Spring arrived this morning and it is snowing again in New York (lightly). It is actually colder today than last week when the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order from the Peace Pagoda in Leverett, Massachusetts passed through New York on their way to Washington D.C. This is their eighth annual walk for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, Renunciation of War, and Conversion from War to a Peace Economy. Twenty marchers, many in saffron robes and chanting to small paddle drums, draws appropriate attention to the path for peace. Meetings with staff from Ambassador Susan Rice’s office for the United States at the UN, and with Cora Weiss at the Hague Appeal for Peace, were rest stops typical of their fifteen miles a day. They are scheduled to arrive in Washington, D.C. on April 8th.
Introduction By FOR; Text By Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today is the sixth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Despite the continuing occupation of Iraq, the increase of U.S. troops in Afghanistan (which now will support an Afghanistan army that is projected to more than quadruple to 400,000!), and the Predator drones that are now regularly bombing sites in Pakistan and Afghanistan, there are still some causes for hope in the anti-war community.
Activist and author John Dear, S.J., writes an excellent and widely-distributed blog for National Catholic Reporter. In his latest post, Dear profiles the most recent Iran peace delegation sent by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. (Curiously, given the fact that Dear once served as FOR's executive director, the fact that it was organized and sponsored by FOR is never mentioned!) Dear interviewed delegation leader David Hartsough at length for this good article, and also draws on the powerful witness of Franciscan priest Louie Vitale.
Last night, I drove like mad to get from Nyack to the very bottom-most point of Manhattan, Battery Park City. It's approximately 40 miles as the crow flies, but during NYC's late rush hour, it feels like 140! The purpose of my reckless traffic experience was to visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage for the first time, to attend a program titled "Feminism and Faith."
I'd just learned about this panel conversation a mere 24 hours earlier, courtesy of an email from Kate Anne Brennan, convenor of FOR's NYC chapter, and the topic intrigued me — especially with it being Women's History Month. Plus, I knew two of the panelists, neither of whom I'd seen in years. (The personal connection always helps.)
In Febuary, FOR helped spread the word about the racist cartoon published by the New York Post. Pressure from the justice community, politicians, and countless ordinary citizens forced the Post to issue an apology. Many in our community, however, found its statement to be half-hearted at best, and are working to apply additional pressure on the Post and its owner, Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation, by pushing companies to stop advertising in the newspaper. As Color of Change stated last week,
While it's unlikely that major advertisers will pull ads from The Post right now, it's very valuable to tell advertisers how we feel. Hearing from us now will make it harder for them to continue their association with The Post if the paper does something like this again.
Two weeks ago, FOR and dozens of other national and regional organizations called on President Obama to correct misshapen foreign and domestic U.S. policy by ending "Plan Colombia" and supporting drug treatment at home. Our friends at Just Foreign Policy are among those who have picked up on this important message, at this time when the Obama administration is determining funding for its budget priorities.
JFP's national coordinator and senior policy analyst, Robert Naiman, picked up on this issue by writing this week (an excerpt; see below for links to full copy):
With the March 15 application deadline approaching for the Fellowship of Reconciliation's 10th peace delegation to Iran (May 15-30), members of FOR's recent delegation #9, fresh from their return to the U.S., are following up in a variety of ways on their travels. Fr. Louie Vitale, the renowned activist with Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service, is preparing to embark on a three-month national speaking tour through the U.S. Northwest, Midwest, and East Coast.
Bill Gillen of Brooklyn, N.Y., sent another recent reflection on a meeting that the delegation held with members of the Iranian parliament: