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Spring: A New Beginning

Dick Bernard
March 11, 2007

Not to be missed:
Sunday March 18 1 pm Uptown Minneapolis (Hennepin and Lagoon): Anti-War Protest
Monday March 19 7 pm St. Joan of Arc 4537 3rd Ave S Minneapols: Paul Loeb speaking on "How to Stay Inspired for the Long Haul".

The two above events are, in my view, perfect "twins" for a new beginning, a new spring. It would be nice if neither were necessary; it is a reality that both are necessary. One continues a sad witness to the disaster that discerning people knew would be result of the Iraq War, and the Terrorism it spawned, not diminished; the other is an opportunity to recharge the batteries, as Paul Loeb's book titles suggest: "The Impossible Will Take a Little While", and "Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time".

Being Witness is not an easy task, but it is essential. A friend spotted this 1968 quote of Hubert Humphrey recently, and it says it all about those of us who quietly labor for peace and justice in this world of ours: "What you do, what each of us does, has an effect on the country, the state, the nation, and the world." This quote mirrors the comments of Reps. Keith Ellison and Tim Walz and Sen. Amy Klobuchar at at the Town Hall Forum on Darfur March 11. Walz noted the need for the public to "keep the pressure on"; Ellison, said "Politicians see the light when they feel the heat". Klobuchar recited the timeless truth recited in every speech given by Lutheran minister and German dissident Martin Niemoeller after his release from long imprisonment in Germany after the Nazis were defeated in WWII. "When they came for the Socialists, I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist...Then...Then...Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me." (As I recall, Niemoeller was early viewed as a troublemaker by the Reich; he was too prominent a cleric to be killed; and too outspoken to be 'loose on the streets', so by the end of the 1930s he was imprisoned and thus, they felt, rendered harmless.)

Being Witness is not an easy task, but it is essential.

Recently we saw the justly acclaimed film, Sweet Land, a low budget but beautiful story about life and relationships in World War I-era rural Minnesota. In many respects, it could be said to mirror today's domestic and international quandaries in which the United States finds itself.

There is one particularly powerful scene in the film that seems to fit Peace and Justice laborers in the often uncomfortable, discouraging and seemingly unrewarded vineyard of Peace and Justice work.

In the scene, the main character in the film, a small farmer, has just bid $7000 to buy the foreclosed and up-for-auction farm of his friend and neighbor He has bid far more than the worth of the farm to protect for his friend from hard-hearted people whose only interest is the money it will bring. His only interest is saving his friends land,

He admits, after making the winning bid, that he doesn't have the money to cover his bid, and the local banker callously allows that if he doesn't come up with all of the money within the next 24 hours his land will be foreclosed as well...and his land, the banker allows, is the better property.

During the night, there is a knock on his door. When he opens the door, he sees many of his neighbors. Hardly a word is spoken, and a pile of money, the $7000 needed to pay for the farm, is given to him. Suddenly one courageous individual becomes only one member of an entire community, united, all sharing their meager resources to protect their neighbor.

Of course, Sweet Land is just a movie. But within its simple beautiful story there are many metaphors, I think, for the Peace and Justice movement.

The movie scene describes, at least to my way of thinking, both the role and the power of community, when once it decides to come together on a common mission. It defines possibility in the face of impossibility; it challenges the seeming overwhelming power of 'money talks' in the contemporary political and economic conversation in this country. It says that Power can be bested if less powerful Individuals have the necessary Will and Determination.

It says, vividly, that diverse people with diverse interests can and do make a difference when they believe they can make a difference, and share their talents and resources towards a common goal. It says that individuals are essential to success; but success only comes with community effort and persistence, which might take a long, long time, and might involve considerable personal risk.

Sunday afternoon, March 18, beginning in Uptown Minneapolis, we will hopefully see abundant visual evidence of the feelings of the twin cities community towards the War on Iraq, officially beginning its 4th year, but ongoing long before that. We will know at least to some degree that there has been a lot of work by individuals behind this singular event on a downtown Minneapolis street, but most of these people will be in the background, largely unrecognized.

"Show us what they can do", people might be saying about Sunday afternoon, but the results in this case will be the bodies who choose to leave the comfort of home for a few Sunday afternoon hours, regardless of the weather. We'll be there. I hope you'll be, too.

Fortuitously, the next evening, Monday, March 19, at St. Joan of Arc, speaker Paul Loeb will help give us some context for hanging in there against what can seem to be insurmountable odds. MAP is among the co-sponsors for his visit here. More about him at:

This will be my first time to hear Paul Loeb in person. All reports I have is that he is an outstanding motivational speaker, in demand with groups. We are very fortunate to have him here.

If your 'batteries' badly need 'recharging' in these discouraging times, Paul Loeb may be just the charge you need.

See you Sunday...and Monday, too.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 13, 2007 6:15 AM.

The previous post in this blog was PEACEs.

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