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
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
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 email@example.com. 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,
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