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Remembering 13 Years of War in Iraq
This month marks the 13th year of war, occupation, death, and fear in Iraq. Yesterday we held a rally to commemorate this unfortunate anniversary, with the theme being, “resistance of the heart against business as usual.” As a 21-year-old college student, this theme resonates especially strongly for me. Over half of my life has been spent fighting this war. In fact, I can hardly remember a time when America hasn’t been in war – and that is not how it should be. Our young people should grow up knowing peace and understanding, instead of assuming that war and violence is just “business as usual.” It was a sobering occasion as we listened to speeches calling for action and powerful poems against violence, sang a song of dissent, and let up a dove-shaped balloon for every year of war. As we watched each of the 13 balloons float up into the sky, the number of deaths each year was read aloud. The mood of the event can best be summarized with the lyrics of the song that we chanted together: “We’re gonna rise with the tides of freedom. Truth is the rock that will break our chains. We will stop the powers of destruction. Healing is the fire running through our veins.”
How to ally with American Muslims
Lesson: Every one of us has the power to educate thousands through the “power of the pen!”
It was a delight to present a workshop on “How to Ally with American Muslims” with my good friend, Spokane Interfaith Council President Skyler Oberst.
We distributed copies of a Gallup Poll on American Muslims and informative messaging to use (not to be confused with another great document on talking about American Muslims). By the time we started, we had over 40 attendees!
Skyler showed a great video about Spokane-area Muslims. Then, audience members shared their experiences getting to know local Muslims and visiting the Spokane Islamic Center, which welcomes visitors, especially at congregational prayers at 12:30pm every Friday.
We then mentioned the need for voices of allies to be heard by the masses. Each of us has the power to educate thousands, simply by investing a few minutes to e-mail letters to editors using messages in the documents we distributed (linked above).
A study by Media Tenor of primetime news found that Islam is featured more than any other religion, and the coverage is overwhelmingly negative. Research by University of Hawaii, University of Exeter & National Hispanic Media Coalition indicate that media content can have a direct effect on hate and prejudice. Accurate language can inform readers, while loaded language misleads readers and fuels prejudice. We mentioned that even if a letter is not published, it will motivate editors to use realistic portrayals of Islam and Muslims. Many attendees left motivated to use “the power of the pen,” which we all hold!
2016 Peace & Economic Justice Action Conference
Register now for our 7th Annual Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference on February 26-27, 2016 Once again we will be at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4340 W. Ft. George Wright Dr., Spokane, WA.
PJALS Receives Fellowship of Reconciliation Local Hero Peace Award
PJALS received FOR’s Local Hero Award for outstanding service to the community in Nov. 2015 in New York City. The January issue of The Fig Tree features a story about long time PJALS member Mark Hamlin’s trip to NYC to accept the award on behalf of PJALS.
“As part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) in New York City in November, Mark Hamlin of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS) was on hand to receive FOR’s Local Hero award for PJALS as one of its affiliates.
PJALS is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015-2016.
Mark not only gave an acceptance speech on the importance of PJALS work for peace and justice in the region, but also learned about FOR’s history at a centennial exhibit at Union Theological Seminary’s James Chapel.”
Humanity is Indivisible: Support Refugees, Reject War & Prejudice
On Thursday November 20, PJALS members stood together to say Support Refugees, Reject Prejudice and War! We got lots of waves, thumbs up, honks, and thanks.
Fear, Itself and Other Dangers
Rusty Nelson on Peace and War
Earlier in my lifetime, Americans had an affinity for memorable statements of their elected leaders. In spite of philosophical, political, and religious differences, we could be inspired by catch phrases, warnings, and imperatives like Kennedy’s, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Eisenhower’s great popularity was no match for the spiraling power of the military-industrial complex, but we certainly remember his warning, today.
In the 21st Century, the messenger may have brilliant rhetoric and universal insight and still fall flat with a jaded and cynical public. Obama has electrified his fan base with his words and delivery, over and over, but he can’t find resonance with critics who are hung up on one or two issues that make him the enemy. We’ll go back decades, at least, for a presidential quote or go with a contemporary outsider.
It’s not surprising that Franklin Roosevelt, with four terms, is remembered for more presidential zingers than anyone else. FDR was an orator in the golden radio years, and he seems to have struck a chord, as the U.S. entered World War II, with his declaration that, “The only thing we have to fear is fear, itself.” It’s a legendary line, and most of us have taken it for granted as a wise slogan from a president determined that his country, his people will not tremble in the face of powerful enemies, hardship and sacrifice. I invite you to be a little cynical about the famous sentence. Read more »
We stood strong: “Invest in People –Not the Pentagon!”
A dedicated team of PJALS members gathered on Tax Day to make our values visible:
When we spend more than half of our federal budget on the Pentagon, it doesn’t make us more secure. Let’s stop pouring money into defense contracting, and look for comprehensive solutions that address the root causes of conflict. Our security requires investment in education, good jobs, infrastructure, nutrition, health care, affordable housing and other services that provide economic security to our families and a brighter future for our children.
On Iran: Say “Yes” to Peace!
Finally some good news! After a marathon of diplomatic efforts from seven nations, a Framework Agreement on Iran’s nuclear program has been reached. This opens the door to further non-proliferation efforts and to a dramatic improvement in US-Iranian relations, after decades of frozen enmity. Most Americans desire a diplomatic solution to the conflict with Iran. But without significant grass- roots mobilization, that aspiration will be thwarted.
[a message from our friends at United for Peace & Justice]