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November 29, 2006

Jesus Hurtado

Monday evening before Thanksgiving 2006 the phone rang at my home, and a man introduced himself to me, and said he’d like to share with me a proposal about bringing the troops home from Iraq.

He sounded sincere, and I agreed to meet with him the next morning at Resource Center of the Americas.

Jesus Hurtado was his name, and when I got to the Resource Center, I met him: a neatly dressed articulate gentleman with a very noticeable Spanish accent.

He gave me his proposal (short form accessible here; and longer form here). I read it later, and it is a proposal not unlike millions of other proposals we have variously formulated in our heads: ideas about disengaging from an awful and unproductive conflict.

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December 4, 2006

More on Jesus Hurtado

Jesus Hurtado on December 3, 2006A few days ago I posted (below) comments about a memorable meeting Nov 21 with a man, Jesus Hurtado, who had participated in the 1989 Hunger Strike at the Cathedral of St. Paul.


Dec 3, we had a small (6 people) but excellent meeting with the man, Jesus Hurtado. It included one other of the other 1989 Hunger Strikers, Jerry Rau, and we had a rich discussion.

We agreed to reconvene on January 17, 2007, at St. Joan of Arc.

Jesus provided the Hunger Strikers Summary of their 19 day Strike at the St. Paul Cathedral. It is accessible here.

There are lessons to be learned from the 1989 Strike which apply directly to today’s Peace Movement. There is a serious need to take a new look at tactics and strategies to achieve attention toward Peace in this century.

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January 19, 2007

Cindy Sheehan, and the Season for Nonviolence

“I now believe that the potential destructiveness of modern weapons totally rules out the possibility of war ever again achieving a negative good. If we assume that mankind has a right to survive, then we must find an alternative to war and destruction. In our day of space vehicles and guided ballistic missiles, the choice is either nonviolence or nonexistence.”

Martin Luther King Jr, in Strength to Love, 1963

Coincidence brought the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers to invite Cindy Sheehan to address Minnesota-area peace advocates on January 30, and then, two months later, to learn about and strongly endorse the 10th annual international Season for Nonviolence. The Season begins on January 30, the anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi (1948), and ends on April 4, the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr (1968).

The two ideas came from separate individuals, at separate times.

I can think of no better coincidence than Cindy speaking here on the very day the Season for Nonviolence begins. In the ultimate (and tragic) irony, Cindy’s son, Casey, was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004, which is the last day of the Season, and the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jrs death in Memphis..

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March 27, 2007

Paul Loeb and Faith Kidder: The Unsung Hero

April 1, 2007

Paul Loeb came with a dose of inspiration on March 19, and the over 100 of us who came likely left with a bit more hope that despite sometimes depressing thoughts, and unmet expectations, about the fruits of our labors, we are making a difference.

PaulLoeb-Mar-19-07.jpg
As he talked, I kept thinking of Faith Kidder. More on that in a moment.

Loeb, nationally known speaker and author (Soul of a Citizen: The Impossible Will Take a Little While) told stories of people who made a big difference without even intending to.

Take Rosa Parks...and Martin Luther King, for instance. Everyone knows their role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Civil Rights movement. Loeb did not focus on them, however. Why did Rosa Parks finally take action, and who got Rosa Parks involved, he asked? At the time she refused to give up her seat, she was apparently secretary of the local NAACP, and it was apparently her husband who had gotten her interested in involvement with the NAACP. And who got Rosa Parks husband involved, Paul asked? At this point, that's a key, but unanswered, and probably unanswerable question.

As for MLK: just by chance he happened to be a new pastor in town at the time the bus boycott began, and was pressed into leadership, probably against his better judgement at the time. He didn't rush into leadership; he was called to leadership. (King's feeling at the time, in his own words, is quoted in my posting in this space for January 29, 2007, Cindy Sheehan and Season for Nonviolence).

Loeb mentioned a number of other examples: some people of prominence, others we've never heard of, who against all odds made a difference.

And I kept thinking of Faith Kidder.

Without Faith's vision and persistence, we would not have had the opportunity to hear Paul Loeb on March 19. She had seen an essay of his that she really liked, and found his website
http://www.paulloeb.org , and while browsing the site noticed that Loeb had a small opening in his schedule between two midwest engagements. Faith, being Faith, decided to go for it, and lobbied a skeptical Paul Loeb until he was convinced that she, working strictly as an individual, could actually pull together an event worth his time and effort. From his telling, it was several weeks before he decided to take the risk and commit to a program sponsored by an individual he didn't know, who couldn't guarantee much of anything. His reluctance made a lot of sense. Faith didn't quit. I think Paul was glad he came to Minneapolis for the unplanned engagement.

I hardly know Faith, but I know her well enough from other events she's organized to know that when she sets out to do something, she quietly and persistently and effectively gets it done.

So...Paul Loeb spoke to over 100 of us on March 19. He's the one in the photo. But the one who really deserves the credit is the person out of sight in the background, who invested most of the effort, and stayed out of the spotlight, Faith Kidder.

The heroes in this movement, Faith and many others, are and will almost without question be the unsung ones...mostly invisible in the background doing what needs to be done. They may never truly realize the difference that they're making, or made, but they certainly do make all the difference, and they're all around us.

Thanks, Faith, for making what seemed impossible, possible, giving we casual bystanders an inspirational evening March 19.

November 5, 2007

Lynn Elling: A Million Copies Made: Visioning a New Declaration of World Citizenship

I don't know why Ed McCurdy chose the line "a million copies made" for his circa 1950 peace anthem, "Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream".

Nor do I know why John Denver especially liked that song (a 1971 rendition performed by him on the U.S. Capitol steps is 'front and center' at amillioncopies.info.)

All I know is that I heard Lynn Elling lead us in singing the song back in the spring of 2007; and that the lyric "A million copies made" has stuck with me.

Who is this Lynn Elling? And what does he have to do with peace and justice?

Plenty.

As a young LST (Landing Ship Tank) officer in WWII, Lynn Elling saw the horrors of War closeup in the South Pacific, at places like Tarawa.

After the war Elling entered the insurance and financial planning business, becoming very successful in the profession. But early in his post-war career, he was discouraged and almost quit. At a critical point in his early professional life, a workshop leader, Maxwell Maltz (Psycho Cybernetics) unlocked the door to Lynn's future success. Maltz taught that if one could visualize a goal in technicolor, 3-dimensions and stereophonic sound, the goal could be achieved. Elling listened, and followed Maltz's advice, and it worked.

But Elling never forgot what he'd seen and experienced on that LST in the south Pacific in WWII.

Assorted experiences after WWII, including service in the Korean conflict and visiting Hiroshima in 1954, and opportunities to meet with and get to know people like Thor Heyerdahl (Kon Tiki), Norman Cousins, and many others, led to Lynn's life long passion to build a culture of Peace and World Citizenship. Mentors like Minneapolis business executive Stanley Platt and former Minnesota Governor Elmer L. Andersen encouraged Lynn in his efforts.

His enduring monument is World Citizen, Inc. (www.peacesites.org). World Citizen is a member of Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP).

Lynn's passion for peace culminated in a remarkable achievement in the spring of 1971 when 26 prominent leaders, including all notable Minnesota Republicans and Democrats, and then-UN Secretary General U Thant, signed a declaration of World Citizenship whose major proviso recognized
"the sovereign right of our citizens to declare that their citizenship responsibilities extend beyond our state and nation. We hereby join with other concerned people of the world in a declaration that we share in this world responsibility and that our citizens are in this sense citizens of the world. We pledge our efforts as world citizens to the establishment of permanent peace based on just world law and to the use of world resources in the service of man and not for his destruction."

Coming as it did during the darkest times of the Vietnam War, the 1971 bi-partisan Declaration is remarkable. Similar declarations were entered into in several other states and many communities.

In 1971, the Vietnam War raged on. It was difficult for most Americans to visualize an end to the deadly conflict. For those old enough to remember, the late 1960s and early 1970s was a time of deep division in this country. American youth were dying by the thousands in southeast Asia, as were millions of fellow world citizens in southeast Asian countries.

(See http://www.amillioncopies.info for a photo of and more information about the entire declaration, which includes the signatures of all its very prominent signers , as well as Lynn's current proposal, and photos of Lynn from the time of WWII and Korea. Also accessible at the website is a 1972 film, "Man's Next Giant Leap", whose purpose was Peace Education.)

In 1982, Lynn founded World Citizen, Inc http://www.peacesites.org; and in 1994 he co-founded the Nobel Peace Prize Festival at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Both still endure (the link to the Peace Prize Festival is accessible at peacesites.org.)

As so often happens, after a flurry of attention the remarkable 1971 declaration literally ended up in a closet, its immense significance unnoticed by later generations.

Lynn Elling never forgot the 1971 declaration and in the spring of 2007 put it back on the table with a proposed update to fit the present day. Lynn is grateful to Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, who prepared the current proposal.

Today, of course, we are confronted by circumstances even more compelling and troubling than visited the U.S. and the world in 1971.

Today war is almost an abstract reality for many of us, something that seems to have no apparent negative consequences for us, mostly affecting people we'll never see face-to-face, with fewer of 'our own' dying in places far away, no military draft facing young people, our war financed on a national credit card for our grandchildren to pay.

In a real sense we are playing a deadly video game. Additionally, we are beset with other potentially calamitous problems ignored at our peril. No longer can we pretend that our problems are confined to some other place far away, or even controllable by our own will. We are vulnerable in a way that we do not want to understand.

There has never been a greater need for world citizenship than there is today.

When Lynn secured his last signature on the 1971 declaration, achieving mastery in the space race was still a priority. Today, our very survival as human beings is rooted on what is happening on our own planet in all ways: human relationships, resource depletion, increasing inequities between peoples, climate change...the list goes on and on. Today's priority must be right here on the sphere we call home - the earth. We are part of the global community; isolation and domination are no longer options.

Lynn Elling deserves immense credit and admiration for not only his accomplishment in 1971, but for reigniting the issue for today's world.

Thanks, Lynn, for all you've done.

To all of you, stay tuned as we "retool and refuel" Lynn's dream and take it, as he likes to say, "to the stratosphere".

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Dick Bernard Venturing in the People category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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