February 26, 2011

World, Meet “The Love Project”

Whereas, there are a lot of people saying and doing a lot of horrible things in the world,

— recent cases in point include, but are not limited to, the criminal use of aircraft on 9/11/01, the senseless and unjust war with Iraq; the beheading of a Jewish journalist; the torture of persons by U.S. agents; Israel bulldozing olive orchards owned by Palestinians; the shooting in Tuscon, AZ; Texas removing references to Thomas Jefferson in their school textbooks; the Westboro Baptist Church’s protesting and spewing hate at military funerals; the various, actions of certain politicians (and their corporate sponsors) to decimate the working class and the basic welfare for citizens in the U.S.; the leader of Libya calling air-strikes against his own civilians; and most recently, a constituent in attendance at a town hall forum hosted by Rep. Paul Broun, of Georgia asked the representative “Who is going to shoot Obama?” – and, while Broun evaded the question, he failed to condemn that violent rhetoric and mean-spirited, divisiveness  —

Whereas, if you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention.  It’s as if there are forces at work that would return us to the feudal Dark Ages where every community is a gated one ruled by strongmen and where the weak beg outside churches for “alms for the poor.”  Whether offensive actions or words spring forth from those on the right, or the left, or even by radical centrists (I suppose it’s possible) they need to be put in check.

Whereas, it is fine and well to be outraged by these sorts of things, yet mere outrage does little to make a positive and constructive difference in the world,

I am hereby, issuing an APB (all points bulletin) to all vessels of light and love, to all who seek to bring out the best in our fellow man and woman, to all who have faith in the reality of transformation and in the in-breaking Kingdom of God (or “Beloved Community,” or whatever you may wish to call it). As Jesus put it, “the harvest it plentiful but the workers are few.” Those words are as true now as they were then. I have a hunch there’s more than a few of us. But, none of us can sit on our butts and ride this out hoping for the best without doing the work.

Moreover, I am specifically calling for the creation of The Love Project.  TLP is an organization that will both humanely and authentically respond to such acts when they occur and seek to prevent them from happening in the first place.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

The apostle Paul said, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20)

We reject revenge and retaliation – however, in addition to drawing inspiration from those teachings, we are also motivated by Mark Twain who said, “Always do right.  This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest” as well as by the cad who said,

“Forgive people, it messes with their heads.”

We are also inspired by Plato who said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

And, we are also motivated by our awareness from our own life experiences that “hurt people hurt people” and that the only way to shift from hate and fear is by being heard, having our fears and wounds acknowledged and honored, and by being loved, forgiven, and accepted.

Responsive Action:

Whenever an ugly situation of humans being at their worst splashes onto the national radar screen, we will:

* have a small team of crafty kindred spirits who will learn the work address of the offending party (or a non-invasive way to contact them) and we will then send handwritten cards and letters to them sharing that we love them and that we forgive them for their actions and/or words.  This will hold them accountable, hold a mirror up to them, and also convey love and acceptance of them.  Handwritten letters are so very rare these days and they personalize the human to human sense of community and relationship that we increasingly need to be reminded of.  We will not release addresses to our larger membership or to any other parties.

We might send flowers or a cookie too.

* create an online forum for as many people as possible to sign their names expressing that they too forgive that person.

Proactive Action:

TLP will promote various ways of increasing tolerance, acceptance, compassion, deep listening, forgiveness, healthy conflict resolution, and more…

We will utilize social media, organize “salon” discussion groups in people’s homes across the country, and seek to subvert churches and other religious organizations and congregations in order to remind them about the compassion, grace, and love that are at the heart and core of their teachings and mission.

** Note: because we forgive people does not mean that we think persons shouldn’t have to face the consequences of their actions or to be subject to the criminal justice system and possible incarceration.  It does mean however that we are opposed to the death penalty as there can be little in the way of reconciliation, restitution, repentance, or transformation if they are removed from the planet.

While the Muse that inspired TLP happened to flow through someone who happens to be a Christian, TLP is an inter-faith, trans-faith, and secular outreach.  Anyone who gives a damn, leads with their heart in life, and believes that people can change is welcome to participate.

This project is seeking constructive feedback about this hair-brained idea and TLP is recruiting members and participants.  Please contact Roger at brotherrog at hotmail dot com

Elephant: To learn more about what makes this author tick, see his new book, Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity

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