strategy.  Rather than go to the schools to recruit, the schools are bringing the kids, K-5, to the military bases under the guise of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.  Here, your child will be told about all the great career opportunities available in the military (but they won't hear about the realities of war or what these machines they are being allowed to touch and experience do to the children in Iraq and Afghanistan). 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Call to the Heart

The monthly Fast for Gaza is this Thursday.  Over the last month there have been some positive developments for the people of Gaza, including a letter urging President Obama to pressure Israel to lift the siege, signed by 54 members of congress (thank Oregon's Blumenauer for signing).  Seventy-seven members of the British House of Commons has taken a similar stand.  The world is beginning to take notice.  As long as Hamas doesn't do anything stupid like launching bottle rockets over the wall, I hope that even more of the International community will begin to recognize the dire conditions that these people are facing daily. 

On the anniversary of the brutal attack on Gaza by Israel, 1400 good people, bearing gifts and humanitarian items, from across the globe assembled in Cairo,Egypt for the Gaza Freedom March.  Of that number only 90 were allowed entry into Gaza, while the reamiaining marchers held fasts and vigils in solidarity from Cairo.   Since then I've read numerous accounts of the events there, but few from those that made it inside of Gaza.  Today, on the FOR website, David Hartsough provides that account.  David Hartsough is the director of Peaceworkers and co-founder of Nonviolent Peaceforce. 
Reflection: Somehow, we have to get out of this vicious circle of violence and oppression and counter-violence. All of us -- Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans (whose government supports the Israeli apartheid regime and the war and siege of Gaza) -- must come to understand that security comes NOT through more arms and guns and oppression of others. It can ONLY come by treating all people as children of God, and with respect and dignity as our brothers and sisters. If we -- Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans -- could only understand this, we and the whole world would all be much more secure.
To read the rest of his blog:

If after reading David's story of his visit you feel the urge to take some action, however symbolic, I'd urge you to join the fast, even if you just skip lunch that day.  Visit
Be sure to tell your friends too, so they might participate and continue to grow awareness of this tragedy. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Goliath's Last Days

The now ubiquitous peace symbol began as part of the nuclear disarmament movement in 1958.  The symbol itself is a combination of the semaphoric signals for the letters "N" and "D," standing for Nuclear Disarmament.  Yet, here we are more that 50 years later and further from that desired result than ever.  President Obama even received a preemptive Nobel Peace Prize on a promise to disarm our nuclear arsenal, and yet in his budget he's expanding the program.  Many Americans have sacrificed their freedom in order to bring attention to this issue, or to stop the expansion.  And yet the majority of Americans seem to cling to the idea that this arsenal of evil is somehow keeping them safe. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Forest of Peace

What we plant
in the soil of contemplation,
we shall reap in the harvest of action.

~ Meister Eckhart

Nine strong.  That's the number of Redwood sprouts growing in pie dishes at the Whitefeather Peace House.  Seeds from small cones collected beneath the shade of two giants at a nearby park were gently persuaded to awaken.  These fragile beings are filled with the potential of the ancient Goliaths, once the most plentiful trees on earth.  The oldest known Giant Sequoia lived for 3500 years.  It makes our 90 year life span seem rather puny.  Yet, in our brief time we have even greater potential to reach amazing heights of awareness through action. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

No More Guns

Well it was Sunday bloody Sunday
When they shot the people there
The cries of thirteen martyrs
Filled the Free Derry air
Is there any one amongst you
Dare to blame it on the kids?
Not a soldier boy was bleeding
When they nailed the coffin lids!
My first trip out of my own country was to (London)Derry Ireland in October 2001.   It was also my first experience in a conflict zone.  From the moment I arrived I was confronted by a new reality of what it means to live with the constant threat of violence and the remnants and artifacts of the violence both past and present.  The city of Derry is a walled city, surrounded by a medieval, defensible fortress. Armored police vehicles crawl the streets after dark.  The shop windows close their eyes at night, cold metal eyelids shuttering out the world.  Any windows not covered have spiderwebs of cracks or shattered holes.  Concertina wire adorns the tops of fences and walls.  Surveillance equipment seems to follow your every step along these ancient streets.  Graffiti and vandalism scar much of the visible facade of Derry, never letting you forget that death and violence are walking nearby in the hearts and minds around you.

There is sanctuary from the street, the pub.  At night the residents of Derry take solace in jolly camaraderie.  I joined in, eager to imbibe the stories of these people.  How did this happen to them and why?  And more importantly why does it keep happening?

By the late 60s the "Troubles" of Northern Ireland found the Roman Catholic nationalists and the protestant unionists openly fighting one another.  January 1972 the people on the bogside of Derry organized a peaceful protest against the violence.  The protest ended in bloodshed when the British soldiers opened fire on the protesters.  These were fatal shots for 11 people, while two others were run down by armored vehicles.  By firing on a peaceful gathering the British radicalized the youth of Northern Ireland, sending them to the doors of the IRA (Irish Republic Army) to pick up guns for their retaliation.  Violence began to escalate, spilling the blood of many innocents.  No one felt safe in their yards and homes.  Everyone became suspect and neighbors lost trust and hope of each others humanity.  If only Nonviolent Peaceforce, or other unarmed civilian peacekeeping, had been available to them then, much suffering might have been avoided.  The walls of this city have witnessed bloody battles since the 1600s, and it was clear that it was not yet to see peace.

Few in Northern Ireland have escaped the harm of the Troubles.  Nobel Laureate Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams were deeply affected by the violence in Belfast when the three children of Mairead's sister, Anne, were run down by a member of the Provisional Irish Republic Army (PIRA).  Betty Williams witnessed the event.  the grief stricken mother, Anne, ended her own life.  This event galvanized the women to action and they began "Women for Peace" which later became the "Community of Peace People", winning them the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.  The group began the modest work of re-education, planting the seeds of peace and nonviolence in hopes that one day these concepts would grab hold the collective imagination of the people.

I sat in my hotel room in Derry in 2001, watching the local news.  Martin McGuinness, a Derry local and leader of Sinn Fein,  was making an announcement to the people of Northern Ireland.  McGuinness is highly respected in the local community, he was also one of the youth that had been driven to join the struggles as a member of the PIRA after Bloody Sunday.  After so many years of violence, he stated, the IRA was ready to begin disarming and handing over their weapons.  I sat in disbelief.  As I spoke with locals I found this skepticism to be the norm.  Yet there was hope.  Could these people, after so many decades of fear and mistrust, learn to live in peace?  Most seemed weary of violence and ready.  This was a big moment.  As time passed it has happened, but not until 2006.  I guess it takes time for those seeds to sprout, but unless they're planted nothing will ever happen.

My five year old daughter brought in the mail the other day.  Inside was a coupon booklet from Bi-Mart.  It had hearts on the front for Valentine's Day.  She flipped through the book to find other sweet gifts of love on the pages.  She came up to me with a very concerned look on her face and showed me the page that earned this sad look.  There were guns.  She said "Aren't guns for war, for killing people and animals?"  I told her yes, that is what guns are intended for.  We both agreed that guns should not be a gift for a day dedicated to love.  We will write a letter to Bi-Mart, stating of protest of their sale of guns.  The members of the IRA had to obtain guns illegally, yet in our country we have the "freedom" to walk into a large box store and buy a lethal weapon.  Some claim that owning a gun keeps them free, but I'd suggest that the people of Derry discovered otherwise.  That the more guns on the streets, the less free they were.  The more concertina wire, surveillance equipment and shuttered windows are the cost of that kind of freedom and it's not the kind of freedom we should be asking for.  Let's disarm our hearts and our homes, and truly be free.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Free the Hikers


This is a picture of Kurdistan, a beautiful and relatively peaceful area in Iraq that is near the Iran border.  Six months ago three U.S. Hikers from California lost their bearings in this vast wilderness and accidentally stepped into Iran.  They have been detained there ever since.  Josh, Shane and Sarah need your support, as do their families.  Visit the website at to see what else you can do to help.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Culture of War and Lipstick

The sexy singer from Barbados, Rihanna, has a new video for her song "Hard".  I have to wonder if she wasn't paid by the military recruiters to make this video.  If she wasn't, she should have been.  It attempts to make war itself desirable and sexy.  It's an appeal to the "bad-ass" mentality.  To me it represents so much of what is wrong with the American war culture.  The real bad-asses are the ones standing unarmed in front of the guns and tanks, demanding justice and security for the innocent civilians caught in all the red-blooded, testosterone driven nationalism.  I'd rather see Rihanna using her sex appeal to get the boys to put down their guns, rather than adding more bullets to an atmosphere already heavy with lead and death.

The message to young women is clear, that by adopting the "hard" violent persona you are somehow more sexy, desirable and secure.  There's also the implication that your sex is itself a weapon, and that a girl can use it to control and manipulate the man's world.  It's far from a new message.  I got the same message when I was a young woman from Cher, Madonna, Tank Girl, etc.  The messages are that "we have what they want and can use it to get what we need" and that it's somehow safer to join "them" in the game rather than to play by our own rules.  What exactly is it that we need from men that we can't get from a sperm bank?   R-E-S-P-E-C-T as Sister Aretha spelled it out for us all.  This is the clearest message being delivered in this video, that if your woman enough to straddle a pink tank, you will have that desired respect from all men.  It's a tragically flawed message. 

The reality of our war on terror is that more of our soldiers have died by suicide than have been killed by the "enemy".  War is not sexy.  It is wholesale murder, mostly civilian.  A greater percentage of female soldiers are raped while in service, Enemy within: rape in US military ranks.  Their sexuality and acceptance of violence as a way of life did not protect them.  They did not even get the respect of the men that they were fighting side by side with.  Please, my beloved sisters, do not join this team.  It can only bring suffering.

How does war affect a woman?  Does she bring a soothing quality to combat?  Or can she kill another woman and her children as cold-bloodedly as a man?  Turns out that she can.  Women have proven to be just as, if not more so, brutal than men.  Often they claim that they have to be to prove that they aren't "soft".  Some of the worst atrocities in the Rwanda genocide were waged by a woman,

Mother of atrocities: Pauline Nyiramasuhuko's role in the Rwandan genocide

At age 18 Israeli girls must serve in the military.  They are speaking out on how that service has changed them. 

Female Soldiers Break Their Silence

Sure, we can be like the famed Amazons, we have warrior hearts, but let's use that courage and ferocity to wage peace.  Of the two genders women should best understand what it takes to bring a beautiful human being into this world.  Let's not break each others hearts by killing those precious beings we've worked so hard to nurture.  Let's own our sexuality sisters.  What is more sexy than a mother nursing her child, or playing hide and seek in the park, or the mother holding the peace sign outside the White House demanding a better, safer life for all mothers everywhere.  Let's make peace the sexiest game in town.

Here's a better video, join the tribe.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

SOA4 Prisoners of Conscience

This is the current jail where Fr. Louie is being held.  He could be transferred at any time.  I will post an updated address as it's made available.

Louis Vitale #15875
Crisp County Jail
197 Hwy. 300 S
Cordele, Georgia 31015

If your letter is returned you can also send it to

Louis Vitale
C/O The Nuclear Resister
PO Box 43383
Tucson, AZ 85733

I'm not certain if Nancy Gwin and Ken Hayes are at this same facility, but I plan on sending their cards here anyway.  If they're returned I'll update.

Micheal Walli, the fourth of the SOA4, conscientiously did not return for trial.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Decade Late

Most of my life I've had the feeling that I was born a decade late.  As a child of 1966, born to parents unconcerned with the larger world picture, the turmoil, the successes, the frustrations and the anger of the times were largely lost to me.   Our parents were the disillusioned, and many passed this sense of hopelessness and helplessness on to us.  The Generation X, post Vietnam babes like me, were fed on the fears of atomic obliteration, just as we began reaching out via a new super highway of 1s and 0s.  Most of us came home to empty houses at the end of the day, the first latch-key generation of the dual income household.  We learned what we knew of our world and how to navigate the complex spectrum of human emotion watching the Mod Squad, Star Trek and Giligan's Island.  We are also the best educated of the first 13 generations in America, but we make less money as the economic pie has been plundered by the elite.  The first presidential election I remember clearly was that of Ronald Reagan.  I found him plastic, laughable and way too ancient to be running my country.  Yes, I was exhibiting the sarcasm and cynicsm often attributed to GenXers.  But like many of my generation, there was a fascination with the 60's.  We listened to Jimmi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, and I wore out more than one cassette tape of Janis Joplin.  We all knew who John Lennon was and it was in his music that I could best feel the energy, passion and dreams of that earlier generation and movement.  Last night I watched the movie The U.S. vs. John Lennon with a dear friend who did experience that time first hand.  It made me feel much closer to that experience and see my own generation in a new light.  Maybe I wasn't born too late after all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Training the Terrorists - An American Specialty

Of the two men pictured above, which would you prefer to have walking free in the world?  One was trained in Fort Benning Georgia at the School of the Americas (now Whinsec) and was later responsible for massacres, rape, torture and acts of genocide against the indigenous peoples of Guatemala.  The other was sentenced yesterday to 6 months for trying awaken your conscience to close this school of assassins.  I know my preference.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Growing the Garden

Remember that children,
marriages, and flower gardens
reflect the kind of care they get.

~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I love gardening.  Starting seeds in early Spring in the house, with good soil and regular water and as much sun as the Portland sky will permit.  When the seedling grows strong enough, I begin to prepare the world outside for its debut.  I soften the soil for it, add some rich compost, and then, at last, plant the tender roots into the Great Mother Earth.  Then comes the watching, weeding, feeding and care that will bring the plant full circle.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mysogyny and Superstition

Hinoeuma, the fire horse, of the Chinese zodiac is a powerful and beautiful image.  Every 60 years there is born a new herd of fire horse children.  The last two herds were born in 1906 and 1966 (my herd).  In most of the world this is meaningless except to make small talk at parties.  But in Japan it's taken much more seriously, so much so that the birth rate for 1966 dropped by 26%. Even in countries where attempts to reduce birth rates are successful, they're not this successful.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Join Ta'anit Tzedek - Jewish Fast For Gaza

Today I observe a monthly fast, alongside over a thousand others, both Jewish and non-Jewish people of conscience.  We desire an end to the blockade of Gaza.  It's been over a year since the siege and since then, so little humanitarian aid and/or re-building supplies have reached these people.  Peace talks must happen between all parties involved, including Hamas.  Today, I will remain aware of the suffering of both Jew and Palestinian.  I will pray that these brothers and sisters will come to embrace a nonviolent approach to solving this, ensuring the safety and human rights are respected for all.

Other info on the monthly fast:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


When we attempt to learn a new behavior, something we have never tried or seen others model, we can feel a bit disoriented or off-balance.  This state is termed "cognitive dissonance".  Although it feels uncomfortable, it provides an opportunity to learn a new response, to put in place a new neural pathway in your brain.  For example, if you have always put your right leg into your pants first you have created a neural highway by repetition so that the moment you grab your pants the next action is already starting, almost without your volition.  It's habit.  But you can try an experiment.  You can try putting in the left leg first.  As you do this new behavior you begin to construct a new pathway and with repetition that pathway grows in bandwidth, becoming the faster more automatic response.  Our brains are amazingly plastic in this way, and that gives us hope for change not in simple tasks but in the more serious task of dealing with crisis, anger, and stress.  Do we respond violently, or learn new nonviolent responses to old impulses?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Unconditional Loving Kindness

From the Metta Sutta
May all beings be happy.
May they be joyous and live in safety.
All living beings, whether weak or strong, in high or middle or low realms of existence, small or great, visible or invisible, near or far, born or to be born, may all beings be happy.
Let no one deceive another, nor despise any being in any state; Let none by anger or hatred wish harm to another.
Even as a mother at the risk of her life watches over and protects her only child, so with a boundless mind should one cherish all living things, suffusing love over the entire world, above, below and all around without limit; so let one cultivate an infinite good will toward the whole world. 

In the Pali cannon of Buddha's teachings we find the Metta Sutta.  Metta is translated as loving kindness.  It is differentiated from compassion in that it describes a benevolence toward all beings that is fee from selfish attachment whereas compassion is an active sympathy where one is willing to accept the suffering for another.  The practice of metta meditation is a powerful tool in overcoming anger.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dr. King - A True Radical

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The word "radical" means root.  Dr. King was not satisfied with a struggle just to bring legislation about to change the status of African Americans, but his dream went much deeper, to the root of the problem, our hearts.  He hoped to transform hate to love.  In his memory, let's dedicate ourselves to this radical vision, first eliminating the violence within our own hearts, and then working to eradicate it in our world. 

Be radical - be nonviolent.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

be fearless, be love, be free

I am faith, faith I am.
I am hope, hope I am.
I am love, love I am.
I am fearless, free I am.

I cannot recall where I found these words, but they resonated well for me and are posted on a note on my desktop as a daily reminder. 

Being fearless means I take risks by putting myself up front, telling my stories, showing my white underbelly and having hope and faith in the compassion of others.  It also sometimes means listening, even when the stories are painful to hear, watching when the scene breaks my heart and absorbing the suffering so that it may be transformed.

What does being fearless mean to you?

Friday, January 15, 2010


I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world. (YI, 15-9-1920, p6)

There is a heat
white hot and burning
that surges
too hot to hold
it leaves me
eager to burn
to scorch
begins with a pinprick
at the base of my spine
vigilance is needed
to save
to change
turn it from white
to rosy hues
from hate
to love

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Good Friends

A reformer cannot afford to have close intimacy with him whom he seeks to reform. True friendship is an identity of souls rarely to be found in this world. Only between like natures can friendship be altogether worthy and enduring. Friends react on one another. Hence in friendship there is very little scope for reform. I am of opinion that all exclusive intimacies are to be avoided; for man takes in vice far more readily than virtue. And he who would be friends with God must remain alone, or make the whole world his friend. I may be wrong, but my effort to cultivate an intimate friendship proved a failure. (Gandhi, AMG, 31-32)

The great Duke Ellington had just such a friend in Billy Strayhorn.  Neither man required reform and both nursed near the breast of Jazz's muse.  Watching them at the piano together composing it becomes clear that they each felt moved by the same phrase or melody.  They could complete each others sentences.  Ellington described him, "my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine".  Duke was a figure larger than life, a womanizer and a showman.  Billy was an openly gay man in a time when homophobia ruled the minds of the masses.  The music shared transcended their differences and together they changed the nature of jazz.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hug Yourself

First mend yourself,
then mend others.

~ Jewish Proverb

Each flight begins with a safety demonstration. We are instructed to place the oxygen mask first over our own face before attending to anyone else. This message is important in dealing with any life crisis. It's wise advice. If we cannot breathe, we are less likely to help others catch their breath.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


A familiar friend sits at my table
drinking in tears like morning's first coffee
long dark braids holding the knotted memories of life
black eyes hold me
then let me go

In memory of my cousin
I'm sorry life brought so much sadness
May you rest in peace
reunited, at last, to the arms of you mother

Monday, January 11, 2010

An Ojibway Prayer

Look at our brokenness.
We know that in all creation
Only the human family
Has strayed from the Sacred Way.
We know that we are the ones
Who are divided,
And we are the ones
Who must come back together
To walk the Sacred Way.
Sacred One,
Teach us love, compassion, and honor
That we may heal the earth
And heal each other.
As an adolescent I spent many hours in the solitude of the forest, loathing my species.  We were in the cold war days.  Reagan was ratcheting up the anti-communist speak and planning to arm even the space around the earth to protect America.  There were days that I prayed these insane world leaders would just do it, end human life on the earth so that this Great Mother could begin to heal herself from our diseased way and with any luck no new self-destructive and planet-destructive species would evolve to replace us.  We narrowly escaped Armageddon as the Soviet Union crumbled (and not from the US influence, but from a nonviolent movement within).  I decided that if we weren't all to perish just yet I should start working for the health of the planet and her "good children", the animals.  I followed and supported the work of Greenpeace and PETA, beginning to hone my public speaking skills with their messages.  But as I matured I began to realize that we are not separate from the system.  If we hope to heal the earth we must first heal the human family.  Thus began my journey into human rights.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Time for Beauty

Blessed are they
who see beautiful things in humble places
where other people
see nothing.

~ Camille Pissarro

When we choose to live a life engaged  in the work of social justice and peace we expose ourselves daily to the deepest, darkest sorrows of humanity.  We also spend hours planning, organizing and building community, only to find that our heartfelt effort has fallen short of our expectations.  Burnout is often the result.  In the latter case we must constantly remind ourselves that our only duty is to do what we feel called to do and not hold tightly to expectations.  If our effort reaches only one other person, it was a worthwhile effort.  We can never truly know how our actions will affect change.  But if we choose to do nothing, we know without doubt that nothing is exactly what will happen.  But how, in the first case, can we take in with our senses so much suffering without ourselves sinking into despair by the sheer magnitude of the pain?  We must take time for beauty.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Peace is a Mother

At our recent Adventure in Nonviolence we read the following poem in unison:

Peace Is A Woman And A Mother
By Ada Ahroni

How do you know peace is a woman?
I know, for I met her yesterday
on my winding way to the Wold's fare.
She had such a sorrowful face
just like a golden flower faded
before her prime.
I asked her why she was so sad?
She told me her baby was killed in Auschwitz,
her daughter in Hiroshima, and her sons in Vietnam,
Ireland, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Rwanda,
Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya...

All the rest of her children, she said,
are on the nuclear black list of the dead,
all the rest, unless the whole world understands -
that peace is a woman.
A thousand candles then lit
in her starry eyes, and I saw cherubim
bearing a moonlit message:
Peace is indeed a pregnant woman -
Peace is a mother

As we read, the memories of birthing my own daughter filled my heart and threatened to bring tears to my eyes.  At age 37 I was quite surprised to find myself with child, a very pleasant but unexpected surprise.  I located midwives to help me through the prenatal, delivery and postpartum experience.  I was determined to have a natural home birth, using the water tub for pain management.  Some have called me a stubborn woman, while those more generous have labeled me tenacious.  This quality has served me well in many circumstances and I've only questioned it once, childbirth was the moment.  After 14 hours of laboring my baby girl emerged from the water, but there was a problem, she wasn't breathing.  For the briefest moment I held her, calling to her by her name, "Alexa Rose, please breathe, please breathe for Mommy".  I could hear the panic rising in my shaky voice.  Still connected by the umbilical cord the midwives and their assistant hurried us to the bed and the midwives went to work on little Alexa.  With each tick of the second hand a new fuse lit in my heart, threatening to demolish all that I was if that beautiful light had gone out.  But at last a cry emerged and they brought her to my arms and we, mother and child, mixed our tears together as I choked out a song to her, for the first time face to face.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Cost of Peace

"There is no peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war–at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake."  Daniel Berrigan  (from a longer blog found at,

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Shepherd in Wolf's Clothing

In our culture we often delineate between two types of people, the sheep, or herds of poor ignorant masses that follow the pop culture or buy into whatever the latest fashion is, i.e. the followers.  And then there are the leaders and promoters, those who manipulate these masses with media, misleading stories and propaganda that convince the masses that they can have all the riches if only they buy into the storyline provided.  No, these are not necessarily the wolves in sheep's clothing, they are mostly sheep too, having themselves bought into a picture of reality so deeply that they have become a part of it.  The wolves are the ones that see through this picture of reality, they discern the truth and then use it for ill or good.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Working Together

We don't have to
agree with each other
in order to explore

~ Margaret Wheatley

The strength of team work is in the diversity of experience and ideas in the team.  Working as I do in the semiconductor industry I've seen this dynamic play out over and over again.  Admittedly, getting the team through the beginning stages is the hardest part.  It takes time for the group to solidify and learn each others work styles.  Much of this is cultural.  And certainly if it wasn't for the artificial necessity of work, these teams would not make the effort.

But I'd think that peace is worth that effort.  There are so many different groups working on peace related issues that rarely cross pollinate.  I spent years working on GLBT issues, never meeting others working on  Human Rights issues globally.  Yet I see now that it was a loss to our work, as the global work has crossed many of the difficult bridges we were struggling over.  But what about something even more diverse.  What about the sacredness of human life?  We all agree that murder is wrong.  But then what about state sanctioned murder, war and capital punishment?  What about abortion?  How can anyone say that life is more precious before birth than after?  I see so many possibilities for humans to work together on the sanctity of life issue.  But for so many people it seems that life is only special when it is still in the womb, unable to defend itself, and American.  In the name of Freedom and spreading Democracy we have annihilated so many innocent children and pregnant women by dropping bombs indiscriminately on civilian areas.  Are darker colored humans less than a single American embryo?  I should hope not.

I'm reading Nicolas Kristof's, Half the Sky, that shows the brutal violence against women worldwide.  We're talking about young girls being sold into sexual slavery, or girls allowed to starve while their brothers eat and get medical care.  In China and India Ultrasound techs are not allowed to reveal the gender of the child because females will be aborted.  Instead we find that the female child in these countries has a very high likelihood of dying by age 5, a very slow and miserable death at that.  The level of misogyny in our world is overwhelming and heartbreaking.  I wonder if throwing stones or yelling hateful words at young, poor pregnant women attempting to get into an abortion clinic isn't exactly that, America's misogyny.  Women have the unequal burden when bringing a child into this world.  It is her life that will be most drastically altered.  It seems to me, that if we all banded together to work on improving life for women in the world, that would reduce abortion.  And one way to improve the lives of women in this world is to end wars and help provide support in education and health care both to women abroad and at home.

I hope that we can all begin to find common ground to work from.  The richness of experience we all bring to these issues can help us foster into existence a truly sustainable solution.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What do you Need?

We all share the same human needs
for security, autonomy, empathy, love
to celebrate and laugh
for dignity, meaning and integrity
beauty, peace and inspiration
community, acceptance, trust and respect
shelter, rest, food and water
and touch

What do you need?
Listen and you will know
Are you feeling curious?  Search for meaning
Are you feeling confused?  Search for connection
Are you feeling downhearted?  Search for peace
Feeling overwhelmed?  Seek out rest
Feeling lonely?  Seek out love

For every feeling that swirls in your breast or aches in your brain
there is a need, a longing, and desire
What do you need?

Monday, January 4, 2010


I hold this
to be the highest task
for a bond between
two people:
that each protects
the solitude of the other.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

It is a fine balance between connecting with the other and maintaining our own individuality.   I'm just beginning to see that strong autonomous and independent drive in my five year old daughter begin to assert itself.  She goes to her own room and proceeds to the doll house, entering a world of her own making as she does.   I'll hear all sorts of conversations float from that imaginary realm of Alexa's world and I let them float right past me, respecting her space for exploration.  I don't apply analysis or creative criticisms, I simply let her ride her own stream of consciousness for as long as she can.  

As an adult it's hard to find this space to let the imagination run wild and free.  The pressures of work and family often rob us of that freedom unless we intentional block some time for ourselves.  It's not unusual for a partner to feel left out or worse rejected when we take time to head off to the study to read, write or just simply think.  But this is a need we all have.  Many have learned to deny themselves this, especially the super Mom's of today.  We work, exercise, cook for our family, get everyone up and going in the morning, and it leaves so little time for our own play time.  There's a desire when we return to our homes at night to have quality family time.  We succomb to feelings of mother's guilt for wanting our own space, a room of our own as Virginia Woolf noted so many decades ago.  Maybe after the dinner is finished, and the conversation dwindles, everyone could do with some pretend time.  As a single parent I know that when my daughter heads off to the bedroom or while she plays with her toys in the bath, this is my time to let my imagination run free too.  Whether I grab a book, my laptop or just sit and think, I know that what I'm doing makes me whole. 

At night, when I curl up with my little girl in bed for story time, I can revel in her improv story lines about the Birthday Buddha, knowing that by allowing her the freedom to explore alone means she'll have the coolest story lines ever.  Her imagination astounds and delights me.  And when she kisses me goodnight and says "you're the goodest mom ever", it warms my heart and encourages me toward another day (we'll get to grammar another day).

As we anticipate cohabitation in March, this lesson will stay with me.  I will be ever vigilant that all members of our new home enjoy a room of their own, a special space guarded by deep respect and love, for great creative work requires no less.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Truth is not Shakespeare

The truth
needs so little rehearsal.

~ Barbara Kingsolver

Truth may need little rehearsal, yet it does need silence and reflection. Discerning the truth in any matter, but particularly in matters of politics or religion, places us squarely against others whose truth is informed by other influences. When I look at the differences between the progressive and the conservative minds it is clear that what is "truth" becomes much less obvious. The conservative truth is one based on scarcity and fear where competition and the survival of the fittest becomes the metric of success. It is supported by the Luthern concept that God rewards the "good" people with material wealth (i.e. security) in this earthly existence, while He punishes the "bad" with poverty (i.e. insecurity). This "truth" also relies heavily on the acceptance of the medieval concept of the Great Chain of Being that places the King nearest God, then men, then animals, on down to insects and inanimate Earth at the bottom. It is in this paradigm of truth that capitalism was born, leading to the consumerist and wasteful existence we now all share as Americans. It is this paradigm that has allowed genocide and exploitation of indigenous peoples the world over through colonization and occupation. This truth is very rigid as were the childhoods of those most often following its dictum. There is a strong connection between the harsh, strict father who relies on the authority of the harsh, strict heavenly Father for his power over his family. This is a paradigm dependent on violence.

Progressive truth is not necessarily one of nonviolence or cooperation, but it should be. The human race is in a struggle against itself and this living ecology that supports us. While our attention is on Christmas, terrorism, war, Tiger Wood's love life or the latest Hollywood gossip, the truth is slipping away. We will soon run out of scapegoats for the failures of our social structure. The capitalist economic model is failing, we've destroyed so much of our planet it is beginning to change in ways that will make life very difficult for many millions of us and yet we continue to cling desperately to that strong father figure in our government, hoping that it will use Biblical force on those who threaten our way of life (security). I'm not calling for the eradication of religion or the end of government. But I ask believers to look more closely at their teachings. Is there no room in your religion for other people of other colors, genders, ages and yes, even other religions? Is there no room for love in your religion? How about cooperation? Or respect for this amazing planet we ride effortlessly upon?

It's time to stop. Sit in silence with your own thoughts. Let your heart wrap around the suffering caused by our own greed. Stop rehearsing and just let the truth shine.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Doors, New Ways

I have become
my own version of an optimist.
If I can't make it through
one door, I'll go
another door -
or I'll make a door.

~ Rabindranath Tagore

There will always be bumps in the road of life. Often the obstacles are more important to our progress than the times of smooth sailing. Each personal crisis or conflict in our lives allows us the opportunity to stretch, to respond in a kinder way than we did before. It offers another chance to practice self care, anger control, and compassion. Think of the delicate looking crocus that is the first sign of Spring here in the NW. It must first struggle against the hard shell of the seed, and then it pushes through often frozen earth, just to find the slant sunlight of late winter. It blooms so early that it risks freezing, and yet it pushes forward. It may appear delicate to our eyes, but there is a fierce will to survive and make it's way toward light that we would do well to emulate.

After the struggle
Life returns

Friday, January 1, 2010


A new decade unfurls it's wet wings
prismatic possibilities in a fractal space
the universe compressed in each human mind
but where will thought lead
rest now young one
let wings dry
heart warm
then glide

Welcome 2010

I wish all a year without suffering, one filled with great joys and most of all peace.

As the year begins I engage in the annual pastime of setting resolutions by reflecting on the last year with critical 20/20 vision that highlights my successes and my weaknesses. As a parent I have continued to build the bonds of trust and love with my daughter always engaging her opinions and ideas in household decisions. I revel in her confidence, overall happiness and curiosity. Balancing my individual needs with hers has often been a challenge but it is a dance of priorities that we are learning new steps daily as she finds ways to engage on her own more and more.

My work with peace and nonviolence continues to deepen and engage more of my spare and rare free time. This coming year I am taking steps to increase my daily experience of living ahimsa by going car free and spending many more miles on leg-powered wheels. I will work closely with a mentor this year to practice and learn more as I strive to be a better "ocular demonstration" of nonviolence. I continue to un-complicate and un-clutter my life meaning many trips to Goodwill. This year will see a continuation of my meditation practice and an exploration of bridging my spiritual and physical realms, bringing the simplicity of the physical into my mind while letting the peaceful equipoise experienced in my deepest meditation to radiate in my wakeful engaged moments.

My livelihood remains in the tiny technical world of electron microscopy. Although I continue to work as a corporate library administrator, I hope to see a segue from the semiconductor world in the world of information management, peace and nonviolence information in particular. As long as I'm shackled to debt this transition will need to be metered and cautious. But when the universe opens the opportunity to me, I will do my best to be ready for the leap.

In love, I will remain open to each moment and each heart that I encounter on the journey. I have taken a more discerning approach to my personal relationships. In the Dhammapada Buddha says it is better to travel alone that to travel with a fool. I interpret that to mean that the one we choose to journey with must be on a similar path and if fortunate, the same trajectory toward a common goal. So often I've fallen to the fanciful whims of my romantic heart and am happy to have learned the limitless nature of my love; not to be boxed in by gender, age, race or status. But as my journey becomes focused on a goal I realize that an intimate partner must share the vision, drive and passion for peace and nonviolence that I have. They must live ahimsa, nurturing themselves both physically and spiritually so that they can give fierce love to the hurting world without depleting their own reserves or becoming self destructive. In this year I've accepted that my life may be one of solitude, yet filled with the love of community. I believe this explains my fascination with monastic communities, but my community must be engaged in social action toward a just and safe world and not just focused on personal spiritual perfection. I am just beginning to get to know the peace community here in Portland, and am finding the warmth, love and support I need to nurture my own growth. This year I will open myself to, and engage myself more, with this beloved community.

Of course, I will also work toward a better diet and more exercise with everyone else.
And I WILL blog more and wax poetic on life's daily joys and challenges.
May we all be healthier and happier. I look forward to sharing this new year with all of you. May we link hearts, arms, and blogs in our work for peace.