Monthly Archives: April 2010

Whistleblowers for Peace, Unite!

I came home from work on Monday night to discover my whistle had arrived!

I was giddy with excitement and immediately loped the chain around my neck, where it stayed until I changed into pajamas for the night. (I may or may not have delayed changing into pajamas a bit longer than usual, simply to keep wearing the whistle . . . )

And then I discovered a second gift for the day.

Mallory, one of the staff members from Falling Whistles, had discovered the whistle post from last week and all the encouraging comments you left in response.

She left a comment for us that reads:

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All of this totally blissed me out!

So then, of course, I went straight to social media. :-)

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First, Twitter:

And:

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And then, of course, Facebook:

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To top off all the excitement, I then discovered others of you had also received your whistles that very same day!

A few comments came out of the woodwork on Facebook:

Another friend tweeted in response that she’d also received hers:

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Is this exciting, or what?!

So this makes me wonder:

What kind of stories are emerging out there as we wear our whistles for peace?

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Yesterday, I wore mine to work in a snazzy justice-themed ensemble: dark blue jeans, black Seek Justice tee that supports International Justice Mission, charcoal gray blazer, and shiny black Mary Jane heels.

And, of course, the whistle.

I had a chance to share the story once with a co-worker who admired it when I stepped inside her office.

I admit, I was a little clumsy in my first telling.

But still, the story can’t help but shock and educate.

This is a symbol of protest, I said.

It’s a symbol of activism.

And 100 percent of the proceeds helps rehabilitate those young boys who are lucky enough to be rescued from the front lines of war.

It felt surreal to cup the whistle in my hand, tell the story, and know that right in that moment young boys were dying at the sound of their falling whistles, one by one by one.

This cannot — and should not — be.

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If you haven’t bought your whistle yet, you can buy yours here today.

And if you have received yours:

Have you shared any whistleblowing conversations yet? What were they like?

Where on the Journey into Love are You?

The tagline for this website says of the journey toward nonviolence that “in the end, it’s about increasing our capacity to love.”

I believe that wholeheartedly.

That is why we’re here.

To grow in love.

Together.

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Coming to a place where we listen compassionately, regard the full dignity of every human person, and respond to violence with curiosity instead of judgment or anger (among other things) means having within us an ever-expansive and welcoming spirit of love.

We cannot live this way if we have not love.

But how does that loving spirit within us grow?

How is our capacity for love enlarged?

Great questions.

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I have found that an ability to love emerges from a security in our own belovedness.

“We love, because he first loved us.” — 1 John 4:19

I used to read that passage in the Bible and think that love was my obligation. Since God had loved me – he had, after all, saved my life by giving up his Son’s own life! — so I needed to love others.

But knowing this truth of God’s love did not produce a spirit of love in me.

I didn’t know love simply because I knew — in my mind — God’s love. Mental assent did not produce transformation.

Instead, I found I only knew love once I knew love:

. . . once I had experienced it in a deep, profound, and personal way.

. . . once it had pierced the deepest fibers of my being.

. . . once it had touched the depths of my identity.

Once that happened, I found my desire to love others simply overflowed. My heart just grew, almost of its own accord.

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How does that happen, then?

How do we experience love in a deep and profound way?

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I’ve found it requires a journey.

That’s why this space is named for the journey.

We are walking a path that takes time and intention, and it is leading us toward a love that encompasses all things.

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As we set out on this path together, then, take a few moments to reflect on your current state of learning love.

Which of these statements best describes your place in the journey right now?

  1. I don’t know what love is. This is where my own journey began. I came to a point of reckoning, a moment of revelation where I realized that I didn’t know what love or grace or even God meant to me. This began a process of intentional exploration where I learned that my heart had built up walls — many walls — that made it quite impervious to love. This first part of the journey, then, was about unlearning the many false forms of love I’d adopted inside my soul. It was about unlearning unlove.
  2. I’m learning how to be loved. Once we unlearn unlove, we find a space inside of us that is ready to learn what real love is. All kinds of questions crop up here. What does real love look like? How does it apply to me? How is it different than the forms of unlove I carried before? What is it like for me to touch, taste, and feel it? This can be a wobbly, uncertain time in the journey as entire realities begin to shift and sway in the laying of an entirely new foundation. But it is also a remarkable time of testing boundaries and learning that love — real love — is truly limitless.
  3. I’m basking in my belovedness. Eventually, the fact of our belovedness becomes more natural, more comfortable, more real. More a part of our everyday make-up. It becomes something we believe with increasing certainty. We find that chains of guilt, shame, and obligation have loosed their hold upon us, and we begin to breathe in freedom. This is a delicious, joyful, contented part of the journey as we rest in our worth and utter acceptance to God.
  4. I want others to know their belovedness, too. As I shared above, love begets love. It is creative. It’s generative. Once we taste love, we want others to taste love, too. In this part of the journey, our eyes begin to train themselves outward. Compassion becomes a currency of life. As we see others who are broken, downtrodden, and striving — just as we once were doing the same — we increasingly long for them to experience a journey of freedom and love in their own lives, too.
  5. I am willing to die for love. This last stage, I must confess, took me completely by surprise. I didn’t know it was there, even though the example and words of Jesus Christ should have made it plain as day. But there it was, waiting for me in my own journey over the course of this past year. In this stage, I’m learning that we move from basking in our own belovedness and wanting others to experience their belovedness, too, to finding that our own lives mean less to us than the lives of others. This is not about a degradation of self, but about a giving of self — all for love. Here, love begins to foment within us with so much vigor that we become willing to bleed, spill, and even die if necessary because of it, trusting our own lives into the loving arms of God if it means becoming vessels of love and peace for the salvation of others. This part of the journey into love is quite mysterious, I’m finding, but it does await us on the path to love as we keep leaning into the ongoing journey.

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A few items of note as it relates to our journeying together here . . .

  • Because each person’s story and pace on the journey is unique, we will spend time exploring all five of these stages in greater depth on an ongoing basis. It is my hope to provide food for persons in each stage of the journey here.
  • As such, pilgrims in all stages are welcome here, and you are welcome to walk at your own pace!
  • I find it also worth noting that we can sometimes journey back and forth between stages, as we sometimes discover new walls inside our hearts exist that make us impervious to love in other ways we hadn’t yet discovered, and we need to unlearn unlove in those places, too.

So now my question for you is:

Where on the journey into love do you find yourself right now?

Become a Whistleblower for Peace in Congo

Several months ago — I can’t recall the specific circumstances that led me there now — I landed on a website called Falling Whistles that completely undid me.

Perhaps it will undo you too.

Here is the video that greets you (in full-screen mode) upon arrival at their website:

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I can’t tell you how many times I watched this video that first day. I watched it over and over again and just cried and cried.

Young boys.

Their bodies used as disposable buffers of war.

A shrill whistle cry their saving grace or single death knell.

How can this be?

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I scoured the website, hungry for more information.

There, I found the journal entry referenced in the intro video above — the one Sean Carasso wrote the day he met those boys.

Busco.

Bahati.

Serungendo.

Claude.

Sadiki.

The boys who changed his life.

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I learned about the devastating war in the Congo that day.

I also learned about this remarkable band of impassioned activists at Falling Whistles that are spreading the word and asking for our help in doing the same.

Here is how we can help.

We can become whistleblowers for peace in Congo by purchasing a whistle on their website.

  • We can wear the symbolic whistle as a symbol of our protest.
  • We can wear it to raise awareness for the cause.
  • We can wear it to be reminded of those boys and the countless others who need our voices, our help, and our prayers.
  • We can wear it and know that 100 percent of the proceeds benefits the rehabilitation and advocacy of war-affected children in the Congo.

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Today, thanks to the boon of an unexpected tax return, I finally purchased my whistle. I can hardly wait for it to arrive!

I will wear it proudly.

I will eagerly await the conversations it inspires with complete strangers.

And I will be reminded on an ongoing basis to pray for peace in Congo.

Will you?

Our Central Question: How Do We Grow in Love?

I shared early on that my preoccupation with nonviolence began when I discovered the idea that love is not only more powerful than violence but also the only force in the universe strong enough to overcome it.

At first my interest was purely fueled by curiosity.

Was this really true?

How come?

Prove it.

But then, as I studied an increasing number of social concerns through this lens of love, I became enamored by that central undercurrent:

LOVE.

How does it grow?

What is its source?

How do we increase our own capacity to carry it deep in our hearts?

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I walked through the pages of Gandhi’s life and watched him live with circumspect dignity and care for all he met. How did he develop the strength to live that way?

I read about the bombings on Martin Luther King’s home and his unwillingness to fight back or even demonize those who did it. How did he find the inner reserve of strength to respond that way?

I read dozens of Thomas Merton’s private letters, so many littered with the conviction that wars and bombs are merely outcomes of our fears. How did he develop that conviction?

I went back to the teachings of Jesus again and again. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hurt you. Turn the other cheek. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are the peacemakers. Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do. How do we become people who willingly love this way?

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Something else happened along the way.

My heart became tattered and torn into tiny pieces, over and over and over.

Violence in the Congo.

Violence in Iran.

Torture in Guantanamo Bay.

The true tale of Dead Man Walking.

Child soldiers in Uganda, felled deftly by the sound of falling whistles.

And while many, many tears fell for the victims inside these stories, something altogether foreign began happening in me.

I became increasingly wrecked for their enemies.

With every news report I read of the green revolution happening in Iran, I could see the eyes of the Supreme Ayatollah and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad staring at me.

When the torture memos were released from Guantanamo Bay, I couldn’t stop seeing the eyes of those applying the torture.

When I watched Dead Man Walking, I cried and cried and cried as Sean Penn’s eyes stared back at me from the screen, his arms stretched outward in the shape of a cross as he received that deathly dosage in his very last scene.

Their eyes haunted me.

Everywhere I went, I could see them.

I balled up in bed many times, and I wept.

For them.

These enemies.

What was happening to me?

How in the world did I end up here?

How did I come to care for those it is so easy for us to despise?

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I don’t fully know the answers to these questions, though I’ve been developing some ideas. But one thing I’ve determined is certainly true: the road to nonviolence is about the journey toward increasing and overwhelming love.

That is the work we will be about here. We will explore and walk together the road toward increasing love.

The JTN Vision: What Do We Believe Can Happen?

On that day in early January when I sat on a plane and dreamed aloud in my journal about the creation of this nonviolence tribe, I wrote:

What does it take to create a tribe around the journey toward nonviolence?

I think it begins with deciding to go. To do it.

The next step is declaring the vision.

What is this tribe about, and what do we believe can happen? What are we about, and what do we want to see happen in the world?

As you now well know, a careful brainstorm followed the asking of those questions. I set down a list of all the truths that a tribe devoted to the nonviolent path would consistently uphold.

And then I sat and thought about the vision.

What do we believe can happen?

What do we want to see happen?

I settled into the small crook of my airline seat and leaned my head against the window. I tapped my pen against my lip.

Thinking.

Dreaming.

Daring to believe.

And then I tried to capture in words the images slowly forming inside my mind.

This is what I wrote:

I see pulsating hubs all over the geography of this planet.

Each hub represents a JTN tribemember who is impacting his or her community by consistently contributing an energy of love to each encounter of his or her life.

This injected love begins to infect other people so that lives and events within that hub become transformed into even greater forces for love.

Eventually, hubs grow in magnitude and strength.

Individuals within each hub assemble to effect even greater change concerning specific areas of need in their localized communities.

In this way, the world is taken in by the beauty of love and transformed into a loving family of peace.

It is somewhat grand, I know.

But aren’t visions worth dreaming meant to be?

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The central focus of this vision, for me, are the pulsating hubs.

These hubs represent you. They represent me.

Right now.

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Day by day . . . one by one . . . we begin to infuse love into the pulsating hubs we represent on the geography of this planet. As we grow in love (which is the work we will accomplish here), we bring even greater love to each moment that we meet.

And slowly, we watch things change.

We change.

Others change.

Situations change.

All because of love.

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And then one day, these hubs begin to grow.

We lock arms with other pulsating hubs of love around us — others whose hearts have also been infused and transformed by love — and we bring life, through these growing communities, to the forces of death surrounding us.

And change on a grander scale begins to happen.

All because of love.

Do you believe this can happen? Is there anything you’d like to add to this vision for our tribe?