Saturday, February 22, 2020

In the Footsteps of the Freedom Riders: Housing and Land Justice and Community Land Trusts

I gave this presentation at ICUJP this Friday, Feb 21, and was pleased by the warm reception it received. It was especially nice to see Joe Chambers, of the Chambers Brothers, who showed up for this event.























At this point, we watched the powerful documentary "Arc of Justice" describing the history of New Communities. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl13ecK9bEE. I then shared about plans to start a community land trust by our nonprofit Making Housing and Community Happen.





Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Power of Prayer

A month ago, I wrote a blog entry called "Enjoy your time with God" in which I described  how I felt led to spend fifteen minutes a day in prayer  and contemplation. I'd like to report on how this practice is working in my life, but before I do so, a little personal background.

I first began meditating 30 years ago, when I became a Quaker. At that time I had just finished my Ph.D. and needed to find a practice that would help me to detach from my addiction to words and verbalism. I not only attended weekly Quaker meetings and enjoyed its silent worship, I also spent nearly a year in the Providence, RI,  Zen center learning how to meditate Zen-style. For many years, I had a regular daily practice of meditation--a combination of Zen and Christian elements. To help me overcome my ego-holism,  I would often recite the Bodhisattva vows:


"Sentient beings are numberless.I vow to save them all.Selfish desires are endless. I vow to extinguish them all.The teachings are infinite.I vow to learn them all.The way of the Buddha (and I would add, the Christ) is inconceivable.I follow to attain it."

If you take these vows too literally, they can seem unbearably  burdensome. One Zen teacher described it as like becoming  an eternal social worker. But I think the point of these vows is that what is impossible for our egoistic self, is possible if we let the benevolence of the Universe work in and through us. Then we discover we're not alone, and not individually responsible for saving the world. The world is saving itself through us, through our compassion and our willingness to serve.

In addition to saying these Buddhist vows, I would recite the Lord's prayer, which commits us to letting God or the Spirit bring about the Heavenly Kingdom, the Divine Order, the Beloved Community. "Let Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Again, saving the world is not a solo act. It's not about "me," it's about us and God. We don't have to save the world. Our job is to praise God, the God who forgives and nourishes and saves us so that we can be part of God's saving work. 

After reciting prayers such as these, I would center down into silence and let go of my daily preoccupations so that I could be open to the Divine Source of everything....

Over the years, this practice has had a beneficial effect on my soul and my conduct. Little by little, I became a more peaceful and loving person. A faithful husband, a useful and mostly kind Friend, an interfaith advocate for justice and peace. Not perfect, of course, far from it,  but a work-in-progress....

When I neglected this practice, I was like a manic-depressive who stopped taking his meds. Little by little I became more irascible, more anxious, and less fun to be around.

I received confirmation that my renewed commitment to daily meditation/prayer is working. My wife Jill notices a positive change in me and is pointing it out to others. All I can say is: Praise God! I hope others are also noticing a positive change.

Along with prayer, I am taking more time to listen to music, work in the garden, exercise and enjoy breaks from my daily activism. For example, I am writing this blog entry as I sit on our back deck overlooking our little orchard. I can see my cat sunning herself. I can see avocados and oranges ripening and if I look carefully enough, I can see buds on the bare branches of our many fruit trees: plums, peaches, apricots, pluots, and figs leafless now, but promising an abundant harvest in four or five months. Overhead the sky is blue with fluffy white clouds and a  breeze--the kind the ancients called Zephyrus--is blowing gently.The harbinger of spring, the breath of the Divine. It's good to be alive!

But prayer does more than transform us individually. It also has a collective effect. Most of my activism is faith-rooted and involves prayer. Two and half years ago, we began to hold prayer vigils on a city-owned lot called Heritage Square South that was purchased fifteen years ago with HUD money for affordable housing. The city council had left it vacant (except for a Church's Chicken) and we prayed that it would be used to house our homeless neighbors. In addition to prayer, we gathered signatures (over 1000), met with elected officials, and showed up a city council meetings. We were like the persistent widow in Jesus' parable (Luke 18: 1-8):


18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
This parable is about the need to be persistent in prayer, but it also applies to our work as activists. After a ten-month campaign, the city council unanimously agreed that 65 units of homeless housing should be built on Heritage Square South. And the Mayor recommended that the city-owned YWCA next to City Hall should be used for homeless housing. This unexpected recommendation by the mayor seemed like a divine intervention. We launched  another campaign and a year and half later, the council decided that it wants affordable housing on this site. Once again our prayers and petitions have been answered! https://laquaker.blogspot.com/2020/01/our-prayers-for-affordablehomeless.html

I often tell my fellow homeless housing advocates that our city council members are not like this unjust judge--they are all people of faith and conscience--but like this judge, they often need to be pressured to do the right thing. Advocacy takes passion and persistence and wisdom--knowing what to say at the right time to the right person in the right way, and if you're uncertain, keeping quiet. Sooner or later this kind of advocacy pays off in ways beyond what we can imagine.

Our faith-rooted advocacy is having a significant effect on our city, for which I am deeply grateful. We are not also having policy victories, we are also helping to bring about what Dr. King calls "the beloved community." We are bringing together various elements in our city that want to end homelessness and ensure that everyone is decently and affordable housed.

This is the power of prayer. That's why I love the quote from Gandhi: "Prayer from the heart can achieve what nothing else in the world can."  To let God's intention unfold on earth as it does in heaven requires that we let God's intention unfold in our hearts. For that to happen, we just need to have faith and keep on keeping on. Thanks to our faith-rooted and unrelenting efforts, the  City Council is listening, and so is our Divine Advocate, the One who inspires us to do more than we can imagine. 
Living and loving God, help me to remember You daily and be guided by your never-ending wisdom and love. Help me to remember to spend time with You each day and listen to your whisperings in my heart as  I go about my daily activities. Help me to find peace within so that I can be an instrument of your love and peace in the world. Help me not to lose faith, but to persist until Your will is done here on earth as in heaven.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Divine Advocate.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Our prayers for affordable/homeless housing at the Civic Center are being answered! Join us for our Moral Monday Vigil



You are invited to our Moral Monday vigil in front of the Julia Morgan Y (76 N Marengo St. across from the First Baptist Church) at 5 pm every Monday that the City Council is in session. That means Feb 3 and every Monday in February except  for Feb 17 and every Monday in March except for March 2. 

During this Moral Monday vigil (named after Rev. Will Barber's Moral Mondays in North Carolina), we hold up a banner advocating for homeless/affordable housing in our Civic Center, share stories and get to know each other better, and then have a time of prayer and reflection in front of the Mack and Jackie Robinson statues in front of City Hall. Eight to twelve of us gather for this very powerful time of prayer and reflection in which we pray to end homelessness in our city. We are often joined by pastors and by people who are experiencing homelessness.

The good news is that our prayers and our advocacy are making a difference. We just learned from Pasadena Now that the City Council decided in closed session to give preference to "affordable housing" at the Civic  Center. Praise God!


Although the political prospects are looking good, it is imperative that we have a huge turnout when the Civic Center comes up for a vote in February, and make sure we flood the City Council with letters.

Heritage Square South still uncertain? We prayed, held vigils and waged a ten-month campaign to convince the Council to approve 65 units of homeless senior housing on a city-owned lot on the corner of Fair Oaks and Orange Grove.  In December last year the City unanimously approved this project and we thought it was a done deal. We were just informed  that there is one more crucial step. After the Council approved a developer called Bridge Housing to come up with plans and funding for mixed use, this plan is now ready and will come up for a vote in late March. It is possible that a Council member might oppose it so we must be prepared to bring as many people as possible to the City when this comes up for a vote.

La lucha continua....or as Dr. King used to say,  the "beautiful struggle" for justice continue.... 

Thanks be to God, our efforts are having a positive effect on our city and are not going unnoticed. 

First, Alex Cordero wrote a fine article about Making Housing and Community Happen in the Pasadena Independent:  https://www.pasadenaindependent.com/community/making-housing-community-happen-celebrates-1st-anniversary-in-pasadena/ She also wrote about our Candidate Forum:  https://www.pasadenaindependent.com/news/candidates-attend-greater-pasadena-affordable-housing-group-forum/


Her words are worth ending this blog with: 

“Whether you agree with Newsom that California needs 3.5 million new units of housing, or 1.5 million, as others have argued, it should be noted that there huge need not just for housing, but for affordable housing,” Shook said. “In our city of Pasadena, for example, we are building far more deluxe units than are needed, and far fewer affordable units than are needed. Reforms like facilitating the building of accessory dwelling units (“granny flats”) are a modest step forward. But what we really need are billions in state and federal funding for low-income housing and we need legislation to ensure that a significant percentage of new housing be set aside as affordable. We don’t need 1.5 million more deluxe homes. We need affordable housing for all income levels.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Orange Grove Friends Oppose Political Assassination and War on Iran



On First Day, January 12th, 2020, Orange Grove Friends demonstrated on the corner of Los Robles and Orange Grove Boulevard using a banner from Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, an organization we often partner with. Among those present were Blake Arnold, Nina Rivinus, Kim and Alex Hopkins, Cecilia Valentine, Edie Salsbury, Betsy Janson, Jean and Cliff Lester, and Anthony Manousos. On the following week, Orange Grove Meeting approved a minute of concern that was sent to our elected officials (Rep. Judy Chu and Senators Harris and Feinstein).    

I am deeply grateful to be part of a Quaker meeting that takes our Peace Testimony seriously and stands up against war and assassination!

Here’s the text of our  minute of concern:

Consistent with our belief that there is that of God in everyone and war is not the answer, Orange Grove Meeting Friends (Quaker) Meeting stands utterly opposed to political assassination as a tool of foreign policy. Killing foreign leaders doesn’t advance the cause of peace. It has the opposite effect: it provokes retaliation and further violence. To deescalate the violence in the Middle East, we urge you to take the following 
·      Speak out publicly against this assassination and pass the resolution opposing war on Iran.  
·      Urge the President to resume negotiations with Iran and be open to reducing sanctions and making other concessions as an expression of good faith.
·      Support repealing the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which has been used by Presidents as a blank check to justify military interventions. 

FCNL Statement Regarding Iran Crisis

 “As a Quaker organization, the Friends Committee on National Legislation holds firm to the faith that war is not the answer. Our lawmakers have repeatedly failed to stop the march to war with Iran and return our nation to the path of diplomacy. This moment calls for political courage.
“The House and Senate have introduced bills, H.R. 2354 and S. 1039, that would ensure the president cannot take military action against Iran without congressional authorization – except in response to an attack on America or its armed forces.”

FCLN also urges us to contact our elected officials to let support the War Powers Resolution and Congressman Ro Khanna’s bill to defund any military action against Iran: HR 5543.. You may decide to support these bills, or to opt for opposing war on Iran for any reason.

Senator Kamala Harris: 11845 West Olympic Boulevard, Suite 1250W Los Angeles, CA 90064. Phone (310) 231 - 4494. Email: https://www.harris.senate.gov/contact
Senator Dianne Feinstein: 11111 Santa Monica Blvd #915, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Phone: (310) 914-7300. Email: https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me
Representatiive Judy Chu: 527 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

You can also contact elected officials via fcnl.org.




Can A Building Be Born Again to Help Save the Earth?




FCNL office after being renovated as a "green building." Photo compliments of Friends Journal.

Soon after Jill and I started our new life as a married couple in 2001, we went on a Quaker tour of the East Coast, visiting Friends Center and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) office in Philadelphia, Fallsington (a quaint Quaker village near the upper Delaware River), a Quaker center for study and contemplation called Pendle Hill, and finally the office of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) in Washington, DC There we were warmly welcomed and proudly shown around by their chief lobbyist and my old friend Jim Cason.

Jim told us about how FCNL had occupied these offices at 245 Second Street NE since 1959, when FCNL purchased and refurbished a Civil Warera row house and former grocery store down the block from the Senate Hart Building. Forty years later, in 1999, FNCL began a renovation that could also be described a rebirth.

FCNL not only seeks to end war, it also seeks “an earth restored” by advocating for environmental legislation.

We seek a world free of war and the threat of war.
We seek a society with equity and justice for all.
We seek a community where every person’s potential may be fulfilled.
We seek an earth restored.
--Mission statement of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

This is a profoundly spiritual mission, grounded in our Quaker belief that there is that of God in everyone, including all living beings. Guided by Spirit, FCNL made its office a model of green building—a “Place Just Right” (to use a phrase from the old Shaker hymn).  In fact, FNCL became the first LEEDcertified green building on Capitol Hill. [LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system.]

Jim proudly told us about its environmentally friendly features: a sedumcovered green roof that absorbs rainwater and heat (and can be seen from atop the nearby Hart Senate building); bamboo floors, a material far easier to replenish than traditional hardwood; and energyefficient windows that, unlike those of most office buildings, can be opened to let in fresh air. The building is heated and cooled by a geothermal system that helps stabilize the building temperature throughout the seasons and reduces the need for fossil fuels.
Jill and I were blown away by how FNCL put its faith into practice. We felt this was truly a spiritual as well as architectural transformation. We were especially impressed by the symbolism of “light scoops”:

[FCNL’s] rooftop “light scoop” both conserves energy by bringing daylight into the core of the building and serves as a visual representation of the Inner Light. Walking into the building, FCNL staff and visitors are reminded of the importance of looking for the Light within all.” [Beth Hendricks, Friends Journal, Aug 1, 2016.]

Jill and I came back to Pasadena profoundly inspired by what we had seen and decided to follow FCNL’s example. We installed a “light scoop” in our living room (not far from where we have our “prayer chair” and meditate). We installed a “cool roof” on our home that conserves energy. We installed solar panels and a gray water system. We replaced our turf with decomposed granite and drought-resistant plants.

As we embarked on this adventure in green living, our home felt as if it were “born again,” to use a phrase from the Gospel of John (3:3).

Being “born again” is a joyful experience, like having a baby, and we wanted to share our renewed home with friends and neighbors. We gave tours for hundreds of people who have gone away inspired by what we have accomplished: we have reduced our electrical use by over 80% and our water use by over 50% and we are living more abundantly than ever.  We have over two dozen fruit trees and a vegetable garden that yield hundreds of pounds of fruit and vegetables each year. Every season of the year yields us a rich harvest of food as well as flowers that adorn our home.

Can a building be reborn? I believe it can, because Spirit is present everywhere and in everything. As we find new and fun ways to be eco-friendly, our reborn home feels more in harmony with the earth and with our neighbors. But we feel that this is just a beginning. We’d like to see our whole city reborn as a green city, and our nation reborn as a green nation, as an example to the rest of the world. That’s what FCNL means by an “earth restored.” Restoring the earth takes work, and it takes advocacy.

In addition to making our home eco-friendly, we support groups that advocate for environmental justice like FCNL, the Citizens Climate Lobby and the Sierra Club. We also support the environmental cause through our affordable housing advocacy work. It is a little known fact that affordable housing is some of the most eco-friendly housing in the US because of funding requirements. For example, Teague Terrace in Eagle Rock—a special needs permanent supportive housing development where I took groups as part of a Homeless to Housed Bus Tour—is LEED-certified, with passive and active solar power on the roof. Kaupuni Village, an affordable housing complex in Hawaii, is “net-zero”—it produces as much energy as it consumes!

On our property, we have addressed both the housing as well as the environmental crisis by inviting a formerly homeless man live in our back house. Over the years he has become a very dear friend as well as a much appreciated handyman. When things get broken, he fixes them. He also takes care of our animals and plants. He makes us laugh with his puns,  challenges us with his radical political views, and takes part in our weekly Bible study. We can’t imagine living without him!

Friend Vahe shared with me a passage from the prophet Isaiah describing how our lives become like a “watered garden” when we open our hearts and our homes to those in need:

If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light will go forth in the darkness, and your night will be like noonday. The LORD will always guide you; He will satisfy you in a sun-scorched land and strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58: 10-11)

This passage speaks to our condition. Our home has become not simply a place to live or an investment. It is a place of hope, a “watered garden,” a “small plot of heaven” (to use a phrase from the Quaker sociologist Elise Boulding). For us, this is what Jesus meant when he told Nicodemus about being “born anew”: to live faithfully, with gratitude to our Creator,  and to catch of a glimpse of the Divine, right in one’s own home and back yard!

Candidates Forum at Orange Grove Meeting Focusing on Affordable/Homeless Housing Fills the Meetinghouse



Starting around 5:45 pm on Tuesday, January 21, people started pouring into the Orange Grove Friends Meetinghouse until every bench and every chair was filled. People filled the social hall as well as our worship space! Between 120-150 people attened, the largest public event at our Meeting that I have ever seen, as you can see from this  picture. The Pasadena Now has an article about it:



We created a booklet of the candidates' responses to our question and posted them online:https://makinghousinghappen.net/2020/01/21/where-the-candidates-stand-on-affordable-homeless-housing/ 

Jill made everyone laugh when she told them that District 1 Councilmember Tyron Hampton wanted her support when he ran for office and she gave him a 10 question quiz. He answered 8 questions "correctly" and she supported him. "But what's most important," Jill added, "is that he actually did what he promised to do. Now that candidates have written down and expressed their views, we can hold them accountable."

This was a lesson that everyone heard and I hope took to heart.

Thirteen of the 15 candidates took part. (One candidate is running unopposed and another just spaced out.) 
From left, Ryan Bell, Steve Madison, Tamerlin Godley, Gene Masuda,
 Char Bland, Felicia Williams (hidden from view), the moderator, Tricia Keane,
Kevin Litwin, Major Williams, Victor Gordo, and Terry Tornek.
Photo courtesy Ryan Bell via Twitter and published in Pasadena No
w


Many of the candidates thanked and spoke appreciatively of GPAHG, but I was particularly touched by Gene Masuda. He and his wife Joan are Japanese Americans and they were thrilled to be in a Quaker meetinghouse. They couldn't say enough good things about Quakers! I told them to speak to Phil Way since his Mom and Dad were among those Quakers who did the most to help Japanese Americans.

I welcomed people to the Forum and shared with them some of the history of our Meeting and our Quaker faith and practice.

Welcome to our Quaker meeting house. As you can see, it’s very simple: no religious trappings. We don’t have a pastor or set order of worship. We come together here to worship in silence, guided by the Spirit, and speak only when we feel led by the Spirit. Our meetinghouse was built in 1907 and is one of the oldest church buildings in our city. Quakers have been committed to peace and justice work for 350 years, and our Meeting has a special concern for housing justice and immigration

Jill spoke about the history of GPAHG and mentioned that GPAHG was birthed in the AFSC office in the early 1990s. 

We were pleased that several of the candidates support rent control and almost all  of the candidates expressed support for permanent supportive housing and commercial development at the Civic Center.

Our work is grounded in our Quaker faith that there is “that of God” in everyone, including elected officials we sometimes disagree with. An important element of this kind of activity is building relationships. People had a chance to meet and greet candidates at the end for around 45 minutes. People were excitedly discussing housing issues in a way that brought joy to our hearts as housing justice advocates. 

I feel we are putting into practice what I learned in my FCNL training as an advocate. I use that training to train other in how to approach our elected officials with the goal not just of persuading them, but also of listening and being open to hearing their viewpoint. Our ultimate goal, I explain to our advocates, is to create what Dr. King calls "The Beloved Community." I feel that the Beloved Community came to our Meeting house during this Forum.

I give God all the thanks and praise for what God is accomplishing through us. I also want to thank Orange Grove Meeting for your support and encouragement!  The words of Jesus come to mind: "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (John 15:11)



Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Enjoy your time with God!

Being an activist can be stressful, and starting a nonprofit adds to that stress. We're often up till midnight preparing for meetings, writing talking points, and planning our strategies. Each day brings new challenges.

I enjoy and am grateful for this deeply fulfilling work, but I found myself getting so stressed that I was becoming testy and forgetful and "not myself." I realized that my life was out of balance and considered going back into therapy. But God had a different plan.

During the Christmas service at First Baptist Church, Pastor John Jay talked about the desert monks of the early church and how a young monk had gone to an elder to ask for a "Word." By a "Word," he meant God's word for his life, a word of wisdom and direction. The elder monk replied, "Go to your cell and pray. There you will find your Word." This Quakerly advice from a Baptist spoke to my condition!

That night I was restless and couldn't sleep so I went into the living room to pray. I felt a lot of pain and confusion--the residues of too much work and not enough time to rest and reflect and process. Then my "angel of insomnia" spoke to me with a simple message: Meditate for 15 minutes each day. That was all, no more, no less. A gracious, not an onerous command. My heart said: I can do this!

I take such commands seriously. Ten years ago, I gave up alcohol and meat because I felt that was what God was calling me to do. Twenty years ago, God called me to fast during Ramadan and I have done so. I have tried to follow these commands faithfully and my life has improved as a result.

So I have been taking 15 minutes each day to meditate. I sit in my "prayer chair," read the Methodist Bible readings from the Daily Discipline, and also the daily passage from Sarah Young's Christian meditation classic  Jesus Calling. Then I set my timer and meditate for 15 minutes.  It's that simple.

I can't begin to describe how comforting this time of reflection has become. I look forward to it every day. It's like receiving a visit from one's Beloved. I now feel more in touch with myself and my Inner Guide. And I feel less stressed and more attentive to others.

It's an obvious truth, but we need to be reminded of it : exercise, whether physical or spiritual, makes a difference.

I also started a daily exercise program--10 minutes or so of Chi Gong and push ups every day. Chi Gong is a Chinese system of exercise that involved coordinating breathing (chi energy) with slow movements, like Tai Chi. I started doing Chi Gong 11 years ago when my wife Kathleen and I went on our cancer journey together. Chi Gong is a wonderful way to reduce stress and increase bodily awareness and fitness. I usually play meditation music as I do my Chi Gong movement.

When I started push ups in December, I was so out of shape  I could barely do 25. Now I do around 60.  As a result, my muscle tone has improved and I am feeling much better physically.

I am having similar results with my spiritual exercises, though they are harder to quantify. I am writing this blog as a note to myself to continue this practice, and hopefully encourage others to do likewise, if you find yourself stressed.

Yesterday, I missed my morning devotion because I had to get the an oil change. While waiting, I decided to go across the street to an Armenian church to see if I could find a place to meditate. I went to the office and the church secretary told me I could meditate in the lobby.

It was quiet and peaceful and I was meditating silently when a man came out of another office, saw me and  said in a friendly voice: "Can I help you? Are you waiting for someone?"

I told him I was waiting for an oil change and taking time to pray.

He smiled and said, "Enjoy your time with God."

I smiled back, and then settled back to meditating, feeling once again a sense of joy and peace and connectedness.

I hope you find time to enjoy being with God, the source of your life and happiness.

For those of you who value science (as I do), this article describes 12 science-based  benefits of meditation.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation#section2

Friday, January 3, 2020

End Endless War: Close Guantanamo and Pursue Diplomacy, Not War, in the Middle East


ICUJP members with Carly Towne of Code Pink (in pink, of course)
Yesterday I was shocked, but not surprised, that our unpredictable and incompetent Commander in Chief reacted impulsively to the escalating violence in Iraq and has risked plunging our country, and the world,  into a catastrophic war.  The assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, a high-ranking member of the Iranian government, could lead to a war between the United States and Iran, and even World War III. A breaking news report indicates that 3,000 American troops are being sent to the Middle East in response to this growing threat. 
After an excellent presentation by Carley Towne of Code Pink, I worked with my friends at ICUJP to prepare a statement that can help avert such a war.  We encourage you to speak out against this extra-judicial killing and the threat of war by signing an online petition at https://www.codepink.org/noiranwar_old
Also call, email or write your elected officials directly urging them to support the bipartisan legislation  “Unconstitutional War with Iraq." When you contact Senators Feinstein and Harris, please feel free to use text from our public statement  (see below) as talking points.
·        Senator Kamala Harris: 11845 West Olympic Boulevard, Suite 1250W Los Angeles, CA 90064. Phone (310) 231 - 4494. Email: https://www.harris.senate.gov/contact
·        Senator Dianne Feinstein: 11111 Santa Monica Blvd #915, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Phone: (310) 914-7300. Email: https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me
You can also contact elected officials via fcnl.org.

Please also come to the Federal Building, 300 N Los Angeles St, 91102, on Jan 10, 2020, from 9:15-10:30 am for our CLOSE GUANTANAMO NOW event. See icujp.org for more info. 
ICUJP Statement to Our Elected Officials
After 9/11, the United States responded to a terrorist attack on our country by retaliating with endless wars in the Middle East and other parts of the world that have caused millions of deaths, displaced tens of millions of refugees, cost trillions of dollars, and made our nation and the world considerably less safe. As people of faith and conscience, we have not only opposed these endless and futile wars, we have also opposed the indefinite and unwarranted detention and torture of political prisoners at Guantanamo and CIA “black sites.”

Consistent with our belief that “religious communities must stop blessing war and violence,” we stand utterly opposed to political assassination as a tool of foreign policy. Killing foreign leaders doesn’t advance the cause of peace. It has the opposite effect: it provokes retaliation and further violence.

The current violence in Iraq is a result of our misguided decision to use force instead of diplomacy to try to resolve political conflicts in the Middle East. 

For this reason, we call upon our elected officials to speak out publicly and pass a resolution opposing the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, a high-ranking member of the Iranian government.   This assassination will further exacerbate tensions in the Middle East and perpetuate the cycle of violence. A breaking news report indicates that 3,000 troops are being sent to the Middle East in response to this threat. 

This dangerous escalation of violence can be seen as a direct consequence of abandoning the Iran Nuclear Agreement that was negotiated by the Obama administration and supported by the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, and  the European Union. Our withdrawal from this multi-national Agreement was unwise. We urge our elected officials to resume negotiations with Iran and be open to reducing sanctions and making other concessions as an expression of good faith.

We are concerned that this extra-judicial killing could lead to war between the United States and Iran and possibly even a World War. World War I was triggered by political assassination. Assassinating a high-ranking government official can be seen as an act of war and would be considered as such if a comparable American official were assassinated by a foreign power. We feel strongly that Congress needs to reaffirm its opposition to war on Iran, and also support repealing the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which has been used by Presidents as a blank check to justify military interventions.