[Catalyst #24] Citizen Lobbying for Peace and Justice
By Stephen Dinan, founder and CEO of The Shift Network
The Shift Network is committed to personal transformation and inspired action. This means each of us marries our inner work with practical steps to improve the lives of others.
I am passionate about fully participating in and helping to evolve democracy; engaged citizenship is an essential tool for creating a better world. It is far too easy to be cynical and to take democratic processes for granted. All we have to do is look at the violence in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to remember the value of functioning democracies.
You will see from our two articles below that it was quite a wonderful experience. We hope our stories will inspire you to engage your local and national political figures, whatever country you may be in, to create the conditions for peace over the long haul. And that next year you’ll join us and FCNL in Washington, DC, November 12–15, 2015!
In this edition, we also have an article by Diane Randall, the Executive Secretary of The Friends Committee on National Legislation, about FCNL's 71-year history of practical and effective approaches to lobbying for peace. We want to thank Diane and the FCNL team for the great care they took in preparing us and 430 other citizens for lobbying and their tireless work on Capitol Hill.
We also have a video and report from Steve Killelea and Vision for Humanity. Their Institute of Economics & Peace creates the annual Global Peace Index, Global Terrorism Index and other incredible reports about the state of peace in the world and the economic and social impact from the lack of peace. By understanding these larger global trends we can be better informed to support legislation that creates lasting infrastructures of peace and addresses the root causes of violence.
Our good friend Dot Maver wrote a thoughtful response to the crisis in Ferguson. Dot points to practical ways that we all can support constructive peacebuilding efforts in difficult situations.
We are thrilled that Lindsey Halvorson, a student at American University and the daughter of Shift Network’s Holly Woods, submitted an article about her experience in joining members of the Rosebud Sioux Nation to lobby against the Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipeline was defeated in the U.S. Senate last week by one vote. Hereditary Chief Phil Lane, Jr., who hosted the Global Indigenous Wisdom Summit, said it was a momentous victory for Indigenous Peoples, all of humanity and Mother Earth. (See Member Profile)
We are also delighted to feature a video and article from our good friends at UPLIFT 2014. We highly encourage you to participate in their upcoming global event December 11–14, either in Byron Bay, Australia or by live stream.
Finally, our featured artist Jenny Bird comes to us from Mirabai Starr. Like Mirabai, Jenny is a mystic and she brings to life her spiritual depth and love for nature through intoxicating, passionate music. (See Featured Artist)
Born as a festival of transformation in Byron Bay, Australia in 2012, UPLIFT has rapidly evolved into a global movement of inspired co-creation, drawing together visionary leaders in science, health, spirituality, creativity, indigenous wisdom, conscious activism and sustainability to discover what infinite possibilities emerge when we bring our gifts and passions together for the higher good of all. Welcome! To learn more, click here.
Even though I consider myself an engaged citizen and active participant in politics, I had never been to visit one of our elected officials' Washington, DC offices.
That's partially because something felt intimidating about it. The powerful debates of Congress that do so much to shape our future both domestically and globally always felt impenetrable, something that happens on CNN rather than something I can directly affect.
That changed in a wonderful way last week when I and my wife attended the Friends Committee on National Legislation's annual conference, where 430 people (including 50+ non-Quakers) from 41 states engaged in more than 200 visits to their members of Congress.
From my office window across the street from the United States Senate offices on Capitol Hill, I watch the ins and outs of as lobbyists and elected officials go about their daily business here in Washington, DC. At the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), we work directly in the business of influencing policymakers. But our lobbying is in the interest of our heart and soul's yearning for a better world as we work to convince lawmakers to support legislation that advances peace and justice . . . [read more]
As people all over the country take to the streets following the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, one thing is imminently and painfully clear. There is serious unrest and dissatisfaction at the heart of the US citizenry regarding the very system that was designed to keep people safe and secure. And the USA is not alone. All over the world we are recognizing the need for systemic change as we experience an all-systems crisis.
In response to the protests of the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, Molly Rowan Leach, host of Restorative Justice on the Rise, and contributor to Kosmos Journal, shares:
"MLK Jr once said that a riot is the upswell of unheard voices. Restorative justice is foundationed in mutual respect and a safe place for all voices to be heard, regardless of the pitch of the crime...." To read more, click here.
"Terrorism doesn't arise on its own; by identifying the factors associated with it, long term policies can be implemented to improve the underlying environment that nurtures terrorism. The most significant actions that can be taken are to reduce state-sponsored violence, reduce group grievances and hostilities, and improve effective and community-supported policing." —Steve Killelea
Terrorism has become a global phenomenon, with a 61% increase in the number of people killed in terrorist attacks over the last year. The 2014 Global Terrorism Index measures the impact of terrorism in 162 countries according to the number of terrorist attacks, fatalities, injuries and property damage. The research shows that 82% of all those killed in terrorist attacks last year were in just five countries. Find out more and get the facts on terrorism.
To read the Global Terrorism Index, click here . . . [read more]
Last week, I had the privilege of attending a lobbying-training event with 430 other Quakers and non-Quakers at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a 71-year old Quaker public policy organization located strategically across from the Senate Hart building in Washington, DC.
We were there just in time to focus our efforts on supporting diplomacy to secure a nuclear-deal with Iran — one which will prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and a potential new war in the region . . . [read more]
I grew up in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, the snow peaks of the Colorado Rockies. I learned from the mountains, from the snow, from the aspen trees, from the rivers, of the precious value that our Earth holds. I also learned that our beautiful Earth is endangered from the human fueled environmental degradation and the effect of a changing climate. Protecting my homeland was the reason I had to leave, insistent that I gain the knowledge necessary to go back and work for its survival, for all our survival. I chose to leave and come to study at American University in Washington, DC . . . [read more]
Film screenings of Awake: The Life of Yogananda are being extended in Theaters across the United States. To find a showing near you or to arrange for a screening, click here. (The filmmakers were interviewed in the Summer of Peace, the recording is available for free.)
UPLIFT 2014 has been called the 'Visionary TED' and 'a new paradigm in conscious events'. From December 11–14, 2014 you will be able to experience 4 days of inspiring visionary content with speakers like Patch Adams, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Bruce Lipton, Charles Eisenstein and many more. The event will be streamed in HD with multiple cameras and is available to view online for 60 days afterwards, so you won't miss a thing! To learn more, click here.
Restorative Justice on the Rise interviews Van Jones – Join Tuesday December 2 at 1:00 pm MT. Van Jones is the co-host of Crossfire on CNN. He will discuss the state of our Criminal Justice System and the Powerful Solutions he is actively helping build as well as insights and solutions he's seen in his international work. We'll also be talking about his current projects including YESWeCode and Rebuild The Dream. To listen free, click here.
Shaping a New Narrative for a New Economy – a conversation with David Korten and Otto Scharmer – December 8, 2014, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm (PST) What role does narrative play in shaping economic life? How must the current narrative change if we are to have a viable human future and an economy that works for all, including Living Earth our home and source of nurture? What will it take to discover and establish a new narrative in the public mind? If this is an exploration you are interested in please join us! To register free, click here.
Support Generation Waking Up — The ReGeneration curriculum will provide high school students with a big picture understanding of today’s global challenges and opportunities. They will learn to see the interrelatedness through a multidisciplinary framework that connects science, social studies, and humanities with taking action in the world. To learn more, click here.
Workshop in Divine Unity – given by Acharya Mangalananda of Anandamayi Ma Ashram, Omkareshwar India – Saturday, December 13; 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. By tuning the body to the Divine Mother through the elements of Nature, the participants experience a widening of consciousness and a direct connection to the Divine Feminine. Swakriya Yoga is a special technique of Anandamayi Ma Ashram in Omkareshwar. Venue: Integral Yoga Institute; 770 Dolores Street, San Francisco: 415-821-1117. To learn more, click here.
Internationally renowned, Yuval Ron Ensemble released a new video that can be used as a tool for spreading the message of peace and unity. The video features wisdom quotes from some of the great sages of humanity along with a devotional song from the Yuval Ron Ensemble titled "Ya Rab" from the CD Seeker of Truth. To watch, click here.
Aliza Hava is an international singer/songwriter and peacebuilder who produced the Birth 2012 event in Jerusalem, Harmony in the Holy Land in partnership with the Shift Network. We are excited to share her latest endeavor — an album collaboration with several multi-platinum, Grammy award winning producers. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the album will benefit The Charter for Compassion. To hear Aliza's music and pre-order your copy on Indiegogo, please visit www.mysterysongs.com.
Beyond Conflict. Beyond Conflict's Neuroscience and Social Conflict Initiative features heavily in Tim Phillip's TedxBoston talk, "The Neuroscience of Social Conflict", available here. The talk highlights that an individual's rational thought depends on that individual feeling safe, and exclusion manifests itself as physical pain in human beings. Therefore governments should be inclusive to end conflict. Fascinating research into how the latest breakthroughs in brain science can help stop violence!
Free Video – Israeli and Palestinian Narratives in Peacebuilding and Peace Obstruction. Dr. Julia Chaitin, AICE Visiting Israeli Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, presented a conceptualization of four different kinds of personal narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, two of which usually hinder peacebuilding efforts between former enemies, and two that have the potential to support peacebuilding and reconciliation if they are undertaken in a supportive, dialogical group space. The event was hosted by the War Prevention Initiative on November 8, 2014. To watch the video, click here.
Upcoming Conference, Co-sponsored by The Shift Network:
• Shift 2014 Planetary Birthday
• Gangaji 7-week course
• Andrew Harvey 12-week course
• Peace Ambassador Training 14-week course
• Patricia Albere 4-month course
• Winter of Wellness summit
• Rising Women Rising World summit
• Scilla Elworthy 7-week course
• Thomas Huebl 9-week course
• Enlightened Business Academy 6-month intensive
• Barbara Marx Hubbard 6-month intensive
• Devaa Haley Mitchell & Elayne Doughty 7-month program
• Body Intelligence Summit
• Katie & Gay Hendricks 7-week course
• Terry Patten 7-week course
• Sofia Diaz 7-week course
• Andrew Harvey 7-week course • Tim Kelley 6-month intensive
The Friends Committee on National Legislation – The Shift Network is a proud supporter of FCNL. We strongly believe in their approach to lobbying for peace and their impressive track record over the past 71 years. Shift Network's Stephen Dinan, Devaa Haley Mitchell and Alison Weeks recently participated in FCNL's lobby day in Washington, DC. The Shift Network also has pledged company stock to FCNL. To learn more, click here.
Vision of Humanity brings peace research to life, with interactive peace maps, groundbreaking reports and the very latest news and videos pertaining to peace. To learn more, click here.
By Philip Hellmich
Jenny Bird came into my life through Mirabai Starr. I quickly fell in love with Jenny's music as she combines the heart of a mystic, the voice of a muse and a deep love for nature. Jenny lived and recorded in Germany and Belgium. For the last 20 years, she's toured widely and consistently, playing festivals and clubs across Europe, Canada, and the United States. She has performed on the same stage with Sheryl Crow, John Prine, Iris Dement, JJ Cale, Blues Traveller, Sinead O'Connor, Indigo Girls and Sarah McLachlan, to name a few. Jenny's music leaves her audiences touched, transformed, inspired and singing all the way home. Jenny is well respected in her home town of Taos, New Mexico where she records and teaches music. I highly recommend Jenny's albums Migration and Mystics Muse. To learn more about Jenny, go to: http://www.jennybird.com/