Dear Tikkun Ally (aka Tikkunistas–people committed to healing and transforming our world),
I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Cat J. Zavis as Executive Director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. As the politics of 2014 unfold in the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Russia, the Ukraine, South and Central America, Australia, Israel, Palestine, Africa, Iran, India, and China, you will undoubtedly see how very badly the world needs the ideas and energy of the Network of Spiritual Progressives!
Cat J. Zavis is an attorney who started the Bellingham Washington chapter of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. In the past 7 years, she has focused her practice in the areas of collaborative divorce and mediation for couples considering or going through a divorce process. She previously served as a staff attorney for the Northwest Women’s Law Center in Seattle, and as an attorney with the Public Defender’s Association in Seattle. She has a Master’s in Gender Studies from the University of British Columbia and teaches Empathic (or Nonviolent, Compassionate Communication) to parents, attorneys, mediators, spiritual centers, teachers, couples and students. In 2009, she won the Whatcom County Peace Builders Award for her business.
A few times a week these days I get a call or email from friends around the country who all ask me the same question: so, what’s happening down there in North Carolina?
I’ve taken to telling them that the Civil Rights Movement is getting born again.
Most of them have read a news story or seen coverage of protests against the extremist takeover of NC government in the past year. (If you have an hour, Bill Moyer’s “State of Conflict” is probably the most informative intro.)
But big business is funding quiet extremism everywhere. What my friends want to know is what happened to inspire over a hundred thousand people to rally at the NC Legislature last summer. How in one summer did half as many people (945) get arrested in one state as were arrested nationwide in 1960′s sit-in movement. And how, many have wondered over the past few weeks, did more than 80,000 people march on a state capitol to demand change?
Photo courtesy office of Senator Dianne Feinstein
“If the Senate can declassify this report, we will be able to ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted.” These are words that the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) will be pleased to have heard from Senator Dianne Feinstein. People of faith across the country (including the Rev. Dr. Diana Gibson and I) have been calling on her to pressure President Obama and the CIA to finish their review of the Senate’s comprehensive report on the CIA’s treatment of detainees since September 11th so that the report could be declassified and made public. Today, Senator Feinstein took to the floor of the Senate to reveal details about the CIA potentially having spied on the Senate AND the CIA seeking criminal charges against intelligence committee staffers.
Are we about to see Congress finally stand up and assert its power? Let’s hope so.
President Obama is not, apparently, going to be steamrolled into acting as if Russia is the Soviet Union and Ukraine is Czechoslovakia. (Not that we did anything in 1968.)
And I’m grateful for that. Just imagine if that crazed warmonger John McCain was president or even Mitt Romney (although Romney is not unstable so I don’t suggest they are the same).
Instead, we have Obama who seems to understand that the United States is limited in what we can do about Ukraine. And not just logistically either.
We are also limited by the fact that the U.S. has acted precisely the way Russia has dozens of times in the last century alone. Ukraine is on the Russian border. How far are we from Guatemala, El Salavador or Chile? How far away was Iran when we overthrew its government in 1953? How far away is Iraq which we invaded and destroyed or Afghanistan where we provided the arms to put the mujaheddin in power who are now the Taliban, a curse from which that country is unlikely ever to recover?
Not surprisingly, the same people who promoted the Iraq war and now want the U.S. to bomb Iran (or let Israel do it) or pushing for action against Russia. You can call them the neocons or the Kristol-Joe Lieberman-Dershowitz-Krauthammer-Perle-Feith-Peretz gang, who always want us to be tough, lest someday we won’t defend Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. (These guys are all about Israel, nothing else.)
One of the foci of the interfaith and atheist or secular humanist welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives (you DO NOT have to be religious or believe in God to be a spiritual progressive) is to build consciousness-changing groups in every profession. The goal: to help professionals envision what their profession could look like if the “bottom line” in their field was not to make more money and accumulate more power, but was instead at least equally seeking to maximize through the practice of their profession the fostering of human beings who give priority to building a world based on love and caring, kindness and generosity, ethical behavior, ecological sensitivity, and awe, wonder and radical amazement at the grandeur and mystery of the universe.
What might that look like? I developed some initial ideas on this in my book in 2000 called Spirit Matters. Below, I reprint my chapter on a Transformative Medicine to give you an idea of what kind of visioning we have in mind.
The Soul of Medicine
by Michael Lerner
There are two dimensions of medicine and health care that will be transformed when the New Bottom Line of the NSP–Network of Spiritual Progressives– becomes the guiding principle for our society: how medical services are distributed and what the content of a spiritually informed medicine will be (that is, how we sustain and repair health).
by: Donna Nevel on March 7th, 2014 | 25 Comments »
Credit: Jewish Voice for Peace
Many American Jewish organizations claim to be staunch supporters of civil and human rights as well as academic freedom. But when it comes to Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, they make an exception. In their relentless opposition to BDS, they leave even core principles behind.
The Palestinian-led call for BDS, which began in 2005 in response to ongoing Israeli government violations of basic principles of international law and human rights of the Palestinian people, is a call of conscience. It has strengthened markedly over the last few years among artists, students, unions, church groups, dockworkers, and others. Media coverage of endorsers of the boycott has gone mainstream and viral. Recent examples include Stephen Hawking’s refusal to go to Jerusalem for the Presidential Conference, the successful campaign surrounding Scarlett Johansson’s support for Soda Stream and its settlement operation, and the American Studies Association (ASA) resolution that endorsed boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
Alongside BDS’s increasing strength have come increasingly virulent attacks on, and campaigns against it. These attacks tend to employ similar language and tactics – as if the groups are all cribbing from the same talking points – including tarring BDS supporters as “anti-Semitic” and “delegitimizers.”
by: Zehra Bapir on March 6th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
It all started six months ago when my husband and I first moved to Brooklyn. We had been living in South-East Turkey surrounded by family members and friends in the same complex. I wanted to bring that sense of “neighborliness” with me when we moved to the U.S. and I also wanted the neighbors to know that even though I covered and looked like a terrorist from the desert, at least I was clean and friendly.
Credit: Creative Commons/rottnapples.
The first week we moved in, I made chocolate chip cookies. I know Americans — every one of them loves home-made chocolate chip cookies. That’s like a given. Every culture has a deep love and appreciation for something – English love chips. Turks love tea. Irish love…etcetera.
I was probably the first person to do this in the 21st century but that’s okay. I was going to be assertive in being a neighbor. My new neighbors were going to like me AND my chocolate chip cookies.
The first few doors I knocked on in the building gave me surprised but polite responses “What a nice idea, but I’m on a diet.” “Thank you so much, I’ll give these to my sons.” “This was so thoughtful! Unfortunately I have to watch my sugar intake you know because…” I had a feeling this would happen. I knew from movies a lot of New Yorkers were on diets, especially if they were old.
It wasn’t until I knocked on the last door that I realized most of them weren’t actually on diets.
Ash Wednesday Arrestees at Beale
Today, on Ash Wednesday, I participated in a deeply meaningful worship service and nonviolent direct action against drones at the gate of Beale Air Force Base. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “My body is tired but my soul is rested.” Actions of faith and conscience are good for the soul. You can see KCRA’s coverage here and a video of the arrests here.
The worship service was exquisite. Although today is a Christian holy day and we used traditional Christian symbols in worship, the service was unique in that it was open to and inclusive of people of all faiths and philosophies. It included a prayer in the four directions based on Indigenous spirituality, the World Peace Prayer (from the Hindu religion), and a Hebrew song introduced by Rabbi Seth Castleman. I was reminded of the passover we celebrated in the same spot outside the same Beale gate last year.
Today’s Ash Wednesday service included both personal and national repentance, particularly related to U.S. militarism and drone warfare. We celebrated Holy Communion and used ashes as a sign of repentance and mortality. The “passing of the peace” included some people carrying the message of peace to the TV crew and Beale officers. Several participants told me that it was the most meaningful Ash Wednesday service they had ever attended.
Following the service, five of us, including two other ordained ministers, walked across the boundary line onto base property. We sprinkled ashes that represented the ashes of children killed by U.S. drones. Some of us carried crosses with artistic renditions of some of these children, with their names, ages, and countries of origin.
In a far-reaching interview with Jeffrey Goldberg on Sunday, President Obama made clear, perhaps for the first time in his presidency, that his administration will primarily fault Israel if the current U.S.-brokered peace negotiations fail, as expected.
Listen to Obama speak about Israel’s approach to peace-making and the conflict – to words which are more direct and pointed than anything to come out of an American president’s mouth in some time:
I have not yet heard … a persuasive vision of how Israel survives as a democracy and a Jewish state at peace with its neighbors in the absence of a peace deal with the Palestinians and a two-state solution. Nobody has presented me a credible scenario.
The only thing that I’ve heard is, “We’ll just keep on doing what we’re doing, and deal with problems as they arise. And we’ll build settlements where we can. And where there are problems in the West Bank, we will deal with them forcefully. We’ll cooperate or co-opt the Palestinian Authority.” And yet, at no point do you ever see an actual resolution to the problem.
It’s maintenance of a chronic situation. And my assessment, which is shared by a number of Israeli observers, I think, is there comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices. Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank? Is that the character of Israel as a state for a long period of time? Do you perpetuate, over the course of a decade or two decades, more and more restrictive policies in terms of Palestinian movement? Do you place restrictions on Arab-Israelis in ways that run counter to Israel’s traditions?
Michele Bachmann is disappointed in American Jews. Why? It seems we’ve collectively “sold out Israel” by voting for and supporting President Obama, whose policies will obviously “reduce Israel to rubble” (before her apocalyptic fantasies are realized).
There are few things which provoke me more than fundamentalist Christian concern trolls who tisk-tisk liberal Jews on politics because their theology needs my people to die, en masse, at the appointed historical time.
Few things, that is, than when such tisk-tisking is not only irrational and offensive, but idiotic as well. President Obama, much to my dismay, has continued America’s tradition of allowing Israel to expand illegal settlements in Palestinian lands while simultaneously being engaged in U.S.-brokered peace talks. In fact, Israeli settlement expansion has increased by a stunning 123 percent in 2013.