New Normal

Dear Friends,

I know many are anxiously awaiting a return to “normal” life. I have heard it several times in the past few weeks. What has been more interesting to me however is the number of people expressing anxiety over returning to that normal. Personally, I fall into this second group. I am enjoying the slower pace of life and have been energized by the freedom of my time. Regardless of what comes as we venture back into the world one of the (many) areas where we cannot afford to return to “normal” is our relationship with the environment. It has been amazing to see how the natural world has rebounded. Dolphins in Venice, cleaner air in Los Angeles, endangered animal populations recovering, and all of this in a few months. It is my sincere hope that we can use the lessons we have learned (and are still learning) form the experiences of the last few months to think more intentionally about what the new normal can look like.

Thank you to everyone who sent in a message to the earth in celebration of the 50th earth day! So many wonderful messages that inspire and show the beauty of our natural world.

Carol Schwartz

Little Moments

When we were asked as board members to write an intro for the newsletter, I was a bit apprehensive, as I am not the best person to put words on paper.  We were asked to write about how the COVID-19 has affected us, and how we are managing.

After the realization that this virus was going to affect our community the same as it has so many others before us, as owners of a small business the first and hardest reality was the fact that we had to lay off our employees.  We are not alone in the fact that our business is our family income. We have many friends who are in the same situation. We will just keep doing what we do, the best way we can and with some prayer and a little sweat, we will come out of this ok.

I have to say, that since life has slowed down a bit, I have taken more time to notice what is around me and appreciate the small things in life.  I have also noticed that people in general seem to be showing more compassion. I have seen so much generosity take place in the last month, and witnessed so much support of one another, it makes me grateful to be part of this community. As for the bigger picture, all you have to do is turn on the news and in five minutes or less, you will spot much of the same generosity everywhere.  People caring about people.

Stay safe and well wishes.

Jana Jackson
JRPC Coordinating Council Member

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

Thanks

Dear friends,
One week from today many of us will sit down with friends and family to begin the holiday season in gratitude. I grew up hearing the story of grateful pilgrims sitting down in thanks with the people whose land they took. Of course, the story never included that last part, but today we know that those days were the beginning of great trauma for the first nations of this country. Family gatherings have always been joyful for me. However, I know that is not the case for many. Some families will face empty seats this year because of violence and war. Some families are as divided in perspective as our country and face difficult conversations and the reliving of past traumas. As we prepare our grocery lists, let us also prepare our hearts and minds to embody ourselves with a presence that is authentic, check our assumptions and biases so we can truly honor each other for the stories we each bring, and connect with each other in a healing way.

Our thanks to all of you who contributed to make our Peace Party a success. Check out our LONG list of generous sponsors, donors and volunteers

And — In case you missed the PEACE PARTY, but still want to get in on the fun, we have a few dinners left that are available for purchase. To find out more, give us a call at 543-3955.

  •  Authentic Portuguese Dinner by Sofia Reis at the home of Steve and Connie Running on Saturday, January 18, 2020, 2 plates at $225 each
  •  A Turkish Delight from Leslie Burgess, Serena Early and Cyndy and Ray Aten on Saturday, February 1, 2020, 2 plates at $350 each
  • Taste of New Orleans Cajun and Creole Dinner by Nancy Leifer and Linda Andrus on Saturday, February 8, 2020, 2 plates at $225 each
  •  Authentic Indian Dinner from former Coordinating Council member Srini Mondava on Saturday, February 29, 2020, 3 plates at $375