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Archive for the ‘Empathy’ Category



Wielding Truth and Nonviolence in the Fight of Our Lives

Mar15

by: Michael N. Nagler on March 15th, 2015 | 2 Comments »

Sixty-seven years after Gandhi’s assassination, we find ourselves in a world still direly in need of his influence. Half the members of the Republican-dominated U.S. Senate have proudly declared that they don’t believe human activity is causing climate change. The wealthiest 80 people worldwide – all billionaires – now have as much material wealth as the poorest 350 million. The triumph of ideology over reason and greed over compassion is frightening.

While I have never owned a television set, I perforce watch snatches of commercial television in the locker room of my health club; enough to horrify any civilized person. Recently I saw something about the film “American Sniper”. The film is extremely violent, full of lies (see this article) designed to glorify cowardly violence and dehumanization, making both seem “patriotic.” It has grossed $300 million. Sparing you further details, it would not be too much to say that this country is steadily descending into barbarism – and no country that did that has ever survived.

Many generations feel that they are up against the critical battle between good and evil, but this is different. For the first time in the history of life on earth one species – us – has the capability to make the planet uninhabitable and we don’t have the wisdom, or even the common sense, to refrain from doing it.

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Once White in America: Raising Black Sons in a White Country

Feb28

by: Jane Lazarre on February 28th, 2015 | No Comments »

A white mother and her biracially Black son waving on the beach.

Novelist and memoirist Jane Lazarre offers an intimate, lyrical, post-Ferguson look at what it’s meant to her to raise her two black sons in a world that isn't so black-and-white. Credit: CreativeCommons / Everett Harper.

For Adam and Khary

Black bodies
swingin’ in
the summer
breeze
strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees

It was 1969 and 1973, both times in early fall, when I first saw your small bodies, rose and tan, and fell in love for the second and third time with a black body, as it is named, for my first love was for your father. Always a word lover, I loved his words, trustworthy, often not expansive, sometimes even sparse, but always reliable and clear. How I—a first-generation Russian-Jewish girl—loved clarity! Reliable words—true words, measured words, filled with fascinating new life stories, drawing

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Reasons for Departure

Feb26

by: Ben Kline on February 26th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A screenshot from the movie Salt of the Sea.

About a year ago, I watched the 2008 Palestinian film Salt of this Sea, about a Palestinian-American woman named Soraya and her quest to reclaim her family’s home in Jaffa. The film has quite a few agonizing moments: in one scene, Soraya and her Ramallah-born boyfriend Emad are squatting in what remains of his ancestral village, well west of the Green Line. The illusion that they might build a new life atop these ruins is interrupted by a stern Israeli tour guide, who becomes much friendlier when a panicked Soraya lies and tells him she is Jewish.

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We Are “Carefully Taught” to Hate

Feb23

by: on February 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »

Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein reminded us in one of the songs, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught,” in their 1949 Broadway musical, South Pacific that:

You’ve got to be taught

To hate and fear

You’ve got to be taught

From year to year

It’s got to be drummed

In your dear little ear

You’ve got to be carefully taught….

President Obama echoed this sentiment at the recent White House Countering Violent Extremism Summit when he said that “Children learn to hate.”

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Are We Still Marching With King?

Jan19

by: Aryeh Cohen on January 19th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Every year, on this state-sanctioned day of reflection, we memorialize the Martin Luther King who was a peacemaker, a conciliator, a lover and not a hater. In reality, however, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was the master of the thunderous cadences of righteous rage.

Martin Luther King Jr. speaking

"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring." Credit: Creative Commons/Mike Licht/Library of Congress.

King preached nonviolence, he lived nonviolence. He had no illusions about the “valley filled with the misguided bloodthirsty mobs.” He agreed with Langston Hughes: “O, yes, I say it plain/America never was America to me,/And yet I swear this oath – /America will be!” Martin Luther King taught that nonviolence is the most powerful weapon we have to transform the world. Because the world is not only created by those with the guns and the truncheons.

As a Jew celebrating the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a quote from the sixth-century Babylonian Talmud comes to mind: “Any Sage who is not vengeful or does not hold a grudge is not a Sage.” (Yoma 22b-23a)

“But wait!” you might object, “Doesn’t Torah say ‘You shall not take vengeance, and you shall not harbor a grudge?!’” This is true. However, the Talmud is teaching us that there is an obligation and a place for righteous rage. The mishnaic Hebrew word for righteous rage is tar’omet, which has the same root as thunder. The rabbi who witnesses an injustice and does not burn with righteous rage is not a rabbi. The rabbi who does not carry the memory of unjust treatment, and does not rage against it is not a rabbi.

In his speech “Beyond Vietnam,” King said:

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look easily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.”

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

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Join George Lakoff, Marianne Williamson​, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Matthew Fox and more to Reclaim America

Dec13

by: Tikkun on December 13th, 2014 | Comments Off

After the 2014 elections and facing a Congress determined to dismantle environmental protections and health and social benefits for middle income Americans and the poor in 2015-2016, and after the spate of well-publicized police murders of African American men and grand juries refusing to indict the police, it’s critical that ethically sensitive people develop a strategy to: RECLAIM AMERICA

YOU ARE INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN:

WHAT: A Strategy Discussion

WHEN: Sunday December 14th from1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: At the University of San Francisco McLaren Hall(Golden Gate Ave near Roselyn Terrace)

 

If you can’t make it, create a similar gathering in your community, church, synagogue, mosque, ashram, university, political movement, social change organization, etc. We at the Network of Spiritual Progressives may be able to help you do so. So whether or not you can come to this, please read the full note below!

WHO: Among the presenters at our strategy conference:

Rev. Amos Brown pastor, Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, George Lakoff Prof. of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the UC Berkeley, author of Don’t Think of an Elephant and Moral Politics, Rabbi Michael Lerner Editor of Tikkun, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue, author of The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right and Spirit Matters, Mathew Fox Liberation Theologian, author of Original Blessing and The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, Marianne Williamson author of Healing the Soul of America: A Return to Love and Imagine What America Could Be in the 21st Century, Rhonda Magee Professor of Law at USF teaches Race Law and Policy,Cat Zavis Attorney, Executive Director, the Network of Spiritual Progressives, mediator, and teacher of Empathic Communication, Reginald W. Lyles from Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland and former advisor to Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, Jorge Aquino Liberation Theologianof the Theology and Religious Studies Dept. of USF, Rebecca Kaplan Oakland City Council President, Iftekhar Hai President of United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance

(Our speakers will start the discussion, but the most important person to be there is YOU). Whether or not you can come, please send this out to everyone on your lists, paste it on your website and your Facebook or other social media, and send it to people all around the U.S. because if they can’t come themselves, they might be inspired to create a similar gathering where they live, and we will be happy to work with them to assist them in doing so. And they probably have friends in northern California who might love to come if they knew about this!

Pre-registration at: spiritualprogressives.org/reclaimAmerica

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Dec11

by: Tikkun on December 11th, 2014 | Comments Off

Berkeley Protests /Credit: Annette Bernhardt

A vital aspect of the ongoing Berkeley Protests (along with those around the country) is the undeniable power of voice. We at Tikkun believe in the voice of the people, from that of an individual blogger to the harmonious chants of thousands in the streets. We know, as these protests have shown, how powerful a group of citizens can be when they come together to let their voices be heard. And we know the importance of each individual within the crowd.

Over the years both Tikkun and the Tikkun Daily blog have expanded their writer base, drawing in brilliant younger writers and increasing interfaith diversity. We’ve created a platform for individuals to let their voices free. This grants them the opportunity to gather momentum and support and turn their single cry into the chant of many.

Below we have two examples of writers who have graced Tikkun with their voice and in turn found a home:

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Black Lives Matter: Go to an African American Church in Solidarity This Coming Sunday Morning

Dec10

by: on December 10th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Tens of millions of Americans are deeply disturbed by the racism that has recently gotten the focus that it should have had for the past many decades. The failure of juries to indict police who kill African American males was not new, but the awareness of this reality which has been just one of the many faces of racism that weigh down the lives of African Americans in this society was quite unusual and momentarily broke through the dominant discourse that “that problem has been solved decades ago after Martin Luther King, Jr. saved his people by ending segregation and winning the voting rights laws.”

Of course, even now there are many in the media who try to deny the ongoing significance of racism in our society. Yet the outpouring of anger that we’ve seen on college campuses and in the streets of the U.S. is a reason for hopefulness that when the media turns its attention away from this issue some of the consciousness about racism will remain alive beyond the peoples of color who can never forget it as long as it is shoved in their face by police, unemployment, hunger, poverty, harassment, and endless opportunities to experience the contempt that many whites feel toward them.

Is it any wonder that some young African Americans find it hard to believe that there is a strong connection between how hard they work and how well they will be treated in this society? Does anyone really think that if a Black cop had killed a middle class white youth or strangled and then let die a white man that the grand jury would not have indicted him? What we have been hearing more clearly than ever in the past few years is the tremendous fear that African Americans carry with them at all times — fear of white majority and their occupying force in communities of color that we call police and some of us call “pigs,” and fear of the way the system keeps on undermining them, manifesting contempt for them, and treating them as though their lives did not matter.

That’s why I am so glad that this Sunday, December 14, the Progressive National Baptist Convention has called for a morning of standing in solidarity with African Americans. I strongly urge you to find a Black church near you and show up in solidarity. The focus is not only on mourning but in publicly proclaiming: “Black Lives Matter.” That afternoon, we at the Network of Spiritual Progressives will be holding a strategy conference to assess what needs to change in the way the liberal and progressive forces have developed in the past few decades that has rendered them less influential and hence less able to defend the mini-steps that were taken in the past to overcome American racism. I’m hoping that our event will spur dozens of others.

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Affordable Housing Rally, San Jose

Sep15

by: on September 15th, 2014 | 3 Comments »

San Jose rally affordable housing

Sacred Heart Housing Action Committee led a rally in San Jose last week to raise funds and awareness for affordable housing. Credit: L. Kurth

Yes, it’s an oxymoron and a dream — affordable housing in San Jose, the city with the nation’s largest unsheltered homeless population. Four people died of exposure last winter, and so many more live crowded together in small apartments or vans.

So on September 11th a rally was held at city hall by Sacred Heart Housing Action Committee (SHHAC) along with a coalition of others to continue efforts to inform and persuade both the public and our elected and appointed officials to pass a fee to raise funds for affordable housing. It’s just one helpful idea, one drop in a bucket that was emptied when the Redevelopment Agencies (many for good reason) were disbanded.


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A New Peer Youth Emerges in Transforming the World

Sep9

by: on September 9th, 2014 | Comments Off

LBGTQ activists protest

Credit: Creative Commons/kaybee07

I’ve often heard of parents abusing and even disowning young people when they suspect or when a young person “comes out” to them as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans*, though except for movies and television episodes, I have never actually witnessed this. That is, until this week when I watched a YouTube video titled “How not to react when your child tells you he is gay.”

The video depicts what looks like an “intervention” by both birth parents and step-mother of twenty-year-old Daniel Pierce who they suspect is gay. When called into the living room, Daniel placed his phone on the “record” mode. After Daniel confirmed his sexuality, his mother stated, “I have known since you were a young boy that you were gay,” But then she accused him of making “a choice” by deciding to be gay.

The two women invoked the name of God and scripture, which soon spun into the three “adults” collectively unloading a verbal tirade and then physically abusing Daniel. They eventually tell him he is no longer welcomed, and demand that he move out of the house as soon as possible.

I became speechless, mouth open with no sounds audible, upset, literally shaking, and tears pooling in my eyes. At the conclusion of the video, images of other youth appeared on the YouTube screen. The youth had apparently filmed their reactions. I clicked on one after the other, and as I watched, my depression and outrage softened by the remarkable peer community that immediately and passionately came to Daniel’s defense.

What I witnessed when Daniel’s family of chance failed him was his new peer family of choice stepped in to lift him over their shoulders high above the din and the cruelty. All responders showed true and honest empathy and imagined themselves walking in Daniel’s tattered shoes.


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