A Call for Peace, Dignity, Equality and a Healthy Planet

Dear friends,
What a week! Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death last Friday was a hard blow to our nation and the work we still need to do. On Monday, the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres presided over the International Day of Peace and made a new push for a global ceasefire to be a reality by the end of 2020. In his opening statement, he said, “there is only one winner of conflict during a pandemic: the virus itself”. In the US, we can count 200,000 lives lost to the virus, and the grieving families left behind – families who are disproportionately black and indigenous. Continue reading

History Has Its Eyes on You

Dear Friends,
Like many people, I took some time in July to check out the musical Hamilton and was instantly in love. This show has a lot to say about our country, culture, and our relationships with people. One line in particular has really stuck with me, “History has its eyes on you.” This is a recurring theme in the show often mentioned by George Washington. Do you think the founders could have imagined our country in 2020? I suspect they knew they were drastically shaping history but to what extent?

History has its eyes on you… me… us. What will history say about 2020? Will it say that Breonna Taylors killers walked free or that the people demanded justice for her stolen life? Will it say that when faced with a global pandemic people came together and supported one another? Will it say that we turned a corner in 2020 and thought differently about what is and isn’t important in our lives? Will it say that this was the year the tide shifted irreparably on climate change?

Will people look back 250 years from now and wonder if we realized the importance of the time we lived in? We are the ones who will determine what History says about us. So, what do you want it to say?

Carol Schwartz

Keeping Quiet

May 21, 2020

Keeping Quiet By Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about…

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with
death.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Celebrate Earth Month

This month we celebrate the 50th earth day. Since we all seem to have some extra time on our hands why not spend the whole month celebrating? I am calling on our peace community to send messages of/to mother nature, the plant, earth, the environment… whatever you call this natural world that surrounds us. For some, the message might be

a photo of a flower blooming in your yard. For others, a favorite poem. It might even be a literal letter from you. Let your creativity run wild.

If you feel inclined to share your message, from now until April 19th you can send your messages or a version/ representation of them to me at programs@jrpc.org. It is my intention to take the messages people share and compile them in a larger message from our peace community so the more we collect the better!

Need inspiration? Get outside. Practice safe social distancing but get outside. Go for a hike, work in your yard, take a drive, or just sit on your deck for a bit. Be with nature and think about what you would like to say or show. Write about the experience, take a photo, find a quote, make art, sing a song, plant something, or make a promise to change a behavior. Do what makes sense for you.

I look forward to seeing your messages in whatever form they come,

Carol Schwartz

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