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 The momentary sense of dread I had last Wednesday after being addressed from the Oval Office has been replaced by hope and faith.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.
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” Ram Dass
Upon moving to Missoula at the end of November, I made the decision not to own a car. Now there are several reasons why but that would be an entirely different list. I wanted to share some things I’ve learned about myself, our community, and life over the last two months.
- Backpacks are life! This is hands down the most useful thing I have purchased in the last two months.
- Speaking of money, I save a lot by not owning a car. Not just by not having a car payment and insurance but I also shop less and buy less when I do shop.
- It takes longer to get most places. Yes, but I don’t have to look for parking. So I’m going to mark this as a net positive.
- With all that travel time, I can get through a lot of books, audio books, and podcasts on my way around town.
- There are times to leave the headphones out of my ears and take in my environment.
- The world looks different when I’m on foot. I’m not entirely sure how to explain this one but I really have time to look at things and be present when I’m on foot.
- Walks are a great time to call your family.
- Always and I mean ALWAYS have a coat, preferably one that is at least water resistant.
- Shoes, shoes, shoes! Select footwear to match transportation (Then have a pair backup for that meeting you forget about and have to walk to).
- Missoula’s bus drivers are some of the nicest people in our community.
- Everyone has a story to share and sometimes the person sitting across from you on the bus is just the person to tell.
- Life is quieter and moves slower. I am a much happier person for it.
Now I’m not saying that going up a car is a possible or practical option for everyone but I hope you all take at least one day in February and go car-less if this is not already part of your lifestyle. Walk, take the bus, bike – I would love to hear about the things you learn!
P.S. We had an amazing peace activist drop by the center last week who is looking to relocate to Missoula. If you have any leads on an affordable place to rent let us know!
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
An 1868 US-Sioux Treaty granted the tribe the Black Hills of South Dakota in exchange for peace. Eight years later, the US passed a law taking that land away because gold was discovered there. Four hundred years ago this month, the first enslaved Africans arrived on the shores of Virginia aboard a Dutch ship. Hold these people in mind as we hear the stories from concentration camps along our border. So many opportunities we have had to learn to choose generosity and altruism over selfishness and hatred. And so many times we’ve failed to do so. Peace knows neither color nor border. Recently in my own life, a neighbor asked us for a favor. And I, living on land stolen from indigenous people with all the privilege of my race and color had the opportunity to choose generosity over selfishness. It won’t undo any wrong, but hopefully it will teach me to walk that way…Betsy
“The first step in getting what you want is having the courage to get rid of what you don’t.” ~Unknown
Many of you know that my husband and I are getting ready to make a move to a smaller house that will better fit our lifestyle. So our lives are full to the brim with making decisions about what to get rid of and what to keep — what gives us meaning and what provides clutter. I was pondering what to write about today and Rusty (who is often quite wise) said, “getting rid of things”! It actually fits quite well with the times we are in. I sat in a crowd at Har Shalom last Saturday and listened to Laurie Franklin call us to exercise our “unity muscles” and speaker after speaker call us to love. In order to do that we must find the courage to look deep inside and get rid of the things in our own souls that stand as obstacles to love and unity.
A hundred years ago, our grandparents celebrated what they wanted — a world without war, believing they had ended the “war to end all wars”. But they failed to do the work of getting rid of the oppressive ideas and attitudes that would not only keep war with us but grow it into the largest industry we support. We can do better — on small scales in our individual lives and in bigger ways in our voting booths and communities. Your work matters and your vote matters. Thanks for joining me in the work for unity and love…Betsy
The color of truth is gray.” ~Andre Gide
Much has been written about the political divide in this country and our need to find ways of understanding and getting along with those who have ideas and perspectives that are radically different from ours. There are two events that JRPC is hosting next week that get to this point well. Both are on Wednesday evening and both will give you much to think about. Janice Springer’s book I Know We Are All Welcome At The Table, But Do I Have To Sit Next To You? is already one of the most sought after books in our store and we don’t even have it in yet!! The title grabs us and invites us inside where Janice outlines the tools we need to make peace happen — and it’s not as hard as you might think. Continue reading