We are in a turbulent time. For many, it feels as though there is no bottom to stand on, no solid ground. Rather, it feels like the unknown is hovering over us, smiling smugly, doing what it wants…because IT is the only entity which really knows what the goal is. We, the people, are being manipulated – white people and black people, people on the Left and people on the Right, Republicans and Democrats. Nobody is exempt; nobody is “safe.” This is truly a very turbulent time.
On the anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, 30 January, we still try to find ways to resolve conflicts peacefully and to deal with violent religious movements and individuals. Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuran Godse, a member of the military-like RSS which still plays an important role in current Indian politics and ideology.
It is not certain than in the transition to the White House, the specialist on minority religions in the Middle East has found his desk and been able to open his files. The ill-considered ban on Muslim refugees and visa applicants set in motion by President Trump had an “escape clause” concerning non-Muslim minorities who were being persecuted or at least under stress from the seven countries cited. These religious minorities might even be given a priority to enter the USA. Only Christians were mentioned, but the Middle East has a host of religious groups with a long history but with a theology that is not always clear or at least not discussed with those outside the faith.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation rejects and denounces in no uncertain terms the executive order Friday that suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Perhaps it is because of the way I was raised, but I think I have always believed that God being “good” meant that with God, or because of God, bad things were not supposed to happen to people who believed in Him/Her.
This morning, here in Minneapolis, I’ll learn whether six jurors believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Dan Wilson and I are criminals. The court case stems from an action protesting the execution of Jamar Clark, age 24, who died in the early morning of November 15, 2015 outside a north Minneapolis apartment complex.
I consider South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation program following apartheid as the high water mark of ethical advancement in my lifetime. What a bold, poignant, dramatic, and, for many, healing, process it was! And what an example it has set for the rest of the world. Can we as a species now learn the incredible value of providing an opportunity for all parties in conflict, past or present, to air their deep distress and begin a process of both preventing decades and centuries of resentment and vengeance.
We urge FOR members and friends to support resistance marches and actions on Saturday, January 21, join gatherings of prayer, ritual and #moralresistance on inauguration day, and to please sign on to FOR's open letter to Rep. John Lewis.
On this, the eve of the inauguration of a new president, I am reminded the Scriptures which say that the only sin which is unforgivable is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The words are recorded both in Matthew 12 and Mark 3.
Today marks the beginning of a year in which individuals and organizations will concentrate on bringing about racial healing and transformation, work that is being engaged in even now as this nation struggles with her issues. The so-called “National Day of Healing” was conceived by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which recently held a Truth, Reconciliation and Racial Healing & Transformation summit. At that summit, over 570 people representing 130 organizations committed to healing met to discuss the rising racial tensions growing in cities, rural areas and the suburbs.
In a recent book on peacebuilding, Thania Paffenholz sets out functions that Non-governmental Organizations can carry out in situations of violent conflict: protection, monitoring, advocacy, public communication, in-group socialization, social cohesion, intermediation, facilitation, and service delivery.
THANK YOU! You received what may have seemed like a deluge of messages from FOR in the last month as we attempted to meet our year end goals. And you responded. Thanks to your generosity, December support for the work of the Fellowship of Reconciliation nearly doubled over the same month last year.
Noting concern that “threatening, authoritarian messages” accompanying the recent election of Donald J. Trump “open the way to more radical attacks on human rights and democratic processes” within the United States, 50 Christian leaders from across America have called on congregations and assemblies to deepen their engagements in the political and economic health of local communities.
A group of authors, pastors, scholars and leaders has asked congregations and other assemblies to reach out to one another and jointly make public commitments to their communities. It is not a petition or sign-on project; it is a call for congregationally-based response on a local basis. This guide offers suggestions about how-to proceed to respond to the call.
We in the West live in a bipolar world, or, rather, in a world which supports a bi-polar way of looking at things. Something is either “this” or “that.” It is either “right” or “wrong,” “left” or “right,” “good” or evil.” Thinking that way makes us do a lot of things, one of which is to either think too much or too little of ourselves. Neither way is helpful or healthy.
Being stuck in traffic is a daily fare in Baghdad. While checkpoints have been dramatically reduced in recent times, and the number of concrete walls appear markedly decreased, traffic jams still defy description. It doesn’t help in the least that everyone is leaning on their horns.
Well, here we go into this new year of the very uncertain era of the Trump administration! The initial shock of the election has now subsided somewhat, and we are most likely looking for next steps in preparing ourselves to cope with the coming months ahead. The primary purpose of my WIFOR Saturday Evening Post has been to encourage a practice of nonviolence and to provide a moment of uplift for the spirit, especially for times like these. That continues to be my goal in the post below and in the weekly posts that follow.
At a time when armed conflict and strong socio-economic tensions cover much of the Middle East holdings of the old Ottoman Empire (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey) , it is helpful to recall the birth anniversary of a native son of the area and a positive voice for humanity. Kahlill Gibran, born 6 January1883, is one of the most quoted prose poets, especially his 1923 work The Prophet.
Since Pope Paul VI proclaimed January 1 a “World Day of Peace” in 1967, popes have issued statements for peace for that day. On December 8, in this most perilous of times, Pope Francis published the fiftieth World Day of Peace declaration for 2017, catching the church and the world by surprise with its call for nonviolence, never before so forcefully stated as an imperative rather than a personal option for some.
What do you do when you are in a bad space? How do you survive? The only thing, or maybe it’s better to say, “one of the best things” to do is to keep moving. Movement says that in your spirit, you have hope, and hope is the driver that gets us out of the dark spaces in our lives to the light.
In 2017, the Fellowship of Reconciliation will continue to walk the path toward justice, and we will hold fast to our beliefs in the transformative power of nonviolence and the ability to make real change with grassroots nonviolent direct action. But we need your help. Make your year-end, tax-deductible donation to FOR now.
In a recent program on CNN, Lisa Ling, who hosts “This is Life,” interviewed people who were addicted to drugs. Some were black, others white, but all had the same struggle. I watched bits and pieces of the program but heard the comments of the African American men. Most of those to whom she talked were in prison; others were out, after having been incarcerated for years, but could not make a living. I knew that story well.
Karbala, Iraq--It is Christmas day, and I am in Karbala with dear friends. We awoke to a second day of rain, and pictures of flooding, especially in Baghdad, are being shown on TV. Yesterday, on Christmas-eve, several tents caught fire in a camp for the internally displaced near Mosel. As I write you, I am looking at the charred remains of one of the tents on TV.
Since the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, I've given daily thought to the more alarming aspects of Trump culture. Conversations among friends have been quite helpful, both here in the U.S. and in far-away Kabul from which I recently returned.
It has always struck me that in our country, it is OK for anyone who has been denied justice to be angry about it – except for black people. For some reason, our oppressors have made it nearly a mortal sin to be angry or to show that anger, while they feel no compunction or hesitation in showing their anger for things which seem much less provocative.
December 10th marks the U.N. Human Rights Day, celebrating and upholding the indispensable and crucial declaration of universal human rights. On the eve of this event, I visited a refugee camp housing 700 families in Kabul.
In 2016, President-elect Donald Trump threatened to put Muslim citizens on a registry, once elected. Let's continue building a nation that welcomes all people in 2017 in the spirit of Emma Lazarus' poem “The New Colossus”.
Here in Kabul, I'm generally an early riser at the home of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, but I'm seldom alone. Facing exams, my young friends awaken early and then stay up late to study. Before sunrise this morning, eighteen year old Ghulamai sits in the kitchen, poring over his textbook. His efforts have made him number one in his class for the past three school terms. Now in the eleventh grade, he greatly hopes to continue his education, but his situation is precarious.
9 December is the anniversary of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Genocide Convention is a landmark in the effort to develop a system of universally accepted standards which promote an equitable world order for all members of the human family to live together in dignity.
Yesterday was a day that Standing Rock Sioux tribal elders had called for a national interfaith day of prayer.
Those prayers rolled into celebrations as news was received that the Army Corps of Engineers would deny an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe while an environmental impact study is done.
On the heels of increasingly severe human rights violations against the water protectors of Standing Rock, the Army Corps of Engineers released a statement that on Dec. 5 that they plan to shut down the Oceti Sakowin camp — the primary camp where water protectors and allies have been resisting the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline for months now.
There is, simply, power in music that cannot be ignored. The chords, the lyrics and the tempo of songs mix together in an indescribable way which buoy our souls and give us strength for the journey, no matter how difficult and painful that journey might be.
As efforts to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline grow, communities across the country are hearing from activists on their return from North Dakota and sending off fresh teams to lend support. The author believes that part of the support for the Standing Rock protests is a dawning consciousness that Native people have something important to teach us about living well on this planet.
Interfaith leaders and from across the nation including FOR staff have signed a letter to President Obama urging him to recognize the sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux's opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Kathy Kelly writes: I look to Afghanistan, I look to the simple facts faced by the Standing Rock protesters, and I know we must look back to the sorrows which so much of the world will commemorate today (Armistice Day). These sorrows, so painfully real, can help all of us yearn above all for an understanding by people worldwide, and here in my own frightened, divided country—an understanding that we live in a real world, beset with multiple wars, and must at last turn to each other, prepared to live more simply, share resources more radically, and abolish all wars in order to build a real peace.
A few FOR staff and National Council members have joined the protectors at Standing Rock, ND to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline, and will participate in a collective nonviolent clergy action. You can participate too. Here's how:
“I was in jail with a Libyan man, his friends came and broke into the jail and let us go, too. There was fighting everywhere. You pray to be in jail with Libyans, because they do not recognize the current government, they will do what they want.”
FOR is co-sponsoring with Interfaith Peace-Builders a delegation to Israel-Palestine to show solidarity with those who suffer and those who work for peace with justice, learn, and seed our advocacy upon return.
I’ve written often about our Iraqi refugee friend and his oldest son from Baghdad. I will call them Mohammed and Ahmed. They made the torturous flight last year from Baghdad to Kurdistan and then across Turkey. They were on three Greek islands before permission was granted them to continue their trip. They passed through several countries at the time the borders were being closed. They arrived finally at their destination in late September 2015. Finland.
UN Day, 24 October, this year is marked by preparations for a changing of the guard. The ten years of Ban Ki-moon as Secretary-General will give way on one January 2017 to the new Secretary- General, Antonio Guterres, who was during the same ten-year period the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. As with the changing of the guard in front of a palace or national monument, the persons change but the guards have the same uniform.
You are invited to come wearing white and join in an action seeking respect, understanding, and peace as we regard one another in silence. This event is in solidarity with the March of Hope taking place in Israel-Palestine.
October 10 is the International Day Against the Death Penalty, set by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. Since the end of World War II, there has been a gradual abolition of the death penalty with the rather obvious recognition that death is not justice. In some countries, executions have been suspended in practice but laws allowing executions remain; in other cases, there has been a legal abolition.
We learned late yesterday that the Women’s Boat to Gaza was taken by Israeli authorities in international waters and in violation of international law.
Women from 13 countries were aboard, including IFOR member and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Mairead Maguire, and friend of FOR, U.S. Col. (retired, resigned in protest) Ann Wright.
One night this summer, I stayed up into the wee hours, captivated by MARCH: Book Three, the final installment in the trilogy of graphic books that represent civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis' memoir.
Now, I'm excited to share with you that a new documentary on Congressman Lewis, Get In the Way, is touring the country.
I am thinking this evening about the prophetic voice of Chief Seattle, the great leader of the Suquamish people here in the state of Washington. In 1854 he delivered a moving and sadly prophetic speech to mark the transferral of ancestral Indian lands to the U.S. federal government. He spoke eloquently about the interconnection of all creation and the crucial importance of treating the earth, the beasts and each other with reverence and dignity. But he also warned the U.S. government that the land would not tolerate abuse and crass exploitation that he had observed.
Women leaders in our communities, including religious leaders and political leaders, have been underrepresented voices in the public debate of how to respond effectively to the rise of Islamophobic language and action.
And that's why the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), in collaboration with the Interfaith Center of New York and Muslims for Progressive Values, hosted a symposium of 12 women leaders at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
The Syrian refugee crisis, along with the global refugee crisis, has reached epic proportions since the start of the Syrian civil war in March 2011. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are 65 million forcibly displaced people in the world, 21 million of whom are refugees. Of these, 4.8 million are Syrian and another 8.7 million are internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Syria.
The Global Day of Action and Prayer for Syria will be held on September 21. In preparation we have asked guest experts to contribute essays that help our understanding of “the things that make for peace.” We hope these will help in our understanding of an alternative vision of peace with justice and practical peace-making strategies that can stand as alternatives to the war and violence that is being perpetuated in Syria. This is the second in this series of background essays.
As you know, the Fellowship of Reconciliation just celebrated 100 years of history as an organization. Paul R. Dekar has compiled this history in his new book, Dangerous People: The Fellowship of Reconciliation Building a Nonviolent World of Freedom, Justice, and Peace.
Five-plus years of war have taken a heavy toll on our Syrian brothers and sisters. It is time for the violence and war to stop and to begin the hard work of moving forward, toward a future where all Syrians can live together in peace and security.
Our friends at World Beyond War are planning a conference, workshops, and nonviolent action in Washington, D.C., on September 23-26. These events are called #NoWar2016 and focus on developing alternatives to the entire institution of war.
FOR Peace Presence, The Fellowship of Reconciliation's organization in Colombia has shared with us some good news that we are excited to pass on! On August 24th, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced a peace agreement.
This September, Alameda County will bring together law enforcement agencies from across the country and world for the annual Urban Shield, a highly-militarized SWAT training and weapons expo. It exists for police units to share repressive tools, tactics, and technologies, and learn how to better control and harm our communities.
By 1953, Bayard Rustin was by all accounts a successful player in the FOR. In the 12 years he had worked for the organization, he had gone to prison as a conscientious objector, fought segregation in the 1942 Journey of Reconciliation, and protested whenever he was denied service at restaurants as a black man. But there was one aspect about Rustin that drew the ire of members and the staff of the FOR: He was gay, and he was relatively open about his sexuality.
FOR is looking to hire a new Director of Operations. This is an outstanding opportunity for an operations lead with a proven track record of careful,
￼detail-oriented, people-centered management to contribute as a key team member in a ￼responsive, mission-driven organization.
FOR is looking for a new Property Manager. This on-site position supports the work of FOR-USA out of the New York headquarters. The Property Manager ensures that the FOR property and facility are maintained and managed.
FOR is looking for a new Senior Organizer & Trainer to support the work of FOR-USA out of the New York headquarters or field location (to be negotiated) and work under the Director of Campaigns & Strategy to help develop and implement campaigns that address the root causes of war, organize movement work, and train community members in the practice of nonviolence through an intersectional and spiritually grounded approach.
I just finished another podcast with Judy Bello, a Middle East political analyst and longtime anti-war activist in Rochester. Judy recently came back from a fact finding civilian peace delegation to Syria, where she had the rare opportunity to talk with people on the street about what is really happening to their beloved country.
A renewed discussion of the draft brings relevance to the efforts of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and many of its members to offer support and counsel to conscientious objectors and occasionally violate the law in opposition to warfare and the draft.
Although there were hundreds of speeches delivered at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, only one will be remembered past November. It was the one given by the parents of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 when a car blew up after he told his troops to stand back.
On May 16, 1942, every Japanese American in Seattle was either at an internment camp or on their way to one, except for one person. That day, Gordon Hirabayashi was at an FBI office in Seattle, in violation of an executive order from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, handing over a document to a special agent called “Why I Refuse to Register for Evacuation.”
As we approach the second anniversary of Michael Brown's murder, it is important to look back on the past two years and think about ways to move forward. Below you can find resources to approach the nonviolent movement with more than good intentions - with the tools and understanding to affect positive change and understand your role if you choose to come to Ferguson.
Anthony Grimes, FOR's Director of Campaigns and Strategy, co-lead a delegation through Interfaith Peace-Builders. The group’s path started unconventionally, with missing passports, canceled flights, and some unfortunate detainments, and once they were in the Middle East, it continued to be exciting, exhausting, and rewarding. We look forward to updating you on their progress!
I am overjoyed to report the election this weekend of my dear friend Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto to the episcopacy in the United Methodist Church! She was elected in an unanimous vote by the UMC's Western Jurisdiction on Friday night, on the 17th ballot, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
This morning, a coalition of white people and non-Black people of color shut down the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and in condemnation of the ongoing murders of Black people by police.
Minneapolis, MN – On Wednesday, July 13, a coalition of white people and non-Black people of color – the Coalition to Wake Your Ass Up – shut down the Interstate 35W bridge in solidarity with the movement for Black lives, condemning the ongoing killings of Black people by police in the Twin Cities and across the country.
The piercing. We all felt it. The puncture of violence, the ripping apart of families and communities, the pain of grief and loss. This last week, explosive tensions tore through our country in reaction to the targeted murders of Black people by police officers, followed by the retaliatory murders of police officers by a Black man.
The tragic night of July 7, 2016, was the most visible manifestation of U.S. wars reaching our own soil. To be clear, I am not talking about the absurd and insulting notion that there is a war between the #BlackLivesMatter Movement and the police.
On Monday we issued a statement of mourning and sympathy from our executive director, Rev. Kristin Stoneking, regarding the horrendous violence that occurred over the weekend - here you will find some essential amendments.
FOR's executive director sends love and sympathy to the friends and families of those killed and gravely wounded in Orlando, and expresses concern about the perpetuation of violence as a result of this heinous crime.
Kathy Kelly, along with her Voices for Creative Nonviolence companions, is part of a 150 mile walk from Chicago to Thomson, IL, a small town in northwest Illinois where the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is setting up an Administrative Maximum prison.
Rep. Paul Ryan publicized his endorsement of Donald Trump's presidential campaign within moments of hosting a meeting with staff and members of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, along with supporters of FOR's #GiveRefugeesRest campaign, a national campaign to end Islamophobia.
This February Kristin Stoneking led a delegation of FOR staff, members, and allies, including five refugees and immigrants, to Speaker Ryan's office in Washington, DC. We brought your deep concerns about rising attacks on Muslims in the United States and the immoral political agenda that has resisted refugee resettlement in our nation. Speaker Ryan's legislative director, Katie Donnell, received our delegation — and some of your #GiveRefugeesRest pillowcases — with respect and attentiveness.
Most people reading these words are well aware of Fr. Berrigan's death last Saturday. Indeed, hundreds likely knew Dan personally or would attest to the direct influence on their lives of his teachings and acts of conscience. His prose, poetry, and peacemaking witness changed the U.S. religious and cultural landscape, subverting the institutional church and laying nonviolent siege to political powers.
Yesterday, 111 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender United Methodist clergypersons came out in an historic open letter to the denomination. Incredibly still in 2016, the United Methodist Church does not ordain openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, the last of the mainline Protestant denominations to fail to affirm this essential equality.
I write to you from New York City, to which I traveled 2,000 miles to join five other FOR global leaders at the first-ever United Nations Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS). This UN summit has deep personal meaning for me because my family bears the scars of the terrible misconception that policing and the stigmatization of addiction can cure a societal illness.
The U.N. plan suggested that the solution must include "(a) more development assistance to reduce supply and (b) more attention on health to lower demand." Now, seven years later, there is growing awareness that the implementation of the strategies related to the original plan, which, particularly in the United States, have included criminalization of addicts and those trapped in cycles of violence as a result of the drug trade, have not achieved the envisioned goal.
The entire so-called "justice system" in the United States, as protestors all over the country repeatedly testify, is “guilty as hell.” It is time to allow space within our legal institutions for a more nuanced understanding of the world and people. In a virtue theoretic approach, suspected criminals and ex-offenders are humanized as they are viewed by the justice system as people capable of virtue.
March 15, the first “Day of Rage” is widely used as the date on which the conflict in Syria began. The Syrian situation has grown increasingly complex since 2011, with more actors involved and with a larger number of refugees and displaced persons. On the anniversary Rene Wadlow argues that we need to look at why U.S. and European nonviolent advocates were not able to do more.
Lead by International FOR's main representative to the United Nations in New York, John Kim, IFOR along with the Center for Global Nonkilling sent the statement below to members of the UN Security Council
On 31st Jan, 2016, Dr. Hakim (Dr. Teck Young, Wee) followed Zekerullah, an Afghan Peace Volunteer who coordinates the Borderfree Street Kids School in Kabul, to visit his student and his family in their rented room. The student, Zuhair, attends the School on Fridays with 92 other working and street kids and is one person among 73% of the Afghan population who do not have access to clean, potable water.
On Tuesday, February 23, 2016 Brian Terrell and Kathy Kelly, peace activists with Voices for Creative Nonviolence, were arrested when we attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to drone operators at Volk Field — an Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin which trains pilots to operate Shadow drones over other countries.
As the trial of prominent St. Louis-based activist, author and theologian Reverend Osagyefo Sekou enters its second day, the corrupt and stagnant state of the Ferguson municipal court system is once again under a national spotlight.
The Stony Point Center, an FOR affiliate organziation in Stony Point, NY, has announced the seventh-annual “Farm the Land, Grow the Spirit” Peacemaking Summer Institute for Young Adults, ages 19 to 29.
In June of 2014, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) took an historic vote to divest itself of its stock in three companies – Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard, and Caterpillar, Inc. The struggle to win this vote created remarkable partnerships between Christians and Jews who have broken the old rules of engagement that defined Jewish-Christian dialogue, rules tacitly specifying that the topic of the conflict in Israel and Palestine must be off the table.
On Aug. 9, 2014 when a black teenager named Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer, the small city of Ferguson lost its anonymity. In the days and weeks following the killing of Michael Brown, the people of Ferguson raised their voices and occupied the streets in protest. Thousands of human rights workers and concerned citizens have joined them in a newly invigorated movement for justice and FOR is among them.
A few days ago, I returned from a Chicago trip as a participant on the Oprah Winfrey show, along with some 180 Freedom Riders. It was the 50th anniversary of the well-publicized 1961 Freedom Ride and a way for the Freedom Riders to relive the days that bonded the group together by a memorable experience that helped to change history.
Seema Luthra's analysis of arms sales and military spending by the U.S. in the greater Middle East sheds light on the most militarized region in the world, with most arms sales heading there. In fact, the U.S. has delivered more weapons to this region than any other region in the world.