In December 2015 world events led to a spontaneous eleventh hour special section - Waging the Peace - in The BeZine, which I edit. This seems a propitious moment to bring to the fore once again those ideas, ideals and experiences shared with us by Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill, Rev. Ben Meyers, Father Daniel Sormani, C.S. Sp., Sophia Ali-Khan, Israeli-American poet Michael Dickel, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi. Thanks to all of them and to Carla Prater, the assistant director of Buddhist Global Relief for their contributions to this collection and their assistance. I've included links to each of the features in table of contents for Waging the Peace that is below the following introductory remarks.
Rabbi SteinBerg-Caudill (the Interfaith Rabbi) is a teacher who espouses a Jewish Spirituality and Universalist teaching for the future brotherhood of all people. When I contacted him about this effort he reminded me of what surely should be foremost in our minds and hearts:
"The Hebrew word for PEACE - שלום - does not imply a lack of strife. It implies instead WHOLENESS, COMPLETION. If one is in a state of peace, he can still be whole in a time of chaos."
Rev. Meyers of the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo also counsels inner peace with his You are the promise ... the one ... the hope. Rev. Meyers says:
"I understand and often share the 'urge of urgency' over the peacefulness of peace. But this I also know: We live at the intersection of action and reflection."
Father Sormani, a Spiritan priest who has lived and worked in Algeria and Dubai and is now teaching theology at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, asks What Have We Done that People Can Pick-up Weapons and Kill. Father Dan says:
"We have become our own worst enemy. Whenever we separate the world into 'them' and 'us', whenever we accept blind generalizations and cease to see a unique individual before us, whenever we forget we are all victims of carefully orchestrated deceit and deception for wealth and power, the force of darkness wins. Bullets will never win this struggle, only the heart and mind will."
Lest you missed Sofia Ali-Khan's letter, Dear Non-Muslim Allies, which made the rounds on Facebook and was also picked up by some mainstream media, we've included it here.
We've also included a video recitation of Tunisian poet Anis Chouchéne's profoundly moving poem against racism and fanaticism. Chouchène speaks directly to radical Islam ... but I think you'll agree that he ultimately speaks to the fear in all of us.
"Peace we keep an eye on/while it packs its bags/to abandon our lands, little by little ..."
Chouchène concludes as Father Dan does, that we must be able to see the individual.
Michael Dickel's poem Mosquitoes (excerpt from his chapbook, War Surrounds Us - Is a Rose Press 2015), is featured. The poem starts out with Israelis and Palestinians crossing the artificial lines that divide to offer one another condolences on the deaths of their children. This is a favored poem of mine, especially so because when I initiated The Bardo Group (now The Bardo Group Beguines) in 2011, I had in mind virtual crossing of boarders through the arts. (Our mission statement is HERE.) Michael's poem demonstrates how we are manipulated by the propaganda machine.
We've included a short video presentation on the seven steps to peace developed by peace activist, Rabbi Marc Gopin. Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC).
The Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi is Buddhist monk in the Theravada tradition, an author and teacher. He is the founder of Buddhist Global Relief. With permission, we offer the 2015 talk he gave at the New Year's Interfaith Prayer Service, Chuang Yen Monastery. Bhikkhu Bodhi says:
"Real peace is not simply the absence of violent conflict but a state of harmony: harmony between people; harmony between humanity and nature; and harmony within ourselves. Without harmony, the seeds of conflict and violence will always be ready to sprout."
Bhikku Bodhi goes on to analyze the obstacles to achieving world peace, the prerequisites of peace, and the means to realizing these goals.
On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines and in the spirit of love and community,
Founding and Managing Editor of The BeZine.
Waging The Peace
An Interfaith Exploration
You are the promise . . . the one . . . the hope, Rev. Ben Meyers
What Have We Done That People Can Pick Up Weapons and Kill?, Fr. Daniel Sormani, C.S.Sp.
Dear Non-Muslim Allies, Sofia Ali-Khan
Peace Be Upon You, شوشان - سلام عليكم, Anis Chouchène
Mosquitoes, American-Israeli poet, Michael Dickel, Jewish
Peace Steps: One Man's Journey Into the Heart of His Enemies, Rabbi Mark Gopin
Waging Peace, Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist teacher