and Berry Picking in Northern Cheyenne Country
A Personal Perspective by Marya
Marya Grathwohl, a Sister of Saint Francis, graduated
from Marian College in Indiana, and earned masters degrees in Creation
Spirituality at Mundelein, Chicago, and in Philosophy, Cosmology,
and Consciousness at California Institute of Integral Studies in
San Francisco. In 1974, she moved to the Crow and Northern Cheyenne
Reservations in Montana, where she was adopted into a Crow family,
and where she now lives at Prayer Lodge, a center serving Native
American women. Passionate about changing human consciousness toward
love for the planet, she is writing a book that integrates her transformative
experiences with Crow and Northern Cheyenne peoples with insights
from the 13.7-billion-year story of the Universe.
It’s late summer in Northern Cheyenne country
and the wild berries are ripening along streams and roadways, in
draws and bowls in the mountains, anywhere moisture is caught and
held by the contours of land. A quiet migration of families begins;
quiet because almost nothing is as well-guarded as the location
of berry patches where the fruits are known to be especially sweet
and juicy and abundant. At berry-picking time private ownership
of land surrenders to knowledge of sites passed from mother to daughter,
remembered in detail by grandmothers whose faces are maps of wrinkles.
Except for bushes growing near homes, berries belong to the whole
“We’re hoping to go picking tomorrow,”
Vonda, my Northern Cheyenne friend who has taken me as her sister,
says. “Making syrup or puddings into the cold and early nights
of winter will comfort my old bones.” Next day I’m in
the pickup bouncing along dirt tracks across pastures, through a
dry streambed, and past the last house on this side of this mountain.
Eventually we get there. How Vonda knows where there is baffles
me, but here are the berries shining in sunlight.
My first time helping her, I am picking along with
several grandchildren. As I reach for the blue-purple chokecherries,
the familiar movements carry memories of helping my dad pick raspberries
from his patch in the backyard of our Cincinnati home. “Don’t
miss any of them,” he’d say, and thinking of mom’s
jellies, I didn’t. I scrutinized every branch, looking for
the biggest and brightest ones. Here in Northern Cheyenne country,
I follow behind the children, stripping the branches bare. We’re
eating our share, too.
Suddenly Vonda is picking beside us. “Is everybody
remembering what Grandma Nellie taught me?” she asks. Three
children and one adult with purple lips all turn to her. “Grandma
Nellie always told us to leave some of the best berries for the
birds. And if you forgot to put your first big berries on the ground
as an offering and a thank-you to Mother Earth and the rain, you
can still do that, too.”
We all stop and form a little circle among the bushes.
Sifting through our buckets, we choose large berries and place them
on the ground. “Hahó,” we say, “thank you.”
I turn back to the chokecherries, trying to pick and
think differently. Grandma Nellie’s sense of family somehow
included birds. She and her rancher husband worked desperately to
coax a dry, cold place in mountains to feed their family. Despite
that, or maybe because of it, in her mind and heart she lived within
a communion of life that included respect for the needs of birds,
something she probably learned from her grandmother. Right here
among chokecherries swinging in clusters from leafy branches in
the twenty-first century, I feel myself in a circle of five generations
of Northern Cheyenne women. Within this circle, I suddenly see how
my world defines everything that exists as resources for people
only, and for development and profit. In the industrial world I
grew up in, no wild creature was considered family. We never left
the best raspberries for the birds. Or even thought that cutting
down forested areas for housing destroyed others’ homes.
In the Cincinnati Zoo is an exhibit that has no live
animals. Instead, it houses photos and two stuffed and mounted birds,
the last survivors of their species. Martha the passenger pigeon
and Incas the Carolina parakeet lived in this building and died
here, Martha on September 1, 1914, and Incas on February 21, 1918.
At one time, Martha’s species was the most abundant of all
land birds, flying over the eastern half of an entire continent
in flocks of billions that darkened the sky. The Carolina parakeet
was our only native psittacine; it ate the cockleburs that now plague
our south-eastern fields. Today, the cerulean warbler, a blue and
white songbird that was once easily spotted in deep eastern U.S.
forests, has declined in population by 70 percent since 1966 due
to forest degradation for logging and development.
Several years ago, the American Museum of Natural
History took a poll of biologists, asking if we are in the middle
of a mass species extinction. Seventy percent said yes. In numbers
alone, that means fifty to one hundred species are vanishing every
day, approximately 1,000 times faster than natural extinction rates;
faster than at any time in the last sixty-five million years. Recently
a report from eight of the foremost nature organizations indicates
that one in eight plant species worldwide is imperiled; in the United
States alone, one in three is endangered. Twenty-four percent of
all mammals are endangered. Their diminishment and disappearance
goes largely unnoticed by most of us. The magnitude of this loss
of life is hard for me to grasp. I know that if current trends in
species extinction continue, we may lose half of all Earth’s
plant and animal species within the next fifty years. But can I
imagine that world, that threadbare communion of life? The tiny
cerulean warbler’s song may fall silent forever within my
lifetime. Will I notice?
We can try to absorb these facts or maybe, in our
grief, quietly tuck them away as distant tragedies. (When the Preuss’
Red Colobus Monkey vanished several years ago, it seemed to make
no real difference in my daily life.) But can we get a sense of
how our powers of imagination, creativity, and love are diminished
by their leaving? Can we feel how lonely we’re becoming without
them? Rachel Carson called the loneliness a “silent spring.”
And hearing her, our hearts felt the chill. We can imagine that
silence, now. No raptors lifting on thermals over my home and I
may forget how to dare a dream into reality. No prairie grass seeds
flung against an autumn full moon and I will feel a loss of hope
in my soul. Could we have imagined flight on a planet without birds?
What is lost in the soul of a child who never sees a meadow of wildflowers?
When Grandma Nellie was picking berries with her grandmother,
she didn’t know what we now do: that all Earth’s species
emerged in an immense, slow dance from common ancestors who lived
in the seas over three billion years ago. Over time, Earth’s
climates and continental movements and predator-prey relationships
endowed seeds with power to survive drought and ice, shaped graceful
bodies that could swim and fly, and cherished consciousness that
kept wolf pups fed and created finely tuned musical instruments.
Thanks to the achievements of modern science we in industrial societies
now know what indigenous peoples have always known, that we inhabit
one planetary home and all of us, all beings, are held as kin within
the powers of deep relatedness. Darwin gave us revelation from Earth
that gifts us with a most profound spiritual insight: We are all
Earth spins, circling a star, within a galaxy of about
two hundred billion other stars. Pouring across the night sky with
creamy beauty, the Milky Way is our familiar galactic home. Grandma
Nellie’s people called it Sky Road, a passage for spirit.
Within just the last century have we learned that the Milky Way
is one of one hundred billion galaxies, all streaming away from
each other in a cosmic dance driven by primordial energy we call
expansion. In all this grandeur we have yet to find another cerulean
warbler or Colobus monkey.
The warbler’s song began in the middle of a
star whose fierce heat forged complex chemical elements from simpler
elements forged in yet an earlier star. When the second-generation
star exploded as a supernova, those elements were blown into neighboring
space where another power, gravity, gathered them up over millennia
into a planet. That planet would eventually shape from those elements
the bones and lungs and muscles of a bird fiercely intent upon finding
a mate. These same elements also formed the tuna salad you had for
lunch, leaves yellowing and falling in aspen groves, fingers typing
this paper, and the eyes and mind reading it. Our kinship line goes
back, according to our most recent estimate, 13.7 billion years.
The whole Universe is one body.
Walt Whitman intuited this when he said, “A
leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars.”
Northern Cheyenne grandmothers forged their intuition of this long
and profound communion into a moral ethic: Leave some of the best
berries for your other relatives. And studying a cosmology of berries,
I am finally learning it, too.
In the Cheyenne language there is no “it.”
There is no “he” or “she,” either. Third
person singular is indicated by words that specify, that speak of
others respectfully as “thou.” These words translate
roughly into something like “this one, that one.” I
try to imagine living within this language. No it. Always I-thou;
never I-it. No inanimate or soul-less beings. “Why should
I have [soul] and not the camel?” asks another poet, Mary
Oliver. “Come to think of it, what about the maple trees?
What about the blue iris? What about all the little stones, sitting
alone in the moonlight? What about roses, and lemons, and their
shining leaves? What about the grass?” Grass!
When did soul begin in the Universe? Revering a Creator
as intimate to the life process as my DNA, I seek spirit everywhere.
In this Universe, hydrogen left alone, responsive to the powers
of gravity, electromagnetism, and the nuclear forces, eventually
turns into a human, awake to self, to soul. How can I have soul
if hydrogen doesn’t in some way, too?
What could awake to self, to all souled beings, mean
for us today? Because of the reach of human powers into all the
planetary and life systems, our decisions today determine which
species will make it into the next century. In this century, we
are planetary power comparable to climate and continental shift
and the predator-prey relationship. This planetary power, which
we have never before had, demands of us a planet-sized soul, a planetary
spirituality, something very new and challenging and promising for
industrialized societies. We have mentors: Walt and Mary and Grandma
Nellie, Jesus who counted sparrows, Francis of Assisi who experienced
all the others, even elements, as brother and sister.
Humans, I am convinced, are born from this planet
hungry, not only for milk and comfort, but also for songs: songs
of warblers, the alpha female wolf, water splashing clean over stones.
Essence of soul, perhaps. My dad comforted me as an infant on his
shoulder, humming the chant of the Volga boatmen, and holding me
near the singing canaries mom raised along with four daughters.
Perhaps the Universe is also one great song, humming along in elements
that bind us all, sounding haunting melodies that sear like ancient
origin stories through grass and stones and bone. Picking chokecherries
in a late summer sun, I have no idea, of course. I’ll presume
intuition. I only know I am leaving some of these best berries for
birds, hoping that five generations from now there will still be
songs in the nearby trees. And maybe even, in the continent’s
eastern forests, nesting cerulean warblers.
Marya asked that this acknowledgement be included:
I am grateful to Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme for their unrelenting
commitment to Earth’s life community in all its diversity
and peril. I have drawn upon their insights and research for this
Back to Top >>
How Wars End
Book Review by Mac Lawrence
If Albert Einstein was right that either we end war,
or war will end us, we humans have two challenges: Don’t start
new wars, and learn how to stop them if they start.
It’s easy to start a war. Leaders use proven
techniques to sow fear in the people, demonize an enemy, pose war
as the only rational response, and convince people that the violence
will bring safety and peace. To keep the war going, the leaders
call on people’s patriotism and courage, and control what
the people know about the war.
But how do you stop a war once it starts? That’s
what has preoccupied Helena Meyer-Knapp for a quarter century, and
what she writes about in her new book Dangerous Peace-Making, published
just as the current war on Iraq began.
Meyer-Knapp, who has degrees from Oxford University
and the University of Pennsylvania, currently teaches about war,
peace, and politics at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
In her book’s preface, Meyer-Knapp notes: “At the onset,
nations and people who chose to begin a war often have little concern
for the risks and chaos that will accompany its ending. Since their
quarrel is just and their willingness to sacrifice steadfast, victory
is assured. But victory cannot, by itself, bring a stop to the killing.
No war can end until particular peace-makers decide that the time
has come. Furthermore, ‘spoilers’ in the combatant communities
are often committed to continued war, making ending it much harder
than anyone could have imagined. No matter how urgent the pleas
from the wider world, peace has to wait until the leaders or their
trusted confidants begin direct talks with enemy leaders, quite
likely secret talks, in which they will make real agreements about
weapons, land, and power. Even then, ending a war for good is a
chaotic and dangerous process.”
Meyer-Knapp analyzes seven wars in her book: Bosnia,
Rwanda, Chechnya, Iraq (1991 to the present), Israel/Palestine,
the North of Ireland, and South Africa. She picks the crucial moments
in each war when peace-making begins to seem possible, emphasizing
the changes which come during the ending weeks of a war which she
says are “fraught with danger and uncertainty.”
The author begins the book by writing about the myth
and reality of the peace-making process, including the role of anti-war
activists, a role she notes which, while vital, is limited. Not
even in the case of Vietnam, she says, was the peace movement responsible
for ending the war: “Anti-war activists regularly build popular
support for, even passion for, peace, but they cannot set either
the timing or the terms that make it possible truly to stop the
In Northern Ireland, for example, she reminds us that
the bombers and bullets continued to do their “just”
and “necessary” work for more than 20 years after Betty
Williams and Mairead Corrigan received their Nobel Peace Prize.
She even recalls a strategy being used in one struggle today: “In
cities like Belfast, the government built 20-foot high walls to
impede the killing; like two peoples besieged, the city’s
residents lived in fortresses, each side barricaded inside their
own protective and exclusive zone.”
Meyer-Knapp does not deny that ordinary people have
an important role to play. Their “tangible power is to remain
committed to peace and to be steady in precarious times once the
peace process has begun. Just as important, while the fighting continues,
popular movements do and must step up to the moral obligation to
make visible the dreadful suffering which war brings.”
But her focus in the book is narrower. “This
is a book about stopping killing by making an agreement that endures
well enough to prevent a rapid return to militarized violence.”
And agreements like that, she says, must be made in high places:
“The responsibility for peace-making belongs in a very few
hands—those of the political leaders who ordered military
violence in the first place.”
It was fascinating in reading the book to see how
close some of the seven wars came to ending, only to have an event
or a person block the chance for peace. Wars are complex and unpredictable,
Meyer-Knapp emphasizes. She makes a number of references to Carl
von Clausewitz, the renowned military strategist, who introduced
the terms “fog” and “friction” in a war;
they make it impossible to analyze information accurately or to
have the war come out according to plan. Variables include the will
of the fighters on both sides; the honor involved and the obligation
to continue to fight; patriotism; blindly obeying orders; and the
desire for revenge and justice which becomes increasingly heated
with each enemy action. All these and more, the author says, can
get in the way of ending a war.
Meyer-Knapp discusses another factor in continuing
a war under the heading of “Guardianship and Government.”
She writes: “Citizens of a community under threat allow their
‘guardians’ remarkable civil powers. Information is
controlled…. Governments and voters spend vast amounts of
their shared wealth, their tax revenues, on weapons and soldiers.
They place at risk their factories, their houses and even their
irreplaceable cultural treasures, because inflicting losses on others
and withstanding them oneself make it possible to determine the
outcome of the war. When the decision to fight is justified as ‘no
price is too high,’ the combatant community is obligated to
sustain the resilience to fight on.”
So how do wars actually end? The author emphasizes
that each war is unique. Who and what starts the war, how the war
progresses, when those in power decide the war no longer makes sense—these
can all be different in different wars. Nonetheless, the seven wars
she analyzes warrant a few generalizations, several of which are
• These leaders must be willing to negotiate
terms and choices even while the fighting continues.
• Those on the weaker side have enormous power
in determining whether and when to seek peace.
• The period after the fighting ends is almost
as painful and dangerous as wartime.
• Good prospects for peace-making appear at
unexpected moments and unexpected events can also abruptly destroy
• International attempts to bring war leaders
to trial are more likely to impede peace-making than to contribute
to positive settlements.
In the book’s discussion of each war, one can
see how these principles come into play, or fail to be present as
the war continues. Some wars, like the one in Ireland, Meyer-Knapp
does not consider fully at an end. Only in South Africa, she observes,
is the war completely over. And that war allows her to explore all
the steps required, including her four “Re’s”—“re”patriation,
“re”pair, “re”parations, and “re”conciliation.
“It is in the engagement with these issues that thirst for
vengeance, that engine of war that keeps running when all else fades,
can finally begin to recede.”
In the chapter on Iraq, titled “False Endings
or the War that Never Ended,” Meyer-Knapp makes it clear that
this war did not, in fact, end in March, 1991, when generals from
both sides signed a cease-fire agreement. The proper conditions
for peace were not there.
On Iraq’s side, Saddam Hussein never admitted
defeat, an admission Meyer-Knapp believes is crucial to end any
war. For its part, the UN Security Council elected to control Iraq’s
weapons and force it to pay reparations, all of which Hussein resisted.
There were no serious negotiations between the two sides about powers
and resources, also essential to end a war. So for the next 12 years,
the war continued with UN control of key parts of Kurdistan, air
combat over much of Iraq’s land area involving 200,000 missions
by U.S. aircraft, many of them bombing runs, UNSCOM’s weapons
destruction project, an embargo on Iraqi oil sales, a ban on importation
of food and medicine, and a UN Marine Interception Force which intercepted
some 30,000 ships. It was, writes Meyer-Knapp, “a modern and
massive siege war.”
During the siege, the Iraqis were unable to rebuild
the electrical generating plants and water pumping stations which
had been designated “military targets,” and had been
destroyed by Coalition bombs in the 1991 war. Civilian housing and
oil-production facilities went unrepaired. In data accepted by the
UN, malnutrition in Iraq had risen by 400 percent, afflicting nearly
20 percent of the population. By 1995, 576,000 children had died
as a result of the lack of both food and medicine, according to
UN Food and Agriculture program estimates. According to the World
Health Organization, 96,000 Iraqis were dying in hospitals each
year over and above the number who would have died under peacetime
conditions. Two Directors of the UN’s oil-for-food program
resigned within months of each other, one of whom said that the
UN was causing, not curing, the devastation.
Meyer-Knapp asks: “Could any other strategy
have brought this war to an end? Indeed, yes,” she responds,
and uses examples from other wars to speculate on how things could
have turned out differently. While in no way excusing Saddam Hussein—“He
was engaged in war, too, and bears his share of the responsibility”—she
emphasizes that “None of the handful of men who had a say
in decisions about Iraq was willing to admit that the suffering
was too much.”
In the next-to-last chapter, “The Dangerous
Dynamics of Peace-Making,” Meyer-Knapp notes that those who
seek peace risk their careers and even their lives. “Spoilers”
is the name the author uses for those intent on continued war. Yitzhak
Rabin murdered by one of his own people. Anwar Sadat killed for
making peace with Israel. Alexander Ledbed losing his chance for
the Russian presidency within three months after seeking peace in
Chechnya. Ireland’s Gerry Adams risking his political ambitions.
Nelson Mandela risking being labeled a traitor by his colleagues
in the ANC.
In her final chapter, “Justice, Mercy, Memory,
and Peace,” Meyer-Knapp refers to the analogy of a bridge
that both sides must build. When they meet halfway, she says, their
conflict is most likely resolved. But there is another kind of bridge
that must also be built, she emphasizes: “No matter how sound
the constitution and the currency, neither will flourish in a society
still riddled with pain, and pain is a haunting presence even after
the violence ends. To leave the war behind them, survivors in the
combatant communities must find a way to explain their suffering
and to respond to it….Otherwise, the past will reach out and
drag them back into war.”
This final step can be taken by the telling of stories,
by acts of remembrance, in the search for justice. But the justice
cannot be prosecutorial. The author sees little value in an International
Criminal Court which is more likely to inhibit leaders from ever
ending a war rather than to encourage former enemies to build their
“peace-bridge.” Moreover, only a few whose conduct seems
particularly outrageous are ever put on trial. Such courts have
not worked in the past, she documents, and the chances are high
that they can only damage world peace. Unfortunately, she adds,
there is a huge momentum today for such a court.
What is the best way to pursue justice? It is complicated,
the author says. She asks: “Can there be justice for the fact
that someone assassinated a president by shooting down his plane,
and thereby drove two million or more people to their deaths or
into exile? What about three years of virtually daily shelling of
civilians in a besieged city? What about capturing a ‘traitor’
and torturing him to death by encircling his head with a flaming
car tire? What about designing a propaganda campaign to enable the
conduct of a terror genocide that kills 800,000 people?”
The classic example of doing it right is the Truth
and Reconciliation Commission set up in South Africa, a well-reported
effort which Meyer-Knapp describes in detail. She discusses such
subjects as amnesty, past grievances, forgiveness, cleansing, healing,
understanding—and mercy, which she sees as the most important
ingredient of all.
“Mercy entails action, and merciful acts are
possible even in the absence of forgiveness, before anyone has tendered
an apology and well before reconciliation can even be contemplated.
Indeed, mercy may well be the only positive ethical stance that
enemies still actively engaged in war can adopt toward one another.
Without mercy, without the willingness to desist from punitive and
destructive acts that remain within their power, there is no way
for leaders in a war to bring the fighting to an end.”
Meyer-Knapp’s closing thoughts: Peace must be
dared. Peace is inevitable. Every war will end.
Dangerous Peace-Making by Helena Meyer-Knapp.
Peace-maker Press, Olympia, WA. 2003. Available through PMB 30,
1910 4th Ave. E, Olympia, WA 98506, and online at Tescbookstore.com
and Amazon.com. $16.95
Back to Top >>
SOME OF THE NEWS IS GOOD
On the issue of energy (as well as many others),
the headlines all seem to be negative—the U.S. more dependent
than ever on Middle eastern oil, Congress refusing to raise fuel
standards but trying again to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge, average temperatures in Alaska rising five degrees through
global warming, and many more. (See “Trashing the Environment
With A Thousand Cuts,” Timeline, Sept-Oct 2003.)
In this traditional season of renewal, can we
find any basis for hope?
Fortunately, some people and institutions do recognize
the issue, and are taking actions to deal with it. Here are some
Californians Continue to Save After Energy
In response to the blackouts and price hikes of 2001,
Californians began serious efforts to conserve energy, cutting their
consumption by up to nine percent. More surprisingly, however, most
of them are continuing to conserve even after the crisis passed.
While overall energy consumption has edged up a bit, utility experts
believe that a third or more of the reductions will be permanent.
Accordingly to Iraj Deilami, who runs the forecasting team at the
Sacramento Municipal Utility District, “It is basically a
structural change in consumption rather than a transitory change
Kentucky Harnesses Methane from Landfills
Trash buried in landfills generates methane gas, which
irritates neighbors and contributes to global warming. Kentucky,
currently heavily dependent on coal, is making one of the largest
efforts of any state to utilize those gases to generate electricity,
building four plants for $4 million dollars each—another example
of converting waste into fuel.
Berkeley Goes for Biodiesel
In June, the City of Berkeley, CA, switched 90 percent
of its diesel vehicles to using 100 percent biodiesel (B100). Biodiesel
can be made from any fat or vegetable oil and performs similarly
to petroleum diesel. Using it not only saves oil but also significantly
reduces emissions like carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and
unburned hydrocarbons, and on a life-cycle basis reduces emissions
of global-warming-causing carbon dioxide by 78 percent—all
of which lower the threat of cancer and other ailments. It is also
far safer to store, transport, and use, because it is not a hazardous
Australia Converts Macadamia Nut Waste
In September, Australia opened the first-ever plant
to convert discarded shells of macadamia nuts into electrical power.
In the first year it is expected to convert 5,000 tons of otherwise
wasted shells into enough electricity to power up to 1200 homes.
By doing so it will reduce green-house gases by around 9,500 tons,
the equivalent of taking 2000 cars off the road.
The U.K. Surpasses Goals for Cutting
Industries in Great Britain have surpassed goals for
cutting greenhouse gas emissions by almost three times national
targets and almost twice inter-national obligations. In 2000, the
British government signed 10-year climate change agreements (CCAs)
with 44 industries, representing over 5000 companies. In 2002, carbon
dioxide emissions decreased by 13.5 million metric tons, 10 million
tons more than the CCA targets. Environment Minister Michael Meacher
said the country would exceed the 12.5 percent emissions reduction
target mandated by the Kyoto Protocol by 2020, and was on the way
to a reduction of almost twice that amount.
Universities Save Landfill by Collecting
and Reselling Student Castoffs
At the end of the school year, students often have
to clear out their rooms in two days. Their usual way of dealing
with the problem has been to throw everything away, including perfectly
usable items. This practice wastes the energy used in producing
the products, clogs the landfills, and creates enormous headaches
for the universities. Albert Matyasovsky of Penn State got the idea
of collecting the castoffs and holding a giant yard sale. Ninety
tons of stuff was salvaged and sold at bargain prices, generating
a $15,000 profit which the university donated to local charity,
gaining good will with the community. Building on that concept,
Lisa Heller, who bemoaned the waste she saw as a grad student, founded
a nonprofit called “Dump and Run,” which is helping
other campuses set up similar programs.
Japan Promotes Solar
The Japanese government is a strong supporter of solar
electricity, providing subsidies of $25 million/year to companies
working to develop more efficient technology. As a result, Japan
has surpassed the U.S. as the largest producer of photovoltaic panels,
and generates half of all the solar electricity in the world. It
has also paid out nearly $1 billion in rebates to citizens for installing
solar arrays on their roofs.
Norway Generates Energy from Tides
People have talked for years about harnessing ocean
tides for energy, but Norway is the first to use them to feed electricity
into a power grid. It has installed a sub-sea power station that
looks like an underwater windmill and is driven by the rise and
fall of the tides, generating enough electricity for about 30 homes.
Similar experiments are under way around the world, and the hope
is that success in the Norwegian project will lead to much wider
use of this technology.
CA, Leads in Energy Conservation and Photovoltaics
The City of Palo Alto, which owns its own utility,
has for years offered rebates to customers who purchase energy efficient
appliances, energy-saving measures like double-pane windows, and
photovoltaic (PV) systems. Since 1999, more than 70 homes have installed
PV systems, equivalent in global climate change to reducing carbon
dioxide emissions by 6,000 metric tons, or planting 33,000 trees.
The City has also committed to increase its renewable energy purchases
to 20 percent by 2015, and is already offering customers the option
of paying a bit extra to purchase 100 percent renewable energy now.
Back to Top >>
Hope Within the Fire
A Report by Mac Lawrence
All wars eventually end, but you have to wonder what
it will take to end one so emotionally charged as that between the
Israelis and Palestinians. The fear and hatred of both peoples seems
to crowd out understanding and compassion, needed ingredients for
a lasting peace. Intractable old leaders pursue courses that make
things worse. Outside interventions only seem to fuel the fire.
But there exists, even in this conflagration, possibility
Face to Face
One success that has been growing throughout the U.S.,
in the Middle East, and in many other parts of the world is the
dialogue group where Jews and Arabs, Palestinians and Israelis,
meet together to share of themselves. Len and Libby Traubman of
San Mateo, who started such a group in 1992 in their living room
and who now work closely with five such groups, say the secret is
engaging in true dialogue. “It is not discussion or debate,
or even conflict resolution,” the Traubmans emphasize. “Instead
it is what we call ‘compassionate listening.’”
It was not easy to start that first group, the Traubmans
note. “Few Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, have
the chance to get to know one another, and typically, the thought
of even being with one another is abhorrent. So it took some persuading
to gather ten Jews and ten Palestinians for our first meeting. It’s
easier now, because those who have experienced this kind of dialogue
share with others how meaningful the experience has been to them,
and how important understanding each other is to any chance of peace.
There are now more than a hundred dialogue groups meeting regularly
in people’s homes and on college campuses in a dozen countries.
“When people first participate in such a group,”
note Len and Libby, “some are quiet, cautious, and protected.
Some are assertive, clinging to anger and hurt, unable to hear others
or focus on anything but their cause and view. But over time, as
they hear each other’s stories, their identification expands
and they begin to see each other as human and equal, interrelated
and interdependent. Seeing their oneness—and differences,
as well—they begin to want the best for each other.”
While realizing that only government leaders can set
the actual arrangements for peace, the Traubmans point out that
governments alone cannot do all that is required. “Creativity,
correcting stereotypes, and discovering trustworthy knowledge—these
are not going to come from governments. But if enough citizens have
this expanded identification, it will make the environment fertile
and right for the government peace process to go to completion.
As Henry David Thoreau observed, ‘Things do not change; we
Dialogue groups also carry out a wide variety of joint
projects. One of the most successful took place in September at
a camp near Yosemite National Park. There, 45 adults, 24 youth,
and 50 staff members—families, singles, ages 1 to 65—
spent a weekend together at what was called the First Palestinian-Jewish
Family Peacemakers Camp: Oseh Shalom-Sanea al-Salam. Along with
dialoguing far into the night, there were hikes together, boating
and ropes courses, evening campfires with a music and talent show,
shared art and Middle Eastern meals, and a closing ceremony with
personal statements of connection and change.
For many, the camp with its concentrated time together
added to the impact of the dialogue groups. One who experienced
the camp, a Palestinian psychologist who had attended dialogue groups
for eleven years, had what she called a transforming experience.
“I have never felt so welcomed by Jews,” she said. “I
was so moved that I was unable to speak when I first returned to
our regular dialogue group.”
One of the new citizen initiatives that are beginning
to appear is OneVoice. They believe that, overwhelmingly, Palestinians
and Israelis want to live in peace, and that it is the extremists
on both sides who keep the war going. As noted on their website
(see below), “The majority of people have been disenfranchised,
fallen prey to external fears and hatreds…. The political
process is deadlocked and people feel hopeless. We must change that
by bypassing it.”
OneVoice’s idea is to go directly to the people
with the goal of creating a People’s Mandate which expresses
the clear will of the majority of citizens on both sides. Politicians,
they say, will then have to decide whether to act according to the
will of the people, or face replacement. OneVoice has taken the
first step by drafting a Proclamation of Principles for Reconciliation.
This Proclamation is being revised in consultation with some 200
experts—Israelis, Palestinians, and others—into a document
whose basic human principles all agree on. OneVoice then plans to
secure 10,000 signatories for the Proclamation, all of whom will
be invited to engage in a fully participatory, back-and-forth consensus
process to reach as detailed agreement as possible on each of the
ten most salient issues facing the two peoples. These ten Core Agreements,
then, become the People’s Mandate.
An extensive analysis of OneVoice’s plans appears
on their website, and covers questions skeptics might ask, along
with answers to concerns in sections titled “Palestinian,
Arab, and Muslim Concerns,” and “Israeli and Jewish
Interestingly, some of those involved in OneVoice
are leaders with whom the Foundation for Global Community’s
Middle East team has worked closely for many years. One of the documents
OneVoice used as a basis for creating their Proclamation of Principles
for Reconciliation was the document produced by these same Israeli
and Palestinian leaders who worked hard and productively together
in a seminar held at the Foundation’s retreat center in California
a dozen years ago.
The website for OneVoice is www.silentnolonger.org
Len and Libby Traubman carry on a worldwide communication
about the value of dialogue on their website, http://traubman.igc.org,
and by e-mail, sending out hundreds of information packets and videos.
Among the many questions, requests, and comments the Traubmans receive
daily, was the following e-mail (edited slightly for brevity) from
Gaia Muallem, a senior at Rice University. Observes Len Traubman,
“When anyone asks, ‘Why should I be in dialogue?’
and I had just one document to show them, this would be it.”
Hi Libby and Len,
Thank you so much for your inspirational e-mail.
It came just when I needed some focus and motivation. I would love
to have a phone conversation with you. I agree that talking would
be ideal. Things are a little bit crazy at the moment (as they always
are for me during the holidays), but after next week, I should have
no problem finding a time that would work for you.
My parents are Israeli. They left Israel before
I was born, but we go back to visit about every other year, and
they haven’t exactly immersed themselves in American society.
I first realized how much of a bubble I had lived in when I came
to college, and I think that’s when I really started getting
interested in exploring my Israeli side. (I had never had to explore
it before—it was right there at home.)
Actually, at first, I probably would have been
the last person to participate in this kind of thing. I was pretty
anti-Palestinian (and, to tell you the truth, anti-Arab), and I
didn’t want to talk about my feelings. I felt like I was always
attacked, and it made me sick to my stomach to have to discuss Israel
with people who didn’t understand, who didn’t have a
personal stake in the issue. As far as speaking with Palestinians
was concerned, I was content to live my whole life without doing
In my sophomore year of college, one of the organizations
here sponsored a “discussion panel.” The intentions
were good—the guy planning it really wanted to learn, but
some-where along the way and through the rest of the committee,
it became a debate without the debating. We weren’t allowed
to speak unless called on (we went one by one) so that even though
we were allowed to respond to one another, it wasn’t allowed
to be direct. Basically, it turned into an evening of a bunch of
arguments started and not finished. (It was advertised on a flier
with CONFLICT in big letters and then some words about discussion,
so we went into it a little wary to begin with.) Surprisingly enough,
though, that experience was the first that really started to open
my eyes because I actually had to interact with Palestinians. We
went out as a group a lot right before the panel discussion because
the organizers wanted us to feel comfortable with each other. We
actually didn’t talk about our views at all in those pre-panel
sessions because we were trying to relax, so we just became friends.
To my surprise, the Palestinian panelists were
my favorite people on the panel. And I learned they never attacked
me—I learned that people who really care listen and try not
to fight. So obviously I had to change a few misconceptions.
As an aside, but related, the revelation that I
always bring up to people who are willing to discuss this issue
with me is that each side refuses to see the other as individual
people. How can you think about respect and acceptance when the
word “Palestinian” connotes, in your mind, a community
responsible for every hardship in your life?
When Israelis hear about Israelis being killed,
the first thing that they do is rush to go online and see who it
was; what unit they were in; how old were they; who are their parents?
But when a Palestinian is killed, even if the response is not happiness
(which it unfortunately is in a lot of cases), for many people it’s:
“Oh, just a Palestinian,” and not a person. That, to
me, is the biggest obstacle to any kind of resolution.
OK, back to my story. I didn’t change automatically,
but subconsciously I started thinking about how Ibrahim’s
family would feel whenever I heard about a military incursion or
curfew or more restrictions (they live in Ramallah). At first, I
pushed those thoughts out of my head because I felt like it would
make me a bad Jew and a bad Israeli to understand or care about
the plight of my Palestinian friend’s family (which is another
issue that I struggle with and try to talk to people about). But
once I started thinking along those lines, I couldn’t go back
I studied abroad in Israel the next fall, which
was the most wonderful experience of my life and just helped to
change me even more. I lived in Beer Sheva, so there were always
Bedouins around, and I was really uncomfortable about the fact that
there was absolutely no interaction between them and us unless there
absolutely had to be. I mean, not even eye contact. I think that
just exemplified the sentiment that exists in both camps right now
(and these were just Bedouins who don’t even provoke much
of a response among Israelis).
And still, when I would walk through the streets
and see “Exile to Arabs” spray-painted everywhere, I
would wonder how there can be hope with people like this. It was
really hard for me to see Muslims of various origins in the university
with me who were fluent in Hebrew and to know that they were walking
on the same streets and seeing the same signs. I think that was
really the first time that I allowed my fiercely defensive view
of Israel to crumble just a little. I was actually hurt that Israelis
could do something like that—or, more, that Jews could do
something like that not even a century after the horrors of the
Holocaust that started with signs like those.
When I got back to Rice, I wasn’t sure where
I wanted to go with this, but I was experiencing a lot of different
things and still reacting to everything that I had experienced in
Israel. When Liora first approached me about the dialogue group,
I was a little wary because I didn’t really understand the
concept of dialogue. And she didn’t either at first, so we
had a couple of bumpy first meetings, which is to be expected, but
then you guys sent her the meaning of dialogue, and everything changed.
Originally, we had been planning activities for
meetings, such as two people in the group would discuss their views
and then the rest would join in or comment. And this was really
hard for a lot of us because to open ourselves up about such an
issue was like baring our souls in a lot of cases, and not everyone
appreciated that. But I’ll never forget the day that Liora
came and explained to us what dialogue actually means. I just felt
something click when she talked about creating a safe environment
and expressing emotions and responses so that other people could
share them and take them on, not defend or argue with them.
I feel like so much growth can occur if we just
have people who are willing to experience things together. I mean,
even without that, I feel like I have learned so much, and I want
to be able to take it to the next level. I am graduating this year
and hope to go to medical school in Israel, and I am really hoping
to have a strong foundation in dialogue so that I can get involved
there, where things really need to happen.
There’s so much more. Even as I was writing
this, I thought of a thousand different experiences that I could
share with you, but this is a general idea of my history and my
feelings about dialogue. I’m sure we will discover more about
each other in conversation. Thank you so much again for your support.
It really means so much for me to have it. I am looking forward
to speaking with you.
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Wheelchairs Restore Shattered
A Report by Walt Hays
I have never seen such a radiant smile. I had just
lifted an elderly woman into a new wheelchair, which allowed her
to move about for the first time in years. While I had felt some
satisfaction earlier in donating funds that helped provide the chair,
the direct experience touched much deeper.
The delivery of that wheelchair was part of a collaboration
between Rotary and the Wheelchair Foundation to deliver 280 such
chairs to needy people in Guatemala. I learned later that people
connected with the Foundation for Global Community (FGC) are involved
with a similar project in Afghanistan. And the connection is not
surprising, because it turns out that the Wheelchair Foundation
has inspired an enormous number of similar initiatives.
People need wheelchairs for many reasons: birth defects,
accidents, debilitating diseases, advanced age—and most tragically,
injuries from war or its aftermath, in the form of landmines. It
is estimated that there are 45-50 million landmines in the ground,
spread over at least 70 countries. Every year those mines kill or
maim approximately 15,000 people. Survivors face a lifetime of debilitating
physical and emotional injuries, economic hardships, and even possible
ostracism from their communities.
Although an estimated 100-130 million disabled people
worldwide need wheelchairs, less than one percent have access to
one. The rest either get around through family and friends, crawl,
or lie in bed.
One of the problems in providing wheelchairs has been
their expense. In the West, the most basic durable wheelchair costs
$375, far beyond what a poor person in a developing country can
Kenneth E. Behring, a successful California automobile
dealer and real estate developer, saw the problem and in June of
2000 donated $15 million to establish the Wheelchair Foundation.
He then made arrangements for the manufacture of wheelchairs in
China for $150 a chair, and inexpensive transportation in containers
of 280. Finally, to enlist broader participation, the Wheelchair
Foundation offered to match every $75 contribution toward a wheelchair,
and to provide the donor with a picture of the recipient. Under
that formula, dozens of organizations and thousands of individuals
have contributed, with the result that since 2000, over 162,000
otherwise immobile people, in 109 countries, have received life-changing
wheelchairs. The initiatives in Afghanistan and Guatemala are typical.
Afghanistan has the greatest problem in the world.
The estimate of the number of people needing wheelchairs is 750,000.
And the menace continues: The number of landmines and unexploded
ordinance in the country is estimated at 5,000,000-7,000,000, and
300 people are hospitalized every month for injuries from these
FGC’s ARISE Project (Timeline, Sept/Oct 2002)
has worked closely with the Afghan Center in Fremont, California,
and obtained the funding that helped the Center start humanitarian
work in Afghanistan. Once established there, the Center joined with
the Wheelchair Foundation to deliver 240 wheelchairs in Kabul. Nasir
Durani, an Afghan-American who heads the Afghan Center and co-founded
the ARISE Project, traveled to Afghanistan to be present for the
delivery of the chairs and wrote a report on his trip. Here are
“Kabul was a scene of emotions and jubilation
as it witnessed the distribution of wheelchairs to 240 disabled
people who had lost both legs as a result of polio, amputation for
shrapnel wounds, or being blown up by booby traps or grenade explosions.
“According to the UN and the Ministry of Martyrs
and Disabled, there are 24,000 handicapped and disabled individuals
registered with these two organizations. Over 1000 of these people,
from all walks of life, ethnicity, and gender, attended with their
friends and relatives at their side. They came from across the capital,
from as far away as Paghman, 25 km west of Kabul, on whatever modes
of transportation they could find, including mules and donkeys.
Many of their relatives themselves were handicapped and disabled
due to indiscriminate bombing of civilian houses.
“Working with district representatives, the
Afghan Center identified 240 of the most qualified disabled persons,
those who had lost both legs as a result of booby traps or grenade
explosions. The crowd was overwhelmed by feelings and emotions when
some 25 women and children were carried to the distribution site
wrapped in blankets. Once they settled into their wheelchairs, their
facial expression and emotions could only be described as giving
a person a second chance to live.
“Despite Afghan cultural constraints forbidding
girls and women to express their feelings in public, the recipients
could not refrain from openly ‘dancing.’ Their eyes
brightened, they started moving their hands, and members of the
audience, who were dancing themselves, lifted them up and helped
in dancing movements. Words cannot possibly capture the true feeling
of the scene.”
Later, in reporting at an FGC staff meeting, Nasir
stated, “This is a better way to fight terrorism.”
In the case of Guatemala, the experience of delivering
wheelchairs was shared by two people connected with both FGC and
the Rotary Club of Palo Alto—Bill Busse and myself. Guatemala
is another country with a great need for wheelchairs. The majority
of the population is very poor, so few people with naturally occurring
needs for wheelchairs can afford them. In addition, as in Afghanistan,
the 30 years of civil war that followed the military coup in the
’60s left many people crippled, and thousands of landmines
poised to cripple others.
In 2002, a representative of the Wheelchair Foundation
made a presentation to the Rotary Club, and Busse responded by establishing
a committee to raise funds to buy wheelchairs. In addition to soliciting
contributions, the committee sponsored a wheelchair basketball game
as a fundraiser. Then, through my involvement with various international
projects, we learned that the Club Rotario Guatemala del Este in
Guatemala had also raised funds for wheelchairs, and the decision
was made to combine $11,000 from our club with $10,000 from theirs
to purchase a container of 280 chairs. The container was shipped
from China directly to Guatemala, and Bill, I, and another Rotary
couple flew to Guatemala in September for one day to experience
the delivery of some wheelchairs first-hand.
The Guatemalan Rotarians had made arrangements to
deliver around 60 chairs to two institutions serving the poor—the
Madre de Theresa home in Guatemala City, and a hospital in Antigua.
A half dozen local Rotarians joined the four of us from Palo Alto
in unpacking and assembling the chairs, after which the locals took
a picture of each recipient in their wheelchair to send to the donor
of that chair. Since the delivery took place within the walls of
the institutions, we did not have cheering, dancing crowds as in
Afghanistan. However, I will never forget the joy on the faces of
the recipients, who had been immobile for years, as they realized
that they could now move about again.
These two examples illustrate the enormous impact
being made by the Wheelchair Foundation, in both delivering chairs
and attracting donors and volunteers. They also serve as stark reminders
that our greater challenge is to eliminate the wars and landmines
that cause most of the crippling injuries in the first place.
For more information, go to www.wheelchairfoundation.org.
Back to Top >>
Hymn of Praise
Every being has two dimensions: its universal
dimension and its individual dimension—the Great Self and
the small self.
The Universe is our Great Self—that’s
why we are so inspired by being among trees, hearing sacred songs,
seeing the colors of flowers, watching the flow of rivers. The source
of inspiration is an encounter with the Great Self, the dimension
where we experience fulfillment. We are not wholly ourselves without
I think the Iroquois Thanksgiving ceremony is
one of the greatest of all religious festivals: The Iroquois remember
and thank fifteen or more specialized powers, including the water,
the rain, the wind, the earth, the trees. Within our own traditions,
there is also this capacity for understanding that the small self
cannot survive without the Great Self. Our job, as humans, is to
be a part of the great hymn of praise that is existence.
This is cosmological thinking. To participate
in the sacred mystery in these moments is to know what it means
to be human.
Back to Top >>
TIMELINE (ISSN 1061-2734) is published bimonthly
by the Foundation for Global Community 222 High Street, Palo Alto,
Managing Editors: Kay Hays, Mac Lawrence
Editorial Board: : Jim Burch, Don Burns, Diane Gordon, Walter Hays,Sandra
Mardigian, Jackie Mathes, Susan Stansbury.
Art Director (print edition): Sue Lyttle
Desktop Publishing: Diane Gordon
Electronic Edition: Timeline Team
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