February 28, 2017

For me, the ending brought Golden Tears of many spectrums to me: Knowingness, Joy, LOVE & more! You too? 5m59s video

It’s rare when I say “a must watch”
…it’s very informative ,,,& moving!

Our apologies as
the YouTube videos are not properly loading.

Please copy and paste the URL below
into the URL window on your computer,
and be sure to return for the 2nd one
. ;>)


Valarie Kaur, a Sikh, talks about the future and acceptance of different races, people, etc. 5m59s


More follow up of her story of
inspiration, support, & solutions.


Sikhs One Year Later: Valarie Kaur Extended Interview 8m20s



January 1, 2017

Make Your Village/Town/Place an International City of Peace ~ What is It? Continue Reading! ;>)

In the Netherlands, the Peace Palace is home to the international court of justice the permanent court of arbitration and The Hague Academy of International Law. Some cities have great icons of peace, but all cities and communities have a legacy of peace building that needs to be recognized and honored.

{ A note just for a more exacting word clarity, feel if this definition may reflect You witness still today. Let’s begin with the definition of “citizen”  which in tracking has connotation relating to :
“fealty” ~ In Fuedal law; Fidelity; allegiance to the feudal lord of the manor; the feudal obligation resting upon the tenant or vassal by which he was bound to be faithful and true to his lord, and render him obedience and service. ~ Black’s Law Dictionary, 4th edition with Guide to Pronunciation, 1951, Original copyright 1891.
Does this seem/feel/sound like any folks/situations You know.
It does not surprise me that the words: “people” & “person” have been twisted over the many decades far from the common humans usage; and the word “being’, and even the word”human”. do not even occur in Blacks Law. ;>)
Be alert to the words You read and choose to express and/or follow.   ~ L’iv }


An Association of Cities of Peace

International Cities of Peace is an association of citizens, (humans}, governments, and organizations who have by proclamation, resolution, or by citizen (human}, advocacy established their communities as official Cities of Peace. Every community has a legacy of peace, whether it is by a historical event or by a local peace heroes or group who has contributed to their citizenry’s (humanity}, safety, prosperity and quality of life.

The Idea of Cities of Peace
According to the only scholarly paper to date on Cities of Peace, “Idee und Geschichte der neuzeitlichen Friedensstadt,” written by scholar Peter van den Dungen,

the following are major categories for consideration as Cities of Peace.

Though many Cities of Peace are now being established by resolution or proclamation, or even through a community action campaign, this document shows that the City of Peace movement has deep roots. Published only in German, the following is a rough translation of Peter’s typology.

{ For the full website see:   http://www.internationalcitiesofpeace.org/ }

1. Cities where a particular war has been successfully concluded (through a peace treaty). Such cities may or may not officially declare themselves, then or later, a City of Peace. It may be the city itself, or its inhabitants, who initiate this process. Examples: Münster, Osnabrück, Dayton.

2. Cities which are the seats of international institutions which are significant for the maintenance of world peace. The city authorities in The Hague have declared their city a City of Peace, justice etc., but in Geneva (so far) such a denomination has been bestowed by citizens (human}, groups (only). Examples: Geneva, Den Haag.

3. Cities where important peace prizes are awarded/places where peace is being celebrated and honoured. Oslo is really the main city in this category, with a long and famous tradition because of the Nobel peace prize. Examples: Oslo, Frankfurt/M., Aachen.   {Although we must be aware that in instances the Nobel Peace awards sometimes are given to humans who take us into more wars!  So, do not believe all You are told.}

4. Cities which, having been destroyed in war, have used this tragedy to dedicate themselves to work for peace, with the focus being on either

– warning against nuclear weapons

– reconciliation

– tolerance and multicultural living

This is the largest category of peace cities. Examples: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Osaka, Coventry, Gernika-Lumo, Ypern, Antwerpen.

5. Cities which have rediscovered and now are reconnecting with historical impulses from the past, especially the remembrance of a prominent historical figure born in (or associated with) the city, and who was a great peace advocate. This is to do with the nature, and construction, of historical memory. Traditionally, war heroes are remembered, but slowly the notion of peace heroes is making headway, and cities are rediscovering their peace history and tradition. Examples: Rotterdam (Erasmus), Atlanta (Martin Luther King, Jr.).

6. Cities where important peace institutions once existed, or which once hosted important peace conferences, and which are rediscovering their peace past, and now want to remember this and build on it (similar to 5). Example: Luzern.

7. Cities where important peace research or peace training institutions have been created (and which have not been significantly affected by wars or conflict). Examples: Stadtschlaining, Bradford.

8. Cities which have joined one or more important international peace organisations, and which are playing a significant role in them (these cities have not been significantly affected by wars or conflict). Example: Manchester.

9. Cities of practical peacemaking, in ethnically diverse and polarised environments. Examples: Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Salam, Philadelphia.

10. Cities which have given their name to important peace documents of one kind or another, but which up to now have not (yet) taken any initiative to build on this and become self-consciously a peace city (even though their name is associated with peace). Examples: Pugwash, Dartmouth, Göttingen, Talloires, Krefeld, Sevilla, Mohonk.

Please note that ‘cities’ occasionally also refers to villages, or more generally ‘places’. Stadtschlaining (7), Neve-Shalom (9), or Pugwash (10) are villages.

With permission of:
Dr. Peter van den Dungen
University of Bradford

Idee und Geschichte der neuzeitlichen Friedensstadt. Skizze einer Typologie

Please also see the “Oxford Encyclopedia of Peace: Four Volume Set,” edited by Nigel Young with articles by Peter vanden Dungen. It’s available from the publisher as well as Amazon.com.

contact: info@internationalcitiesofpeace.org

December 1, 2016

LAUGHTER, PEACE, GOODWILL, HARMONY, JOY & LOVE FOR ALL BEings for your Holiday Season …and every day and night ;>)

movies & musical videos to
open your Hearts.

This is a replay of our December 24th 2014 posting.
The message holds appropriate until World Peace is established.

TAKE personal Responsibility for
War moving to Peace;

Bring so much Unconditional LOVE into
YOUR HEART that You can contain it no longer…

…Move it out across the planet and
into the eyes and Heart of all You meet.

who can tip the scale to

Speak about Peace and Speak Peace to all.

“The nature of the master must be to give out Love
to inspire others to regive Love.

~ Lao & Walter Russell

The song below is “Inspired” by an actual event expressed well in the Movie
“Joyous Noel” celebrating
the World War I Christmas Truce – 100 years ago this week.

Christmas in the Trencheswritten and performed by John McCutcheon

Buffy Sainte-Marie – Universal Soldier 4m22s

Joan Baez-With God on Our Side 6m38s

Peter Paul and Mary, Where Have All The Flowers Gone 3m45s

For a taste of the movie, see this 6 minute You tube video
The Christmas Truce of 1914

To be even further moved this Holiday season,
see this You tube movie: Rated 10 on a scale of 1-5 ; >)

This is a commemoration of an American continental war event
from 1862
declared against the Native Dakota people
by U.S. government and executed by Abraham Lincoln,

This is a documentary of a horseback journey of 330 miles
during December 10th thru 26th 2009
freezing winter from South Dakota
to Mankato Minnesota where the event took place.

Keep your tissues handy for this moving Journey of Love,
Forgiveness, Compassion, Reconciliation, and more,
as riders and townspeople along the way
share feelings and experiences.
ACTUAL historical documents trace the trek.

DAKOTA 38 – Full Movie in HD – Duration: 1:18:11. you-tubed by SmoothFeather

To download the film in HD, burn your own DVD, or order a free copy of the DVD, visit http://www.dakota38.com/ . In honoring honor native traditions surrounding ceremonies, we are screening and distributing “Dakota 38” as a gift rather than for sale.

Joyeux Noel Full Movie – Duration: 1:56:01. English subtitles. uploaded by devi devana

Universal Soldier ~ Donovan 2m18s

Country Joe & the Fish —“Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die” 2m53s

Nov. 9, 1989: The Berlin Wall Falls Breaking News announcement/coverage. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnCPdLlUgvo

“War” …what is it good for…by Edwin Starr

~ Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream ~

written 1950 by Ed McCurdy.
See Lyrics below.

This song is repeated several times below
for your various artist enjoyment and


Recorded in 76 languages, this has become
one of the most enduring and treasured peace songs.

…a strong argument presented sweetly and with reason
& has been recorded by many artists over years.

Pete Seeger with Theodore Bikel

Johnny Cash 3m3s

Using Serena Ryder‘s song, it’s a video with some non-graphic war images. 3m45s

Simon and Garfunkel 2m14s

John Denver – Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream (Live 1971) – Duration: 3:02.


Mason Proffit

Arlo Guthrie 2m43s

Johnny Cash-“I don’t hurt any more” Album~decades later 3m14s

Last night I had the strangest dream
I never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war
I dreamed I saw a mighty room
The room was filled with men
And the paper they were signing said
They’d never fight again

And when the papers all were signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful prayers were prayed
And the people in the streets below
Were dancing round and round
And guns and swords and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground

Last night I had the strangest dream
I ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

Take Responsibility for War

~~~~~~End of Article ~~~~~~~

November 6, 2016

13 Ways of Looking at Community

We were born to unite with our fellow men,
and to join in community with the human race. ~


Thirteen Ways of Looking at Community
(With a Fourteenth Thrown in For Free)

–by Parker J. Palmer, syndicated from couragerenewal.org, Aug 29, 2016

[Note] The title, and only the title, was inspired by the poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” by Wallace Stevens (see http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174503). The subtitle was inspired by late-night TV infomercials. {Please excuse the malfunction in numbering system.}

  1. I. Whether we know it or not, like it or not, honor it or not, we are embedded in community. Whether we think of ourselves as biological creatures or spiritual beings or both, the truth remains: we were created in and for a complex ecology of relatedness, and without it we wither and die. This simple fact has critical implications: community is not a goal to be achieved but a gift to be received.When we treat community as a product that we must manufacture instead of a gift we have been given, it will elude us eternally. When we try to “make community happen,” driven by desire, design, and determination—places within us where the ego often lurks—we can make a good guess at the outcome: we will exhaust ourselves and alienate each other, snapping the connections we yearn for. Too many relationships have been diminished or destroyed by a drive toward “community-building” which evokes a grasping that is the opposite of what we need to do: relax into our created condition and receive the gift we have been given.
  2. II. Of course, in our culture—a culture premised on the notion that we must manufacture whatever we want or need—learning to relax and receive a gift requires hard work! But the work of becoming receptive is quite unlike the external work of building communal structures, or gathering endlessly to “share” and “solve problems”: receptivity involves inner work.Community begins not externally but in the recesses of the human heart. Long before community can be manifest in outward relationships, it must be present in the individual as “a capacity for connectedness—a capacity to resist the forces of disconnection with which our culture and our psyches are riddled, forces with names like narcissism, egotism, jealousy, competition, empire-building, nationalism, and related forms of madness in which psychopathology and political pathology become powerfully intertwined.

III.We cultivate a capacity for connectedness through contemplation. By this I do not necessarily mean sitting cross-legged and chanting a mantra, though that may work for some. By contemplation I mean any way one has of penetrating the illusion of separateness and touching the reality of interdependence. In my life the deepest forms of contemplation have been failure, suffering, and loss. When I flourish, it is easy to maintain the illusion of separateness, easy to imagine that I alone am responsible for my good fortune. But when I fall, I see a secret hidden in plain sight: I need other people for comfort, encouragement, and support, and for criticism, challenge, and collaboration. The self-sufficiency I feel in success is a mirage. I need community—and, if open my heart, I have it.

  1. IV. The most common connotation of the word “community” in our culture is “intimacy,” but this is a trap.When community is reduced to intimacy, our world shrinks to a vanishing point: with how many people can one be genuinely intimate in a lifetime? My concept of community must be capacious enough to embrace everything from my relation to strangers I will never meet (e.g.,the poor around the world to whom I am accountable), to people with whom I share local resources and must learn to get along (e.g., immediate neighbors), to people I am related to for the purpose of getting a job done (e.g., coworkers and colleagues). Intimacy is neither possible nor necessary across this entire range of relationships. But a capacity for connectedness is both possible and necessary if we are to inhabit the larger, and truer, community of our lives.
  2. V. The concept of community must embrace even those we perceive as “enemy.”In 1974, I set off on a fourteen-year journey of living in intentional communities. By 1975, I had come up with my definition of community: “Community is that place where the person you least want to live with always lives.” By 1976, I had come up with my corollary to that definition: “And when that person moves away, someone else arises immediately to take his or her place.” The reason is simple: relationships in community are so close and so intense that it is easy for us to project on another person that which we cannot abide in ourselves. As long as I am there, the person I least want to live with will be there as well: in the immortal words of Pogo, “We has met the enemy and it is us.” That knowledge is one of the difficult but redeeming gifts community has to offer.
  3. VI. Hard experiences—such as meeting the enemy within, or dealing with the conflict and betrayal that are an inevitable part of living closely with others—are not the death knell of community: they are the gateway into the real thing.But we will never walk through that gate if we cling to a romantic image of community as the Garden of Eden. After the first flush of romance, community is less like a garden and more like a crucible. One stays in the crucible only if one is committed to being refined by fire. If we seek community merely in order to be happy, the seeking will end at the gate. If we want community in order to confront the unhappiness we carry within ourselves, the experiment may go on, and happiness—or, better, a sense of at-homeness—may be its paradoxical outcome.

VII. It is tempting to think of hierarchy and community as opposites, as one more “either-or.” But in mass society, with its inevitable complex organizations, our challenge is to think “both-and,” to find ways of inviting the gift of community within those hierarchical structures. I am not proposing the transformation of bureaucracies into communities, which I regard as an impossible dream. I am proposing “pockets of possibility” within bureaucratic structures, places where people can live and work differently than the way dictated by the organizational chart. The most creative of our institutions already do this: e.g., those high tech companies that must organize efficiently to protect the bottom line and get product out the door, but must also create spaces where people can collaborate in dreaming, playing, thinking wild thoughts, and taking outrageous risks, lest tomorrow’s product never be imagined.

VIII. Contrary to popular opinion, community requires leadership, and it requires more leadership, not less, than bureaucracies. A hierarchical organization, with its well-defined roles, rules, and relationships, is better able to operate on automatic pilot than is a community, with its chaotic and unpredictable energy field. But leadership for community is not exercised through power (i.e., through the use of sanctions) that is the primary tool of bureaucratic leadership. Leadership for community requires authority, a form of power that is freely granted to the leader by his or her followers. Authority is granted to people who are perceived as authentic, as authoring their own words and actions rather than proceeding according to some organizational script. So the authority to lead toward community can emerge from anyone in an organization—and it may be more likely to emerge from people who do not hold positional power.

  1. IX. Leadership for community consists in creating, holding, and guarding a trustworthy space in which human resourcefulness may be evoked.A critical assumption is hidden in that definition—the assumption that people are resourceful. Standard organizational models assume that people have deficits and scarcities rather than resources: people do not want to work, so the organization must surround them with threats; people would not know what to do with the unexpected, so organizational life must be routine; people will try to cheat if given half a chance, so the organization must build walls of security. When we act on the scarcity assumption it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy through a process called resentment (small wonder!), and people are rendered incapable of community, at least temporarily, sometimes permanently.
  2. X. Ironically, we often resist leaders who call upon our resourcefulness.We find it threatening when leaders say, “I am not going tell you how to do this, let alone do it for you, but I am going to create a space in which you can do it for yourselves.” Why threatening? Because many of us have been persuaded by institutions ranging from educational to industrial to religious that we do not have the resources it takes to do things, or even think things, for ourselves (which, to the extent that we believe it, expands an institution’s power over our lives). Many people have been convinced of their own inadequacy, and any leader who wants to invite them into a community of mutual resourcefulness must see this invisible wound and try to heal it.
  3. XI.  Seeing and treating that wound takes courage and tenacity:while the leader is calling followers to fullness, the followers are accusing the leader of not doing his or her job. Every teacher who has tried to create a space for a self-sustaining learning community knows this story: students resist on the grounds that “we are not paying tuition to listen to John and Susie talk, but to take notes from you, the person with the Ph.D..” It takes a deeply grounded leader—a leader with a source of identity independent of how popular he or she is with the group being led—to hold a space in which people can discover their resources while those same people resist, angrily accusing the leader of not earning his or her keep.

XII. In the face of resistance, an ungrounded leader will revert to bureaucratic mode: the teacher will revert to lecturing rather than inviting inquiry, the manager will revert to rule-making rather than inviting creativity. In the face of resistance, leaders will do what they are taught to do: not create space for others, but fill the space themselves—fill it with their own words, their own skills, their own deeds, their own egos. This, of course, is precisely what followers expect from leaders, and that expectation prolongs the period during which leaders of community must hold the space—hold it in trust until people trust the leader, and themselves, enough to enter in.

XIII. There is a name for what leaders experience during this prolonged period of patient waiting. It is called “suffering” (which is the root meaning of the word “patience”). Suffering is what happens when you see the possibilities in others while they deny those same possibilities in themselves. Suffering is what happens when you hold in trust a space for community to emerge but others lack the trust to enter the space and receive the gift. Suffering is what happens while you wait out their resistance, believing that people have more resources than they themselves believe they have. But leaders do not want to suffer. So we create and maintain institutional arrangements that protect leaders from suffering by assuming the worst of followers and encouraging leaders to dominate them by means of power.

XIV. I have yet to see a seminar in suffering as part of a leadership training program. I can think of three reasons why.
One, we train leaders for bureaucracy rather than community,
no matter what we say we are doing.
Two, the idea of leadership is still so steeped in machismo that we do not want to acknowledge a “weakness” like suffering.
Three, suffering is a spiritual problem, and we want to keep leadership training in the orderly realm of theory and technique rather than engage the raw messiness of the human heart.

But leadership for community will always break our hearts. So if we want to lead this way, we must help each other deal with that fact. We might begin by viewing the problem through the lens of paradox, that spiritual way of seeing that turns conventional wisdom upside down. Here, “breaking your heart” (which we normally understand as a destructive process that leaves one’s heart in fragments), is reframed as the breaking open of one’s heart into larger, more generous formsa process that goes on and on until the heart is spacious enough to hold both a vision of hope and the reality of resistance without tightening like a fist.

If we are willing to embrace the spiritual potentials of suffering, then both community and leadership, human resourcefulness and the capacity to hold it in trust, will prove to be abundant among us—gifts we have been given from the beginning but are still learning how to receive.

Old Thinking New Thinking
Community is a goal. Community is a gift.
We achieve community through desire, design and determination. We receive community by cultivating a capacity for connectedness.
Community requires a feeling of intimacy. Community does not depend on intimacy and must expand to embrace strangers, even enemies, as well as friends.
Community is a romantic Garden of Eden. Community that can withstand hard times and conflict can help us become not just happy but “at home.”
Leadership is not needed in communities. Leadership and the authority to lead toward community can emerge from anyone in an organization.
Suffering is bad and should be avoided. Suffering lets our “hearts break open” enough to hold both a vision of hope and the reality of resistance without tightening like a fist.


Syndicated from the Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.Parker J. Palmer, founder and Senior Partner of the Error! Hyperlink reference not valid., is a world-renowned writer, speaker and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change. He has reached millions worldwide through his nine books, including Let Your Life Speak, The Courage to Teach, A Hidden Wholeness, and Healing the Heart of Democracy.

October 8, 2016

The Man Who Transformed a Wasteland

A wise man adapts himself to circumstances, as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it. –Chinese Proverb


The Man Who Transformed a Wasteland

–by Margaret O’Keefe, syndicated from wearesalt.org, Sep 30, 2016

Mahatma Ghandi once said “be the change that you want to see in the world”. This week Margaret OKeeffe meets an inspirational businessman who has used obstacles as a means to create positive change for himself and his community.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back. ” – Albert Camus

I have walked in the semi-wilderness of Hampstead Heath in London for many years. One of the roads I use to enter the heath starts at the exit of a train station. In 2008 a large strip of wasteland leaned behind it looking down towards the tracks. It was filled with rubbish and featured a hideous slab of concrete with graffiti smack in the middle. On the odd occasion after forgetting to avoid it I would ask myself why ‘nobody had done anything’. And, like many others I would continue to walk past with a righteous sense of indignation. Earlier this year I had a meeting near the station. As I prepared to avert my gaze what I saw from the corner of my eye made my jaw drop.

The wasteland filled with rubbish and a slab of concrete with graffiti.

We each have a wasteland of some kind or other to deal with whether real or metaphorical.

In the place of a trashed wasteland I was stunned to see an abundance of tulips, daffodils, roses, camellias, a pond, exquisite wooden perches and a beautifully landscaped area perfect for small gatherings. A sign attached to the railings with ‘Welcome to the World Peace Garden’ beckoned me in. A little girl was skipping through one of the paths as her mother walked above at street level. Chimes tinkled overhead and I soon found myself sitting next to a tree with branches filled with little paper tags flickering in the breeze. Each carried a handwritten wish about ‘what I want  the world to be like when I grow up’. I later found out they had been attached by children from 3 local schools and that this was the ‘Tree of Hope’. I had to tear myself away.

As I was leaving I saw a man I had occasionally seen in the area and asked “do you know who is responsible for this magical place?” Jonathan Bergman gave me a knowing smile and said ‘yes – me, with the help of many others.’

Jonathan, now an estate agent, was formerly a stage actor for 20 years. The former wasteland was directly across from his office. He saw it everyday as I had, like an ugly blot on the landscape. Then one day he joined a man who was leaning over the railings looking down at the rubbish. Jonathan said “it’s horrible isn’t it”. They both stood there shaking their heads. Then the other man said “how about getting it for the community?.” Jonathan initially thought it was a crazy idea but somehow the seed got planted. “I tried to acquire the land for nothing – not surprisingly that didn’t work” (he laughs).

It was owned by a property company. The freehold was sold to a residents’ block and the lease was too short to interest some potential contributors. “I was originally given permission to tidy it up but it was rat infested and there were things I wanted to change.” After 3 years of negotiating with owners and local councillors Jonathan bought it with the help of 4 others for £25k. Dr Chhaganbhai the owner of a local health shop called Mistry came forward ‘like a dream’ to help finance the completion.

They set up a charity and decided to enlist the help of an architect and conceptual designer. A vertical garden screen and tree walk were proposed. After obtaining planning permission and presenting the idea to the local council many local residents were against the design. Despite having looked at the same rubbish tip (which had been deserted for over 100 years) they complained bitterly and actually rallied against the project. As the months rolled by, the opposition became considerable.

The original design got rejected and there were all sorts of objections over a further two year period. “They wanted a natural garden not a tree walk.” Jonathan and his partners almost gave up.

Copy of World Peace Garden CamdenThen one Sunday, Jonathan decided to pick up the trash. ‘I simply had got sick and tired of looking at this strip of land with people throwing rubbish on it.” A local resident and Buddhist called Nick Evans arrived with a pickaxe one morning saying ‘I just bought this pickaxe and I’d like to try it out’. Later, Tony Panayiouto a horticulturalist /landscaper (and Buddhist from another tradition!) stopped by and said “do you want a hand?”

Then the Heath Hands Society came for a day to do a major clean-up. It turned out that the original man at the railings (Michael Wardle) is a civil engineer and designer. He offered to cover the concrete with wood, create steps and build a platform which is now used for music recitals, poetry readings, yoga and multiple other gatherings.

music+drawing“People started to chip in and gave us furniture. It was a completely organic process. We worked the land doing stuff that didn’t require permission. And from this opposition we created this beautiful garden. If not for the opposition it wouldn’t be what it is today.”

Despite the beauty of the garden, what resonates most for Jonathan is the fact that it brings people together. He mentions the different sorts of people who visit the garden: ”residents, doctors, poets, patients, musicians, people who play chess, carers, artists, meditators, shopkeepers, people who practise Qi Gong, a brass band, members of local churches and synagogues, school children…”

When a colleague suggested they change the name from Peace Garden to “World Peace Garden’ Jonathan thought it ridiculously ambitious. Yet, after agreeing on the name, the United Nations Association donated £6000 to the project in support of harmony & understanding.

The garden has become a sanctuary and inspirational meeting place for people of many beliefs. It also provides a marvellous opportunity for neighbours to come together on small projects to support the upkeep of the place. Artist & speaker Eva Schloss (Anne Frank’s step sister) planted a Cherry blossom tree and spoke to children in the garden about life in the camps and her relationship with Anne. Now on Mitzvah Day sometimes as many as 60 volunteers from a variety of faiths arrive to plant & clear alongside local residents.

chess2-768x576More recently Transport For London (TFL) asked if the people involved with the World Peace Garden could help co-create an ‘Energy Garden’ at the train station. The ambition is to make it look like an extension of Hampstead Heath itself. It is to be run by TFL along with Groundwork. Their aim is help 50 train stations go green with plants (both edible and ornamental). Groundwork will link with local schools and people in the community will be invited in to plant vegetables.

I asked Jonathan why he stuck with the project in the early years despite all the odds. He admits it was very tough for a while “of course I had second thoughts but I thrive on challenge and not doing anything about something doesn’t make it go away!’’.

He remembers one particular afternoon in the early days when bags of wood chips were delivered to him in the pouring rain. A few guys were drinking pints in the pub across the street and guffawing about the prospect of Jonathan getting drenched while laying down the chips across the ground. “The more they laughed the more I shovelled”. He says that caring for this garden has transformed his life.

“On a Sunday morning it’s like working in a monastery garden. I’ve learned a lot from digging and watering. It’s a great meditation that brings out the best in myself and other people.” Today he acknowledges that it wasn’t just a noble fight to beautify a wasteland. Looking back he sees that it was actually a personal development process that allowed him to confront his own demons.

’It was a different kind of journey. I was the one fighting. I needed peace. I now realise I can change me but I can’t change you. In the course of this gardening thing I learned that being directly hands on I learned about myself. I’ve become a better human being. When I am internally better then that has a knock on effect on others. In the end, I and the community co-created something we all love.”

The ultimate aim is to inspire the creation of peace gardens anywhere so that communities can come together: small, manageable places where people can come and ease the strife of everyday life.

We each have a wasteland of some kind or other to deal with whether real or metaphorical. What strikes me about Jonathan’s rather heroic story is the immense power of persistence in the face of adversity. Ghandi is often quoted as saying ‘be the change you want to see’. It has become such a common leadership refrain many of us forget its intrinsic meaning.

GardenMG_8500Jonathan intuitively got the fact that a fight for the original garden design was not going to create peace for himself or others. He did what he could and little by little, as the external (and internal) rubbish got cleared and seeds got planted, he came into more harmony with himself. As he worked on his own peace of mind this got reflected in that garden and others got inspired to join him as a result.

Every leadership journey has its challenges. For me this serves as a reminder to see obstacles as fuel for raising the bar towards something better. Or, as Jonathan says, when the going gets tough just keep shoveling! Sooner or later we may be surprised and perhaps even astonished by how much light we can create from darkness.

In the age of disruption that we live in I can’t think of a better time to reflect on the ethos of what Jonathan’s charity stands for:

The World Peace Garden Camden is an opportunity to briefly step outside our busy lives and think about a world in which respect for life and the pursuit of peace in every aspect, makes more sense than emphasizing divisions between peoples and going to war.



This article originally appeared on Salt. Salt is a platform for Positive Change Agents. Its goal is to make the world a better place by promoting compassionate business practices. Margaret O’Keeffe is the CEO and Co-founder of CuriousLeaders, a London-based coaching consultancy firm.

Our thanks to DailyGood.org for bringing this to our attention. DailyGood is a portal that shares inspiring quotes and news stories that focus on the “good” we can find in our world daily along with a simple action to continue that goodness. Since 1999, it has delivered positive news to subscriber inboxes for free by volunteers every day.

October 4, 2016

Fierce Contemplation: The Nature Loving Nuns Who Stopped a Pipeline

We see what we are doing with the pipeline as another way to be teachers. –Sister Antoinette Doyle


Fierce Contemplation: The Nature Loving Nuns Who Stopped a Pipeline

–by Laura Michele Diener, syndicated from Yes Magazine, Sep 26, 2016

“The easiest way for me to find God is in nature,” Sister Ceciliana Skees explains. Born Ruth Skees, she grew up in Hardin County, Kentucky, during the 1930s. It’s a rural place of soft green hills, where her father farmed his entire life.

Now just a few months shy of her eighty-fifth birthday, she remembers feeling the first stirrings of a religious calling at the age of 10. Her peasant blouse and smooth, chin-length haircut don’t fit the popular image of a nun, but she has been a Sister of Loretto—a member of a religious order more than 200 years old—since she took vows at the age of 18.

Skees’ commitment to social activism goes back almost as far as her commitment to the church. She has marched for civil rights, founded a school for early childhood education, and taught generations of children.

Then, a few years ago, she heard about the Bluegrass Pipeline, a joint venture between two energy companies: Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners. The project would have transported natural gas liquids from fracking fields in Pennsylvania and Ohio southwest across Kentucky to connect with an existing pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico. Loretto’s land was directly in its path.

On August 8, 2013, Skees and other sisters from Loretto and several other convents attended an informational meeting held by representatives of the two companies. Frustrated with what they saw as a lack of helpful information, several of the sisters, including Skees, gathered in the center of the room and broke into song. A video of the sisters singing “Amazing Grace” was picked up by media outlets such asMother Jones and reached hundreds of thousands of people.

Woodford county resident Corlia Logsdon remembers how a company representative asked the police to arrest the sisters for disrupting the meeting that day. But the officers, who were graduates of local Catholic schools, refused to arrest their former teachers.

Logsdon joined the campaign against the pipeline when she realized the proposed route would cut directly through her front yard. She says she found the sisters to be stalwart partners, who regularly accompanied her to negotiate with state lawmakers. “It was the first time I had ever done anything like that. And they came with me, persistently presenting a positive and yet quietly forceful presence in the legislature.”

Sellus Wilder, a documentary filmmaker, says he joined the campaign to stop the Bluegrass Pipeline after seeing the video of the nuns singing. His experiences led him to produce The End of the Line, a documentary film about the pipeline and opposition to it. He called the sisters the glue that held the diverse group of protesters together and kept them focused.

“They all have really strong, glowing spirits,” Wilder says. “They brought their inherent qualities—energy, compassion, and education, as well as a certain ethereal element—to the whole campaign.”

Whatever the nuns brought, it worked. In March 2014, a circuit judge ruled against the pipeline, saying the companies had no right to use eminent domain against owners unwilling to sell their land. A few months later, the companies agreed to redraw their route to avoid Loretto’s grounds, but the sisters kept protesting to support their neighbors. The case eventually went to the state supreme court, which upheld the lower court’s decision. The pipeline was defeated—and the same coalition is now fighting another one .

In a way, Skees and the other nuns’ participation in the Bluegrass Pipeline fight was not that unusual. About 80 percent of American nuns are members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which is committed to environmental activism. Sister Ann Scholz, the LCWR’s associate director for social mission, says this position is a direct outcome of the way sisters interpret the gospel.

“No Christian can live the gospel fully unless they attend the needs of their brothers and sisters, including Mother Earth,” Scholz explains. “Our work for social justice grows out of the Catholic social teaching and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

But because the Sisters of Loretto are in rural Kentucky, their engagement with these issues takes on a regional flavor. Kentucky is a key battleground state in the debates over fracking and coal mining, and its eastern region is home to some of the poorest counties in Appalachia. The nuns are also rural, and help unify far-flung residents with diverse interests.

For example, the Sisters of Loretto joined with local advocates for coal miners’ rights in 1979 to sue the Blue Diamond Coal Company in order to expose what they saw as a record of poor safety, mining disasters, and environmental negligence in Kentucky.

Skees herself spent much of the 1960s and ’70s teaching in Louisville, where she marched against racial discrimination in housing and for the integration of schools. “At Loretto we tend to go with the flow,” she muses. “But we do not flow with injustice.”

Kentucky sisters have also been involved in protests across the United States. They have traveled to Alabama, Mississippi, and Washington, D.C., to march for civil rights, for universal health care, and against the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. They hold annual protests at the controversial School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, a training program for Latin American military whose graduates have been accused of human-rights violations (the school is now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).

These nuns and others like them have long formed part of the core of the nation’s activist population. But their numbers are decreasing, and those who remain are getting older. The same thing is happening all over the United States—there were only about 49,000 sisters in 2015, compared to nearly 180,000 in 1965.

Skees’ own life helps explain the decline. “Women had very few choices when I went to the convent,” she says. “We could be nurses, secretaries, teachers—or we could get married.”

Until the 1960s, convent life offered professional opportunities for women that other fields lacked—nuns could become high school principals, college deans, or administrators. But women today don’t need a habit to move into positions of leadership.

What will this decline mean for socially engaged nuns like the ones who helped defeat the Bluegrass Pipeline? Will it end their tradition? Or will their work simply evolve?

To find out, I spent several days at each of three convents in Kentucky. First, I headed east into the foothills of the Appalachian mountains to visit the Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Tabor, an intimate community that has opened up its home to its neighbors as a space of contemplation. Next, I went to central Kentucky to visit the Sisters of Charity, a global order with convents in Africa, Asia, and Central America. Finally, I dropped by the motherhouse of the Sisters of Loretto, founded by pioneer women dedicated to teaching the children of Kentucky.

I came away thinking how deeply each convent was embedded in its community, and how precious was their wonder at the natural world. The sisters are too busy looking ahead to worry about dwindling numbers.

Fierce contemplation

The motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity in Nazareth, Kentucky, serves as a retirement home for sisters who have spent their lives in ministry—although you might not know that from the energy of the women here.

“You keep going as long as you can,” Sister Joan Wilson explained cheerfully. Tall and slender, with close-cropped white hair and a  gentle manner, she radiated kindness and concern.

I got to know Joan—along with Sisters Theresa Knabel, Frances Krumpelman, and Julie Driscoll—and all four expressed utter joy in their natural surroundings. “There’s such a beauty in nature that it’s such a spiritual experience,” Driscoll said. “Every time I see a deer, I think, ‘Oh, what a blessing! Thank you, God!’”

“Rainbows just turn the place upside down!” Krumpelman added.

Their pleasure in rainbows and sunsets at first struck me as childlike—odd to find among women in their 70s and 80s. But I soon realized it was deeply rooted in contemplation and prayer.

Their love of nature derived in part from the texts they have studied and prayed over, they said, especially the Psalms, the ancient Hebrew poems that utilize images of mountains, birds, and stars to express the glory of divine creation. “The Psalms rave about nature, so I probably imbibed the beauty of it when I prayed,” Knabel said.

They feel a similar delight in the work of Pope Francis, especially with his encyclical letter, Laudato Si, which calls for a universal awareness of climate change and its effects on the poor.

The community avidly read and discussed it, and couldn’t seem to order enough copies.

The beauty of their grounds is overwhelming, and as I explored them alongside Sister Joan, I found myself caught up in her wonder. The autumn leaves mirrored in the lakes, the shadowy corners with statues of long-ago saints, the bright paths dappled with sun, all brought forth a sense of peace. Judging by the number of other visitors strolling around, I wasn’t the only one drawn to the harmonious abundance of Nazareth. The sisters believe part of their mission is to share the beauty of their home with their neighbors, so they keep it open to the public and maintain walking trails and fishing lakes for the community. They also keep up a garden that anyone from Nelson County is welcome to use. The sisters prepare the soil, fence the land, and provide the water.

To improve their ability to care for this land, the sisters of Charity and Loretto have been working with the foresters at Bernheim Forest, an arboretum and research center in nearby Bullitt County. Forester Andrew Berry has walked though hundreds of acres at both campuses to find ways to make their lands more sustainable and friendly to wildlife. At Charity, for example, he helped pull out invasive species to help restore the native oak forestlands.

Berry says the sisters’ enthusiasm for “good eco-stewardship” has impressed him. “Together we manage the forests for both biodiversity and spiritual value.”

He has also been helping both convents create conservation easements— legal agreements that permanently limit the uses of a piece of land—for their land to ensure it will remain protected in perpetuity, should the sisters no longer be there.

This is a reality age and time has forced them to confront, as nearby convents have begun to shut down. In fall of 2015, with only one able-bodied sister left, the sisters of a Carmelite order in Louisville decided to close their convent. They went to the Sisters of Loretto for help.

“The Carmelite Sisters had so much stuff that they couldn’t take with them—all these habits and prayer books and statues that were too old to be of use to anyone, but to them were holy,” Susan Classen told me. Classen is not a sister but a Mennonite co-member who has lived at Loretto’s motherhouse for 23 years. Rather than simply throw away the sacred items, the Sisters of Loretto offered to bury them on their grounds and, in November 2015, held a ceremony at the edge of their forestlands. When I visited Loretto in December, the grave was still fresh, spilling over with golden dirt.

“One of the Carmelite Sisters spoke about how their life together wasn’t going to continue, and thus God must have something else for them, and that it was time to let go. And then we buried everything.” Susan’s voice broke, and it was obvious she was thinking not only of the Carmelites but her own order. It was impossible not to.

Susan Classen at her cabin.

Susan Classen at her cabin. Photo by the author.

At 58, Classen is outdoorsy and active, but she is one of the youngest members of Loretto. Even though many of the women are incredibly active, the average age overall at the convent is 81. There are 169 vowed sisters, with only 23 under the age of 70, and only two under 50. The numbers are similar for the Sisters of Charity: There are 304 members in the United States and Belize, but only 22 are under the age of 65. Charity’s members are younger in its south Asian monasteries, where only 60 percent of the sisters are over 65, and women still join as young as 18.

Despite health concerns and the trials of old age, many sisters here remain committed activists.

“We see what we are doing with the pipeline as another way to be teachers,” says Sister Antoinette Doyle, referring to the classroom teaching all sisters of Loretto were required to do until 1968. Well into her eighties, Doyle is tiny and delicate, with white hair fluffed around her face. “We’re not classroom teachers as much now, but we teach in the broader way.”

New mountain traditions

Unlike the Sisters of Loretto, the Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Tabor don’t have vast grounds or scores of members. The community is small and intimate, with only eight nuns and one resident oblate—a person who recommits themselves to the Benedictine order every year, rather than taking permanent vows. There was a chore chart on the fridge. Although they work all over the county during the day, the sisters have communal dinners every night after their evening prayers.

Their story begins with a pastoral letter from three archbishops, entitled “This Land Is Home to Me.” The letter, published in 1975, encouraged religious people to move to Appalachia and build places of renewal for people of all faiths.

“Dear sisters and brothers,” the letter reads, “we urge all of you not to stop living, to be a part of the rebirth of utopias, to recover and defend the struggling dream of Appalachia itself.”

Sisters Eileen Schepers and Judy Yunker first read the call while teaching special education classes in a Catholic school in southern Indiana, and both felt inspired by its message. Together they moved to Kentucky in 1979 and founded Mt. Tabor. Originally it was a subsidiary of a larger monastery in Indiana, but it became independent in 2000.

While theirs wasn’t the only convent in the area, Schepers and Yunker found themselves among mainly non-Catholics in a close-knit mountain culture. To break down some of the barriers, they cast off their billowy black habits and took up jeans and flannel shirts. Over the years, the local people and the sisters have built up a mutual respect and maintain many close relationships.

When Sister Eileen Schepers considers the meaning of sustainability, she talks about the sisters taking their place in a cosmic balance between the community, the planet, and the supernatural.

I saw what that meant in practice one evening in October. In the quiet hour before evening prayer, Sister Eileen chopped onions and peeled potatoes for soup in the sun-swept kitchen. She scraped the veggie peelings into a Kay’s Ice Cream bucket by the sink, and sprinkled the potatoes from twin salt and pepper shakers in the shape of smiling nuns.

Around quarter to five, the other sisters started drifting in from jobs, throwing down their briefcases and grocery bags in the doorway before pouring themselves coffee from a thermos. Everyone leaned against the counter, chatting while Sister Eileen spooned biscuit dough onto a baking tray. Just before she put the biscuits in the oven, they all made their way into the chapel for evening prayer.

In the entryway to the chapel, each woman donned long white robes. The garments brought them into a ritual similarity, and it became harder to tell them apart.

Sister Eileen Schepers at evening prayers.

Sister Judy officiated at vespers while the sunset over the mountains behind her shone through the glass walls of the chapel. A few men and women sat in the pews, visitors and friends who had wandered in to share the daily tradition. As the prayers ended, we all stood in a circle and Yunker anointed each of our foreheads. Her touch was warm, firm, and personal. We don’t touch each other enough anymore, I thought. I began to see how one touch full of loving intention could sustain someone throughout each day, and how that intention could spread outward to their neighbors and the world beyond.

Ending or evolution?

As more and more of the sisters age, who will continue the orders’ missions and care for their grounds? Who will stand up for local people, advocate for sustainability, and offer a place of quiet in which to contemplate nature?

Corlia Logsdon believes that local farmers, many of them Catholic, have embraced the nuns’ teachings. “I don’t think that is going to go away,” she said. “But I don’t think we could ever replace what they do because they do it with such passion.”

Then again, the Kentucky orders may continue to serve their communities for a long time to come. Rather than relying on an influx of young girls graduating from Catholic schools, some of the convents are recruiting nontraditional members. Co-members at Loretto can be male or female, married or single, and Catholic or not, so long as they are committed to peace and justice. Like Susan Classen, co-members can be deeply integrated in the life of Loretto, living at the motherhouse, serving on committees, and fully participating in campaigns for social change.

“Our philosophy of peace and justice will be carried on by the co-members,” said Skees, who worked side by side with Classen to fight the Bluegrass Pipeline.

At Mt. Tabor, the community decided in 2005 to become ecumenical, meaning they accept women from all Christian denominations. They currently have six Roman Catholics, two Episcopalians, and one non-affiliated Christian woman. “It’s deepening our understanding of Jesus’ call to live in unity with one another,” Schepers said.

Even as they reach out for new members, most of the women I spoke with looked forward to the future, whatever trials it may bring. They spoke of acceptance and transformation, bolstered by faith.

“If God is still calling us to be here, then he will direct us as to how that will happen,” Schepers explained. Another sister added that the Benedictine Rule teaches them not to think in terms of permanence, referring to a guide for monastic living that Benedictine monks and nuns have followed for about 1,500 years.

Susan Classen probably expressed Loretto’s attitude toward an uncertain future most succinctly. “We have a lot of letting go to do, and I don’t want to diminish that. But there’s also a sense that we’re part of something new.”

This article is shared here with permission from YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Laura Michele Diener wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Laura lives in Huntington, West Virginia. She teaches medieval history and directs the women’s studies program at Marshall University.   We thank DialyGood.org for bringing this to our attention.

September 20, 2016


 –by Herman Hesse (Sep 19, 2016)

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.

Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.


A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”
― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte


About the Author: by Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte (taken from this site)

September 3, 2016

Navajo justice prefers a win-win solution. PEACEMAKING!

Life Comes From It: Navajo justice

–by Chief Justice Robert Yazzie, syndicated from context.org, Jun 30, 2016

A “vertical” system of justice is one that relies upon hierarchies and power. That is, judges sit at the top presiding over the lawyers, jurors, and all participants in court proceedings. The justice system uses rank, and the coercive power that goes with rank or status, to address conflicts.

Power is the active element in the process. A decision is dictated from on high by the judge, and that decision is an order or judgment which parties must obey or face a penalty. Parties to a dispute have limited power and control over the process.

The goal of adversarial law is to punish wrongdoers and teach them a lesson. Adversarial law and adjudication offer only a win-lose solution; it is a zero-sum game. Navajo justice prefers a win-win solution.

For centuries, the focus of English and American criminal law has been punishment by the “state,” with little regard for the rights and needs of victims. They are ignored, and the result is that no real justice is done. There are many victims: family members, relatives, and the community; people who are affected by both the dispute and the decision. Often, the perpetrator is a victim as well, in a climate of lost hope and dependence upon alcohol or other means of escape.

When outsiders intervene in a dispute, they impose moral codes upon people who have moral codes of their own. The subjects of adjudication have no power, little or no say about the outcome of a case, and their feelings do not matter.

Within the horizontal justice model, no person is above the other. A graphic model often used by Indians to portray this thought is a circle. In a circle, there is no right or left, no beginning or end. Every point (or person) on the line on a circle looks to the same center as the focus. The circle is the symbol of Navajo justice because it is perfect, unbroken, and a simile of unity and oneness.

The Navajo word for “law” is beehaz-aanii. It means something fundamental and absolute, something that has existed from the beginning of time. Navajos believe that the Holy People “put it there for us.” It’s the source of a healthy, meaningful life. Navajos say that “life comes from beehaz-aanii,” because it is the essence of life. The precepts ofbeehaz-aanii are stated in prayers and ceremonies that tell us of hozhooji – “the perfect state.”

Imagine a system of law that permits anyone to say anything they like during the course of a dispute, and no authority figure has to determine what is “true.” Think of a system with an end goal of restorative justice, which uses equality and the full participation of disputants in a final decision. If we say of law that “life comes from it,” then where there is hurt, there must be healing.

To the Navajo way of thinking, justice is related to healing because many of the concepts are the same. When a Navajo becomes ill, he or she will consult a medicine man. A Navajo healer examines a patient to determine what is wrong, what caused the illness, and what ceremony matches the illness to cure it. The cure must be related to the cause of the illness, because Navajo healing works through two processes: it drives away or removes the cause of illness and it restores the person to good relations in solidarity with his or her surroundings and self. Patients consult Navajo healers to summon outside healing forces and to marshal what they have inside themselves for healing.

The term “solidarity” is essential to an understanding of both Navajo healing and justice. The Navajo understanding of “solidarity” is difficult to translate into English, but it carries connotations that help the individual to reconcile self with family, community, nature, and the cosmos – all reality. That feeling of oneness with one’s surroundings, and the reconciliation of the individual with everyone and everything else, is what allows an alternative to vertical justice to work. It rejects the process of convicting a person and throwing the keys away in favor of methods that use solidarity to restore good relations among people. Most importantly, it restores good relations with self.

The process – which in English we call “peacemaking” – is a system of relationships where there is no need for force, coercion, or control. There are no plaintiffs or defendants; no “good guys” or “bad guys.”

Navajos do not think of equality as treating people as equal before the law; they are equal in the law. Again, our Navajo language points this out in practical terms: When a Navajo is charged with a crime, in the vertical system of justice the judge asks (in English), “Are you guilty or not guilty?” A Navajo cannot respond because there is no precise term for “guilty” in the Navajo language. The word “guilt” implies a moral fault which demands punishment. It is a nonsense word in Navajo law because of the focus on healing, integration with the group, and the end goal of nourishing ongoing relationships with the immediate and extended family, relatives, neighbors, and community.

To better comprehend Navajo justice we must understand distributive justice. Navajo court decisions place more importance on helping a victim than finding fault. On the other hand, compensating a victim in accordance with the victim’s feelings and the perpetrator’s ability to pay is more important than using a precise measure of damages to compensate for actual losses.

Another unique aspect of Navajo justice is that the relatives of the one who causes injury are responsible to compensate the one hurt, and the relatives of the injured party are entitled to the benefit of the compensation. Distributive justice is concerned with the well-being of everyone in a community. If I see a hungry person, it does not matter whether I am responsible for the hunger. If someone is injured, it is irrelevant that I did not hurt that person. I have a responsibility, as a Navajo, to treat everyone as if that person was my relative. Everyone is part of a community, and the resources of the community must be shared with all.

Distributive justice abandons fault and adequate compensation (a fetish of personal injury lawyers) in favor of assuring well-being for everyone. Restoration is more important than punishment. These dynamics are applied in a modern legal institution – the Navajo Peacemaker Court.

Navajos have experienced the vertical system of justice for the past 100 years – first in the Navajo Court of Indian Offenses (1892-1959), then in the Courts of the Navajo Nation (1959-present). For over a century, Navajos either adapted the imposed system to their own ways or expressed their dissatisfaction with a system that made no sense to them.

In 1982, the Judicial Conference of the Navajo Nation created the Navajo Peacemaker Court. It is a modern legal institution that uses traditional community dispute resolution in a court based on the vertical justice model. It is a means of reconciling horizontal (or circular) justice to vertical justice by using traditional Navajo legal values. The Navajo Peacemaker Court makes it possible for judges to avoid adjudication and the discontent it causes by referring cases to local communities to be resolved by talking things out.

The Navajo Peacemaker Court takes advantage of the talents of a naat’aanii. That is a traditional Navajo civil leader who is chosen by the community to be the “peacemaker” for his or her demonstrated abilities – wisdom, integrity, good character, and respect by the community.

The civil authority of a naat’aanii is not coercive or commanding; it is a leadership role in the truest sense of the word. A peacemaker is a person who thinks well, speaks well, shows a strong reverence for the basic teachings of life, and has respect for himself or herself and others in personal conduct.

naat’aanii functions as a guide, and views everyone – rich or poor, high or low, educated or not – as an equal. The peacemaker attempts to bring participants to a final decision that everyone agrees to for the benefit of all. A naat’aanii is chosen for knowledge, and knowledge is the power which creates the ability to persuade others. There is a form of distributive justice in the sharing of knowledge by a naat’aanii, because he or she offers it to the disputants so they can use it to achieve consensus.

Peacemaking is being revived with the goal of nourishing justice in Navajo Nation communities. The reason is obvious: life comes from it. Communities can resolve their own legal problems using resources they already have to make decisions the traditional Navajo way.

Originally published in Spring 1994 on page 29 of The Ecology Of Justice (IC#38)Copyright (c)1994, 1997 by Context Institute. Robert Yazzie grew up in a traditional area of the Navajo Nation, studied law, and started his career as a lawyer in Navajo Nation courts. After seven years as presiding judge of the district court in Window Rock, Arizona, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Navajo Nation in 1992.

August 18, 2016

J.F.K. ~ Best Speech a U.S. President Ever Gave

Best Speech a U.S. President Ever Gave

{Thanks to WorldBEYONDWar.org for binging our attention to this. …And to David Swanson for the writing/posting.}

In planning an upcoming conference and nonviolent action aimed at challenging the institution of war, with the conference to be held at American University, I can’t help but be drawn to the speech a U.S. president gave at American University a little more than 50 years ago. Whether or not you agree with me that this is the best speech ever given by a U.S. president, there should be little dispute that it is the speech most out of step with what anyone will say at either the Republican or the Democratic national convention this year. Here’s a video of the best portion of the speech:

President John F. Kennedy was speaking at a time when, like now, Russia and the United States had enough nuclear weapons ready to fire at each other on a moment’s notice to destroy the earth for human life many times over. At that time, however, in 1963, there were only three nations, not the current nine, with nuclear weapons, and many fewer than now with nuclear energy. NATO was far removed from Russia’s borders. The United States had not just facilitated a coup in Ukraine. The United States wasn’t organizing military exercises in Poland or placing missiles in Poland and Romania. Nor was it manufacturing smaller nukes that it described as “more usable.” The work of managing U.S. nuclear weapons was then deemed prestigious in the U.S. military, not the dumping ground for drunks and misfits that it has become. Hostility between Russia and the United States was high in 1963, but the problem was widely known about in the United States, in contrast to the current vast ignorance. Some voices of sanity and restraint were permitted in the U.S. media and even in the White House. Kennedy was using peace activist Norman Cousins as a messenger to Nikita Khrushchev, whom he never described, as Hillary Clinton has described Vladimir Putin, as “Hitler.”

Kennedy framed his speech as a remedy for ignorance, specifically the ignorant view that war is inevitable. This is the opposite of what President Barack Obama said recently in Hiroshima and earlier in Prague and Oslo. Kennedy called peace “the most important topic on earth.” It is a topic not touched on in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. I fully expect this year’s Republican national convention to celebrate ignorance.

Kennedy renounced the idea of a “Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war,” precisely what both big political parties now and most speeches on war by most past U.S. presidents ever have favored. Kennedy went so far as to profess to care about 100% rather than 4% of humanity:

“… not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women–not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”

Kennedy explained war and militarism and deterrence as nonsensical:

“Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.”

Kennedy went after the money. Military spending is now over half of federal discretionary spending, and yet neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton has said or been asked in even the vaguest terms what they’d like to see spent on militarism. “Today,” said Kennedy in 1963,

“the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles–which can only destroy and never create–is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.”

In 2016 even beauty queens have shifted to advocating war rather than “world peace.” But in 1963 Kennedy spoke of peace as the serious business of government:

“I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war–and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task. Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament–and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitude–as individuals and as a Nation–for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward–by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the cold war and toward freedom and peace here at home.”

Can you imagine any approved speaker at this year’s RNC or DNC suggesting that in U.S. relations toward Russia a major part of the problem might be U.S. attitudes? Would you be willing to wager your next donation to either of those parties? I’d be glad to accept it.

Peace, Kennedy explained in a manner unheard of today, is perfectly possible:

First: Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable–that mankind is doomed–that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade–therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable–and we believe they can do it again. I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal. Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace– based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions–on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace–no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process–a way of solving problems.”

Kennedy debunked some of the usual straw men:

“With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor–it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors. So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.”

Kennedy then laments what he considers, or claims to consider, baseless Soviet paranoia regarding U.S. imperialism, Soviet criticism not unlike his own more private criticism of the CIA. But he follows this by flipping it around on the U.S. public:

“Yet it is sad to read these Soviet statements–to realize the extent of the gulf between us. But it is also a warning–a warning to the American people not to fall into the same trap as the Soviets, not to see only a distorted and desperate view of the other side, not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than an exchange of threats. No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue. As Americans, we find communism profoundly repugnant as a negation of personal freedom and dignity. But we can still hail the Russian people for their many achievements–in science and space, in economic and industrial growth, in culture and in acts of courage. Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, including nearly two thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland–a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.”

Imagine today trying to get Americans to see a designated enemy’s point of view and ever being invited back on CNN or MSNBC afterward. Imagine hinting at who actually did the vast majority of winning World War II or why Russia might have good reason to fear aggression from its west!

Kennedy returned to the nonsensical nature of the cold war, then and now:

“Today, should total war ever break out again–no matter how–our two countries would become the primary targets. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours. And even in the cold war, which brings burdens and dangers to so many nations, including this Nation’s closest allies–our two countries bear the heaviest burdens. For we are both devoting massive sums of money to weapons that could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty, and disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on the other, and new weapons beget counterweapons. In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union as well as ours–and even the most hostile nations can be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty obligations, and only those treaty obligations, which are in their own interest.”

Kennedy then urges, outrageously by the standards of some, that the United States tolerate other nations pursuing their own visions:

“So, let us not be blind to our differences–but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

Kennedy reframes the cold war, rather than the Russians, as the enemy:

“Let us reexamine our attitude toward the cold war, remembering that we are not engaged in a debate, seeking to pile up debating points. We are not here distributing blame or pointing the finger of judgment. We must deal with the world as it is, and not as it might have been had the history of the last 18 years been different. We must, therefore, persevere in the search for peace in the hope that constructive changes within the Communist bloc might bring within reach solutions which now seem beyond us. We must conduct our affairs in such a way that it becomes in the Communists’ interest to agree on a genuine peace. Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy–or of a collective death-wish for the world.”

By Kennedy’s definition, the U.S. government is pursuing a death-wish for the world, just as by Martin Luther King’s definition four years later, the U.S. government is now “spiritually dead.” Which is not to say that nothing came of Kennedy’s speech and the work that followed it in the five months before he was murdered by U.S. militarists. Kennedy proposed in the speech the creation of a hotline between the two governments, which was created. He proposed a ban on nuclear weapons testing and announced the unilateral U.S. cessation of nuclear testing in the atmosphere. This led to a treaty banning nuclear testing except underground. And that led, as Kennedy intended, to greater cooperation and larger disarmament treaties.

This speech also led by degrees difficult to measure to greater U.S. resistance to launching new wars. May it serve to inspire a movement to bring the abolition of war to reality.

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JFK ~ The Speech that Killed him 5m24s

JFK Exposes Illuminatti Traitors 2m7s

JFK’s Anti-Illuninati Speech  6m57ss

JFK Secret Societies Speech ~ Full Version 19m43s

JFK’s 10 Best Speeches {croppings from} 6m43s

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July 16, 2016

Mother Earth’s Rights are Bolivia’s Law

Our task must be to free ourselves … by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures, and the whole of nature, and its beauty. –Albert Einstein


Bolivia’s Law of Mother Earth

–by Ryan Hewlett, syndicated from wearesalt.org, Jul 15, 2016

Bolivia’s Law of Mother Earth (“Ley de Derechos de La Madre Tierra”) holds the land as sacred and holds it as a living system with rights to be protected from exploitation.

The law, which was passed by Bolivia’s Plurinational Legislative Assembly in November 2010 is part of a complete restructuring of the Bolivian legal system following a change of constitution in 2009.

It has been heavily influenced by a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view which places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the centre of all life. Humans are considered equal to all other entities.

In accordance with the philosophy of Pachamama, it states, “She is sacred, fertile and the source of life that feeds and cares for all living beings in her womb. She is in permanent balance, harmony and communication with the cosmos. She is comprised of all ecosystems and living beings, and their self-organisation.”

The passing of The Law of Mother Earth has established 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

“It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all,” said Vice-President Alvaro García Linera. “It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration.”

The passing of such a law is a landmark move from a nation that has long suffered from serious environmental problems and from the mining of its raw materials including tin, silver and gold.

“Existing laws are not strong enough,” said Undarico Pinto, leader of the 3.5m-strong Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia, the biggest social movement, who helped draft the law. “It will make industry more transparent. It will allow people to regulate industry at national, regional and local levels.”

Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said Bolivia’s traditional indigenous respect for the Pachamama was vital to prevent climate change.

According to the Guardian, Choquehuanca said: “Our grandparents taught us that we belong to a big family of plants and animals. We believe that everything in the planet forms part of a big family. We indigenous people can contribute to solving the energy, climate, food and financial crises with our values,” he said.

The law enumerates seven specific rights to which Mother Earth and her constituent life systems, including human communities, are entitled to:

To life: It is the right to the maintenance of the integrity of life systems and natural processes which sustain them, as well as the capacities and conditions for their renewal

To the Diversity of Life: It is the right to the preservation of the differentiation and variety of the beings that comprise Mother Earth, without being genetically altered, nor artificially modified in their structure, in such a manner that threatens their existence, functioning and future potential

To water: It is the right of the preservation of the quality and composition of water to sustain life systems and their protection with regards to contamination, for renewal of the life of Mother Earth and all its components

To clean air: It is the right of the preservation of the quality and composition of air to sustain life systems and their protection with regards to contamination, for renewal of the life of Mother Earth and all its components

To equilibrium: It is the right to maintenance or restoration of the inter-relation, interdependence, ability to complement and functionality of the components of Mother Earth, in a balanced manner for the continuation of its cycles and the renewal of its vital processes

To restoration: It is the right to the effective and opportune restoration of life systems affected by direct or indirect human activities

To live free of contamination: It is the right for preservation of Mother Earth and any of its components with regards to toxic and radioactive waste generated by human activities

Republished with permission. This article originally appeared on Salt.  Salt is a platform for Positive Change Agents. Its goal is to make the world a better place by promoting compassionate business practices.
Thank You to DailyGood.org for brining this article to our attention.

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