Thursday, January 31, 2013

Feb 1 Tip: Learning to Cope with Panic

February 1 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Learning to Cope with Panic

January 28, 2013, 7:00 am

A Brief History of Panic

In September of 1873, United States Senator J.R. West of Louisiana received a telegram from his home state whose terse lines spoke of abject desperation:

The people are panic-stricken. All that could have left. The poor are nearly all on our hands; no money in the city treasury. All pecuniary aid will be thankfully received. Fever increasing.
(Signed) Samuel Levy, Mayor

A wave of yellow fever had swept through Shreveport, leaving in its wake a gash of death and disorder. It was one of many unwanted visits from Yellow Jack in the years after the Civil War - a plague whose cause was unknown but popularly connected to the exchange of infected bedding and clothing. What was certain was that death from yellow fever arrived in a horrible fashion: internal hemorrhages brought on by organ failure gave rise to projectile vomiting of a dark mix of mucus and blood. Victims sometimes wandered from their homes as the last stages of delirium set in, and it was not uncommon to find dead bodies in the streets. Corpses were hardly recognizable,. Coffins lined the streets.

Social isolation - at all costs - was embraced as the means of defense. Citizens living in uninfected areas sometimes took up arms to impose shotgun quarantines to fend off outsiders. In Jackson, Miss., residents ripped up railroad tracks leading into the city. "Indignation is at fever heat here," stated a news account, "and the people say that if necessary they will burn every bridge between here and Vicksburg." Terror radiated from the Deep South. An 1888 telegram received by the Post Office Department in Washington, D.C., from the Postmaster in Cairo, Ill., warned that the "country below is in the hands of a howling mob." It would be more than a decade before Walter Reed and colleagues discovered that yellow fever is transmitted by mosquitoes. In the meantime, panic prevailed.

Much more recently, a very different disease panic struck the nation: earlier this month news outlets reported that the country is in the grip of three emerging flu or flulike epidemics. "I think we're right on the cusp of a major flu season, and there's going to be some panic, unfortunately," warned one infectious disease specialist. Emergency rooms were mobbed with sick patients. New York State and the City of Boston declared public health emergencies. "The entire country is already in somewhat of a panic about its fevers and runny noses," asserted New York magazine. "People are starting to panic because of all the news reports," said the public health director of Natick, Mass.

This winter's flu scare hardly compares to the panics of the 19th century. Perhaps we have forgotten what a cataclysmic panic looks like. This welcome state of panic amnesia is a credit to our watchful health departments, which for the past 150 years have taken up the difficult task of both disease and panic prevention. But even as health officials sought to manage an "excited and terrified public mind" with swift intervention and precise information, they helped to transform panic into an elusive culprit capable of taking on different guises, of moving in new circles.

The fright and flight experience of panic that characterized yellow fever and cholera outbreaks began to change around the turn of the century as scientists identified the microbes that caused disease. Permanent health departments sprouted in cities and towns. The confidence that came with the new germ theory seemed to provide shelter from the panicky days of old. The public health pioneer William Sedgwick summed up the scientific triumph of the bacteriological age: "Before 1880 we knew nothing; after 1890 we knew it all." For the public this meant a new "freedom from fear," asserted one news report. "So many things have been done for the protection of the health of mankind that fear is being driven further and further into the background."
Governments increasingly saw it as their duty to prevent both disease and disease-related panic. During the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed more than 500,000 Americans, the New York City health commissioner, Royal Copeland, wrote that his aim was "to prevent panic, hysteria, mental disturbance, and thus to protect the public from the conditions of mind that in itself predisposes to physical ills."

While there was plenty of talk about panic in 1918, what is most striking is how little of it was actually happening. Panic was almost a dirty word - a reaction that might be expected from ignorant immigrant communities but not from educated citizens. Doctors from Rhode Island to Louisiana warned people not to give themselves over to "dismal imaginations." To worry was to provide "a fertile field for attack." Health officials joined in the chorus: the best preventive was maintaining "a fearless and hopeful attitude of mind."
The New York City Department of Health proclaimed victory over both disease and panic in the wake of the 1947 smallpox outbreak. With what the health commissioner described as the "intelligent cooperation of the public," they successfully administered more than 6 million vaccinations in the space of just a month. Smallpox was limited to 12 individuals; two died. "There has been no panic," The New York Times reported.
"At no time was there any cause to fear an epidemic - such is the vigilance of the Department of Health."
But even the absence of hysteria could not dispel the nightmare of panic for many officials. Just two years after the 1947 smallpox campaign, the Soviets detonated their first nuclear bomb. Val Peterson, President Eisenhower's first head of the Federal Civil Defense Administration, made the case that panic was "the ultimate weapon." Panic could "produce a chain reaction more deeply destructive than any explosive known . Mass panic - not the A-bomb - may be the easiest way to win a battle, the cheapest way to win a war." Remarkably, social science research from the end of the cold war through the present age of bioterrorism suggests that people have not been gripped by mass panic for more than a century. What was required, argued a group at King's College London in 2006, was "dispelling the myth of a panic prone public."

By the 1970s, to many observers the only place panic seemed to be breaking out was in the statehouse. Swine flu became emblematic of official overreaction. In 1976, the Ford administration's massive inoculation effort to combat what became know as the "epidemic that never was" - which produced only one death - met with derision from both scientists and the press. Even a high ranking member of the Centers for Disease Control called it a "monstrous tragedy" and a press post-mortem on the controversy called it "a panicky overreaction to a minimal threat."
Deeply stung by these accusations, the C.D.C. hesitated during the early years of the 1980s, when the sentinel cases of a devastating immune disorder were first reported in young, otherwise healthy, gay men. A void in leadership combined with an unknown, deadly disease identified within an already stigmatized group actually generated calls for more panic. A California referendum sponsored by the Prevent AIDS Now Initiative - PANIC - sought to pave the way for mass testing and quarantine. Someone, they argued, needed to sound the alarm. This was just a part of what one gay rights leader in San Francisco described as a broad-based "right-wing field-day spreading panic and hatred."

September 11th and the subsequent anthrax attacks became an occasion for both genuine alarm and deep skepticism about the potential abuses of panic. Critics stopped short of using the word "panic" to describe the Bush administration's plan to inoculate millions for smallpox, but many health experts felt it was "premature" to distribute the vaccine so widely, as one pox researcher told Science in 2002. A prestigious Institute of Medicine committee asked to evaluate the campaign originally titled its report "Betrayal of Trust." Ronald Bayer, an ethicist who served on the committee, explained that the original title was meant to "indicate the extent to which members believed the smallpox threat had been exaggerated for political ends."
Indeed, the smallpox campaign was but a piece of what many on the left saw as a broader effort to enact emergency public health and national security legislation in a moment of national panic. "Constructive public health legislation, which must be federal, cannot be carefully drafted under panic conditions," wrote the health law scholar George Annas in 2002. "When it is," he concluded, "it will predictably rely on broad, arbitrary state authority exercised without public accountability."

Panic provides a rationale for action, sometimes overreaction or even manipulation. As such, it is the subject of heated accusation and denial that can create a swirl of confusion and frustration. Nonetheless, some lessons stand out in the long history of panic. There is no basis for imagining that the frenzied 19th century reactions to disease are a slumbering beast waiting to be roused. Too much government infrastructure and information stand between populations and unfettered panic. But whether it is flu or anthrax or H.I.V., we just can't seem to shake that age-old specter of the howling mob.

(Anxiety welcomes submissions at Unfortunately, we can only notify writers whose articles have been accepted for publication.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jan 31 Tip: Hear Thomas Merton on "What is Contemplation?"

January 31 Contemplative Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

On his 98th birthday, hear how Thomas Merton answers the question, "What is Contemplation?"

Contemplation is the highest expression of our intellectual and spiritual life. It
is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual
wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for
life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being
in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant source.
Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that source. It knows that
source, obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes both beyond reason
and beyond simple faith. For contemplation is a kind of spiritual vision to which both
reason and faith aspire, by their very nature, because without it they must always
remain incomplete. Yet contemplation is not vision, because it sees ‘without seeing’
and knows ‘without knowing’. It is more profound depth of faith, knowledge too
deep to be grasped in images, in words or even in clear concepts. It can be
suggested by works, by symbols, but in the very moment of trying to indicate what it
know the contemplative mind takes back what it has said and denies what is has
affirmed. For in contemplation we know by ‘unknowing’. Or, better, we know
beyond all knowing or ‘unknowing’.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jan 30 Tip: Learn about the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence

January 30 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

On Gandhi's Birthday, Learn about the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence

The M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence is a nonprofit that works to realize the vision of its historic namesake. Its mission is to help individuals and communities develop the inner resources and practical skill needed to achieve a nonviolent, sustainable and just world.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jan 29 Tip: Join Alanis Morisette in saying "Thank U"

January 29 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Join Alanis Morisette in saying "Thank U"

how bout getting off all these antibiotics
how bout stopping eating when I'm full up
how bout them transparent dangling carrots
how bout that ever elusive kudo

thank you india
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence

how bout me not blaming you for everything
how bout me enjoying the moment for once
how bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
how bout grieving it all one at a time

thank you india
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence

the moment I let go of it was the moment
I got more than I could handle
the moment I jumped off of it
was the moment I touched down

how bout no longer being masochistic
how bout remembering your divinity
how bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out
how bout not equating death with stopping

thank you india
thank you providence
thank you disillusionment
thank you nothingness
thank you clarity
thank you thank you silence

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jan 28 Tip: Spend time in Silence

January 28 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Follow Fr. Richard Rohr's suggestion to spend time in silence

Silence Is Almost Too Simple

The simplest spiritual discipline is some degree of solitude and silence. But it’s the hardest, because none of us want to be with someone we don’t love. Besides that, we invariably feel bored with ourselves, and all of our loneliness comes to the surface.
We won’t have the courage to go into that terrifying place without Love to protect us and lead us, without the light and love of God overriding our own self-doubt. Such silence is the most spacious and empowering technique in the world, yet it’s not a technique at all. It’s precisely the refusal of all technique.

Jan 27 Tip: Embrace the practice of Lovingkindness

January 27 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Embrace the Practice of Lovingkindness

This was said by the Lord.
Stone Buddha in Dartington gardens“Bhikkhus, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth,[i] all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness.[ii] The mind-release of loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant.
“Just as the radiance of all the stars does not equal a sixteenth part of the moon’s radiance, but the moon’s radiance surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness.
“Just as in the last month of the rainy season, in the autumn, when the sky is clear and free of clouds, the sun, on ascending, dispels the darkness of space and shines forth, bright and bril­liant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit pro­ductive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness….
“And just as in the night, at the moment of dawn, the morn­ing star shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness. The mind-release of loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant.”
For one who mindfully develops
Boundless loving-kindness
Seeing the destruction of clinging,
The fetters are worn away.

If with an uncorrupted mind
He pervades just one being
With loving kindly thoughts,
He makes some merit thereby.

But a noble one produces
An abundance of merit
By having a compassionate mind
Towards all living beings.[iii]

Those royal seers who conquered
The earth crowded with beings
Went about performing sacrifices:
The horse sacrifice, the man sacrifice,
The water rites, the soma sacrifice,
And that called “the Unobstructed.”[iv]

But these do not share even a sixteenth part
0f a well cultivated mind of love,
Just as the entire starry host
Is dimmed by the moon’s radiance.

One who does not kill
Nor cause others to kill,
Who does not conquer
Nor cause others to conquer,
Kindly towards all beings— He has enmity for none
Published with thanks from The Udana &The Itivuttaka Translated by John D. Ireland. Buddhist Publication Society 1997.  Buddhism Now November 2001

[i] The “three grounds for making merit” (punnakiriya-vatthu) are giving, virtue, and mind-development; see Sutta 60. Comy. glosses “productive of a future birth”(opadhikani) as meaning produc­tive of a successful individual existence, yielding results at con­ception and during life. The term is contrasted with grounds for making merit aimed at release from future birth, such as by de­veloping insight.
[ii] Mind—release (cetovimutti) is the culmination of the mind’s purga­tion of emotional impurities by the practice of tranquillity (samatha). There are various kinds of mind-release, and although they are very exalted, the only one that is irreversible is the un­shakeable mind-release (akuppa cetovimutti) possessed by an arahant. The practice of loving-kindness, the first of the four divine abidings, culminates in the boundless mind-release (appamana cetovimutti) in which all ill will or malice (vyapada) is removed from the mind.
[iii] It is by being practised towards all beings equally and without exception, not just towards one person, that loving-kindness be­comes boundless and the basis for mind-release.
[iv] This refers to the legendary kings of the past who ruled right­eously and made sacrifices to the gods and gave abundant alms to the needy after their victories. Later they abdicated to become seers (isi), hermits or holy men, and then went to heaven. The sacrifices are mentioned at Snp. 303 as having been initiated by corrupt brahmins desirous of accumulating wealth. Soma is the sacrificial drink offered in libations to the gods.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Jan 26 Tip: Learn about "Brainspotting"

January 26 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Learn about "Brainspotting"

Tami Simon speaks with Dr. David Grand, a pioneering psychotherapist, lecturer, and performance coach. Dr. Grand is best known for his discovering of the internationally-acclaimed therapy called Brainspotting. He’s the author of the book Emotional Healing at Warp Speed, and his new book called Brainspotting: A Revolutionary New Therapy for Rapid and Effective Change will be released with Sounds True in the spring. In this episode, Tami speaks with David about what Brainspotting is and why it represents a new evolution in brain-based therapy. Dr. Grand reveals the central insight of Brainspotting—that where you look affects how you feel—and offers a simple practice that you can try right now. (60 minutes)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jan 25 Tip: The Long Distance Between Head and Heart

January 25 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace
Learn about the Great Distance Between Head and Heart

The longest journey that a man must take is the 18 inches between his head to his heart. Mother Teresa once said, “A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.” We receive faith by hearing. Faith starts with the mind. We hear, we understand and we believe. A cerebral digestion must take place first. Next, a response is necessitated. If one has heard the Gospel, God impels us to respond. Mary responded with her magnificat quickly and affirmatively. We are called to unite our wills to the will of God. In listening and silence we come to discover the will of God in order that we might live this out. It is a long and arduous journey from the mind to the heart. There are many obstacles and challenges along the way. There is no point hiding from God because he knows us closer than we can know ourselves. So let us give our hearts and minds to him so that he can sanctify and transform them with his grace to be the salt of the earth.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jan 24 Tip: Read about the History of God in the Inaugural Address

January 24 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace
Learn about the History of God in the Presidential Inaugural Addresses

President Obama mentioned him five times in Monday's inaugural address — God, that is.
In modern times, religion has become so intertwined in our political rhetoric that the failure of any president to invoke God in a speech as important as the inaugural could hardly escape notice. Thanks to this graphic in The Wall Street Journal, we noticed the presidents who did (nearly all) and the few who didn't (Teddy Roosevelt, Rutherford B. Hayes).
But the inaugural references to a Supreme Being have evolved over time, says Ann Duncan, an assistant professor of religion at Goucher College in Baltimore. For example, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison — all influenced by the deismthat infused most of the American Revolution-era thinkers — never once mentioned God in their inaugurals.
For them, God was "a rather distant ... but still very providential and powerful force," Duncan says. "Not the kind of personal god that an evangelical Christian today might talk about."
Instead, Washington referred to "that Almighty Being," Adams invoked "His providence," and Jefferson spoke of "that Being in whose hands we are."
Martin J. Medhurst, a professor of rhetoric and communication at Baylor, a private Baptist university in Waco, Texas, says formulations such as "the Almighty" and "Divine Providence" were part of "a common language adopted by the revolutionary generation in part to avoid the kind of divisiveness that more specific formulations might engender."
In fact, the word "God" doesn't even show up in an inaugural speech until 1821, when James Monroe vowed during his second inaugural to carry out his presidential duties "with a firm reliance on the protection of Almighty God."
(As an aside, Chester A. Arthur added the phrase "so help me God" to the presidential oath in 1881, when he was sworn in after the assassination of James Garfield. Every president since has added it, too.)
What changed? Two things, Duncan and Medhurst agree: the dying out of the revolutionary generation that was so reluctant to invoke a personal god; and a Protestant revival that was gathering steam just as Monroe became president.
Monroe was apparently as astute a politician as any, and his God reference neatly coincided with the Second Great Awakening, an explosion of Baptist and Methodist congregations in the U.S. that was partly a reaction to the distant deism of the Founding Fathers.
Even so, from the 1820s until the late 1850s, as the country moved unstoppably toward civil war, presidents reverted back to the safer territory of Almighty Being and Divine Providence.
In his first inaugural, Abraham Lincoln referred to the "Almighty ruler of nations," but by the time of his second, in 1865 at the end of the Civil War — a speech famously inscribed at his memorial in Washington, D.C. — Lincoln talked of God.
"Both sides in the Civil War had been using God as a justification for what they were doing," Duncan says. "With his side victorious, Lincoln certainly had the opportunity to say, 'See, God is on our side.' But instead ... he chastened both sides for speaking on behalf of God."
Lincoln's words:
Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.
From Lincoln's time forward, most presidents have invoked God in their inaugural speeches. Theodore Roosevelt was a notable exception.
Duncan calls Roosevelt "an interesting blip in the trajectory of our American civil religion."
"He had a real hesitancy to insert that language and really tried to restrain himself from doing that. That's been unique," she says.
Roosevelt "eschewed any interpenetration of church and state," says Baylor's Medhurst. "For him, I'm pretty sure it would have been an intentional move not to have any particular religious language in that speech."
Since World War I, every incoming president has made the God reference.
"If you look at the world wars, both of them, and how religious language was used, it's pretty incredible how effective both [Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt] used religious imagery to swing public opinion from an otherwise deeply entrenched reluctance to enter into war into an almost crusade mentality among many people," Duncan says.
Both of Obama's inaugural speeches mentioned God the same number of times — five, more than either of predecessor George W. Bush's two inaugural speeches (three times each). Ronald Reagan's second inaugural holds the record, with eight references, while Richard Nixon mentioned God six times in his first inaugural in 1969.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jan 23 Tip: Read the novel "Adam & Eve" by Sena Jeter Naslund

January 23 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Read Sena Jeter Naslund's recent novel, "Adam & Eve"

What Happened To Eden?

The New York Times bestselling author of Ahab's Wife, Four Spirits, and Abundance returns with a daring and provocative novel that envisions a world where science and faith contend for the allegiance of a new Adam & Eve.

Hours before his untimely—and highly suspicious—death, world-renowned astrophysicist Thom Bergmann shares his discovery of extraterrestrial life with his wife, Lucy. Feeling that the warring world is not ready to learn of—or accept—proof of life elsewhere in the universe, Thom entrusts Lucy with his computer flash drive, which holds the keys to his secret work.

Devastated by Thom's death, Lucy keeps the secret, but Thom's friend, anthropologist Pierre Saad, contacts Lucy with an unusual and dangerous request about another sensitive matter. Pierre needs Lucy to help him smuggle a newly discovered artifact out of Egypt: an ancient codex concerning the human authorship of the Book of Genesis. Offering a reinterpretation of the creation story, the document is sure to threaten the foundation of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions . . . and there are those who will stop at nothing to suppress it.

Midway through the daring journey, Lucy's small plane goes down on a slip of verdant land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East. Burned in the crash landing, she is rescued by Adam, a delusional American soldier whose search for both spiritual and carnal knowledge has led to madness. Blessed with youth, beauty, and an unsettling innocence, Adam gently tends to Lucy's wounds, and in this quiet, solitary paradise, a bond between the unlikely pair grows. Ultimately, Lucy and Adam forsake their half-mythical Eden and make their way back toward civilization, where members of an ultraconservative religious cult are determined to deprive the world of the knowledge Lucy carries.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jan 22 Tip: Learn about the Indian Poet & Seer Mirabai

January 22 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Savor the poetry and wisdom of the great Indian poet and seer, Mirabai

Mirabai (Meera, Mira) – 15/16th Century devotional poet. Composed over 1,000 devotional bhajans expressing her love for Lord Krishna.
My Beloved dwells in my heart,
I have actually seen that Abode of Joy.
Mira’s Lord is Hari, the Indestructible.
- Mirabai

About – Mirabai

Mirabai was a devotee of the high, higher, highest order. Among the saints of India, she is absolutely unparalleled. She composed many, many bhajans, which are prayerful songs to God. Each song Mirabai wrote expressed her inspiration, aspiration and sleepless self-giving. “
- Sri Chinmoy
From an early age Mirabai felt an irresistible attraction and devotion to Sri Krishna. As a young child she was given a doll of Krishna, which she worshipped as if it embodied the living presence of Krishna. Although people misunderstood her, she considered Krishna to be both her best friend, lover and husband. Swami Sivananda said of Mirabai
It is extremely difficult to find a parallel to this wonderful personality – Mira – a saint, a philosopher, a poet and a sage. She was a versatile genius and a magnanimous soul. Her life has a singular charm, with extraordinary beauty and marvel.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jan 21 Tip: Attend Martin Luther King Day Events

January 21 Compassionate Living Tip from from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Attend events today honoring the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was a Baptist minister and social activist who played a key role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. Inspired by advocates of nonviolence such as Mahatma Gandhi, King sought equality for African Americans, the economically disadvantaged and victims of injustice through peaceful protest. He was the driving force behind watershed events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington, which helped bring about such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is remembered each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a U.S. federal holiday since 1986.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Jan 20 Tip: Learn about Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

January 20 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Learn about President Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war--seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Jan 19 Tip: Read "You Must Revise Your Life"

January 19 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Read William Stafford's essays in "You Must Revise Your Life"

If you want to better understand how William Stafford approaches writing, this book may help with that. Through a combination of essays, poetry and interviews, Stafford presents  a kind of philosophy of writing, including his approach to helping others find their own voice. His poem,  "Every Morning All Over Again" sums up his process beautifully:

Every Morning All Over Again

Only the world guides me.
Weather pushes, or when it entices
I follow. Some kind of magnetism
turns me when I am walking
in the woods with no intentions.

There are leadings without any
reason, but they attract;
if I find there is nothing to gain
from them, I still follow—their power
is the power of the surrounding world.

But things that promise, or those
that will serve my purposes—they
interfere with the pure wind
from nowhere that sustains a kite,
or a gull, or a free spirit.

So, afloat again every morning,
I find the current: all the best
rivers have secret channels that
you have to find by whispering
like this, and then hear them and follow

— William Stafford

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Jan 18: View the documentary "Magical Mystery Tour Revisited"

January 18 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

View the documentary "Magical Mystery Tour Revisited"

Now with the film fully restored to the highest technical standard with a remixed soundtrack, it’s time to tell the extraordinary story of Magical Mystery Tour: why it was made, how it was made and the circumstances in which it was made. Magical Mystery Tour Revisited is the story behind the controversial and surreal Beatles film and features new interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

Major funding for the Great Performances telecast is provided by the Irene Diamond Fund, The Starr Foundation, Vivian Milstein, The Agnes Varis Trust, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and public television viewers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jan 17: Watch the video "What if God Was One of Us"

January 17 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Watch a video of Joan Osborn's "What if God Was One of Us"

If God had a name, what would it be? And would you call it to His face? If you were faced with Him in all His glory What would you ask if you had just one question?
And yeah, yeah God is great Yeah, yeah, God is good Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us Just a slob like one of us Just a stranger on the bus Trying to make His way home?

If God had a face, what would it look like? And would you want to see? If seeing meant that you would have to believe In things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?

And yeah, yeah God is great Yeah, yeah, God is good Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us Just a slob like one of us Just a stranger on the bus Trying to make His way home?

He's trying to make His way home  

Back up to Heaven all alone  

Nobody calling on the phone  

Except for the pope maybe in Rome
And yeah, yeah God is great Yeah, yeah, God is good Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us Just a slob like one of us Just a stranger on the bus Trying to make His way home?

Just trying to make His way home Like a holy rolling stone Back up to Heaven all alone Just trying to make His way home Nobody calling on the phone Except for the pope maybe in Rome

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jan 16 Tip: Read "The Cave of the Heart"

January 16 Compassionate Living tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Read "The Cave of the Heart: the Life of Swami Abishiktananda"

Swami Abhishiktananda (1910-1973), the name adopted by Fr. Henri le Saux after his move to India in 1948, pioneered an integration of Christian and Hindu spirituality that forged a unique spiritual path and made a strong impact on interreligious dialogue.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jan 15 Tip: Explore the mystic poems of Kabir

January 15 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Explore the poetry of Kabir

What Kind Of God?

What kind of God would He be
if He did not hear the
bangles ring on
an ant’s
as they move the earth
in their sweet
And what kind of God would He be
if a leaf’s prayer was not as precious to creation
as the prayer His own son sang
from the glorious depth
of his soul -
for us.
And what kind of God would He be
if the vote of millions in this world could sway Him
to change the divine
law of
that speaks so clearly with compassion’s elegant tongue,
saying, eternally saying:
all are forgiven – moreover, dears,
no one has ever been
kind of God would He be
if He did not count the blinks
of your
and is in absolute awe of their movements?
What a God – what a God we
From “Love Poems from God” by Daniel Ladinsky. Copyright © 2002 by Daniel Ladinsky. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jan 14 Tip: Learn about Shantivanam Ashram and Bede Griffiths

January 14 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Learn about the beauty and mission of Shantivanam Ashram in India

1. Promoting the awareness and practice of contemplative prayer...

by helping people to be more receptive of the Divine Presence, Fr. Bede believed, that the call to contemplation is universal. Contemplative practice and experience will, in turn, nurture a spirit of peace and compassion among the peoples of the earth.

2. Continuing the pioneering work of Father Bede...

in the area of interreligious dialogue. This too, he understood, is crucial for the peace of the world and the future of our global family.

3. Disseminating Fr. Bede's vision in various ways...

through making available the books, articles and recordings of Bede and other spiritual teachers, through retreats and contemplative prayer groups, through operation of the Bede Griffiths website and publication of The Golden String bulletin.

4. Furthering the ongoing life of Shantivanam...

Fr. Bede's Ashram in Southern India, and supporting the Ashram’s projects on behalf of the poor in the surrounding villages. The life of the spirit – contemplative life – must be integrated, Bede taught, with the social and economic life of the larger human community.