Let’s Talk Ferguson — Chicago Symposium January 14

Urgent update:  We have just today, Jan 13, received word of a priceless opportunity occurring the evening of January 14 in Chicago.

The Yearly Meeting has joined with various Monthly Meetings in discussing the social issues raised by the events in Ferguson and elsewhere in the country.  There is a remarkably related event planned for January 14, as follows: Continue reading

Amplify your voice: Say no to war with Iran

Rabbi Michael Lerner, through TIKKUN Magazine and its interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives, has disseminated a full-page print ad asking the country to turn away from the direction of a war with Iran.  The ad promotes constructive attitudes and alternative approaches which can accomplish much more than the objectives of war—right actions for the right reasons.  Individuals are asked at least to read the ad, and to consider signing it if they are in agreement.  This can be done (at the bottom of the web page) without making any financial contribution: www.tikkun.org/iran.

This effort is an excellent exposure to an ongoing effort that frequently makes common cause with the work of ILYM Peace Resources Committee.  Here lies an opportunity for us to amplify our voice and to benefit from the companion work of Rabbi Lerner and TIKKUN.

Happiness, Peace

Customers are always happy to hear their pianos after I tune them. Is that the only happiness they share with me? No, my other obligation is to be so kind that the customers say to themselves “I’m so glad I could talk to Kent today.”

Peace activism is not only fine-tuning an institution like taxation or social welfare. It is also a commitment to delivering the message so that the audience will say “I’m so glad I interacted with Kent today.” Ineed, if I do not inspire that happiness in my listener, there is little chance that my message will have a positive effect.

Undertaking to be against something constitutes being in opposition. Progress, on the other hand, is a matter of being in support of something. Peace building lifts the self-esteem and happiness of the parties to the peace.

When I try to tune two people who think they hate each other, it is crucial for both of them to conclude “I’m so glad I could talk to Kent today.”

copyright © 2011 Kent Busse
please quote freely

Islam’s creative role

Author: Kent Busse

The Old Testament identifies the function of persecution as “Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.”

Jesus instructed “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

Gandhi taught “First they ignore you then they laugh at you then they fight you then you win.”

The US Marines put it this way: “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.”

Senseless persecution is the doorway through which America has admitted its Quakers, Jews, Mormons, Germans, Italians, Japanese, Chinese, Africans, Hispanics and Latinos into fellowship. Open, public confrontations are so much better than the secret police and mass disappearances employed elsewhere.

Young children are held up as our role models because they possess the pliability and resilience to express conflicts in heated screaming matches and move on from there to work out their differences and share the playground without perpetuating grudges. This is the power to be healed.

Allah and nonviolence will yet see us through the current round of persecutions by which Islam is assuring its diversifying role as a permanent fixture in the American landscape.

copyright © 2011 Kent Busse

Modest alderman in Chicago

Author: Kent Busse

Chicago has some news worth sharing.

This is a link to the newspaper article about an alderman elected on (a) his grassroots involvement, (b) limitation of his own salary ($60,000 instead of $110,000), and (c) a promise to serve at most two terms. It is encouraging to see that modesty is sufficiently appealing to carry an election.

As we improve our interpersonal relationships at the local level, the growing circles of voter gentleness will come together to change the tone of the nation. By practicing modesty we inspire (and require) our leaders to be modest to keep up with our sensibilities.

Arizona, Immigration, and human kindness

Contributed by Kent Busse
(reserving right also to publish elsewhere)

1. Long ago, somewhere else, a child was born in a place that did not really have room to welcome another child; resources stretched very thin.

2. Not so very long ago, that child reached manhood and migrated to a place that seemed to offer more resources. Lacking certain official papers, he was never offered the earning capacity of the local natives, but he had more resources than he had left behind.

3. Quite recently, the new place also saturated its consumption of resources. The man was considered excessive and burdensome, not welcome to the local opportunities and resources of the new place.

4. Suddenly the government of the new place imposed harsh state measures to make the man doubly unwelcome.

5. Finally, individuals and governments surrounding the new place withdrew their commerce and further reduced the resources in the new place. The new place contemplated retaliatory measures of withholding exports from its neighbors.

In every step, everybody suffered.

1. Did the parents freely choose to bring the child into the world?

2. Did the local natives of the new place understand the humanity of the immigrant man? Did they offer equality?

3. Did the society in the new place attempt to share its burdens among all present?

4. Did the government of the new place search for solutions and provide leadership in organizing the sharing?

5. Did the boycotters put themselves in the shoes of the new place long enough to understand why its residents did what they did?


If my daughters were young enough to play in a sports tournament in Arizona, I would hope first of all that they would not go with an attitude of superiority. If they entertained any thought of teaching, I would expect them to avoid giving offense or patronizing. Finally, I would send them with the assignment of learning.

Even as I ask the boycotters to temper their judgment, I require myself to temper my judgment of the boycotters. Perhaps the government of the new place would temper its judgment of the immigrant, and the immigrant would temper his judgment of the place he left.

This little story is to give immediacy to the masterfully crafted paragraph of the Peace Resources Committee 2010 annual report that ends with the passage

“The tendency to conflict is part of the human condition. This tendency must be forever tended to as one tends a garden. It requires continual study, testing and reexamination.”


The story is a thread of situations that require being “forever tended to.” It is told to encourage the reader to find a purpose–to do something–relating to some individual step of the sequence. In doing so, may we recall the motto of the Oxfam America mailings:

Go to the people.
Live with them.
Learn from them…

Start with what they know;
Build with what they have.
But with the best leaders,
When the work is done,
The task accomplished,
The people will say,
We have done this ourselves!
Lau Tzu (700 BC)

Poverty Draft in High Gear–and Proud of It?

Author: Kent Busse
(a guest writing, posted by Bridget Rorem)

I recently read the New York Times article, “More Joining U.S. Military as Jobs Dwindle“…

This reinforces my idea that we need to have an official draft (universal national service) so that the country will not feel good about the poverty draft.  It is too easy for people to vote to send somebody else’s children to combat.  My version of the draft is a FREE CHOICE between military and alternative service–no exceptions, no excuses.  If enough Americans believe in having a military, we will have one.  We will vote with our feet–the same as we do in the marketplace.  It is the same principle as the Alternative Peace Tax Fund.

On the surface I’m a bad Quaker (a misfit in AFSC) because I believe there SHOULD be a draft.  I hope the above paragraph clarifies what I mean by that.

FURTHERMORE:  (organized economic feasibility)  In ancient Rome, one senator realized that they could not recall the Roman Army because there was not enough food in all of Rome to feed it.  Our economy has reached the corresponding stage–it would totally collapse if the U.S. military disappeared in an instant.  My approach is to CHANGE WHAT THE MILITARY DOES:  replace search and destroy with search and rescue.  It would be a vehicle for scientific research (e.g. feeding the world population) and distribution of cooperative initiatives to end the causes of war.  The Department of Peace discussions tend toward this direction.  Having UNIVERSAL military / alternative service would also be a wrenching shift in the economy, but it could be designed logically.

AND FINALLY:  (public safety is a MUTUAL responsibility)  Even in a world with evenly distributed wealth, open democracy, etc. there may be a need for police presence to deal with the anomalies of individuals who become violent for whatever reason remains to do so.  To me military means “A does to B,” while acceptable police work is “A, B, C, D” mutually carry out the standards of behavior that THEY HAVE MUTUALLY CHOSEN to enforce ON THEMSELVES.

What do you think?