Archive for the 'peace' Category


on the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

I took Tuesday morning off work, to see the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu speak on a panel along with representatives from a number of different faiths on the topic of compassion. Afterwards, I participated in the 600-member choir and orchestra which performed the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Thanks to Seeds of Compassion for organizing this event.

The discussion was amazing and I’d encourage any of you interested to check out the complete video webcast which is available here. The one from Tues. Apr. 15 is the one I was at. (You can spot me in the choir at 02:27:43 and a few other moments if you look carefully.)

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One highlight of the morning for me was the following extemporaneous mini-sermon by Desmond Tutu (in response to the question, “How can you learn to not be so hard on yourself? How do you learn to redeem yourself for a mistake?”):

… It would be awful if we didn’t get angry when you see someone, for instance, violating a child. That would be awful! And so it is something to be thankful for when you lose your cool. That is quite important; it says something about a person. If you were to be indifferent, hearing that children were being killed in Darfur, I would get worried about you! And so I’m glad that you get upset.

And about the things that actually get to upset you… I get really angry with God. I mean I’ve…I’ve…rrrrrgggh!! You know…how can you–how can you?!–let this, that, and the other happen, you know. And the God that we worship is incredible, in a way. He says, “Yeah… You know, I gave them a gift of freedom. And they can use it that way. And I can’t do…I can’t do anything! Okay, get mad at me. Get mad at me; I’m glad you’re getting mad.”

And sometimes…I laugh easy, but I cry quite a lot as well…so, I cry. But I want to support you…for goodness’ sake, God has all of eternity to work on you. You and I are a work in progress! And if we slip — this is one of the wonderful things about God! — God doesn’t say (you know, if you make a mistake), “AAH! Good riddance to bad rubbish!” God…God picks you up, dusts you off, and says…Try again! And when you mess it up again, God says…”Tough luck. Come on, let’s try again.” Dusts you off… “Come on, try! Try…and try…” Because this God is a three-miles-per-hour God. Walking at our pace.



on the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today President Bush offered his thoughts on how Americans can honor the
memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But he missed the point.

“Our fellow citizens have got to understand that by loving a neighbor like you’d like to be loved yourself, by reaching out to someone who hurts, by just simply living a life of kindness and compassion, you can make America a better place and fulfill the dream of Martin Luther King,” Bush said at a library named for the slain civil rights leader. (AP)

I don’t want to knock the ideas of kindness and compassion, but to reduce King’s message to this is to cheapen it. King himself said, “Pity may represent little more than the impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern which demands the giving of one’s soul.” King promoted not mere compassion, but justice. Simply trying to be nice to people, without recognizing and working to fix the systemic issues which place them in need, is like putting a bandage on a tumor.

Bush said that King’s holiday offers a chance to “renew our deep desire for America to be a land of promise for everybody, a land of justice, and a land of opportunity.” He said it should be a “day on” of volunteering – not a day off – and encouraged people to do community service year-round. (AP)

Now this sounds a bit more like something I can agree with. Our country is still in need of justice, as I am reminded when I hear of the struggles of recent immigrants or when I pass by the homeless here in Seattle, and yes, we should all get involved in making that happen. But let’s not stop with loving our neighbors; we are called beyond that.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven… For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?

— Jesus (Matt. 5:43-46)

What does this say regarding the situation in Iraq?

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Not just kindness and compassion here, but also toward our nation’s enemies is needed in order to “make America a better place and fulfill the dream of Martin Luther King.”

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mr. President, may we share that belief.