Sabbath Satori

Stefan and John.
author: Lewis Randa, Life Experience School.

by Stefan Schindler

“Do we want to preserve the traditions – the history, prayers, rituals, and faith – which make Judaism distinctive, or do we want to become just a bunch of ethicists?” An ethicist advocates virtue, and the rabbi’s question was rhetorical. Now stay with me here; this is not complex.

Sabbath is the Hebrew holy day, beginning on Friday evening and extending through Saturday. Satori is a Japanese Buddhist word for enlightenment. One Saturday morning long ago, when I was still a child and attending a religious instruction class at our local temple, I had a mini-enlightenment.

I was only 12, and I found the Sabbath morning class inspirational. It was intellectually stimulating in a way that school was not. That morning, the rabbi’s question struck a chord. The name of that chord is irony. A Jewish education is ironic because, at its best, it’s Socratic: it teaches one to doubt and inquire. The same is true of Buddhism.

I was too shy to voice my response to the rabbi’s challenge; besides, he was on a roll. But I have always remembered that moment. Adding a retrospective flavor, here’s what I thought:

Although my mother was a Christian, she converted to Judaism to please my father. During the process of her conversion, my mother asked the rabbi if there was a conflict in being both Christian and Jewish. She wanted to convert, but she also wanted to keep her Christian values.

The rabbi responded that ethics is the heart of the Torah; therefore, at the deepest, most important level, there is no conflict. He told the story of the Hebrew sage who was asked to summarize the Torah, standing on one leg. So the sage stood on one leg and replied very simply: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

And so, dear rabbi, on this glorious Sabbath morning for which I do give thanks, kindly allow me to say: I would much rather have a world of ethicists, committed to peace and the Golden Rule, than a world of religious rivalry and strife. Religious distinctiveness has its beauty, but it also contributes, tragically, to what Hegel calls “the slaughter-bench of history.”

I would, therefore, gladly abandon all religious difference in favor of – and here comes irony again – a postreligious world committed to what the Dalai Lama calls “a common religion of kindness.”

After all, isn’t what all religions have in common more important than how they differ?

And at the heart of all religions, is there not a common urge, prayer, and path to the Peaceable Kingdom on earth?


Posted in Champions of peace, Commemorating peace, Ethic of reciprocity, Nonviolence, Perspective-taking, Poetry and the arts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

We Let Them Pull the Trigger


From sea to grieving sea. Reuters photo.

Another one. This time on Tuesday in Benton, Kentucky. Two teenagers killed, 18 injured – three shot in the head, and in critical condition. So much ghastly same old same old: Small close-knit town, people shocked and grieving, good kids and “sweet souls” who will be missed, police still searching for a reason for a 15-year-old to open fire, residents coming together in their pain to plan prayer vigils, politicians sending – yes, really – more thoughts and prayers. It was the 11th school shooting of the year, and it’s still January. It was barely a blip in the heedless news.

Maybe because the day before the Benton shooting at Marshall County High School, there was a shooting at Italy High School in Texas. Or because, the same day, someone in a pickup shot at a group of students in New Orleans. Or because, also on Tuesday, there were at least 81 other shootings around the country; they killed 28 more people and wounded 40 more. Or because, in the gruesome new normal, a quarter of U.S. parents fear for their children’s safety while they’re at school, which, by all grim accounts, they should. Or because, in the bloody wake of Benton, local pols could only talk up armed guards, not gun control, which would “politicize” the horror, and the NRA-backed Enabler-In-Chief had to be shamed before he even offered his own crappy bogus thoughts and prayers.

Moms and other gun control advocates are still demanding action. What, we wonder, will it take, besides Preston Cope and Bailey Holt? We need to say their names. “In our time,” writes Sandy Solomon in her “Little Letter to the Future”, published in Vox Populi, “we reckoned our dead in firearms” and “grew ill/from (our) excuses for poor, innocent guns.” In the end, she writes, “About death,/ you know. We knew too much.”

Little letter from the future

In our time we reckoned our dead in firearms—
handguns, rifles, automatic weapons;
in much-parsed constitutional clauses;
in politicians bought by lobbyists
and salesmen. In our time, we objected
most of us, but we couldn’t stop those guns.
They squatted beside the desperate, the guy
who craved suicide; they incited
wild-eyed murder, mass murder.
In our time, we just hoped we wouldn’t
be unlucky, that a sick boy toting
what we called an AR-15-style
Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle,
wouldn’t burst into another first-grade
classroom where our kids studied addition,
subtraction; or into another night club
where we celebrated Saturday night;
we just hoped that a stray bullet wouldn’t
cross Central Park to reach the shady
bench on which we sat talking with a friend,
that no cop would imagine our hand reaching
for a pistol instead of a wallet or a phone.
We had to calibrate for guns. And those
with darker skin had to calibrate
more (no talking back, no attitude,
no running away, no looking tough or strange
or hard, no looking like yourself most days).
We knew the slogans: people, not guns,
kill people, a gun in the hands of a good
guy trumps a gun in the hands of a bad
guy, and on and on. We grew ill
from those excuses for poor, innocent guns.
They were everywhere—inside the jacket
of a man at the next table, in the glove compartment
of the car beside us at the light. Ubiquitous
and lethal, they entered our wild logic
awake or asleep. In those days, we let
our toddlers discover a parent’s gun, safety
off, badly hidden under a pillow
or jammed, for our own protection, inside a bag
under a restaurant table, and when our sweet,
curious children wrapped their little fingers
around the gun’s shape so they could gaze
into its empty maw, while we looked
away or dozed, we let them pull the trigger,
we let them kill themselves. About death,
you know. We knew too much.

Sandy Solomon


American still life

Republished from Common Dreams 1/25/2018

Posted in culture of violence, gun violence, politics, Understanding violence, Weaponry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating Reverend Martin Luther King Jr’s Legacy, Part 5

Martin Luther King Jr, at a press conference / World Telegram & Sun photo by Walter Albertin, 8 June 1964. No known copyright restrictions

By Kathie Malley-Morrison & Anthony J. Marsella

One Hundred Living Peace Advocates & Activists: The second 50 nominations

Here is the rest of our list of 100 nominees for the MLK Peace & Social Justice Activist Team.  The qualities for which we were looking when assembling the list are the qualities that we view as inherent in peace: freedom, commitment, sacrifice, nonviolence, courage, justice, and integrity. The level of each quality varies across nominees, whose background, experiences, goals, successes, and failures also vary, of course. But they are all strivers — strivers for peace and justice. Please send us your views on our nominations and your own suggestions for who should be on the list.


  1. Knox: Michael Knox 
  2. Kohler: Robert Kohler  
  3. Kohls: Gary G. Kohls 
  4. Lakey: George Lakey
  5. Leonard: Annie Leonard 
  6. Lerner: Rabbi Michael Lerner
  7. Lifton:  J. Robert Lifton
  8. Lindorff: David Lindorff
  9. Manning: Chelsea Manning
  10. McCoy: Alfred McCoy
  11. McGovern: Ray McGovern 
  12.  Maguire: Mairead McGuire  
  13. Menchu: Rigoberto Menchu 
  14. Miles: Stephen Miles
  15. Monbiot: George Monbiot 
  16. Nader: Ralph Nader
  17. Oberg: Jan Oberg 
  18. Okon: Emen Okon  
  19. Ono: Yoko Ono
  20. Peled: Miko Peled
  21. Petras: James Petras
  22. Pilger: John Pilger
  23. Pilisuk: Marc Pilisuk  
  24. Qumsiyeh: Mazin Qumsiyeh
  25. Ragbir: Ravi Ragbir 
  26. Reich: Robert Reich
  27. Risen: James Risen 
  28. Roberts: Paul Craig Roberts 
  29. Roy: Arundhati Roy 
  30. SatyarthriKailash Satyarthi 
  31. Sharpton: Rev. Al Sharpton 
  32. Sheehan: Cindy Sheehan
  33. Shoman: Samia Shoman 
  34. Soetoro-Ng: Maya Soetoro 
  35. Staub: Ervin Staub  
  36. Swanson: David Swanson
  37. Taibibi: Matt Taibibi 
  38. Tamimi: Ahed Tamimi 
  39. Thich: Thích Nhất Hạnh 
  40. Trask: Haunani-Kay Trask 
  41. Turse: Nick Turse  
  42. Tutu: Desmond Tutu 
  43. Vandeman: Mike Vandeman 
  44. Walsh: Dot Walsh
  45. Weir: Alice Weir 
  46. Whitehead: John W. Whitehead
  47. West: Cornel West 
  48. Wilkerson: Colonel Larry Wilkerson
  49. Williams: Jody Williams 
  50. Yousafzai: Malala Yousafzai


Posted in Champions of peace, Democracy, environmental issues, Human rights, Media, Military-industrial complex, Nonviolence, politics, Protest, racism, resistance, social justice, Stories of engagement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating Reverend Martin Luther King Jr’s Legacy, Part 4


Martin Luther King Jr, at a press conference / World Telegram & Sun photo by Walter Albertin, 8 June 1964. No known copyright restrictions

One Hundred Contemporary Exemplars of Peace Advocacy and Activism: The First Fifty

by Kathie Malley-Morrison & Anthony J. Marsella

During this week, while we are honoring one of America’s greatest heroes, a man who personified many of the highest ethical values for which human beings can strive, we want to honor other activists promoting peace, social justice, and preservation of the earth. We are proposing 100 names — 50 today and 50 in the next post — for your consideration.    It is a diverse list–with men and women from a broad range of nations,  a variety of religious faiths, and a rainbow of skin colors.

Some of the names are likely to be familiar to you; others may not be.  You can click on each name to learn about that person and what he or she has done to earn our recognition.  Please send us your own nominations for membership in this group of leaders, with links to sites describing their efforts.

Here are our first 50 names; 

  1.  Abdul-Jabbar: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  2.  Adams: David Adams
  3. Albertini: James Albertini
  4.  Assange: Julian Assange
  5.  Atzmon: Gilad Atzmon
  6.  Avnery: Uri Avnery
  7.  Bacevich: Andrew Bacevich
  8. Baroud: Ramzy Baroud
  9.  Benjamin: Medea Benjamin
  10.  Berrigan: Frida Berrigan
  11.  Binney: William Binney
  12. Blum: Willam Blum
  13. Burrowes: Robert J. Burrowes
  14. Caldicott: Helen Caldicott
  15. Caputi: Ross Caputi 
  16. Castro: Gustavo Castro
  17. Chiponda: Melania Chiponda
  18. Chomsky: Noam Chomsky
  19. Coates: Ta-Nehisi Coates
  20. Cole: Juan Cole
  21. Cook: Michelle Cook
  22. Dalai: Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso)
  23. Davis: Angela Davis
  24. De Rosa: Antonio de Rosa
  25. Ebadi: Shirin Ebadi
  26. Eidelson: Roy Eidelson
  27. Ellsberg: Daniel Ellsberg
  28. Engelhardt: Tom Engelhardt
  29. Falk: Richard Falk
  30. Feeley: Tom Feeley
  31. Fonda: Jane Fonda
  32. Galtung: Johan Galtung
  33. Garza: Alicia Garza
  34. Giroux: Henry A. Giroux
  35. Goodman: Amy Goodman
  36. Gorbachev: Mikhail Gorbachev
  37. Greenwald: Glen Greenwald
  38. Guevara-Rosas: Erika Guevara-Rosas
  39. Haugen: Gary Haugen
  40. Hedges: Chris Hedges
  41. Hersh: Seymour Hersh
  42. Hightower: Jim Hightower
  43. Ikeda: Daisaku Ikeda
  44. Jamail: Dahr Jamail
  45. Jones: Van Jones
  46. Kalaygian: Ani Kalayjian
  47. Karman: Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman
  48. Kelly: Kathy Kelly
  49. Killelea: Steve Killelea
  50. Kiriakou: John Kiriakou   


Posted in Champions of peace, Human rights, Nonviolence, Pacifism, Peace studies, politics, Protest, racism, Reconciliation and healing, resistance, September 11, 2001, social justice, Stories of engagement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments