Facing Our Grief

Dear friends,
How many times do our hearts have to break to be fully open? How “undone” do we need to be to start doing what needs to be done? It is so tempting to hide from the grief and sadness of the world – and some days it is necessary because the grief is just so heavy. But the problems in our world from climate peril to civil rights to racism all need us to keep showing up and to keep breaking open. NPR reported yesterday that “just 36% of Americans said they had taken concrete action to better understand racial issues after George Floyd’s killing [and] white people were the least likely to have done so, at just 30%”. I was surprised and saddened by this number. From my vantage point as the director of JRPC seeing all the BLM posters, buttons, books, shirts and stickers we are selling, it seems like racial justice is all anyone is talking and thinking about. But the world outside my bubble tells a different story. Continue reading

The Journey of Justice

Dear friends,
This week people all over the country marked the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. We know that this was only the beginning of a long struggle for equality and justice that is still not complete and that many women were left out of that original celebration. We also know that the 19th amendment, though not perfect, was the result of years of work and sacrifice. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and other women had been denied access to the 1840 Anti-Slavery Convention in London because they were women. So they organize the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New. Its “Declaration of Sentiments”, demanded that the rights of women as individuals be acknowledged and respected by society, and launched the movement that became the 19th amendment. Only one teenager from the Seneca Falls convention lived to cast a vote 72 years later. But many, including Jeannette Rankin planted seeds and nurtured the work along the way. And it is likely that many grew discouraged as the years passed without sight of their goal. But collectively, each seed, each word, each action moved us forward. And we know the journey is far from over. Whether it is women’s rights, racial justice, anti-war activism or climate action, the work is a lifetime journey and it is up to each of us to carry our unique part.

Join me in celebrating all the lifetimes, past, present and future that step up to the moment and carry us forward…Betsy

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

When Will We Ever Learn?

Dear friends,
My inbox is full of commentaries and stories about the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. It is right that we remember and relive the horror of our decision to needlessly and brutally sacrifice over 140,000 people and cause untold suffering, loss and environmental destruction. That day in 1945 more than anything unleashed a new era where it was possible to imagine the annihilation of humankind. The Captain of that bomber plane wrote in his log, “What have we done?” and so many others associated with it have verbalized regrets.

The Hibakusha, survivors of the bombing, took another path. They have committed themselves to educating the world about the tragedies of war and the dangers of nuclear weapons. They joined Japanese Americans interned in camps during the war to stand up for the asylum seekers on our southern border. And they have spoken out about the need for solidarity with all mankind as we tackle the effects of COVID-19. They also travel the world to plant trees of peace from the cuttings of a tree that survived the bomb. Each year on this day, they gather to pray for the victims and call on people across the world to work for peace. Today, let us ask ourselves, how will we answer?

Join the Hiroshima 75th memorial “Peace+Art+Music” global 10 hour broadcast today at https://www.midheaven.network/

Make a peace crane at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfnyopxdJXQ and share it with someone

Hike to Missoula’s Peace Park, spend a moment of silent reflection and leave someone a message of peace

Betsy

 

Necessary Trouble

Dear friends,

The funeral for Congressman John Lewis will take place at 11 am today, July 30,  at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. He wrote an article to be published today in which he said, “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble.” I definitely want to be about the work of redeeming the soul of this country, but being called to make trouble is a little edgy and uncomfortable, and I have to admit that it makes me a little nervous to think about causing trouble. Perhaps as nervous as Jeannette was walking into the halls of Congress for the first time. Perhaps as difficult as it was for the young black man in Missoula to tell his story to the Mayor and City Council and to keep re-telling it. And perhaps as uncomfortable as it was for our Fr. Jim Hogan Search for Peace awardee to speak up for justice when his teacher asked him not to wear a shirt with Colin Kaepernick on it. Incidentally Mr. Kaepernick went from a football player to an activist overnight by seeing one bit of trouble that was necessary and stepping into it. So I wonder, what is the the good and necessary trouble that I am called to? Will I recognize it? Will I be able and willing to get over my discomfort and own it? Answering these questions for myself will be my way of honoring the service and sacrifice of Congressman Lewis to make sure the seeds he planted sprout and grow…Betsy