Not Terrorists; Not Tourists: Refugees are Human Beings
I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.”—Matthew 25:36-40
In the past few days, we have shared in the public and global outpouring of sympathy and support for the victims, their families, and the people of France, Lebanon, and Russia. We reiterate that expression of solidarity, and our condemnation of these acts of violence, all of which have been claimed by the “Islamic State.”
The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), shares this pastoral message:
The horrific terrorist attacks in France fill all good people with the deepest sadness. May we all rededicate ourselves to waging peace based on compassion and respect. Hatred must not triumph.
I share the following prayer written by the Rev. Eric Cherry, director of the UUA’s International Office:
Holy One, our hearts are torn, broken, and battered.
After Paris: A World that has Lost its Ethical Direction
For many years, we at Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives have warned that the domination and power-over strategies to achieve “homeland security” have been tried for over 7,000 years and all they have produced is more wars and violence, interspersed with short periods of peace that have, with the help of the sensationalist and natioanlist media and professional apologists for the existing inequalities, managed to hide from public view the degree of covert structural violence that every system of inequality and domination embodies.
As in 9/11, the terrorists responsible for the tragic events in Paris are succeeding far beyond their wildest dreams of sowing fear and hatred among all the nations in the West. The various responses – such French President François Hollande calling the attacks an "an act of war" to which France will respond without pity – are understandable, but play directly into the terrorists' hands.
What is really hard to understand are the calls to block the entry of Syrian refugees – particularly Muslim refugees. What better way could be imagined to demonstrate that terrorists claim that the West is waging a "War on Islam", thereby recruiting an even larger number of disaffected Muslim youth?
Even worse, if we succumb to Islamophobia to the extent that we actually close our doors and our hearts to people at a time of great need, we will be betraying the love of mercy and justice that is at the core of our country's Judeo-Christian tradition. From time to time, every nation faces a test to see if it can live up to its ideals. This is one such test. We call upon everyone to resist the xenophobic fear-mongering and stand for the principle that our country proclaims so solemnly that all people are created equal.
We pray for all people and places that have experienced the terror of violence this week as the aftershocks of fear and grief reverberate through bodies and buildings:For the 43 people in Beirut and the 129 in Paris who were killed by Daesh;
For the people who survived and are now grieving the loss of people they love—parents, children, lovers, spouses, friends, siblings;
For the untold number of Syrians who have died in retaliation attacks;
For Muslims around the world who are targets of renewed and vicious Islamaphobia;
We want peace for these people and places, but we do not know how to achieve it. Help us to see with clarity how our own country’s actions have contributed to the violence we see and mourn in the world this week. Let our collective mourning and sense of solidarity drive us deeper into the work for peace in our own country, and let us not feel angry only at Daesh, but also at the political policies and realities that engender extremism.
by Emily Brewer of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
"A time comes when silence is betrayal, and that time has come for us."
As people of faith and goodwill, we cannot remain silent when violence leads to more violence, tragedy leads to more suffering, and fear leads to injustice and hatred. As people of faith and goodwill, we are called to compassion, to courage, to solidarity, and to peace. In the midst of retaliatory bombing, hatefilled rhetoric and egregious calls to close our borders in the midst of one of history's most tragic human refugee crisis, organizations with whom MVPJ has long worked suggest some of the following actions.
As we mourn and pray for the people of Paris, let us also pray for Beirut, where 43 people were killed in a terrorist attack the day before those in Paris, for Bagdad, where 26 people were killed in violent bombings, and Syria, where children, women and men are now facing drastically increased deadly air strikes.
Take action this week to build a better world by participating in any of these local events:
Sermon: "Whose Lives Matter?" - Sunday, Sept. 20, 10am, First Congregational Church, 1985 Louis Rd., Palo Alto. This sermon by the Rev. Eileen Altman will begin Campaign Nonviolence local Week of Action by exploring issues of justice.
"White Like Me" Documentary and Discussion: Tuesday, Sept. 22, 7pm, First Congregational Church, 1985 Louis Road, Palo Alto. This 1 hour film by Tim Wise on race and privilege will be followed by a discussion on issues of race, racism and white privilege.
Climate Justice: Response to Pope's Congressional Address: Thursday, Sept. 24, 12Noon, Midpeninsula Media Center, 900 San Antonio Rd., Palo Alto. Join the studio audience immediately following Pope Francis' message to the U.S. Congress. Hear a panel of local and religious climate activists, and live reports from Washington D.C.'s Catholic Climate Covenant activists and members of the Moral Action on Climate team.
Protest Nuclear Weapons at Lockheed Vigil: Friday, Sept. 25, 12-1pm, Lockheed Space Systems at Mathilda Ave. and Lockheed Martin Way, Sunnyvale. In this silent, nonviolent vigil we will stand in witness against the destruction and death perpetrated by Lockheed Martin - the largest manufacturer and exporter of military weapons.
Quaker Harvest Festival: Saturday, Sept. 26, 9am-4pm, 957 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto. This annual fair with music, food, plant and book sales benefits the Friends Committee on Legislation for California, which advocates for peace and justice issues in our state.
Sermon: "A Subtle Voice" - Sunday, Sept. 27, 9:30 & 11am, Unitarian Universalist Church, 505 East Charleston, Palo Alto. Recognizing that religion can both stimulate and counteract violence, Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern will ask, what are our religion's resources for un-making violence.
Labyrinth Peace Walk: Sunday, Sept. 27, 10:30am-12:45pm, Unitarian Universalist Church, 505 East Charleston, Palo Alto. In honor of the U.N. Peace Day (9/21) and concluding Campaign Nonviolence Week of action, come walk the labyrinth with your wish for peace and nonviolence.
I solemnly swear to take a stand against violence and
Click here to sign the Campaign Nonviolence pledge, and join the movement to build a peaceful world for all!
Start today! Plan an event or just a small gathering with your friends or faith community during Campaign Nonviolence 2015 Week of Action, September 20-27. Contact Diana Gibson at email@example.com to post your action and invite others if you wish.
"After years spent teetering on the brink of war, the diplomatic agreement with Iran known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action offers an unprecendented opportunity for a peaceful settlement to concerns about Iran's nuclear program."
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (quoted above) has posted a wealth of resources for people of faith and good will to understand and support the Iran Deal. Their post on "Understanding the Iran Deal" is very helpful.
In August 340 rabbis (including our own local Rabbi Sheldon Lewis) from all streams of Judaism sent a letter to all Members of Congress urging that they support the international community agreement and Iran. Read the statement of 53 Christian leaders urging Congress to support the agreement. The Jewish Exponent posted a thoughtful article on why "The Iran Agreement is Good for America."
The Afghan Peace Volunteers invite us to join
Join the Afghan Peace Volunteers and Kabul street kids Zarghuna, Muheb, Barath, Mursal, Inam, Deeba and Zahra, to say #Enough!
On Sept. 21st, the International Day of Peace and beginning of the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Action, 100 Afghan street kids will cook and serve a meal for 100 Afghan labourers to launch #Enough!
TODAY you can join the Afghan Peace Volunteers, a grassroots group started by youth in Kabul, Afghanistan, by signing "The People's Agreement to Abolish War." Help generate the critical mass of friends needed to build a better world.
Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and Prof. Noam Chomsky have already endorsed this campaign. You can join them by http://enough.ourjourneytosmile.com/ signing the Agreement TODAY!
The Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (now Afghan Peace Volunteers) was started by youth living in Kabul, Afghanistan. Having lived in the midst of war their entire lives, these young people insist that "war has not worked," and ask for international friendship and solidarity. The group has worked together for several years now. They create videos and blogs to expose both the hopes and pains of life in Afghanistan, host "Global Listening Days" for skype or phone conversations with anyone around the world, partner with youth in other war-torn places, organize the Duvet (Blanket) Peace project which gave Afghan women employment to make much needed blankets for Afghan refugees in the winter, and have founded the Borderfree Center for Nonviolence which sponsors programs on nonviolence, environment, social economic issues and international issues, language and math classes for local "street kids."
Click here to download a copy of The People's Agreement to Abolish War.