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What’s the Deadline for Finding Peace and Happiness?

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I’m struggling under too many deadlines lately, which I know won’t illicit sympathy from those of you in the work-a-day world. But as an accidental early retiree, I’m not used to deadlines anymore so they are even more stressful and intrusive than when they were organizationally imposed.

That penultimate, omnipotent organizational deadline imposer, the Internal Revenue Service, dictated a February 28th deadline for me this year, under the threat of losing my beloved, best-thing-in-the-world, don’t-mess-with-it-Supreme-Court Obamacare subsidy. I impressed myself by meeting that deadline, but as executor of two estates, there are plenty more IRS forms in my near future.

Health care ensured for the year, I’ve moved on to the next impending deadline and am ostensibly working on a sermon to be delivered next week. The topic I’ve been assigned boils down to “how to be happy and at peace.” Cinch, right? Being new to sermon preparation, I find it tortuous, and now even more so because I was recently commissioned to our church’s Pastoral Team and feel as if I’m suddenly supposed to know how to preach.

Preaching guidance did not come in my how-to-be-a-pastor packet. What came instead was about a bijillion email documents covering ten years of strategic planning, which I’m supposed to read and digest in three days.

I’m also up against a March 9th deadline to apply for a summer writing workshop. Last night I spent hours mucking around with the simple question, “Tell us something about yourself.” This does not bode well for the associated 1,000-word essay.

Last night I got a pleading call from the people who are buying my family house — the one I grew up in and where my brother fell into mental illness and died (no emotional complications there). The couple’s house has rented early and they have no place to go; can we possibly move up the settlement date by a week?

Sigh.

I now have just a few weeks to haul piles of boxes and bunches of furniture out of the house and find someplace to put it all, hire someone to clean the house, transplant Mom’s roses and azaleas, and sell a dead car for which I have no title. 

For now, I have to get back to this sermon. Hmmm – how to find peace.

flowers and Dayspring 050

The Bombs Bursting in Air: 330,000 Lives, Four Trillion Bucks

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I just heard that a local Veterans for Peace group is being banned from the Fourth of July parade in Santa Barbara. Although they have marched in the past, this year they had the audacity to propose an actual float, one with crosses and flowers honoring the dead.

The official reason for their banishment – I’m not kidding here – is that they might pass out flyers which would cause litter.

Veterans. For peace.

Peace Sign

Peace is Patriotic

I wanted to blog about it, but I find I have no words. No comment. I can’t even think of what to call it. An outrage? A crime? An abomination?

I think I will simply quote a few true patriots this Fourth of July, as part of my commitment to being a Blogger for Peace.

Thomas Jefferson

A founding father, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and third president of the U.S.:

“If there be one principle more deeply written than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.”

James Madison

A founding father and fourth president of the U.S.:

Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.

(Political Observations, April 20, 1795)

 John Quincy Adams

Secretary of State and sixth president of the U.S.:

…what has America done for the benefit of mankind? Let our answer be this:

She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own.

She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart . . .Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.  But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force….

She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit….

[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is Freedom, Independence, Peace.

{Speech to Congress, July 4, 1821}

Helen Keller

{People} are taught that brave men die for their country’s honor. What a price to pay for an abstraction–the lives of millions of young men; other millions crippled and blinded for life; existence made hideous for still more millions of human beings; the achievement and inheritance of generations swept away in a moment–and nobody better off for all the misery!

Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought. Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder. Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings. Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction. Be heroes in an army of construction.

{A speech at Carnegie Hall before World War I}

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered…

A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with  orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

{Riverside Church, April 4, 1967}

Your Taxpayer Dollars at War

There have been more than 330,000 direct war deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan since 2001. More than 200,000 of those people were civilians.

This does not include indirect deaths attributed to the wars — almost always more than direct deaths.

The amount our country has invested to cause these deaths is over four trillion dollars (spent and obligated).

Fifty-three percent of your taxes go towards war, in this way:

FY2009 federal piechart

Courtesy War Resisters League

 

If you’ve been around awhile, you might remember Ronald Reagan’s hawkish Secretary of State, Alexander Haig. He offered a sound strategy for Americans who prefer peace to militarism.

“Let them march all they want,” Haig said, “as long as they pay their taxes.”

Thanks for the tip, Al.

Perhaps you will celebrate the Fourth with me by taking a look at this information about boycotting the War Tax. Something our founding fathers might well have condoned . . . like refusing to pay an unjust tax on tea.

Then go drink a cold beer and blow something up.

 

Related articles:

http://bloggers4peace.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/kozo-cheri-asks-that-you/

http://cherispeak.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/allegiance-is-peace/

http://costsofwar.org/

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