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Violence No More

Feel free to express your opinion back to me: gregwoolever@yahoo.com.

Hey, it's my website, so I get to have my say. You might be amused, or you might disagree, but hopefully we can all agree that we ought to get along as we work through life's blessings and struggles. Hopefully, we can all work together to make the world a better place, however you measure that. 

 

December, 2010

Many thoughts march upon me. Frustration and dismay over culture and global behaviors. Joy over family and children and life and beauty and love. Hope for the primacy of good over brokenness. Rather than write, I have stumbled upon some multimedia findings that dance with these longings. I invite you into journey if the adventure draws you. 

The Story of Stuff.  [watch].   The trouble with what we do. Skip if you don't want to deal with what's wrong with materialism, consumerism, and addiction to the military industrial complex. It offers realistic antidotes, but if you're not in the mood, opt out as you see fit.
 
Awakening Universe [watch] [6:35 min]. Beautiful aesthetic and emotional. Spells out a view of how we limit ourselves, and argues that we can change it by our vision. May seem a little "over the top" to some when it says things like "Anything you can imagine will become manifest." Taken literally, that may be simplistic. Still, I find there is great validity in seeing that the universe is wonderfully mysterious beyond all human attempts to know, and that indeed, we change the whole of the universe by how we love or hate in our place and time. Ripples on a pond.... The butterfly effect.... At least, the evil that abounds persists because we allow it. Skip this is you just can't dismiss the dogs today.
 
Thomas Berry and the Earth Community [ watch] [6:50 min]. Beautifully aesthetic, presenting Berry's read of the end of the present age, and the nature of what will come ... hopefully. "What happens to the outer world happens to the inner world" is a wisdom that can guide us to a fully sustainable new world. 
Thomas Berry: The Great Story [watch] [2:31 min]. An interview and bio of Berry. Background to understand where Berry is coming from.
 
The Dream of the Earth, Thomas Berry [watch]  [25:10 min]. Reading from one chapter of Thomas Berry's book, "The Dream of the Earth." Listen if you want to go deeper on the academic level. 
 
Sagan - Symphony of Science, "The Unbroken Thread" [watch] [4:00 min]. Way fun ... you got to see! A visual and sound delight, based on the real science of Carl Sagen, David Attenborough, Jane Goodall.
 
Sagan - Symphony of Science, "We are all connected" [watch] [4:12 min]. Way fun ... you got to see! A visual and sound delight, based on the real science of Carl Sagen, Richard Feynman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, Stephen Hawkings
 
Sagan -The Pale Blue Dot [watch] [5:13 min]. Seeing us, planet Earth, from a really distance location. Perspective is everything, humbling and revealing. Carl Sagen narrates. 
 
The Awakening Universe (w/Spanish subtitles), part 1 of 2 [watch] [6:47 min]. Wonderfully hopeful and perceptive of the direction that is unfolding. 
 
The Awakening Universe (w/Spanish subtitles), part 2 of 2 [watch] [5:48 min]. Conclusion of part 1 above. A happy ending can await us. 

Of course, feel free to wander and explore on your own when you see a link that entices. Go forth with joy!

 

May Day, 2010

web_Tarasi2010_front.gif (194524 bytes)The world is filled with violence - violence of every kind. Why? Why do we find it so easy to be violent? Why is hate so much easier than love? Why does fear always seem to come first, and dominate? 

To heal, to mentor, to grow, to nurture, to create, to build, to love - we are made for goodness. We are called to that. 

We fail. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day after day, year after year, we fail to love. 

And still we try. And sometimes we suddenly find ourselves immersed in joyful fulfillment in trying again and again. We are overwhelmed with silence, and depth. 

Gratitude.

 

January 31, 2009...

Stimulus package?

"[We need] to embrace a "new bottom line" in which corporations, social practices, government policies and individual behaviors are judged rational, efficient or productive not only if they maximize money or power, but also to the extent that they maximize love and caring, kindness and generosity, ethical and ecological sensitivity, enhance our capacity to treat others as embodiments of the sacred and to respond with awe, wonder, and radical amazement at the grandeur of the universe."

- Rabbi Michael Lerner, quoted on Sojourners Verse and Voice Jan. 30, 2009.

Gandhi: ... now here is something that speaks to the present moment ...

Seven sins:

  1. Wealth without work
  2. Pleasure without conscience
  3. Knowledge without character
  4. Commerce without morality
  5. Science without humanity
  6. Worship without sacrifice 
  7. Politics without principle

Catholic Catechism: ... is this really helpful ...?

Seven deadly sins:

  1. Lust
  2. Gluttony
  3. Greed
  4. Sloth
  5. Wrath
  6. Envy
  7. Pride

September, 2008...

The reunion of the McAndrews of Lost Nation, Iowa, is coming soon -- July, 2009. What a great family, and what a marvelous tradition of gathering. This will be the 25th year since it all began in Ankeny. Mary and I have responsibility for hosting/arranging the details this time. It's a labor of love, and we can't wait until we are all huddled together once again. 

As for current affairs, the political conventions have just finished. We are headed for saturation with election hype. Icky.... I think I've figured out how it will go:

The Republicans are clearly going to focus on convincing everyone that we will feel safer with a hero as president. To do that, they'll be finding every opportunity to convince us that there is something scary, uncertain, un-American about the Democrat with the Muslim middle name. It's going to be a twist on the old justice requirement of convicting "beyond a shadow of doubt," only this version will be that you can't feel safe if there the slightest shadow of uncertainty, and they'll make sure that there is something uncertain and unanswered left hanging. Count on a late breaking "swiftboat" scandal just before the election. 

As for the Democrats, they'll be pointing out that the Republicans are the folks who have created the mess of the current war, the economy, sky high energy prices, and the record budget deficits, and all the corruption of the outgoing administration and party. Time for a change, they will say, trying to convince us that Democrats will not be the tax and spend crazies that the Republicans say the Democrats are. 

And so it will go. Republicans will claim McCain is a "maverick" and is not to blame for what the Bush administration has done. The Democrats will point out endlessly that the maverick has been thoroughly in line with the folks who have been running things for the past eight years. The Republicans will say it's the media and the lobbyists that are to blame. The Democrats will point out that most of the scandals and earmarks of wasteful spending are connected to Republicans and their supporters. The Republicans will say its abortion, and gay/lesbian marriage, and stem cells that are the source of all that's going wrong. The Democrats will say that's fear-mongering, and racial and cultural prejudice. The Republicans will say the illegal immigrants must be stopped, locked up, punished, and have no right to legal protections, or use of social services. The Democrats will say we ought to have compassion for the immigrants, who are working jobs at awful wages and conditions, most of them leaving home due to economic desperation caused by the global economy. The Republicans will say we ought to drill baby drill to solve dependency and cost of foreign oil. The Democrats will say energy solutions require so much more than that. The Republicans will say "support our troops." The Democrats will ask why programs of financial, medical, emotional, and social support for the troops and their families have been so terrible by a government that respects them so much?

You get it. I don't have to tell you. You know it already. Voters will have to decide which narrative they wish to buy. "Fable" is more like it. Will it be "Safe with McCain," or "Time for a New Dawn?" I have little doubt which path I'm drawn to, but it appears it will be a rousing and historic campaign, and it likely won't be easy for some people to decide. Good luck, and don't give up hunting for the truth. 

2007-09-09: 9/11, a sixth anniversary… 

For some reason, this year's 9/11 anniversary is stirring a response in me. Perhaps it's the current awful state of affairs in Iraq, or the turmoil of pending elections. 

More than ever, we Americans need to get past our focus on the injury that has been done us. Instead, we need to focus on asking realistic questions about what can change the future. Up to now, I've had little hope that America would be able to do anything but be angry, fearful, and full of self-righteous vengeance. 

It's time for us to move forward, if we really want the nightmare of terrorism to change. We can stay stuck in our efforts to punish with lethal force, and our willingness to sacrifice our founders' ideals in pursuit of security dreams. From all of that, however, we will only continue to get more of the same. War is not an answer. War will only make our enemy hate us more, and elicit the very response that we are attempting to extinguish. 

What has been our response to their attack? So, what do we expect will be their response to our attack in Iraq and elsewhere? If we crush and dominate, does anyone really think that the result will be respect and gratitude? Current estimates are that our war in Iraq has caused over 650,000 deaths of Iraqi citizens (2006 report from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health). Where will that lead us? 

I suspect that some hard-line hawks will never change their hard-line views. I don't know what it will take to turn that around. More pain, I guess, but that can be a slippery slope, can't it? Pain might lead to reassessment, or it might lead to deeper bitterness. 

So here is my prayer: It's time for people of good will to feel sadness and compassion for the human family, and how we have become so entrenched in the desire to destroy each other. It's time for those who think of themselves as innocent victims to see that the other side is wrapped up in similar feelings, and are similarly dominated by fear and anger and hatred. It's time for us to all weep for the deplorable state of affairs that we've created, and to admit that we all have responsibility for the problems. It's time to recognize the truth that war will never teach forgiveness and compassion. Only forgiveness and compassion are able to teach that. How deep is the evil that makes us believe that we should love and honor warfare? 

Are we so burned up inside that we are incapable of feeling forgiveness and compassion? In our religious fervor, have we lost grasp of the scriptural lesson that we are to love our enemies, and forgive those who persecute us? Well, of course, such scriptures have always been a steep challenge, and regardless of self-proclaimed virtue, it always will be difficult for many to guide their behavior by such precepts. What will we, the people, do?

2007-08-03: whew ... been a long time away...

After a WONDERFUL McAndrew family reunion in Riverside, California, this July, a couple pieces have woven together for me. First, a quote that came to me from Sojourners Magazine daily peace quotes, arriving shortly before the reunion. The quote: 

"It is easier for a feeble straw to resist a mighty fire than for the nature of sin to resist the power of love. We must cultivate this love in our souls, that we may take our place with all the saints, for they were all-pleasing unto God through their love for their neighbor." - Saint Elizabeth the New Martyr

web3522_x8w.jpg (90430 bytes)And, while in Riverside for the reunion, we found this in the museum for The Mission there (click to enlarge).

The two pieces have a connected message in my mind. All about the power of love compared to the world's addiction to power, control, manipulation. Ego, consumption, ownership -- it's all that modern culture is concerned about, and is everything except what we ought to be. As the alternative, giving our complete trust in the heart's beckoning to love, that is the mystery that we are all too afraid to believe or follow. 

2007-02-23: Lent begins again - 

I've been enjoying and following the offerings of Sojourners Magazine recently. The following article by Joy Carroll Wallis, "Walking with Jesus Through the Wilderness," was meaningful to me, speaking of the temptations that Jesus encountered, and connecting them to our own personal journeys in the 21st century. A good way to begin our coming 40 days of Lent. 

Here's a link to the article: http://www.beliefnet.com/blogs/godspolitics/2007/02/joy-carroll-wallis-walking-with-jesus.html 

2005-04-17: springtime renewal -

Well, well, it's been a very long time since adding to my written ruminations, not that there haven't been days when worthy thoughts have passed by ... just too hard to accomplish a notation here, or perhaps it's simple procrastination, or even doubt about whether anyone cares to read, or whether my efforts are worthy of anything except my personal consideration. Ah, well, today, probably buoyed by the juices of springtime, I rise to write in spite of doubts. 

What follows is a part of what I wrote in my morning journal today, done in my backyard gazebo in the early morning hours.:

... Robin still calling. Don't know if that is calling for a mate, or proclaiming his joy over his mate. Perhaps both could apply, each in their proper moment. My sense is that the weight of spring is the inescapable need to participate in the ecstatic process of awakening, and rebirth. It brings me back to a now very old theme of mine -- that happiness and joy are an instinct and/or a habit, and are not fundamentally derived from our circumstances or predicament.

We tend to begin life by perceiving that our happiness is connected to our pursuit of what we want to do, with unhappiness being the first, and dominant, event in our psychic emergence: We are hungry - and we wail. We are uncomfortable - and we wail. When we feel comfortable, we sleep blissfully...!

After a few years, our infantile experiences broaden. We can now begin to recognize that some joys arise from good events happening. From the inevitable perspective of childhood self-centeredness, we come to believe that joy and distress and are largely dependant on attaining or being denied our desires.

I'm not sure we can ever totally escape that primal calculus of the flesh -- that joy is from enjoyment, and disappointment is from denial -- but I think maturity is found in moving into a truer understanding that joy is an attribute of the spirit within, and it endures in spite of circumstances.

Joy connects and flows from the extent to which the individual sees creation as good or evil, and whether one is hope-filled or not. It connects and flows from the extent to which one sees and participates in living within the mystery of meaning. When that mystery of the cosmos enters your soul, you begin to comprehend "it is not about you," and "you are not in control" [Richard Rohr, Adam's Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation]. The limitations of childhood can begin to fall away.

2004-10-10: spirit and autumn -

The following appears on the October page of the With Sacred Eyes - 2004 calendar, published by the Sisters of St. Joseph of La Grange (www.ministryofhearts.org).

You Are Closer To Me Than My Own Breath

You are beauty. You are the energy that lives
Within each being. All light. All the world
Loves you, but you are nowhere to be found. 
Hidden and completely obvious.    -- Rumi

God is an event of love
    an encounter, a presence.
Stand outdoors among the trees.
Be still ... until you feel yourself
Held in the energies of autumn's
Embrace - her fiery colors, movements, 
Sounds, smells, her surrender ...
Her exuberant celebration of 
A year fully lived. Feel yourself
Thus gathered into the event, 
The embrace which is God.   -- Mary Southard, csj

2004-08-24: more from William Sloane Coffin:

"Were our government for the people, we would have the best education in the world, universal health insurance, a decent way of financing elections, and a massive commitment to sources of clean energy." [Credo, p.73.]

"Already it is by the laws and policies of this country -- whether we are talking about an insane war abroad or the mental genocide that takes place in slum schools -- it is by the laws and policies of this country that the consciences of people are being racked. Of course we need to be concerned for order. Without it there is chaos, and with chaos there is no justice. But today what Christians in particular need to remember is that God never stands for stability at the expense of truth, that God has no interest in any status quo whatsoever. For God does not want to freeze history, but rather to move it continually toward that ultimate goal of his kind of unity and justice and mercy.  So what the Christian community needs to do above all else is to raise up men and women of thought and of conscience, adventuresome, imaginative people capable of both joy and suffering. And most of all they must be people of courage so that when the day goes hard and cowards steal from the field, like Luther they will be able to say, 'My conscience is captive to the word of God ... to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.' "   [Credo, pp.70-71]

2004-08-18 - Social Justice:

"The way we are cutting taxes for the wealthy and social programs for the poor, you'd think the greedy were needy, and the needy were greedy." [William Sloane Coffin, "Credo," p.61, 2004]

"And what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?" [Micah 6:8, quoted by Coffin in "Credo" p.47]

"Law is not as disinterested as our concepts of law pretend; law serves power; law in large measure is a recapitulation of the status quo; it confirms a rigid order designed to insulate the beneficiaries of the status quo from the disturbances of change. The painful truth -- one with a long history -- is that police are around in large part to guarantee a peaceful digestion for the rich." [Coffin in "Credo," p.35]

"This isn't a matter of charity, but of justice. Just as to the slaves freedom was not a gift but the restoration of a right no one had any business taking from them, so a home is a right; the homeless are being robbed." [Coffin in "Credo," p.34] 

"How easy always for the victors to 'sound fine words unsoundly.' Think how the rich and powerful in this country, having initiated practically nothing in civil rights, loudly insisted on 'responsible Negro leadership,' completely begging the question -- responsible to what, white interests, or Black needs?" [Coffin in "Credo," p.38] 

"We can have a democracy or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of the few. We cannot have both." [Jusitce Louis Brandeis, quoted by Coffin in "Credo," p.47] 

2004-05-09 - gazebo gazing:

Although humans seem to have higher powers of observation than lower animals, those powers of observation and reflection do not come without a tradeoff in which we humans lose other sensitivities that "lower" creatures still possess. We fail to see, smell, or sense myriads of other realities playing out before us. We live on our level, and the rest is invisible to us, and the rest be damned, for the most part. The inherent self-centeredness of creature existence acquires a distinct and malignant reality in humans when they don't develop a spiritual passion for the sacred giftedness of creation, and fail to feel reverence and awe for the mystery that is before us, and from which we come. From this lack of spiritual awe flows evil and abuse and destruction. Self-centeredness becomes selfishness in such humans. These folks may then poison their own family, releasing their toxin upon the entire created realm. 

2004-05-08 - prison abuse in Iraq: 

An open letter to Iowa's elected officials in Washington, D.C.:

I am outraged by the torture and abuse that U.S. troops and other American operatives (mercenaries?) are doing in Iraq.

No surprise to me, however - I am certain that war and killing have no ability to resolve the fear and rage that Americans feel in the wake of 9/11. It was my prediction from the beginning that preemptive attacks would mainly generate greater hatred for America, and we would be worse off than when we started.

Now we can all see clearly that in pursuit of our national security, the blunt instruments of military force and war have caused some red-blooded Americans to become xenophobes, willing to torture fellow humans, imprison without due process, without charges, without legal counsel, without information to families, and without end. Troops attack neighborhoods, throwing everyone into prison, destroying their houses and furnishings, breaking their bones, stealing their valuables, their documents, even their virginity. When incarceration becomes inconvenient, most captives are released, demonstrating that we have no charges against them, and that they are innocent of anything except being born in the wrong place. Guilty until proven innocent is, of course, the ethic of the battlefield. 
(For background, listen to audio: Abuse Photos Inflame Arab World)

Now, it is time for YOU to act against this outrage. Rein in this arrogant power that allows and defends this abuse. Expose and punish the individuals, high and low, who have done, or have allowed this to happen. Recognize that the policies and attitudes emanating from the highest levels of our national government have nourished this horrid reality. As has been said, the first casualty of war is truth. Now it is time for those in responsible positions to defend against the lies that are being told, and will be told, to cover up, "spin," and minimize the horror of this abuse. Wickedness fills our own plate.

Stop it now!

2004-04-29 - Spring:

It is early morning. A wonderful breeze shifts all around me, the undulations spilling equally wonderful springtime fragrances into me, and the loving mystery of this springtime moment crashes all around me, like the ocean's waves crashing upon a beautiful, rugged, and wild seashore. Life breathes, and the power of divine otherness fills me up, and lifts me into its mystery. I feel joy and wonder and delight at the embrace and sight of this creation. Even the mystery of pain  and loss only adds to the wonder of the moment. The cardinal sings, the grass grows evermore green and lush. 

2004-04-11 - War:

Sure, we all have our opinions, especially about religion and politics. The wonderful thing about some cultures and countries is that their citizens get to express their views without being abused by people who don't agree. That's the theory, anyway, and pretty much it works that way, as it should, in America.

That being said, I'm pretty clear on both the religious and pragmatic justification for my anti-war belief, which I present below. You may not agree, but that's okay. Hopefully we can all stay open-minded, as events present us with ever new challenges. And hopefully, in spite of differences of viewpoint, we can still respect each other for the perceptions that we each have. In the end, we may all be right about some part of what we perceive and believe. 

In any case, the world would be a lot better place if people did not pursue war-making. We generally don't need war to resolve conflict with our neighbors. Within the context of local communities, with all the usual expression of crime and evil behavior, we seem to manage affairs by means of law-enforcement. Why war seems to be preferred on the international scene is a question that deserves to be asked. 

War is 
not the answer.

Violence 
breeds 
violence.

Preemptive strikes 
cause war - who's the bully now?

  1. War is not the answer. War is a human-made disaster, not a solution to any problem. Whatever else it might claim to achieve, war viciously and cold-bloodedly murders thousands of people, and leaves even more people permanently wounded, both physically and psychologically. PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) sounds antiseptic, but the reality is that a traumatizing experience leaves one changed forever. Though one might hope that evil might somehow be stopped by war, show me the data that it works that way. Show me the data that humility, compassion, forgiveness, generosity are less effective than war at changing the future. I do not believe in the good or need of war for a second, never mind the peril to my soul for committing murder, or, perhaps worse yet, sending our young people away to do the evil for us. 
  2. Violence breeds violence. Can anger and punishment teach love or righteousness? Only love and compassion can do that. Really - tell me when you have allowed your rage to dominate another with violence, and the other person then fell in love with you. Really, tell me when.
  3. Preemptive strikes cause war - who's the bully now? And now the dominators have gone mad. Where once there might have been a shred of possible justification for using violence as self-defense, now the dominant ones have become the attacker, giving other people the right of self-defense. White is black / black is white. Madness. Our cruel and self-centered hearts stand naked, unveiled. Well, scripture says the first shall be last, and the last first … perhaps we have become the catalyst that starts the final transformation. Goodbye virtue. Hello darkness, my old friend. How total is our depravity! The parable of the camel and the eye of a needle comes to mind. We shall never pass the test this way. Who will rise up and say "Enough!"? Who will stay "Stop!"? 
 

You can reach me at gregwoolever@yahoo.com . Feel free to share your comments or reactions.