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Some Time Off

posted by John Stoner   (July 20, 2017)

For health and vacation reasons neither Berry nor I will post regularly for the next several weeks. In early August I plan to resume.

A Public Discussion

by John K. Stoner  (July 14, 2017)

It has not been difficult to decide that I should not go further with the idea proposed Monday that we call on churches to go into the streets Sunday August 6, Hiroshima Day, to stop traffic to stop war.  The one thoughtful comment I received on that (from a source behind this blog) advised that churches would not do that.  It is true, they would not.

So I revisit just one part of that proposal, the discussion of what is the greater duty of the law.  I invite you to give it further consideration.  Do we have people who care enough about war and nuclear war, and law and what it does not do, to initiate conversation on this call for discernment?

If the law and law enforcement in this country have a greater duty to arrest protesting citizens than to stop war and nuclear war, we are going to make that duty of the law very public and very visible. 

Greater Duty

by John K. Stoner  (July 10, 2017)

We interrupt this program to sound an alarm. 

Have you been hearing Trump’s scare language about North Korea, and Iran?  He and the war hawks are trying to condition us for another regime-change war or two, in the name of saving some country—like we destroyed Iraq to save it.

In my own experience I’ve seen too many international crises and wars initiated in the month of August.  I don’t know why, maybe because people are on vacation and away from the normal relationships and structures which would give them most ready access to acts of protest.  I’ve seen some evidence for the August theory online, e.g.  https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/world-news/civil-unrest/why-is-august-the-most-active-month-for-war/  In any case, I’m urging readers to pay more than usual attention to the warmongers and their talk in the next month.  

The public action which I recommend to challenge the heartless and mindless imposters who claim to run this country is UNIVERSAL WORK STOPPAGE.  Just stay home from work, tell everybody why you’re doing it, and urge them to do it.  To the extent we can plan ahead for this, plan for August 9.  And as a serious engagement of the church in this, let’s call August 6 “Peace Churches Stop War Sunday.”  

For this, a simple slogan and plan: “STOP TRAFFIC TO STOP WAR.”

On Sunday August 6, Hiroshima Day, every peace-loving church in America walks out of its sanctuary into the nearest public thoroughfare and stops traffic with the message STOP TRAFFIC TO STOP WAR!  We’ve had enough, we’ve had too much.  No more wars started by USA!  
As a public action, “Stop Traffic to Stop War” would risk arrest, but not necessarily evoke arrest.  As such, it invites discussion of civil disobedience and the law.  Thus, let us plan to give our churches and the press this proposition for consideration:

If the law and law enforcement in this country have a greater duty to arrest protesting citizens than to stop war and nuclear war, we are going to make that duty of the law very public and very visible. 

We need a public discussion of “greater duty” in this country.  I put these ideas forward this morning to test them.  I consider the readership of this blog a small audience, appropriate for testing an idea.  Please write a comment, or call me at 717 803-6020.

Behavior That Reduces Conflict

by John K. Stoner  (July 7, 2017)

Responding to yesterday’s blog, some readers will say, “But this blog is supposed to be about an alternative to empire.  Miller’s story is about nothing but an encounter of a few people on an average day, it’s not about how to run the world.”

Wrong.

The macro is contained in the micro. 

This is totally about how to manage the relationships of large groups of people—from social clubs to nations.  The principle is to do what will reduce conflict, not what will enlarge it.

This kind of behavior is within the human capacity and actual reach of people in every kind of situation. 

And further, for those who give the Judaeo-Christian history any kind of privileged place as especially instructive for how to manage human affairs—Jesus was a specialist in the practice of behaviors shaped by love.  And his teaching was never intended to be restricted to the interactions of individuals—he always presented it as a different way for social, cultural and national entities to relate to each other.  That is why the language of corporate entities, starting with “kingdom” was so central in his teaching and actions.  

Again and again, Jesus framed his message in terms of a new, a different kind of “kingdom,” but a kingdom nevertheless, and for all the reductionist interpretations given to it, still a kingdom.  He presented it as a way of thinking about, processing, and organizing human relations on the largest of all corporate scales.  He called it “kingdom of God.”  He brought the transcendent into the most totally, and abjectly depraved by greed and violence,  structure which deeply affected the lives of everyone around him.  People in Jesus’ world called the supreme structures of human organization kingdoms.  Today we call them nations, or corporations, or empires. 

So in his teaching and public actions he spoke often of, and interacted with, Gentiles and Jews, women in a patriarchal society, Pharisees, Scribes, Herodians, centurions, priests and levites—all of them representing corporate powers.  He challenged their oppressive behavior by liberating people who suffered their abuses of power, and encouraged people to assert their personal freedom and power.  

Here's How It Happens

by John K. Stoner  (July 6, 2017)

Lisa Miller tells this story, which illustrates the encouragement, and learning, of better behavior—practices informed by love.

She writes:
The long line at the post office was filled with people doing the usual post-office thing—exchanging glances and rolling their eyes, simmering with hostility at the delay.  I could see that the clerk behind the counter—all alone at a rush time—was incredibly angry, glaring, and steaming at each customer who approached her window.  Then it was my turn.

Suddenly she blurted out ‘I’ve had the worst day ever.’  I said, ‘The worst day ever?  I’m so sorry you had the worst day ever.’  In a flash, the shift of energy and intention in the crowd was palpable—where there had been a shimmering hostility by exasperated customers and the clerk’s defensive hostility back, suddenly those in line changed from a position of anger to understanding.  People stopped glaring, smiled in sympathy, and quietly tidied the line instead of leaning impatiently forward.  I witnessed a sudden manifestation of the culture of love by a line of people.   (p, 345).

This change of energy and atmosphere in  a whole group of people was the result of a choice by one person to invite the higher nature and innate goodness of others to express itself. 

It’s the kind of thing all of us can choose to do if we choose to. 

Both Greed and Generosity are Learned Behaviors

by John K. Stoner   (July 5, 2017)

I ended the previous blog with the question, “What are human’s capable of (specifically in “the giving and receiving of love, that is, a simple caring for the well-being of others?”) 

Those who say that humanity is capable of acting more on the basis of love (than we currently see it doing) are often, even routinely, dismissed as deluded idealists.  I am one who does claim that humanity is capable of acting more on the basis of love than it is currently doing.

This does not mean to me that it will be easy or automatic for this to happen.  What it means in my mind is that we need to give attention to doing the things that need to be done to nurture and encourage people to choose love instead of fear, greed or bullying.  

People tend very strongly to act on the basis of their conditioning, education (formal and informal) and experience.  Perhaps you have noticed that people who are real successful in greed and acquisition of money or goods have gone through a lot of training and experience in those practices.  That is to say, that the practice of negative behaviors are as surely learned as are the practices of good behavior.  

So it is not a big jump to say that good behaviors, practices informed by love or generosity, can be encouraged and learned. 

Our World Is Changed by Love

by John K. Stoner    (July 4, 2017)

Love lives in that space which is beyond the physical, which we have an inborn capacity to perceive.

In the words of Lisa Miller (THE SPIRITUAL CHILD), we have “a transcendent faculty—the ability to feel and interact with a world beyond the physical world” (p. 241).  The point of these blogs is to say that the widespread failure of humans to use that faculty for transcendence is driving us to destruction.

The point of yesterday’s blog “We Are Changed by Love” was to say that the giving and receiving of love shapes our personal experience.  We looked at that, ever so briefly, in the experience of every infant and child.   The point of today’s blog is to say that love also shapes our world.

And everything in this blog series is based on an observation and an assumption.  The observation is that our world is in very big trouble, and the assumption is that something needs to change—something in how most of us us are thinking and acting needs to change.  

Which brings us back to a question—or two— raised a couple days ago:  what is necessary, and what is possible?

What is necessary?—  some change in human behavior, in general.  And that would be a change toward caring for life instead of destroying it—starting with the inherent life-giving nature of the planet itself.  It is necessary for humans to learn and cooperate with the live-giving function of the so-called ecosystem, or in the wisdom on ancient peoples, Mother Earth.  Mother Earth, who loves us enough to give us life to begin with, and to nurture us to some kind of adult maturity.  

And it is necessary for humanity to learn to change its attitude toward all other human beings—the human occupants of and participants in the Empire and empires of economic greed and military obsession in particular must change their attitude.  The Empire that claims to be Number One, the exceptional and indispensable empire of the red, white and blue, on July 4, no less, has got to return to some kind of sanity—that is, it’s occupants and beneficiaries will either respond to their necessity of recognizing their kinship with all of humanity,  or else experience the necessity of the dire (and I warn, indescribably so) consequences of continuing on in fear and ignorance.  

This much is necessary.

What is possible?

Can we get beyond the fear of our brothers and sisters in other lands, of “other” religions, with whom we share a common destiny as if linked at the hip as Siamese twins?  And can we get beyond our ignorance of human capacities for greater goodness, both our own and that of others? 

It appears now that humanity, and the supposed leaders and people of wisdom who claim to run the worlds of economics and government, will have to entertain the possibility that the giving and receiving of human love is necessary to the running of the world.

We will have to see that not only individuals are changed and shaped by love, but the world itself is also changed and shaped by love.  And so, as strange and distant  an idea as it may seem, we’ll need to discover (again) the innate human capacity for transcendence, which includes the giving and receiving of love—that is, a simple caring for the well-being of others, not only of ourselves.

This is what is necessary.  Is it possible?  That will be the subject of ongoing discussion in these blogs.  What are human’s capable of, and what can I contribute to that?

We Are Changed by Love

by John K. Stoner    (July 1, 2017)

Every loving act which a parent does for a child nurtures that child’s natural spirituality.

When a mother nurses her baby, she does a loving act, and the child is nurtured biologically by that act.  But it is also nurtured spiritually.  When it is nursed the child grows in confidence that this world into which it has come, out of the womb, is a supportive and nurturing world.  And when the child is held and snuggled by its mother or father, we would not say that it is nourished biologically,  but we recognize that it grows spiritually.  Its sense of wellbeing, security and peace is nurtured.  Human touch will make it a healthier and happier little person.  

Around the world, in all cultures and climates, human beings begin life and experience their first significant development by responding to loving actions.  This is true of the Innuit of Alaska, the aborigines of Australia, of Muslims, Chinese, Japanese and Europeans.  

Given that all humans begin life by being nurtured by love, it seems fair, and I would suggest necessary, to ask a question:  Is there a time when, or a reason why, people would cease being responsive to love through this spiritual capacity with which they were born?

Or again, a time or a reason, when parents, or any adult, should forget that their fellow human beings are creatures who respond to love?  

How, why, do cultures seemingly come to believe that their fellow humans respond only to force, coercion, or homicidal threat?

What does it matter that children respond to love?  Send  your thoughts by using the comments function below or in the right margin.  

It makes as much sense to argue that human behavior is shaped only by  nature or nurture as to argue that a coin held between your fingers is either heads or tails.  It is always both.

Think about times when your own behavior was shaped, changed, by a loving act extended to you.