Connection

I just returned rather abruptly from what was to be a 3-week vacation in Ireland with my family. We were heading to a cousin’s wedding with a long list of people to see and places to visit. And instead I sit here at home in the beginning days of isolation with my thoughts, my emotions and the mental pictures of all the people and connections I am grateful to have in my life. This is not the first time, the universe has tried to teach me that I am not the one in control. But this time I have plenty of time to let it sink in – to listen with my heart to all the lessons around me now.

I cannot control what is happening in my world, only how I respond and what I do with it. Sounds a lot like working for peace! I can acknowledge the fears and worries I have and choose not to respond from them, not to react and blame others, but to seek knowledge and connection instead. I can rest in my aloneness while also reaching out in compassion and understanding to let the needs of vulnerable others fill my heart and mind. And as I hear tales of empty shelves, I am reminded of Gandhi’s quote that “the world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed”.

I am grateful for the opportunity to write this letter today. Connecting with you, my peace community, every week for the last 15 years has been one of the constants in my life. We will continue to focus on the connection we have with you and others in our community, because that is what the JRPC is about. And we will continue to keep an open mind to hear the lessons our future holds for us all.

Finding the peace within — with you, Betsy

What a Week

What a week. I don’t know about you, but I have been blown away by how our community and others across the country have come together this past week. It really has been a beautiful thing to watch unfold. The momentary sense of dread I had last Wednesday after being addressed from the Oval Office has been replaced by hope and faith. Hope for what we are capable of achieving by working together and faith in our ability to do so. Times are strange right now (to say the least) but the work of peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability continue.

This week I was reminded that 17 years ago today, March 19, the United States was addressed from the Oval Office by a different President. I was 10 years old. I can still remember sitting in our guestroom watching Survivor one minute and the next watching President Bush announce our invasion of Iraq. 17 years. Our country has been involved in some version of (official) war and/or armed conflict all but 3 years of my life. War creates conditions where people live in fear and uncertainty. People lose jobs, homes, family members, and education opportunities.

I’m sure there will be no shortage of lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. One lesson that I have personal hope for is this- No person should have to live in the conditions created by war, disease, and climate crisis. There is, as always, much work to be done. While the JRPC office remains closed to the public for now, we are taking full advantage of this time to think outside the box. To find creative new ways to build a world that is nonviolent, socially just, and environmentally sustainable… and until we build that world, I will maintain my stubborn faith in our ability to do so.

Carol Schwartz