Bob Schwartz

Tag: peace

Virginia Peace Medal (1780): Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God/Happy While United

Virginia Peace Medal

The Virginia Indian peace medal was produced by order of Governor Thomas Jefferson in 1780. The obverse side reads: Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. The reverse side reads: Happy While United

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation says:

This extremely rare Virginia Indian peace medal was produced by order of Governor Thomas Jefferson in 1780. Matchless in the history of relations between the independent Commonwealth of Virginia and the region’s native tribes, the “Happy While United” peace medal was cast in bronze by Robert Scot—later chief engraver at the U.S. Mint— in Williamsburg or Richmond while Jefferson was governor.

Commemorating an unidentified Revolutionary-era alliance between native tribes and the Commonwealth, silver medals were presented to important tribal members, while bronze versions were cast for non-native recipients. None of the twelve silver medals originally produced survive as they were likely traded in for later Presidential Indian peace medals or buried with the native recipients upon their deaths.

At nearly three inches in diameter and more than 2.5 ounces in weight, the medal is based on designs by noted artist Pierre Eugene du Simitiere and New York silversmith Daniel Christian Feuter. A bronze medal, identical to the one acquired by Colonial Williamsburg, was recorded as a gift from Isaac Zane of the Marlboro Iron Works—a patriot munitions factory in Frederick County during the American Revolution—to du Simitiere prior to May 1781.

The medal uses one the earliest versions of the fledgling Commonwealth’s official seal depicting the goddess Virtue standing triumphant over a fallen tyrant—most certainly meant to represent King George III—surrounded by the inscription “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.”

The reverse side of the medal incorporates a scene from an earlier medal made in New York during the 1760s and depicts a European-American and a Native American seated on a bench sharing a “peace pipe.” To the right is a tree, shading the two figures, and behind them is a waterfront scene with three vessels under sail. The over-arching inscription reads “Happy While United” with “1780” below the scene.

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Sojourners: Time for Healing. And Resistance.

time-for-healing-and-resistance

Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, has long been the loudest, most articulate, and most respected voice on behalf of social justice from a genuinely Evangelical Christian perspective. Not “Evangelical Christian” in the sense of those who have made that identical with a right-wing political agenda. “Evangelical Christian” in the sense of what Jesus would have those who claim to follow him do.

His post-election essay, Time for Healing. And Resistance. is so coherent and inspirational that it doesn’t bear quoting from in pieces. Please read it, whatever your religious or spiritual leanings, if any.

Jim Wallis writes, “I just want you to know that I AM IN for whatever this will require of us.” He is speaking to and about Christians, but he is really challenging those of all faiths or of no faith at all to speak out and stand up.

Veterans Day and Operation Unite America

veterans-day

Friday, November 11 is Veterans Day, which this year arrives during the same week as Election Day (you remember that day, don’t you?)

The great Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) has organized Operation Unite America:

Veterans Day 2016 is just 3 days after Election Day. Join IAVA’s campaign to do the impossible: bring together all Americans.

After a long, brutal and disgusting election season, everyone’s had it. It hasn’t been a good look for America. Everyone is exhausted–many are outright embarrassed. But Republican, Democrat, Independent, Other…we’re ALL sick of the bickering, the commercials, the debates, the politics, the fighting.

Here is your mission (if you choose to accept it!), JOIN US:

Tag your Veterans Day activities on social media with #veteransday

Donate $11 to IAVA to help us support veterans

Attend a #veteransday #VetTogether

 

tammy-duckworth

In the wake of Election Day, it is happy news to report that Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois won a seat in the U.S. Senate. She is an Iraq War veteran, awarded the Purple Heart after losing both her legs. She joins a number of women warriors in Congress, which needs more women and more experienced warriors who know how to choose our wars carefully. And who will take good care of other warriors when they come home.

Readings for the Day of National Healing

Medicine Buddha Mandala

Here are readings for the Day of National Healing from Ocean of Dharma: The Everyday Wisdom of Chogyam Trungpa, a recommended collection of very brief excerpts from his talks and texts. The image above is of the Medicine Buddha.

THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS

We hold the threshold of the future of the world in our hands, on our path. When we say this, we are not dreaming. We are not exaggerating. We hold a tremendous hope, maybe the only hope for the future dark age.

We have a lot of responsibilities, and those responsibilities are not easy to fulfill. They won’t come along easily, like an ordinary success story. They have to be stitched, painted, carved, step by step, inch by inch, minute by minute. It will be manual work. There will be no automatic big sweep, or solution.

When something good is done in the world, it is usually difficult. It is manual, rather than automatic. When something bad is done, usually that is automatic. Evil things are easy to catch, but good ones are difficult to catch. They go against the grain of ordinary habitual tendencies.

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

Humans are the only animals that try to dwell in the future. You don’t have to purely live in the present situation without a plan, but the future plans you make can only be based on the aspects of the future that manifest within the present situation. You can’t plan a future if you don’t know what the present situation is. You have to start from now to know how to plan.

CONVERSING WITH OUR NEGATIVITY

You can always count on the fact that our aspect of viciousness or apelike quality will reflect back to us. Then we can either project it onto somebody else or we can reflect and realize the situation within ourselves. Quite precisely, when you are in that particular state of mind, there is a kind of conversation going on. You may try to tell yourself to calm down and not worry. But then the undercurrent of the force of the projection tries to pierce through again and again. There is always this conversation going on with one’s own negativity. The neurotic aspect of mind is always willing to fall into either the extreme of left or right. The right extreme is anger, the masculine extreme. The left is passion, the feminine extreme. This symbolism is true and universal—a cosmic symbol, which happens with all of life. These symbols are not based on Indian, Buddhist, or Tibetan stories at all. These are utterly cosmic principles, as far as the symbolism is concerned.

WORK WITH THE PRESENT SITUATION

The buddhist tradition teaches the truth of impermanence, or the transitory nature of things. The past is gone and the future has not yet happened, so we work with what is here—the present situation. This actually helps us not to categorize or theorize. A fresh, living situation is taking place all the time, on the spot. This noncategorical approach comes from being fully here, rather than trying to reconnect with past events. We don’t have to look back to the past in order to see what people are made out of. Human beings speak for themselves, on the spot.

Day of National Healing: November 9, 2016

Day of National Healing

Day of National Healing

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And all the world will live as one
John Lennon, Imagine

I declare November 9 a Day of National Healing.

Please stop snickering. Or pitying my naiveté in the face of so many unpleasant realities.

Our need for national healing is massive. Huge. We are literally sick and tired of this election. The thought going around, and it is not ridiculous and I’ve said it myself, is that things may actually get worse after the election.

Another thought, also not ridiculous, is that we might still want to find a way through this. In fact, we have to. If we are sincere about getting on with our lives, personal and national, we have got to start somewhere, sometime. The day after Election Day seems as good a time as any.

I am inspired and informed, as I often am, by the I Ching. Here is what the text says to us today:

Hexagram 38
Kui/Diversity

Diversity.
Little things:
Good fortune.

All beings diversify,
But their functions are the same.
Great indeed is the time and significance of diversity.

The superior person seeks common ground on major issues
While reserving differences on minor ones.

“In the course of diversifying, there is still similarity—this is the unique wisdom of the I Ching….Diversity is natural and unavoidable. The key is in seeking harmony. To the Chinese, all diversity can be harmonized, no matter whether it is between members of a household, or members of a society, or between nations of the world. The clue lies in one’s attitude. If both sides are willing to come together in sincerity and truthfulness, no problem cannot be solved.” (Alfred Huang)

In one sense, it is hard to see how the day after the election will be an unconditionally good day for many people. Millions will celebrate having avoided whatever horror they foresaw, millions of others will plan ways to deal with the horror they see taking place. That is not a formula for healing.

We have got to try something, something else than what we’ve been experiencing. A new way on November 9 can’t come soon enough.

Another Cool Way to Show Support for Our Veterans

IAVA Lifeline Flex

I’ve written a number of times before about veterans issues and about the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), which last month sponsored a televised Commander-in-Chief Forum featuring the presidential candidates.

It is an old song, but worth repeating. Our treatment of those we have asked to fight is a national shame. If we don’t want to fight and defend, and don’t ask others to do the job for us, fine. Peace is wonderful. But once we ask, we have to provide virtually infinite support for those who answer. This should be at the top of any policy priority list, because it is a moral test, not a partisan talking point. For a grade, I’d consider giving us an E for Effort, but really, it’s more like an F.

If you want to show your support, IAVA has a very cool and inexpensive wearable. It’s the IAVA Lifeline Flex:

IAVA Lifeline Flex
$14.99

Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Lifeline Flex in Night Vision Yellow and Black with engraved logo on a metal toggle clasp. Hand-wound from the same 550 lb tested parachute chord used in WWII to attach men to their chutes, these cuffs give you up to 15ft of usable paracord when unwound. Not just an all purpose survival tool, the 550 cord also looks killer on your wrist. Don’t leave home without one of these killer bracelets.

ITEM DETAILS:
Hand-wound from military grade 550 cord
One size fits all “Flex” interior with IAVA closure clasp

Music: Lady Day and John Coltrane

Gil Scott-Heron 2

They’ll wash your troubles,
Your troubles, your troubles
Your troubles away!

Musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron was unlike any artist of the modern era. He is a jazz artist identified as a “godfather of rap” (he rejected that), his song The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is quoted somewhere every day, and his vision of the black experience is as current and insightful as any.

But this isn’t about him. It’s about one of his songs, Lady Day and John Coltrane, that celebrates the power of music to heal and change our lives, especially when we are giving up. If you don’t regularly take that prescription, please consider it.

Lady Day and John Coltrane

Ever feel kinda down and out, you don’t know just what to do
Livin’ all of your days in darkness let the sun shine through
Ever feel that somehow, somewhere, you’ve lost your way
And if you don’t get help quick you won’t make it through the day
Could you call on Lady Day,
Could you call on John Coltrane
Now ‘cause they’ll
They’ll wash your troubles
Your troubles your troubles
Your troubles away!

Plastic people with plastic minds are on their way to plastic homes
No beginning there ain’t no ending just on and on and on and on and on, it’s
All because they’re so afraid to say that they’re alone
Until our hero rides in, rides in on his saxophone.
Could you call on Lady Day,
Could you call on John Coltrane
Now ‘cause they’ll,
They’ll wash your troubles,
Your troubles, your troubles
Your troubles away!

 

Beyond Anger, Again

Beyond Anger

Almost exactly two years ago, I posted about a free book from Shambhala Publications, Beyond Anger: How to Hold On to Your Heart and Your Humanity in the Midst of Injustice.

At that moment, in March 2014, the most prominent global issue was the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But it was, of course, not the only critical issue or hotspot.

Shambhala had published Beyond Anger the previous year:

In July 2013, multiple bombs exploded in Bodh Gaya, India, in and around the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage site, the Mahabodhi temple that marks the spot where the Buddha attained enlightenment. In response, Shambhala Publications offers this free eBook consisting of excerpts from some of our books from a variety of Buddhist traditions that encapsulate values of love and nonviolence, which we can all practice ourselves.

Today there was a suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan. Earlier this week were the bombings in Brussels. Not to mention the other less reported breaches of peace around the world. Not to mention political battles, here and abroad, laced with pointless poison. Not to mention whatever tomorrows bring.

Beyond Anger is a very good little book. And it is free. Please consider downloading it, reading it, and sharing it.

It also helps to recognize that many conflicts will not be resolved in a single encounter. Some conflicts might not be resolved for a very long time. Yet whether or not you succeed in resolving a conflict that you observe or are yourself involved in, you always have options. Whatever happens, you can work on yourself. In order not to become overwhelmed or disturbed while a conflict is taking place, you can cultivate your own inner qualities. If you can develop your qualities and remain true to your own pure aspirations, at the very least you will always be able to take heart in knowing that there is one less harmful person in the world.

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding?

Coldplay Glastonbury

After watching the chaos surrounding the Trump rally in Chicago on TV, I surfed and came across a Coldplay concert, which served to cleanse my soul.

The huge crowd at Glastonbury looked very happy. I wondered if, when the political conventions are held this summer, we can magically replace them with music festivals.

Coldplay performed Wonderful World, and then that anthem of making things better, Fix You:

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

I thought about other positive music I love. Like Elvis Costello’s (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding? What is?

As I walk on through this wicked world,
Searching for light in the darkness of insanity,
I ask myself, is all hope lost?
Is there only pain, and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I wanna know,
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?

And as I walked on through troubled times,
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes,
So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony

‘Cause each time I feel it slipping away, just makes me wanna cry,
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?

God and the H-Bomb

God and the H-Bomb

The Hydrogen Bomb is in the news, thanks to North Korea’s questionable claim that they have one and have tested it.

In the years following World War 2, the H-Bomb was big news. Big, just like The Bomb. The world had seen the destructive power of the A-Bomb used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The H-Bomb made the A-Bomb look like a stick of dynamite. Where once there was the power to destroy cities, we could now destroy the world. And ourselves. We were as gods, at least in our punishing might.

In 1961, a book called God and the H-Bomb was published. It’s not in print, but you might find a copy used or in a library, as I did a few years ago. The cover carries this question: “What counsel do our spiritual leaders offer in response to mankind’s greatest challenge?”

The roster of contributors is an impressive list of thinkers, some of whom are still recognized names, some less familiar. Paul Tillich, Martin Buber, Pope Pius XII, and so on.

We don’t see many—any—religious and spiritual leaders interviewed about the North Korean test, about the Iran deal, or about any Bomb related stories. Except for those religious and spiritual leaders with political strategy in mind or a political axe to grind.

That’s not what this 55-year-old book is about. It is about the moral and spiritual dimensions of the H-Bomb. That is reflected in the titles of the pieces. The power of self-destruction. War and Christian conscience. Fifteen years in hell is enough. Thy neighbor as thyself. The road of sanity.

The foreword is by Steve Allen, who is a little remembered as a significant television personality, but less as one of the most entertaining and brilliant public intellectuals of the middle twentieth century. Here’s what he writes:

That our nation is in the throes of moral collapse of serious dimensions is, apparently, no longer a debatable conclusion. Liberal and conservative spokesmen vie to see who shall express the conviction most vigorously. Churchmen and secularists, too, agree that we have fallen upon evil days. These various groups naturally differ as to the reasons for the situation, but that it exists no one seems to doubt….

Will our nation be guided in this dread hour by the moral code it professes to honor?

Will it?