Monday, April 30, 2007

Hope In Time of Despair

Beginning with the first leg of my journey last Friday, I was greeted with a special securiy check at the airport and had my ticket stamped by TSA. I looked and felt different with my unique straw hat, my alpaca wool vest with llamas, and sandals, etc. The head steward asked me "when was I in Peru?" , as did the customs official in Toronto. Previews for the Gandhi trip!

The Conference was full of scholarly presentations about our world and Merton's insightful learning. Keynoter and former parliamentarian, Douglas Roche, inspired us with hope for a transformed world and steps in that direction with efforts like the "Alliance for Civilization." This, despite his sense that nation states are making nuclear weapons "permanent." Don Greyston opened his address with "We already know everything we need to know." With magnificent quotes from the inspired, he explicated each word of the quote. Healing the planet is the "supreme challenge of our times."

How deep into "reality" can we go? My workshop, "Activism without Delusion, attempted to plunge into the depths of reasons for despair: global climate change, war making and nuclear weapons, and the effects of peak oil. (I would have added species loss after my bus reading of the current Mother Jone's issue featuring that subject with a naked human in a glass jar on its cover.) How many of us can go to the ultimate reality and meaning of creation, of life? I wanted to, but only was able to point in that direction. Truth, reality, that which is: Gandhi's "sat". Merton amplifies on reality and I was loaded with his and other insights. I was not able to elaborate on his Zen question, "Where do you go from the top of a 32 foot pole?" Nonetheless, our ninety minutes together was dynamic with interactions and insights. A senior Indian woman asked me "Am I ready to die?" Death through mass killings also came into our discussions for analysis. At the end everyone gathered around me to give blessings for the UK American Gandhi journey. Don Greyston added the word "Bernieji" to his sendoff, a new twist on Gandhiji.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Sendoff

On Tuesday evening EARTH'S HEALING HEARTS DRUMMERS gave me a powerful sendoff at Traditions Fair Trade in Olympia, Washington. The program was titled: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?? and asked questions like "How do we survive during these times of great change?" and "where do we go from here to create peace?"

The speakers addressed them from many perspectives. Indigenous persons told stories befitting the ancient ways of tribal societies. Local activists analyzed some of the complexities of societal life today. The Women In Black stated their silent presence to remember the violent death from oppression and war. Everyone wanted and sought peace. Song warmed our passionate hearts.

At the end of these moving statements, I was given a sendoff with gifts and ritual. I will feel the laying on of hands by the entire attendance (40 or so) in unison, each expressing their own prayer in low voice, as I journey during the next four months. I will carry and intone the healing heart drum given me to express the "earth's heartbeat" as I seek to be the "salt of the earth, the air, the water.

I intend to give some of the answers I have and discover when I "blog". "Blog" is a new word for me.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The American Gandhi walks in the UK

On April 27th I head to Toronto Canada for a conference of theThomas Merton Society of Canada: "Finding Hope In Time of Despair", where I will conduct a workshop titled "Activism Without Delusion." Then, I visit my roots in Cleveland, where a big part of my heart is. On May 24th I leave Cleveland for Glasgow, Scotland for a campaign and a pilgrimage. I intend to dress as the American Gandhi for the entire trip, which ends at Birmingham on August 13th.
I invite you to follow the journey through this blog. I will make entries as I am able. I believe that we need a worldwide grassroots movement to address the realities mentioned below. We are one in ultimate truth. Join together in transforming ourselves and the human race with love.
Namaste, Bernie Meyer, the American Gandhi
Why I am going to Scotland and England as the American Gandhi

By Bernie Meyer

I see that the world is in a most destructive grip of violence. I see that this is due to human activity, human decisions, human blindness, human fears and human greed. This violence takes the form of wars and oppression, but also is systemic. Humans have developed a way of life that violates the Earth, her living species, and human communities. The nations of the earth are in various stages of consuming the fruits of creation with technologies that make toxic soils and waters, and that pollute the air. The question is: “Will the earth be viable for human and other species after the 21st Century? We humans also have the nature and capacity to love.

I will go to Scotland and England as Gandhi to say we must face our mistakes and our decisions to abuse life and its sustaining sources. Gandhi dressed in a loincloth to identify with the “dumb masses.” He knew they had a right to the necessities of life. He also knew that destroying the ability of every individual to support her or himself strikes at the very root of human dignity. I want to express these truths by identifying with Gandhi. This Gandhi now is both an historic person and is a symbol or representation of wisdom learned by the lessons of experience. Gandhi continually experimented in pursuit of truth.

The most insightful wisdom expresses the insights about reality which is proven over time. As Gandhi experimented with truth gained by wisdom learning, I want to challenge myself and everyone who will listen to me to question the world order established by us.

The major issues of this century are global climate change, the limitations of natural resources and energy from fossil fuels, and modern war making. These issues are many faceted and interrelated. My own conclusion is that what is known as globalization is destroying not merely environments and habitats, but also a dignified way of life which enables people to live at peace.

I want to say that correcting these human created realities is not just to modify automobiles and technological living environments so that a minority can survive without radical change of their lifestyle. I want to say that we need to work towards a way of life, so that all humans and all living creatures can survive…as nature allows for survival.

Along with my teachers and many others, I have been trying to say these things for a long time. Now, humanity is at a major crossroads. I join with Gandhi and all courageous peoples in an effort to say NO to fear and death, YES to life.

I am going to Scotland to participate in Faslane 365, a one year campaign to persuade the United Kingdom NOT to fund the next generation of Trident Submarine weapon system. Groups are blockading the Faslane Submarine Base as a way of saying NO. Even without using these weapons to destroy cities and the earth, the system is and has been causing vast destruction. The Trident system symbolizes human failure to care for the earth and the living species of creation. The system is a massive failure of humans to get along together and nurture life together.

Modern weapons are an outrageous waste. I think we need to apply the human genius to solving our failures, not to destroying our life resources. The scientists, engineers, military and civil leaders must retread themselves to address the most salient issues facing life.

I have been participating for well over 30 years in the effort to end nuclear despair and weapon systems. Now I want to connect the Trident resistance at Sub Base Bangor in Washington State offered by Ground Zero Center For Nonviolent Action with Sub Base Faslane in Scotland offered by Faslane 365. (Ground Zero celebrates 30 years of resistance on August 6th, 2007. The Faslane resistance celebrates 25 years in June.) It would be a significant step for the United Kingdom to say no to funding the next Trident generation. This would be a correction of the United States’ and Britain’s refusal to comply with the 1996 World Court decision outlawing nuclear weapons. To reverse course on nuclear weapons would be a step toward compliance with the Non-proliferation Treaty and ending governmental policies of intimidation and domination. We need to stop dominating and destroying wastefully. We need to conserve, preserve, and nurture life.

The message I heard from several presenters at the 2006 World Peace Forum in Vancouver B.C. is that nuclear disarmament is now up to the grassroots. Just like the other issues!

After the action on May 27 and 28th I will join a pilgrimage with Footsteps For Peace, “Toward A Nuclear Free World.” I will join the walk which begins in Ireland when it arrives at Faslane. We will walk to London ending on the anniversary of the Atom bombing of Hiroshima, August 6th. The pilgrimage will visit several military bases along the way.

The trip is an act of love. Love seeks the truth. Love seeks the good of all life. Love is nonviolent. Love bears all things. Love is peace.

April 12, 2007

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