Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Letter From A Birmingham Jail

In the midst of national sadness stemming from a brutal act of terror and violence, let us not overlook one of America's shining lights for nonviolence and justice.  

Walking Into the Light

The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Danielle Ridgway Knight, The Shepherdess of Rolleboise (1896)
courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes life gives rise to anxiety. 

When it does, we Americans tend to compensate by talking so much we can hardly hear ourselves think.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Imagining of Peace

[T]he moral imagination requires

the capacity to imagine ourselves in a web of relationships that includes our enemies; 

the ability to sustain a paradoxical curiosity that embraces complexity without reliance on dualistic polarity; 

the fundamental belief in and pursuit of the creative actand 

the acceptance of the inherent risk of stepping into the mystery of the unknown that lies beyond the far too familiar landscape of violence. 

Or, to express this more poetically:  

Reach out to those you fear. 
Touch the heart of complexity. 
Imagine beyond what is seen. 
Risk vulnerability one step at a time

Original photograph by 
Alexandria Skinner, copyright preserved

John Paul Lederach, quoted in Creative Beginnings, from the Moral Imagination Program, United Religions Initiative.  

(http://www.catalystforpeace.org/faithintoaction/MIPCreativeBeginningsURI.pdf, accessed April 12, 2013)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fambul Tok: Building Peace in Sierra Leone

Between 1991 and 2001, a brutal civil war in the central African nation of Sierra Leone resulted in the deaths of about 50,000 people. Rape and maiming were deliberately used by soldiers as weapons to spread intimidation and fear. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced from their homes and many became refugees in Guinea and Liberia. No one was unaffected. Neighbors were pitted against neighbors. Entire communities were disrupted.

Following overthrow of the military dictatorship, how could communities so damaged restore a sense of peace? To answer this question requires asking questions like, "What is justice?"