When I showed up at my second meeting of the Unity and Diversity Council (http://udcworld.org/), it was even better than the first. Instead of being a speaker, I got to listen. (Hence my t-shirt, "Real Men Listen.")
The UDC meets monthly to address issues of peace, economic justice and the environment from a universalist, progressive, multifaith perspective. Pictured here are Roger Eaton, yours truly (wearing my "Real Men Listen" t-shirt), Leland Stewart (founder of UDC), Margarite Spears, Randy Ziglar, Chris Gutierrez, Gary Hubertson, and Andre Graham.
We had a lively meeting, which began with Philip Freeman's presentation about the World March for Peace and Nonviolence (http://theworldmarch.org/).
Starting on October 2, 2009 (Gandhi's birthday), over 100 people will travel to 100 countries around world asking for the end of wars, the dismantling of nuclear weapons and for an end to all forms of violence (physical, economic, racial, religious, cultural, sexual and psychological).
This project is being sponsored by the Humanist Movement, but is has a decidedly interfaith approach and appeal. It has hundreds of endorsers from every imaginable background, including Desmond Tutu, Penelope Cruz, Yoko Ono, and Queen Raina of Jordan!
The plan in to engage thousands of initiatives, events and people in marches, festivals, forums, concerts, sports activities, workshops, as well as acts of civil disobedience--all for the purpose of raising consciousness about the urgent need for peace and disarmament.
It sounds like a Quaker's dream!
The first planning meeting for the local chapter of this global group will take place on Sunday, August 2, from 3:00-5:00 PM at the Santa Monica Meetinghouse, 1440 Harvard St, Santa Monica (between Santa Monica Blvd and Broadway). We will be discussing plans for local events scheduled to take place on October 2 and December 3.
This group ties in nicely with the Gandhi event that the Parliament of Religions is planning to organize at USC on October 9th. It also dovetails with the work that the LA Nuclear Disarmament Committee (LAAND) is organizing (see http://udcworld.org/).
LAAND has now finalized its plans for an August 9th event. It will begin at 3:00 PM at the Nigashi Honganji Buddhist Temple, 505 E 3rd St, where a short service will take place commemorating the bombing of Nagasaki. This will be followed by a mindful walk to City Hall.
Participants are asked to bring umbrellas (to protect themselves from nuclear weapons). Speakers include ICUJP President Steve Rohde, congressional candidate Marcy Winograd, and others tba. The event is scheduled to end around 5:00 PM. See http://laandc.org/
Speaking of events, ICUJP's big summer event is taking place on Monday:
War, Violence & Religion
Monday, July 20th, 2009, from 7:00 p.m - 9:30 p.m.
Rev. Dr. James Lawson …whom Dr. Martin Luther King called “the leading theorist and strategist on non-violence in the world”
Dr. John B. Cobb, Jr. Emeritus Professor, Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate School, Co-founder, Progressive Christians Uniting
Milia Islam-Majeed, Executive Director of the South Coast Interfaith Council, will present the Closing Prayers.
What: An important dialogue of the times and a call to action. Two historical figures of the Civil Rights Movement and Theology discuss the explosive topic of "War, Violence and Religion."Is war and violence justified by any of our Religious/Spiritual traditions when done in the service of combating oppression, tyranny, injustice or in self defense? ICUJP invites youto witness and explore these and related issues with Q & A.
(ICUJP meets every Friday Morning - 7:00-9:00 AM - same location)Where: Immanuel Presbyterian Church (side entrance)3300 Wilshire Blvd. L.A. 90010 @ Berendo St.FREE, Limited Early Bird Parking in Rear
(Alternative Parking @ UTLA Structure - Berendo St. - North of Wilshire)
One of the other delightful happenings of the day was meeting Rebecca Tobias, a passionate devotee of interfaith work who serves on the board of the Wallenberg Institute, the United Religious Initiatives, as well as other organizations. We had communicated via email about a film she is helping to promote called "Amreeka"--a comedy about a single mother who leaves the West Bank with her teenage son, with dreams of an exciting future in the promised land of small town Illinois. The film shows something rarely seen by Americans--Palestinians who aren't terrorists, but ordinary people wanting what everyone wants--a home, a family life, and a future. I am looking forward to previewing the film (you can see a trailer at http://www.amreeka.com/html
I learned good news and sad news about Rebecca. The good news is that she is getting married. The sad news is that she is moving to St Louis. This is probably good news for her, but sad news for the interfaith community in LA, which will miss this dedicated and gifted interfaith activist.
I shared with Rebecca my tribute to Kathleen and then gave her a hug and my heart-felt congratulations because I am a big supporter of marriage.
When she talked about her upcoming marriage, with that mixture of excitement and nervousness that most people feel when embarking on Life's Greatest Adventure, I could sense that hers will be a "marriage made in heaven." I expressed my wish that her marriage will be as happy as the one I enjoyed with Kathleen.
My wife used to say that if everyone's marriage was as happy as ours, there would be peace in the world.
So let world peace begin with us!