Seeing the Elephant

“We don’t see things as they are — we see things as we are.” ~Anais Nin

May 31,2018
Dear friends,

Three years ago, I encouraged you to come to our first Un-conference and I told you that it was a dream realized for us to bring this opportunity to our community. We started open space meetingin 2015 with an exploration about how we build community out of chaos. And then in our second year we looked at how we find our strengths and build each other up. Last year we started the conversation about how our community is divided into “us” and “them”. Today, I invite you to continue this dialog with us on June 9 at the UCC church as we look at the ways we all see the same world through different perspectives. Just as several blind men felt a different part of an elephant and made assumptions about it from their one piece, we also color the world from the parts of it we see and believe to be true. And there are “elephants in the room” that we refuse to see and acknowledge. Let us ask how we can discover our individual blindfolds and choose to see beyond them to move further into community with those around us.

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Join Our Conversation – May 23, and June 9

May 17, 2018

“We use the word terrorism to silence others.” ~Rami Elhanan, an Israeli Jew

Dear friends,

Responding to the moving of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and the protests and massacre following it in Palestine, I have seen articles petitions and opinion pieces full war is not healthy 1966of rage, sadness, shame and despair. I have also seen reports claiming that some of the stories are contrived to skew the truth. I guess it is human nature for all of us no matter what side we are on, to see any situation from our own perspective and try to convince others that our version of the truth is the right one. Hence the title for our 4th Un-conference (on June 9). Hopefully it will be an opportunity for us to open our minds and see beyond ourselves.

Meanwhile, no one can skew the fact that over 60 Palestinians are dead and close to 2700 injured while protesting for their freedom in what was only the latest in a series of deadly clashes. The one place on earth that should stand most firmly for love and justice is instead a breeding ground for violence and deception. Rami Elhanan in Israel and Bassam Aramin in Palestine who both lost children in the conflict ask ‘why are men so angry that they kill children to get what they want?’…a question well-worth pondering. Our hope lies in alliances such as this one where both sides are willing to open up and really hear the others’ stories. And in the midst of our own rage, sadness, shame and despair, we ask, ‘what can we do?’

Join JRPC and others interested for a discussion on how to answer that question at 5 pm on Wednesday, May 23 at JRPC. Bring friends, ideas and an open mind…Betsy

Meanwhile, here are some resources:

Cheers to our Peacemakers


“There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story.
Change the story, change the world.” ~Terry Pratchett

May 10, 2018
Dear friends,

Today, I would like to introduce you to several young people who are changing the world. They are living stories of courage, compassion and justice that will inspire us allmarchforourlives with hope. These are the nominees for our new Fr. Jim Hogan Search For Peace Award.

Allison Moran, a 5-year-old kindergartner at Cold Springs Elementary who epitomizes kindness and caring by volunteering in the community, looking at the positive in every situation, going out of her way to help others and pay it forward and spreading love everywhere she goes.
Marita Growing Thunder who stepped up in a very visible way to respect her heritage, raise awareness and express solidarity for a very under represented voice in her community — the plight of the many missing and murdered indigenous women in our community.
The SOAP Girls (that stands for Save Our Amazing Planet) a group of 4 girls who have been working on social justice issues for 8 years — since they were ages 9-10. They focus on positive ways to make a difference, from the useful tips on their website for conserving natural resources, to the many causes their fundraising has supported both locally and globally, including a summer camp for kids ages 4-8 and a two day overnight camp for older kids (ages 7-11).
The Group that Organized the Hellgate HS Walkout on 2/21/18 — They mobilized a lot of kids quickly and effectively into a nonviolent civil disobedience action to move things forward around the topic of public safety and guns.
The long list of students from across town and across schools — from 3rd grade through High school, ages 6-18 who organized Walk Outs at all schools on March 14, then went on to organize, lead and speak out at the community rally March For Our Lives on March 24 with 1,000 people in attendance.
These are the faces and voices of the future stewards of our world — the authors of the stories that will change our world. A group of their peers has selected one of these individuals or groups to receive a cash award for their contribution to the search for peace. But we want to honor and appreciate all of them for giving us hope for the future.

On Sunday, May 20 at UCC Church from 2 to 3:30 pm, at our annual Peacemaker Celebration we will honor and thank all these young people and announce the winner of the Fr. Jim Hogan award just prior to celebrating our 2018 Peacemaker, Steve McArthur.

If you are at all discouraged by the world around you, these inspiring young people along with our very own Peacemaker Steve will renew your hope for the world and make you proud to be part of this community. This is a celebration you won’t want to miss and there will be a reception to follow so you can meet and mingle with all the movers and shakers of peace in Missoula!