There are several reasons I’ve begun to write what I hope will be a series of posts about working for peace and justice. Perhaps most fundamentally because the world around me now is so different from the one I was born into. And because some of the ways we used to work for peace and justice no longer seem to be effective. I discussed some of this in the first blog of this series, “Facing our crises.” What haunts me are the parallels between the Nazi deaths camps and the inhumane treatment of migrants at our southern border, especially forcibly taking children from their loved ones. No one was able to stop the Jewish death camps. I can’t bear to think we can’t stop the inhumanities occurring at our southern border, among other injustices.
I’m also driven by seeing the results of the failure of 40 years of work to try to stop fossil fuel pollution and massive greenhouse gas emissions. A fundamental belief of my Quaker faith is to discern what the Spirit (or God or however you describe your spiritual guide) is saying to us, and then do what we are being told to do, regardless of how effective that might seem to be. Regardless of the personal consequences. Living faithful lives will also hopefully influence other people’s lives, likely in ways that we are never aware of. The horror of seeing massive clouds of smog (in 1970, before catalytic converters) and the spiritual messages that came from those images led me to give up having a car. I anticipated my example would result in others deciding to give up cars, too. That obviously didn’t happen, and now the results of years of greenhouse gas emissions are upon us. And that eats at me every day, and every time I witness a new climate disaster. Did I not hear other spiritual messages over the years? What else could I have done? Or there is always the incomprehensible possibility that it is God’s will that we have reached this state of climate catastrophe. One of the difficulties of faith is realizing what we think is right or should happen is not necessarily God’s will.
As you can see from the previous paragraph, I believe God, or the spirit, or whatever you call your spiritual guide or source, guides my life and leads me to try to live in accordance with these leadings, or spiritual messages, to the best of my ability to hear, and then do what I’m being told. Living this way is not confined to any specific religious community, but is how all spiritually aware people live. This is the basis of faith, that you depend on the Spirit to guide you, even when that guidance might not make much sense at the time. This is the basis for what I will try to explain as ways to work for peace and justice.
Writing is how I “ponder these things”. (Those who know me know the answer to ‘why ponder these things now?’ is that I never stop pondering them). I hope sharing my thinking, and sharing my experiences might be helpful to others, might convince you to join in this work if you aren’t already doing so. I believe many yearn for ways to help, but don’t know how to start.
In part this comes from something I recently wrote to some activist friends. “I’m glad you could meet some of my friends in Indianapolis. It was such a blessing to have seen how an activist community there grew, and grew together over the years. I often wonder why more people don’t get involved in activism, where they can get to know amazing people and do creative and fulfilling work. Maybe we need to advertise that more.” One response was, “Yes, maybe we can inspire more people to get involved because of the sheer joy of working with like-minded people in creative ways.” Another friend wrote, “Your account of connections is such a great story, and I’m happy to be part of it. Yes, there is much to do, and joy in doing it. Sometimes there’s even too much to do (those videos!!!), but it’s good to know such wonderful people are holding each other up in the endeavor.”
What I’m trying to say here is I believe a community of people of faith is how, is actually the only way to stop the atrocities occurring at our southern border, and many other injustices. Faith is the only way we can live with integrity as our climate catastrophe unfolds. And I also want to share how joyful and fulfilling it is to work with like-minded people. To encourage you to do so, if you don’t already. And to share what I have learned from my experiences over the years.
Jeff, if you or any of your caring readers here are interested in “accelerating” the activism we are already doing, I recommend looking into a weeklong training by the faith-based national group Faith In Action. My state’s chapter, ISAIAH, was a large player in defeating the proposed Voter ID amendment in Minnesota; and many of its staff and volunteers were heavily involved in leading the work to defeat the proposed anti-LGBTQ marriage amendment there as well. Both of these amendments were predicted to be heavily approved by voters, and yet our collective organizing/activism work paid off!
I attended the weeklong training after those two amazing victories and the training Changed. My. Life. It gave me new tools so that I could break out of “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
Liz, The Good Raised Up
Thank you very much, Liz. I’ll look into that.