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We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. -July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence

 

Home arrow Blog arrow May 2009 arrow May 9, 2009

May 9, 2009
May 9, 2009: Mother's Day Manifesto 2009: UPDATE May 11, 2009 @ END
The number Of Iraqis slaughtered since the U.S. invaded Iraq is 1,320,110. [1]

 The number of U.S. military personnel whose mothers will never see them again live has been officially acknowledged at 4,284. [2]

So far, the War in Iraq has bled $667,095,136,653.00 from USA tax payers wallets.

The genesis of Mother's Day in the U.S.A. began when Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community and fifteen years later, Julia Ward Howe, a Boston poet, pacifist, suffragist, and author of the lyrics to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," organized a day encouraging mothers to rally for peace.

As mothers bear the loss of human life more acutely than anyone else, in 1870, Julia Ward Howe wrote the first Mother's Day Proclamation, from which I excerpt:

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor; nor violence indicate possession. At the summons of war let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace;
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar;
But of God.

In the 21st century, patriarchal testosterone driven 'civilization' persists in the insanity of violence for violence and we in the USA are responsible for most all of the world's manufacturing, use of, and exporting of weapons of all degrees of destruction which terrorize every innocent caught in the crossfire.

In 1999, the UN dedicated the first decade of the 21st century to Create a Culture of Nonviolence for All Children of The World.

In December 2005, I attended Holy Land Trust's Celebrating Nonviolent Solidarity Conference in the Little Town of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory. One of the workshops was sponsored by the United Network of Young Peace Builders [UNOY] the Netherlands Expertise Centre Alternatives to Violence. They informed me that in regards to the United Nations Decade of Creating a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World, America abstained from voting and is on the record in the UN as stating: "We cannot support this initiative as it will make it harder for us to wage war."

Caesar today is understood to be the Government Industrial Military Complex which would collapse in support of Peace and Nonviolence.


"Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends...I believe that as soon as people want peace in the world they can have it. The only trouble is they are not aware they can get it."-John Lennon


On July 4, 1776, our founding father's upheld that,"We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights [and] that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it." - The Declaration of Independence


The hearts and minds that require the most transformation are the ones that hold the most power; and power never gives any away without a battle.

Gandhi spoke about how personal nonviolence is not much use to society until one weds society to political action. It is not enough to speak TRUTH to power because power doesn't care; but history proves that the most hopeless situations all of a sudden just changed for the best because forces for justice had persisted and had truth on their side.

During that 2005 conference, Jeff Halper, American Israeli and Founder of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions spoke about how we all need to look at life as a play and we all have a part to take. When enough 'actors' pursue justice and persist to tell the truth and remain nonviolent, 'Caesar' will acquiesce in order to maintain power.

Also during that conference, Anglican Reverend Naim Ateek, a Palestinian refugee and founder of SABEEL [Arabic for The Way] Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, spoke about how the use of state sponsored violence corrupted the true message of Christ.

Ateek explained how Christ’s teachings and life reflected the revolutionary concept of nonviolent action and how thousands of years of not reflecting upon the fact that evil can be opposed without being mirrored, and the cycle of a ‘tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye’, never has, never will, never can bring true peace or security.

Christ taught that one must forgive and love ones enemies and one must pray for those who persecute and hate them. In a nutshell, that is what being a Christian is truly about.

Before the reign of Emperor Constantine, all the early Church Fathers taught that Christians should not serve in the army but instead willingly suffer rather than inflict harm on any other human being. St. Paul taught that the only way to resist evil is with good. Clement, Tertillian, Polycarp and every other early Church Father taught that violence contradicts Christianity.

In 313 Constantine sought to unite his empire and by legitimizing Christianity-although he waited until on his dearth bed to be baptized- many have said that was when the soul left the church. Within 100 years after Constantine, the Empire required that all soldiers in the army must be baptized as Christians and thus, the decline of Christianity began.

Augustine was the first Church Father to speak about the concept of a Just War. The Church relaxed the standards Jesus set as they negated the true teaching of Christ to justify war and thus; wrong became right, for a true Christian will always be nonviolent.

“The God of war, violence, oppression and terror must be rejected. Authentic Christianity is nonviolent and is all about peace, justice and liberation.” -Rev. Naim Ateek.

Candidate Bush claimed his favorite philosopher was Jesus, but President Bush defied the philosophy, ethics, morals and teaching of Jesus who was explicit that one must forgive to be forgiven and one must love and do only good towards one's enemies; not bomb, torture or occupy them. The problem is not with Christianity, but that too few who claim to be Christian, have actually done what Christ taught.

Dr. Mohammed Abu-Nimer from the Salam Institute of Peace and Justice [www.salaminstitute.org] lives in Washington, D.C., and he also spoke in Bethlehem, “All the Abrahamic traditions are based in nonviolence, it is our lenses that determine whether we see it. Like Christianity the concept of a Just War took root and developed after lots of discussions dealing with how to deal with believers and nonbelievers.

“The first twelve years Mohammed spent in Mecca he practiced nonviolent resistance. He was persecuted but always prayed:  ‘God forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.’

“Mohammed taught against the killing of innocents, the desecration of the environment and for the humane treatment and respect towards one’s enemies. Suicide bombings are not justified and those who try to justify it negate the early principals and teachings regarding nonviolence, the pursuit of justice, doing good, universality and human dignity, equality, that all life is sacred, to be forgiving and be a peace maker."

As with Christianity, the ideals and reality have yet to transform the hearts and minds of many followers. In explaining this gap Dr. Abu-Nimer continued, “We are quick to blame the external factors such as colonialism, war, humiliation, Zionism and economic dependency. But what we lack is looking internally for we Muslims love authority, bureaucracy, loyalty and our core government system is based on nepotism not ability. There is corruption, co-optation of religious leaders, the patriarchal structure and hierarchy, the authoritarian control system, and the tribal mentality.

“We are not raised in our culture to question authority and if you engage in nonviolence you must resist authority. Our first step is to challenge our own presumptions...We have 5,000 sayings attributed to Mohammed and 700 authentically traced. The politicalization of his teachings began the corruption of his teachings.

“Every Muslim child is exposed to positive values as well as interpretations that are narrow and exclusive. An example is: ‘We are the best nation that God sent to people.’ If we truly follow the ideals of Islam, we are, but reality is that the ideals have been corrupted by wrong actions.

“Many interpret the saying: ‘Support your brother if he is just, right or wrong’ to mean you must be loyal regardless of his actions and don’t ask questions. The true way to support one’s brother [or tribe] is to point out the error of his [their] ways; to explain to him why he is wrong, to correct but not fight.”

St. Paul expressed the same sentiment: “Do not judge the nonbeliever, but provoke one another to good works.”

Dr. Abu-Nimer concluded, "Islam was revolutionary at its time but it went backwards. There is no lack of values; the lack is in interpretation…Islam must reclaim what Mohammed put down. It is a myth to believe that the conflict between Israel Palestine can be fixed by secular methods.”

Peace is not a noun, it's a verb, for peace is who you are and what you do:

Arise then, from the voice of a devastated Earth,
With a voice in solidarity that demands Disarm! Disarm!
For the sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
And blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
At the summons of war, let all people of good will and of conscience bewail and commemorate the dead,
And may the great human family in nonviolent solidarity live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress,
NOT of Caesar; But of God.

 

1. http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq/iraqdeaths.html
2. http://
www.icasualties.org/oif/


Rev. Max B. Surjadinata is an Indonesian-American retired United Church of Christ (UCC) pastor, civil and human rights activist living in New York. He is the son of a Christian pastor who organized an underground resistance movement to the Invasion during the Japanese occupation in Indonesia during  the Second World War, and was subsequently taken prisoner and later executed by the Japanese occupational forces in 1945.

Rev. Max was active in the civil rights movement of the 1960's and was on staff of Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. He co-founded the East Timor Action Network (ETAN) and in 2005 he participated in the Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) of the World Council of Churches and lived in Ramallah, Palestine for three months. He also is a member of Friends of Sabeel North America and i
n honor of Mother's Day, sent this tribute and reflection that he wrote some years ago.

 
A Tribute to Mothers Critical Remembrances
By Rev Max B. Surjadinata

In retrospect, 1943 was a critical year in Indonesia .  We were a country at war and under Japanese occupation.  A year earlier, my father—a Protestant minister fresh out of seminary and in his first parish—had been taken prisoner for allegedly organizing resistance against the Japanese.
         
 My mother decided to move my sister Martha, my brother Peter, and me to Bogor—a town about 30 miles from Jakarta—to live with our maternal grandparents as she actively pursued ways to seek my father's release.

I remember the house, the biggest on the block, located in a narrow side-street off the main thoroughfare.  There were only six smaller houses on that street.& nbsp; A school compound across from us encompassed almost half the block.
         
 I attended kindergarten at that school.  The only vivid recollection that remains with me to this very day is that each morning we had to stand in formation to salute the Japanese flag as it was raised, while also singing the Japanese national anthem—the first two lines of which I still remember.


           Despite living in such critical times, and missing my father, it was=2 0a meaningful, indeed, a happy year—principally because of my mother’s active, loving care and protection, her strong faith and commitment.  She provided both the test and the context of a lived faith, for her children’s physical, spiritual and moral growth.  I recall those happy bedtime moments, when we would gather around her to listen to Bible stories.

           I recall how my eyes became wet with tears and how my young sister laughed at me because I so identified with Joseph when his brothers threw him into the empty pit.  I remember the deep sadness I felt as I heard how Esau sold his birthright, how moved with fear I was upon hearing the story about Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
 
          We heard stories about Jesus and his disciples, Jesus in Gethesemane praying until tears turned into blood, about the events that led him to the cross. She also told stories about the persecution of early Christians, about the strong faith of Jesus and His followers.

         I now believe that what became formative through my life was my mother’s care and nurturing love—particularly those prayers which she taught us all to pray: for an end to the war, for those in difficulties, for my grandfather (who was an alcoholic), for the release of my father—always concluding with the words, “if it be your will, O God, through Jesus  Christ our Lord.”

Thus even at an early age, I receive what I now know to be an historical sense of faith that became very decisive through my life: an understanding of faith referred to by theologian Richard Niebuhr as a primal force “in a complete central and powerful way, from the very beginning…a universally operative force that is seeking proper objects, definitions, form, shape, people”as “dependence on a value-center and as a loyalty to a cause.”

         My mother’s basic trust, her centering on meaning and values, was revealed to us as children in simple gestures such as saying grace before meals.  Mother used to express thanks to God for tiny portions of rice allotted to us, augmented by one fried egg, sprinkled with soy sauce, and divided among five people.

           I believe humor played a significant role in my life.  An ironic sense developed within me—even at the age of five—as we prayed over those simply, crummy offerings; and as afterwards I joyfully joined the older boys from the neighborhood in search of food20in the nearby soldier’s camp, scrounging around in garbage cans.

           I now realize, as I look back, saying grace before meals—even though that meal was scarce—and scrounging for food afterwards were efforts to make sense of the world.

           Also significant, it seems to me, was the fact that although I deeply felt my father’s absence (he used to take me to church—I remember standing beside him afterward as he greeted parishioners—and he used to drive me in his Model-T Ford), I continued to live with a hopeful trust.  This stems, I now believe from the fact that my mother provided what Erik Erikson describes as “trustworthy contemporary surroundings; and an all-enveloping world image typing past, present and future into a convincing pattern of providence.”

           Therefore, although childhood was full of conflicts—the Japanese occupation, the loss of my father, even the witnessing of stark brutality, cruelty, killings and public executions—it was in a strange sense of happy and peaceful time.  I believe that my mother set the stage for tranquility and happiness amidst nightmarish and turbulent realities.  I learned from her exemplary life to internalize my own faith and confidence in the future—despite an uncertain present.

 
Here's to Mother's day!

Rev. Max B. Surjadinata
 


   
 
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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
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People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
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What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
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People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

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