Light In Action

Patan Square, Nepal

In Nepal, Listening for Peace

I’m living these last ten days in Kathmandu, near Baktapur, Nepal. I’m living with a family—Pradip, Barsha and Prabel. The family works hard and sleeps in one bed. One night there were 5 people in a double bed. They are very sociable and close to their parents, often visiting them and arranging their health care. They come from farmers and we visited one set of grandparents yesterday.Read more


Flying Up and In

October 31, 2017
Qatar Air Flight to Doha
Today is a tricky day. Maybe the climate being so hot-cold-hot makes it volatile. One day in October seems like July, the next day is gusty like March. Maybe this day really is a node in the yearly cycle- Samhain is a Celtic holiday known as the end of the year. Maybe the gods have plans that I cannot predict much less plan around.

River Manohara in North Kathmandu

Jonathan and I are flying to Kathmandu for an international peace conference, AVP, Alternatives to Violence Project. We were to leave on Oct 30 with Qatar Airlines. But at the last minute our airplane was grounded for mechanical failure. We got no compensation and had a hard time rerouting our flight the next day, the day known as Halloween. My friend told me, the airline gave me a bad trick with no treats.Read more


Sanctuary from Persecution

Guido and child

“Part of understanding Justice is to recognize the disproportions among which we live..."

it takes an awful lot of living with the powerless to begin to understand what it is like to be powerless, to have your voice, thoughts, ideas and concerns count for very little. We, who have been given much, whose voices can be heard, have a great responsibility to make our voices heard with absolute integrity for those who are powerless.”  John O'DonohueRead more


Love Thy Neighbor, Harvard

Statue of John Harvard

I have a neighbor whom I love and I deplore. This neighbor is rich, delivers great classes, inculcates our youth into the echelons of power, and sometimes leans in on justice. I love him, I love him not. I often have to contend with this guy. Who is this bemouth taking up lots of real estate in my mixed neighborhood? It’s Harvard Yard, Harvard housing, and its ubiquitous campuses. Like wild turkeys protected in Cambridge, Harvard is an institution with a long tail.Read more


Calm Waters during Hurricanes

Rembrandt Storm on Sea of Galilee

A story of Jesus and the disciples tells how the fishermen were in a boat probably looking for supper when a storm comes up. Jesus is asleep (long work day maybe) and the boat is pitching back and forth in a sudden storm. Mark 4:35-41: “Don’t you care if we drown?” (NIV).
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Is the US Election Over?

~~~ Our lives on the line~~
~~~ Our lives on the line ~~~

Dear Ones — know that you are love and are living on Earth to love. This is not a social media announcement. I’m probably breaking the rules~not the first time.

We can do acts of kindness. We can give more from our larder, walk in the shoes of a mother from Honduras, tutor in a poor school with immigrants, open our homes to Syrians. This is Christian charity, and it is good. We can give from our hearts. And often in charity we only give from our excess. Is this all we are called to do? Is kindness in safe measures what Jesus did? Or what the Holy Spirit today is asking us?Read more


Quaking for Peace

Some proclaim that peace is possible. Really? Where? Does it last? Quakers and Amish and some intentional communities have islands of peace. Some scientists think we can abolish war. I certainly pray for it. I thought our economy depended on war. Certainly our entertainment thrives on blood and feuds. Maybe abolishing war in 2015 is too grandiose.Friends with gay pride

Let’s begin with something basic for the next 5 years: Can we eliminate aggressive violence? This is not the same as establishing peace, but let’s start somewhere. Elise Boulding, a Quaker professor of Peace Studies, talks about a culture of peace, which seems distant, oh so idealistic. But over the last hundreds of years we have eliminated stocks, public whippings, flogging children in schools, etc. Are we creeping towards a culture of peace—can we edge away from a world of more violence?

I agree, over time, to keep peace one must work for justice. In my mind, structural violence and behavioral violence seem intertwined. Shooting or punching are terrible, and so is grinding poverty. But is the first step stopping the mass killing, or addressing racism? Can we eliminate behavioral violence, even though the absence of war is different from the presence of justice and/or peace. Babies are still hungry and women are illiterate? To put it bluntly, I’d rather have a hungry child than a dead one.

When the Allied Nations stopped the extermination, many Jews were still held for many years in squalid conditions in the Nazi camps. Many countries after 1945 (including the US) refused to accept Jewish refugees. WipalaBYM 1That was structural violence, but we had eliminated the outright murder in the death camps. Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but I’m sure that stopping nation’s aggression will give space for us to address poverty and oppression.

Quakers have adhered adamantly to the peace testimony meaning a renunciation of all outward weapons. The world in 2015 is so far from that stance, what could be a feasible change to help people to abolish war, or aggressive murder. Let’s explore what must happen, at a minimum, for peace to be possible. But what if we supported the UN using some form of violence in cases of statehood aggression. Personal violence is immoral, but Randy Forsberg believes in “defensive nonviolence”, where armed force is used only in defense. The military would be strictly and narrowly conceived.

After Vietnam, US military kept a force that is not drafted temporarily for one war, but a body drafted as a permanent part of US forces in peace time. The goal was to keep leaders in power who are friendly, or to a cynic, leaders who follow the US’s agenda. We know that Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Philippians are not about to attack the US, yet we want military bases there. We must get a UN agreement for the US to abide by international law. And that law should say that no country can invade another’s’ borders. The UN, not the US, decides when another country needs protection.Vertieres_big

We know that families, neighbors, schools, morality of all religion says that murder is wrong. Why would we allow mass murder by our military? Let’s stop fooling ourselves. The military doesn’t protect us:  it encourages more violence in the world. Now that, is scary.