Meditation Focus #165

Imagine The Future Now


Hello!

What follows is the 165th Meditation Focus suggested for the next 2 weeks beginning Sunday, January 28, 2007.

IMAGINE THE FUTURE NOW

1. Summary
2. Meditation times
3. More information related to this Meditation Focus
4. Peace Vigil for the Middle East

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE IN PASSING THIS ON TO OTHERS

Also recommended to your attention...

The Perfect Storm Series #9: Hitting The Wall or Breaking Through and Ascending (January 16, 2007)
http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/Archives2007/PerfectStorm9.htm

The Big Scoop Series #16: Black Clouds on The Horizon (January 25, 2007)
http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/Archives2007/BigScoop16.htm



1) SUMMARY

Imagine for a moment that you are several years ahead in the future and the Earth and all her inhabitants have profoundly changed. What seemed impossible and totally utopian in the eyes of many has come to pass. Imagine that a new existence, devoid of any of the perils and torments of the past, is now possible for all souls dwelling on this New Earth. Imagine, if you will, that every human being is now recognized as a full-fledged member of the wonderful human family, and that no one goes lacking in the essential material elements that make a fulfilling, happy life possible. Every child is cared for and not a single one goes hungry or in dire poverty. The level of Love and Harmony between all humans and with all of Nature is simply astounding... No one has to do any activity that is detrimental to the vital commons on which all Life depends. The kindness and compassion that is shown and experienced by every single soul is simply awe-inspiring. No one tries to dominate or take advantage of anyone. Everyone is passionate about helping others, experiencing all the wonders of Life and being the best possible expression of the profound wisdom and Light emanating from their soul.

Now, holding this vision in your soul's eye, try to imagine how you feel, living in such a pristine, vibrant environment, knowing that Love, Peace and Harmony prevail, sensing your Oneness with all your brothers and sisters, viewing in their eyes the sparkling expression of the living, radiant soul each human is... Allow this feeling of sheer happiness to grow in your heart and embrace your entire being... Let ecstasy tingles in everyone of your cells... Let Love shine through you... And KNOW that what you are feeling now is ABSOLUTELY real...

As you are joining in this globally synchronized communion with thousands and thousands of other souls feeling the very same experience, enable the sense of Oneness pervading your soul to expand and encompass every other form of Life, every other soul, every other atom of this Great, Magnificent Being of Love that You Are... as One... with All That is... And from that place of sublime, blissful Omniversal Awareness, further expand your sense of Self to integrate the very perception of your Universal Beingness, as One Within the Creator... Do not press ahead for more thoughts. Just Be! You have arrived... Let it BE... And as you ARE blissfully aware of this magnificent future that, by virtue of your contemplation of its existence, is now immanently manifested, you co-create, and will continue to co-create, by the very essence of your radiant Presence, what is soon to fully manifest, for the Highest Good of All.


This whole Meditation Focus has been archived for your convenience at
http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus165.htm


"Shortly before he died, John Lennon was asked why he devoted so much of his time and energy to peace. "Isn't that a waste of time?" the reporter asked. Lennon answered that he believed that Leonardo de Vinci help make flying possible because he imagined it, discussed it, painted it and brought it into people's consciousness. "What a person projects can eventually happen," he said. "And therefore, I always want to project peace. I want to project it in song, word, and action. I want to put the possibility of peace into the public imagination. And I know, as certain as I am standing here, that someday peace will be."

— Taken from "Dare to Imagine" below


"We are all cells in the body of humanity -- all of us, all over the world. Each one has a contribution to make, and will know from within what this contribution is, but no one can find inner peace except by working, not in a self-centered way, but for the whole human family.”

— Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Works in Her Own Words - Many more such quotes from Peace Pilgrim at http://www.peacepilgrim.net/oldquote/qarkiv.htm


"We are One people... We share One planet... We have One common dream... We want to live in peace... We choose to protect and heal the Earth... We decide to create a better world for all... We will do our best to make that dream come true... We will change what needs to be changed... We will learn to love, share and forgive... We are One people, we want to live and we will."

— The Earth Proclamation - There is a complementary statement which you may sign at
http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/AutosignPro.htm



2. MEDITATION TIMES

i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes. Please dedicate the last few minutes of your Sunday meditation to the healing of the Earth as a whole. See the Earth as healthy and vibrant with life, and experience the healing of all relations as we awaken globally to the sacredness of all Life and to our underlying unity with All That Is.

ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.

These times below correspond (for most countries) to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:

Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage 7:00 AM -- Los Angeles 8:00 AM -- Denver 9:00 AM -- San Salvador, Mexico City, Houston & Chicago 10:00 AM -- New York, Toronto & Montreal 11:00 AM -- Halifax, Santo Domingo, La Paz & Caracas 12:00 PM -- Montevideo, Asuncion * & Santiago * 1:00 PM -- Rio de Janeiro * 2:00 PM -- London, Dublin, Lisbon, Reykjavik & Casablanca 4:00 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Paris & Madrid 5:00 PM -- Ankara, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Athens, Helsinki & Istanbul 6:00 PM -- Baghdad, Moscow & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Tehran 7:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 AM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington * +5:00 AM

You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?day=28&month=01&year=2007&hour=16&min=0&sec=0&p1=0 to find your corresponding local time if a nearby city is not listed above.



3. MORE INFORMATION RELATED TO THIS MEDITATION FOCUS

This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Meditation Focus.


CONTENTS

1. I Imagine World Peace
2. Inspiring Message
3. Thousands pack D.C. to protest Iraq war
4. Excerpts from the Nobel Lecture by IAEA Director General and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2005
5. Imagine Peace On Earth
6. Dare to Imagine


ALSO RECOMMENDED

We Can Create A Better World - Inner Peace
http://www.betterworld.net/betterworldbook/p-ch8.htm
The most important role that we can take on in our effort to create a better world, is to become peacebuilders. We can only help make our lives and our world more peaceful, when we ourselves feel peace. Peace already exists within each of us, if we only allow ourselves to feel its comfort. Peace of mind begins when we stop thinking about how far we have to go, or how hard the road has been, and just let ourselves feel peace. Peace of mind gives us the strength to keep trying and keep walking along the path that we KNOW is right for our lives. The life of a peacebuilder is a daily decision to refocus and rededicate ourselves to put 'creating a better world' first in our list of priorities. We refocus and rededicate our lives by allowing ourselves to feel inner peace so that we can once again see our greater purpose and know that our lives are making a difference. We are part of a movement that has worked throughout history towards humanity's greatest goal - creating a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Imagine (song)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imagine_(song)
"Imagine" is a utopian song performed by John Lennon, which appears on his 1971 album Imagine. Although originally credited solely to Lennon, in recent years Yoko Ono's contribution to the song has become more widely acknowledged. The song was produced by Phil Spector.Imagine is widely considered as one of the greatest songs of all time. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine voted "Imagine" the third greatest song of all time. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said, "In many countries around the world—my wife and I have visited about 125 countries—you hear John Lennon's song 'Imagine' used almost equally with national anthems." In the book Lennon in America, written by Geoffrey Giuliano, Lennon commented that the song was "an anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic song, but because it's sugar-coated, it's accepted."CLIP

Steps Toward Inner Peace by Peace Pilgrim
http://www.peacepilgrim.net/steps1.htm




1.

From: http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/green_party/82254

I Imagine World Peace

I imagine a world where actual peace exists

I imagine a world where the nuclear weapons are dismantled and taken apart so no other nation can use them as a threat or to actually launch them.

I imagine a world where leaders carefully consider all sides to an issue thoughtfully. Where they take all peoples of the world into consideration, not just those who sit beside them.

I imagine a world where land mines are picked up by the countries that placed them.

I imagine a world where nuclear power is replaced by solar panels and wind generators. Where renewable energy sources are the main source of energy. Where oil is no longer considered a necessity. Where combustion engine cars are replaced with electric vehicles or other zero emission vehicles. And public transportation is supported as a reasonable alternate means of transportation in every major city.

I imagine a world where the leaders of all governments think about their actions and resolutions on every item and what the long-term effect may be. And when they think about the long term, they think beyond their own life, or the life span of their children. They think about the effect to the seventh generation. It takes careful consideration, and no action should be so short sighted to only think of the next year or five.

I imagine a world where the goals of the world are considered, instead of the goals of a particular company.

I imagine that talks about ending racism and discrimination make headline news. And I even imagine a time when those talks end because there no longer any need for them.

I imagine a world where women are treated as equal human beings in every country, and I mean truly equal.
I imagine a world where neighbors know each other by their first name, and don’t just find each other when disaster strikes.

I imagine a world where no individual needs to work more than 20 hours per week to live a good life. Where people have time to raise their own children instead of paying someone else. Where there’s enough time in the day to create, participate in community activities, or to continue learning.

I imagine a world where every child is wanted and well taken care of. Where there isn’t a need to have more than 2 children and the population growth as a whole slows to a halt.

I imagine a world where people talk to each other with intelligence and understanding, instead of degrading simplicity or arrogance. Where the news media gives us the facts and several differing opinions, so each individual can make up their own mind.

I imagine a world where the environment is given top priority over a company’s profits. Where ancient trees are never considered for clear-cutting. Where all forest lands are increasing instead of decreasing. Where virgin paper costs twice as much as recycled.

I imagine a world where the television broadcasts contain more information than entertainment. Where community events are televised and public access is truly public.

I imagine a world where every individual speaks more than one language.

I imagine a world where people can feel free to go out of their home and to walk in their neighborhoods after dark, even if they turn out to be one lone female. And they can walk in the neighborhoods they don’t live in as well.

I imagine a world where recycling is not only a way of life, but virgin materials are considered sacred and used discriminately. Where disposable is no longer a word used.

I imagine a world where no child understands hate, and even as he grows older, still can’t comprehend the word.

I imagine a world where guns get rusted from lack of use. Where gun manufactures go bankrupt and gun control laws are no longer even needed.

I imagine a world where defense departments are turned into rescue departments to save those who are effected by natural disasters, instead of man-made wars.

I imagine a world where no one goes to bed hungry because there isn’t enough food. Where every single person has a warm place to sleep at night.

These are some of my goals, what are yours? How does this bombing help to achieve these ends? Isn’t there another way….a more peaceful way. I think there is, we just haven’t given it a chance. More often we need to stop and look at the big picture – where are we today and where are we heading as the human race? This is my vision – Peace.

Pamela Gordon




2.

From: http://www.worldpeace.org/inspiration.html

Inspiring Message

"The World Peace Prayer Society is dedicated to inspiring people to embrace compassion, to respect life and to live in harmony with one another. Peace on earth can only become a reality when all people rise above national boundaries, politics, religion and ideologies. We need to celebrate our cultural diversities rather than using them as a reason for conflict.

"There has already been too much suffering for the sake of ethnic and national interest and gain. It doesn't matter how much power and prosperity a nation achieves if its people are the victims of prejudice and internal conflict.

"We believe that the future hinges on the capacity of each individual to embrace a commitment to universal love. We must begin to transcend the barriers which keep us from seeing ourselves as part of a global family. We have to start caring about what really happens to people. Our movement seeks to promote this compassionate spirit by helping people of all nations to experience their oneness. It is our belief that Peace Poles and World Peace Prayer Ceremonies can bring people together to foster love and understanding.

"As we move forward into the 21st century we encourage all of you to take a positive step toward universal understanding. Touch people with the message of love. Pray for the peace and happiness of people in all other lands and cultures. Make a commitment to world peace by honoring the earth, honoring its people, and celebrating the unity of the human spirit."

Masami Saionji
Chairperson
The World Peace Prayer Society

"We can begin to express love within our daily lives. When more and more of us
awaken our hearts to universal love, harmony and peace will prevail on earth."




3.

From: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2007/01/27/iraq-protest.html

Thousands pack D.C. to protest Iraq war

January 27, 2007 - CBC News

Tens of thousands converged on Washington, D.C., on Saturday in a spirited anti-war demonstration that drew military families, celebrities and ordinary people calling for the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

Under a sunny sky, the protesters seized an opportunity to press their cause with a Congress restive about the war and a country that has turned against the conflict.

Marching with them was Jane Fonda, in what she said was her first anti-war demonstration in 34 years.

"Silence is no longer an option," Fonda said to cheers from the stage on the National Mall. The actress once derided as "Hanoi Jane" by conservatives for her opposition to the war in Vietnam said she had held back from activism so as not to be a distraction for the Iraq anti-war movement, but needed to speak out now.

More military people protesting, Fonda says

Sensitive to the old wounds, Fonda made it a point to thank the serving members of the military, veterans and Gold Star mothers — those who have lost a son or daughter in military service — who attended the rally.

Fonda drew parallels to the Vietnam War, citing "blindness to realities on the ground, hubris … thoughtlessness in our approach to rebuilding a country we've destroyed."

But she noted that this time, veterans and soldiers in uniform are increasingly and vocally protesting.
Among them at the protest was Staff Sgt. Tassi McKee, 26, an intelligence specialist for the air force who is based at Fort Meade, Md. She said she joined the military because of patriotism, to travel and to get money for college."After we went to Iraq, I began to see through the lies," she said.

Vincent DiMezza, who was a marine aircraft mechanic from 1997 to 2002, was also in the crowd, wearing a dress marine uniform from his years as a sergeant.

"I've just gotten tired of seeing widows, tired of seeing dead marines," said DiMezza, 32, who did not serve in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Day of bloodshed in Iraq

The protest came on the same day as the U.S. military reported the deaths of seven more American soldiers in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Sunni Muslim insurgents bombed another market in a predominantly Shia Muslim district on Baghdad, killing at least 13 people in a bid to terrorize the city before a U.S.-Iraqi crackdown.

In the past week, U.S. President George W. Bush and his administration made it clear that they intend to push ahead with their plan to send more soldiers to Iraq in spite of opposition in Congress and the public.

Mid-terms showed Americans oppose war plans: protester

At Saturday's demonstration in Washington, from the stage and in the crowd, protestors gave voice to the opposition that has been so clearly evident in public opinion polls and November's mid-term elections, which handed the Democrats a majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years.

"The election made it very clear that we are tired of the way things were going," one man told CBC News.
"It is unfair to the people that are over there, the Iraqis, Americans, and any other people … and I think it is time to end this."

Polls show that not only do most Americans oppose the war, but they also think the situation is getting worse. About 70 per cent of Americans disagree with the decisions the president has made during the war as commander-in-chief.

"Is impeachment still off the table? Let's get him out of office," said actor and activist Tim Robbins as the crowd on the Mall chanted "Impeach Bush."

The rally unfolded peacefully, although about 300 protesters tried to rush the Capitol Building, running up the grassy lawn to its front. Police on motorcycles tried to stop them, scuffling with some and barricading entrances.

United for Peace and Justice, a coalition group sponsoring the protest, had hoped 100,000 people would come. Police, who no longer give official estimates, said privately the crowd was smaller than that.

---

Related article:

Tens of Thousands March Against Iraq War
http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/01/27/ap3368530.html
(...) At the rally, 12-year-old Moriah Arnold stood on her toes to reach the microphone and tell the crowd: "Now we know our leaders either lied to us or hid the truth. Because of our actions, the rest of the world sees us as a bully and a liar."The sixth-grader from Harvard, Mass., organized a petition drive at her school against the war that has killed more than 3,000 U.S. service-members, including seven whose deaths were reported Saturday.More Hollywood celebrities showed up at the demonstration than buttoned-down Washington typically sees in a month.Actor Sean Penn said lawmakers will pay a price in the 2008 elections if they do not take firmer action than to pass a nonbinding resolution against the war, the course Congress is now taking."If they don't stand up and make a resolution as binding as the death toll, we're not going to be behind those politicians," he said. Actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins also spoke. CLIP

More related news through http://news.google.com/news?ned=ca&ncl=1113057636&hl=en




4.

From: http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Statements/2005/ebsp2005n020.html

10 December 2005 | Oslo, Norway

IAEA Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony 2005

The Nobel Lecture by IAEA Director General and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2005 Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei

(...) We are 1000 people here today in this august hall. Imagine for a moment that we represent the world's population. These 200 people on my left would be the wealthy of the world, who consume 80 per cent of the available resources. And these 400 people on my right would be living on an income of less than $2 per day.
This underprivileged group of people on my right is no less intelligent or less worthy than their fellow human beings on the other side of the aisle. They were simply born into this fate.

In the real world, this imbalance in living conditions inevitably leads to inequality of opportunity, and in many cases loss of hope. And what is worse, all too often the plight of the poor is compounded by and results in human rights abuses, a lack of good governance, and a deep sense of injustice. This combination naturally creates a most fertile breeding ground for civil wars, organized crime, and extremism in its different forms.
In regions where conflicts have been left to fester for decades, countries continue to look for ways to offset their insecurities or project their "power". In some cases, they may be tempted to seek their own weapons of mass destruction, like others who have preceded them.

Fifteen years ago, when the Cold War ended, many of us hoped for a new world order to emerge. A world order rooted in human solidarity - a world order that would be equitable, inclusive and effective.
But today we are nowhere near that goal. We may have torn down the walls between East and West, but we have yet to build the bridges between North and South - the rich and the poor.

Consider our development aid record. Last year, the nations of the world spent over $1 trillion on armaments. But we contributed less than 10 per cent of that amount - a mere $80 billion - as official development assistance to the developing parts of the world, where 850 million people suffer from hunger.

My friend James Morris heads the World Food Programme, whose task it is to feed the hungry. He recently told me, "If I could have just 1 per cent of the money spent on global armaments, no one in this world would go to bed hungry."

It should not be a surprise then that poverty continues to breed conflict. Of the 13 million deaths due to armed conflict in the last ten years, 9 million occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, where the poorest of the poor live.

Consider also our approach to the sanctity and value of human life. In the aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, we all grieved deeply, and expressed outrage at this heinous crime - and rightly so. But many people today are unaware that, as the result of civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 3.8 million people have lost their lives since 1998.

Are we to conclude that our priorities are skewed, and our approaches uneven?

CLIP

Imagine what would happen if the nations of the world spent as much on development as on building the machines of war. Imagine a world where every human being would live in freedom and dignity. Imagine a world in which we would shed the same tears when a child dies in Darfur or Vancouver. Imagine a world where we would settle our differences through diplomacy and dialogue and not through bombs or bullets. Imagine if the only nuclear weapons remaining were the relics in our museums. Imagine the legacy we could leave to our children.

Imagine that such a world is within our grasp.




5.

From: http://www.peacekidz.com/songs/imagine.htm

Imagine Peace On Earth

Imagine a world where nations never war.
Where no more weapons are fired any more.
Imagine a world where people do what's right
And the rule of law is stronger than the rule of might.
Imagine a world where everyone has all they need.
Where kindness and compassion are taught instead of greed.
Imagine peace on earth... May Peace Prevail On Earth!

Imagine a world where the global economy
is based on what's best for all earth's communities.
Where beauty and art and the media inspire
The best in all, and lift our spirits higher.
Imagine a world where science and technology
Serve only to bring out the best in humanity.
Imagine peace on earth... May Peace Prevail On Earth!

Imagine a world where no child is left behind
Where children everywhere are free to educate their minds.
Imagine a world where tolerance and diversity
Are the golden rule that guides humanity.
Imagine a world where people don't neglect
The beauty of the earth, and treat it with respect.
Imagine peace on earth... May Peace prevail on earth...

Based on Pathways To Peace's "Imagine a World"




6.

From: http://www.plough.com/articles/daretoimagine.html

Dare to Imagine

John Dear, S.J.

"I see no poverty in the world of tomorrow - no wars, no revolutions, no bloodshed. And in that world, there will be a faith in God greater and deeper than ever in the past."

- Mohandas Gandhi

The story is told that in the early 1980s a small group gathered in their church basement in East Germany to ask a daring question: "What will Germany look like a thousand years from now when the Berlin Wall finally falls?"

There was no question of the Wall coming down soon. Such a prospect was unimaginable. Communism was here to stay. The grip of the Soviet empire was permanent. The suicidal competition between the two nuclear superpowers seemed preordained.

And yet, they asked the question. They allowed their imagination free reign. What would a world without the Wall look like? And what must we do now to hasten that great day a thousand years from now?

"Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one." .... John Lennon

I believe that asking such a question, letting our imaginations challenge us and daring to dream of a new world unleashes a spirit of transformation that can actually change history.

According to the story, the small group felt energized as they discussed their dream. They decided to meet again a few weeks later. Soon word of the meetings spread and more people began to meet in church basements to dream of a world without the Wall. Over the next few years, a grassroots movement grew.

Ordinary people on both sides of the Wall pursued the vision of unity and reconciliation. They met, organized, prayed and spoke out. Then, out of the blue, Mikhail Gorbachev announced his new policy of perestroika. The Polish Solidarity movement pushed the Soviets out and a new democracy was born. Events moved quickly. Communism collapsed and the Soviet Union imploded.

The God of peace is hard at work trying to disarm the world. But God needs our help. God needs every one of us to be part of God's global transformation for peace and justice. God needs our grassroots movements of nonviolent resistance to disarm the world.

The grassroots movement begun in East Berlin by a handful of faithful dreamers made all the difference. In November 1989, tens of thousands of people marched in East Berlin to demand the fall of the Wall. Every day, more people marched. Soon, hundreds of thousands were marching. Then all of a sudden, on November 9th, the Wall fell down. It took the world by surprise. Yet the Berlin Wall could not have come down peacefully without the grassroots visionaries who dreamed, imagined, met, discussed and organized over the years.

Gorbachev needed a grassroots movement to make his vision bear fruit. In other words, the Wall fell because ordinary people imagined a world without the Wall. They held up the possibility of a world without the Wall and they acted as if such a world was possible and inevitable.

New Abolitionists

Their daring vision reminds me of the abolitionists who imagined a world without slavery. "Every human being is equal," they said. "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of race. No human can be bought, owned or sold. Therefore, slavery must be abolished - now!" They were dismissed as unpatriotic revolutionaries, unrealistic idealists, and crazy lunatics. "Slavery has always existed," they were told. "This is the way things have always been and always will be. Some people are not human. Even St. Paul endorsed slavery! You cannot change the course of history."

"No," they said. "The time of slavery is over. A new world without slavery is coming." The great herald of the abolitionist movement, William Lloyd Garrison, set the tone for the movement when he published his newspaper, "The Liberator," in 1831 and declared to the world that the age of slavery is over. His front page editorial in the first issue stirred the nation. "I am in earnest. I will not equivocate. I will not excuse. I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard," he announced. With the help of hundreds of committed activists, Garrison wrote and spoke out day and night against slavery. He encouraged people to join the movement, smuggle slaves into Northern freedom, disrupt the culture of slavery and demand equality for all. These abolitionists were attacked, mobbed, threatened, jailed and even killed. They practiced steadfast nonviolent civil disobedience against the laws which legalized slavery. Their vision and determination paved the way for the abolition of slavery.

Like the abolitionists who envisioned a world without slavery, we are new abolitionists who envision a world without war, poverty, injustice and nuclear weapons. We give our lives to that vision, creating movements for disarmament and justice, trusting that one day, the vision will come true.

Reclaiming Our Imaginations

We have much to learn from these imaginative visionaries. Like them, we need to reclaim our imagination. We have to begin to dream again of new possibilities. We need to exercise our imaginations, and envision a new world, no matter how crazy others think we are. In a world of war and nuclear weapons, that means imagining a world without war or violence.

One of the casualties of our culture of war is the loss of our imagination. We can no longer imagine a world without war or nuclear weapons or violence or poverty. Few dream of a world of nonviolence. If we do, we are dismissed as naïve or idealistic. Yet without the imagination for peace, the vision of peace, we will never get out of the downward cycle of violence that is destroying us.

If we want to discover the blessings of peace, we have to renounce war and dedicate ourselves to a new world without war. Every human being has to join this global campaign for peace if we are to lead ourselves away from the precipice of global catastrophe. We need to rediscover our shared humanity and reclaim the higher principles of love, justice, compassion and equality. We need to demand food, clothing, housing, education, healthcare, and dignity for every child on the planet. We need to give our lives for a future of peace.

The Blindness of Violence

But if we want to envision such a world, we must recognize that we are blind, that we can no longer see clearly. We can no longer see our way to peace. We cannot see our way toward dismantling our arsenals, ceasing our bombings raids, supporting the world's poorer nations, ending hunger and poverty, and pursuing universal brother and sisterhood. Instead, we see only war and further wars. We can imagine all kinds of weapons of mass destruction and ever greater invasions and wars. We can dream up astonishing new weapons. We put our best minds, our time, our funds, and our energies into this vision of war. In the process, we blind ourselves to the vision of peace.

Violence blinds us. We think we see, but we have grown blind to our shared humanity. We do not see one another as human beings, much less brothers and sisters. Instead, we see non-humans, aliens, outsiders, competitors, objects of class, race or nationality. When that happens, we label people as enemies, and declare them as expendable.

If we want to see our way toward a new world without war, we need to recover our sight. We need to meet together in church basements and small grassroots communities to discuss the daring, provocative question, "What would a world without war look like?" As we ask the question, we can begin to imagine such a world. Then, we can discuss and enact ways to make that new world a reality.

In order to reclaim this vision, we need to teach each other that war is not inevitable, that war is not our future, that nuclear destruction need not be our destiny, that peace can come true for all people. We have to rekindle the desire for the vision of peace. Once we desire it, we will pray for it, work for it, and welcome it - and move our culture from blindness to vision, from numbness to imagination, from war to peace.

Since our blind leaders are driving us to the brink of destruction, we have to take the wheel, turn back, and lead one another away from the brink. We cannot expect vision from the warmakers or their media spokespeople. Only peacemakers can see the way forward toward a world of peace.

To be visionaries of peace we need to be contemplatives of nonviolence, people who imagine the God of peace, who let God disarm our hearts, who allow the God of peace to show us the way to peace. As visionaries and contemplatives of peace, we can then become a prophetic people who not only denounce imperial violence as ungodly, immoral, and evil, but announce God's way of nonviolence, justice and peace.

The Vision of Nonviolence

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s most famous speech outlined his dream of a new world of equality and justice. He upheld the vision of nonviolence. Five years later, on the night before he was killed, he spoke of being on the mountaintop and seeing the promised land. "For years, we have been talking about war and peace," he said. "But now, no longer can we just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence; it's nonviolence or nonexistence." With these last words, the great visionary pointed the way forward to make his dream a reality.

Nonviolence employs a vision of a disarmed, reconciled humanity, the reign of God in our midst, what King called "the beloved community," the truth that all life is sacred, that we are all equal sisters and brothers, all children of the God of peace, already reconciled, all one, already united. Once we accept this vision of the heart, we can never hurt or kill another human being, much less remain silent while our country wages war, maintains nuclear weapons, executes people or allows millions to starve to death.

Active nonviolence is much more than a tactic or a strategy; it is a way of life. We renounce violence and vow never to hurt anyone ever again. Nonviolence demands active love and truth that seeks justice and peace for the whole human race, resists systemic evil, and persistently reconciles with everyone. It insists that there is no cause however noble for which we support the killing of a single human being. Instead of killing others, we are willing to be killed in the struggle for justice and peace. Instead of inflicting violence on others, we accept and undergo suffering without even the desire to retaliate with further violence as we pursue justice and peace for all people.

Nonviolence is a life force, Gandhi said, that when harnessed becomes contagious and can disarm nations and change the world. It begins in our hearts, where we renounce the violence inside us, then moves outward with active, contagious truth and love toward our families, communities, nation and the world. As we practice it personally in the face of violence, we also join grassroots movements for justice and peace to organize nonviolence on the national and international level for the disarmament of the world. When nonviolence is put into action, it always works, as Gandhi demonstrated in India's revolution, as King and the civil rights movement showed, as the People Power movement showed in the Philippines, and as Archbishop Tutu and South Africa showed against apartheid.

Next August 6th marks the 60th anniversary of our atomic vaporization of 130,000 people in Hiroshima. My friends and I are trying to imagine a world where this horrific violence will never happen again. We are working through the global grassroots disarmament movements to make our voice heard and welcome such a world.
This vision of peace means we have to disarm Los Alamos, the birthplace of the bomb, not far from where I live in New Mexico and transform New Mexico and the entire nation from a land of nuclear violence to a land of nonviolence. I hope and pray that all of us will pursue this vision of peace, and use this upcoming anniversary as a moment to call the nation once again to disarmament.

Shortly before he died, John Lennon was asked why he devoted so much of his time and energy to peace. "Isn't that a waste of time?" the reporter asked. Lennon answered that he believed that Leonardo de Vinci help make flying possible because he imagined it, discussed it, painted it and brought it into people's consciousness. "What a person projects can eventually happen," he said. "And therefore, I always want to project peace. I want to project it in song, word, and action. I want to put the possibility of peace into the public imagination. And I know, as certain as I am standing here, that someday peace will be."

If we dare imagine a new world without war and reclaim the possibility of peace, as John Lennon believed, we will raise human consciousness and help pave the way toward a new nonviolent world. Our mission, our duty, our vocation is to reclaim that vision of peace, and pursue the abolition of war, violence and nuclear weapons. All we have to do is open our eyes and take another step forward on the road to peace.

John Dear is a Jesuit priest and the author / editor of twenty books, including "Living Peace," "Disarming the Heart," "Jesus the Rebel," "Mohandas Gandhi," "The God of Peace," "Peace Behind Bars," and "The Questions of Jesus."



4) PEACE VIGIL FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

Here are some of the latest developments in the Middle East. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well.

CONTENTS

1. Palestinian factions fight gunbattles in Gaza

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In emotional speeches, Israel's Livni, Peres pledge two-state solution with Abbas (1/25/2007)
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-01-25-mideast_x.htm
Israeli Vice-Prime Minister Shimon Peres, right, hugs Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, left, after a session at the World Economic Forum on Thursday.
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — In emotional speeches Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledged to forge peace between their countries, calling the vision of two states, side by side, the only path. With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas watching, Livni told the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum that a Palestinian state is "not an illusion. It's there, it's achievable."Livni urged the international community to support moderates in the Middle East and told Abbas that "compromising with extremists will not promote anything," a clear reference to Hamas and other militant groups. Abbas listened intently, nodding his head, and afterward greeted her warmly with a long handshake. He reiterated that if he cannot form a unity government with Hamas officials, he would move to call early elections, but gave no specific timetable.Livni spoke after Abbas said peace between Israel and the Palestinian territories was a concept whose time had come. In remarks at the session that also featured Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Abbas said that "peace is due and peace is forthcoming."Addressing a large crowd of political leaders, corporate bosses and others at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, Abbas, speaking in Arabic, said that such an agreement would help strengthen the hands of moderates in the region and fight extremism of all stripes. CLIP

Lebanon's Week Of Violence Seen Across The World (January 27, 2007)
http://tinyurl.com/ys62wb
Beirut, Lebanon (AHN) - When the Hezbollah-led National Opposition planned a general strike for last Tuesday, fears emerged that violence could erupt. Those fears were confirmed as Sunnis and Shia, Christian against Christian, clashes broke out across the country, leaving three dead and over 100 wounded.After calm seemingly returned to the country's streets, students at Beirut's Arab University clashed on Thursday in what many saw as reminiscent of the beginning of the conflict that lasted from 1975-1990 here. At least three people were killed in sectarian violence and scores more wounded."This is how the 1975-90 conflict began in Lebanon," began Robert Fisk in his Saturday piece on the situation facing Lebanon. "Outbreaks of sectarian hatred, appeals for restraint, promises of aid from Western and Arab nations and a total refusal to understand that this is how civil wars begin," he continued.Following a Thursday night curfew in Beirut - the first in eleven years - Lebanon seems to have found a way out of the violence that continually consumes the nation. But Lebanese on all sides of the impasse are uncertain of the future and an undercurrent of fear and uncertainty pervades the small nation on Saturday. CLIP

Another Dark Era Threatens Lebanon (January 27, 2007)
http://www.antiwar.com/orig/issa.php?articleid=10407
Three days of sectarian violence has once again brought this troubled country to breaking point.A mini-civil war has played out throughout Lebanon this week as Government and Opposition factions push their power struggle to the brink.The "peaceful" general strike called by Hezbollah and its Christian allies has turned into a three-day violent sprawl that has left 10 dead and over 100 wounded. The latest four casualties being students caught up in Sunni-Shi'ite clashes at the Beirut Arab University. The overflow of violence comes amid two months of persistent Iranian and Syrian-backed Opposition attempts to depose the pro-American Siniora Government. The clashes have reignited deep sectarian and factional divisions that have lingered since the previous civil war ended in 1990. Much like the previous civil war, which destroyed the country between 1975 to 1990, the current fragile political landscape in Lebanon has its roots in regional quarrels. Created by France at the end of World War I, Lebanon is still struggling to find a balance between its various religious and ethnic communities. More often, the sects have sought closer links with regional and global powers in their struggle for a greater say in this tiny mountainous country.Saudi Arabia has long been a prime backer of Lebanon's Sunni community, while the Shi'ites receive substantial support from Iran, with Hezbollah emerging in Lebanon greatly as a consequence of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Lebanon's main Christian sect, the Maronite Catholics, have historically maintained close relations to France.Today's political divisions in Lebanon mirror the present regional climate. Increasing tensions between Sunnis and Shi'ites in the Middle East are adding fuel to Lebanon's already tense sectarian makeup. (...) The impressive $7.6 billion aid and loan package given to Siniora at the Paris III conference is the latest sign demonstrating Western and Saudi determination to ensure its proxies remain in charge of Lebanon.Lebanon is at a level of utter stagnation, and neither Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, nor the Lebanese Sunni Prime Minister Fouad Siniora seem able or willing to resolve the dispute without foreign approval.The tiny country with little natural resources is the subject of a tug of war between the two axes in the region. Neither the Iranian-Syrian axis, nor the American-Saudi axis are willing to give up Lebanon. Until these two parties sit down and begin to compromise, this week's mini-civil war may be the beginning of worse to come.

More on this situation through http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=ca&ie=UTF-8&ncl=1113087442




1.

From: http://tinyurl.com/yv4pc7p

Palestinian factions fight gunbattles in Gaza

Jan 27, 2007

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - Gunbattles raged between Palestinian forces in Gaza on Saturday, raising to 21 the number of people killed in a weekend of some of the fiercest infighting since the Islamist Hamas movement won election a year ago.

A 6-year-old boy was among the dead. Residents said he was hit at home by a stray bullet during a clash between gunmen from Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction near the town of Beit Hanoun. A Hamas gunman was killed in the violence.

Gaza City's streets were almost deserted and shops closed as ordinary Palestinians sought the uncertain shelter of their homes in an escalating power struggle between the two rival movements that has raised fears of civil war.

Fighting outside the pro-Hamas Islamic University killed two people, witnesses said. In the northern Gaza Strip, a gunman was killed and another critically wounded when explosives they were carrying blew up, hospital officials said.

Hamas gunmen and members of the Preventive Security Service clashed outside its main headquarters as explosions and automatic weapons fire echoed across Gaza City. Witnesses said at least one member of the security force was wounded.

On Friday, 16 people were killed in factional fighting, hospital officials said, the highest death toll in internal Palestinian violence in a single day.

At least 48 Palestinians have been killed in the bloodshed that erupted after Abbas, a moderate, called last month for early presidential and parliamentary elections after inconclusive talks with Hamas on a unity government.

Hamas says a new vote would amount to a coup.

It has struggled to govern since taking office in March under the weight of U.S.-backed sanctions imposed over its refusal to recognise Israel, renounce violence and abide by interim peace deals with the Jewish state.

ABDUCTIONS

In the latest of a string of abductions, four members of a security force loyal to Abbas, including Abed Abdeen, a Fatah commander in southern Gaza, were taken captive by unknown gunmen. Abdeen's relatives and fellow gunmen later said they seized seven Hamas men.

Other factions stepped in to mediate and all the hostages were released, officials said.

Hamas official Ayman Taha vowed the group would avenge those killed in the latest fighting. He accused Fatah of plotting with U.S. backing to overthrow the Hamas-led government and said unity talks would stay on hold as long as killings continued.

The United States plans to pour more than $86 million into strengthening Abbas's presidential guard as a counterweight to Hamas's own security force.

Tawfiq Abu Khoussa, a Fatah spokesman, blamed Hamas for starting the latest fighting. Top Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said in Madrid, where the president held talks with Spanish officials, that efforts were being made to end the violence.

Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal pledged a week ago to curb Palestinian bloodshed after failing in a meeting in Damascus to make progress on unity.

Hamas leaders have offered Israel a long-term truce in return for a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, although the group's charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. Hamas continues to say it will not formally recognise Israel.

More on this situation through http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=ca&ie=UTF-8&ncl=1112371335



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