Fort Hood's Nidal Hasan – or – Why Today's Soldiers Go Crazy

The tragic recent murders by Maj. Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood are part of an epidemic of suicides, violent crimes, and shooting sprees among active-duty and former soldiers which stem in great part from their understandable moral and ethical confusion about the nature of war and the uses of power and violence. Women soldiers newly serving in combat positions often struggle with their uncertainties about adopting formerly-despised “male” traditions of violence and dominance, especially since their use of such power—as male soldiers have always known—can and does often lead to a sense of separation from the human race, to feelings of isolation, aloneness, difference, wrongness, fear, inadequacy, failure, loss and rejection.


Add to these moral conundrums of conscience the fact that soldiers are expected to behave in uncivilized and dominating ways while “at work,” and then nimbly revert back to behaving civilly and helpfully at home, flexibly “getting back in touch with their feminine sides” and working in equitable partnerships, building family affection, connections and wholeness. Clearly, twenty-first century soldiers have their hands full to be all they can be.


Military trainers work very hard to try to turn selfless, idealistic, caring young recruits into good soldiers who can be both safe and effective in war zones, prepared to perform as knee-jerk killers, to instantly shoot down complete strangers—often innocents themselves who are protecting their own homes and families and comrades-in-arms—and to carry out the cold-blooded duties of snipers, bombers, interrogators and other executioners who must kill with no hesitation or trace of due process random members of any population demonized as “the enemy,” “others”—i.e., people it’s OK to treat as non-humans.


Good soldiers are offered a fuzzy kind of contextual logic to (temporarily) ethically “cover them” and their bloodiest actions, for at least as long as they can believe that their killing and dying serves a worthwhile purpose—that is, to protect their friends and families and fellow-citizens, or to serve their country in some way, or to further its noble ideals and purposes. Soldiers can often do their duty if they can cling to some hope that their “jobs” are generally positive ones, that they are necessary, valuable and moral, that their terrible personal losses and cruel sacrifices were not in vain, and that they wasted neither their own lives nor the lives of others.


Unfortunately—or perhaps, fortunately—it’s much harder nowadays in the age of media for us to continue to see complicated human instances of violence in simple black-and-white terms. The rapid pace of change, the continual clashing of conflicting old ideas and emerging new ones, our own American biggest-kid-on-the-block mentality, and our often-thoughtless, retributive, greedy habits of government policy-making with respect to war, empire and militarism—added to our too-violent and vengeful culture—together create a mentally and emotionally combustible, dangerous, crazy-making conundrum for even our best, most well-intentioned and professional soldiers.


“Schizophrenic behavior” is defined as behavior which is motivated by contradictory or conflicting principles, or which results from the co-existence of disparate or antagonistic activities. In other words, when your ideals frequently conflict with each other, and when your actions feel equally conflicted, it can drive you nuts. Fallible human attempts to live up to one’s ethics, values, standards and goals can make even the best soldiers feel schizophrenic.


Growing up on military posts, I believed, just as most citizens of most countries are taught to believe, that our military forces were always a force for good, an organization that helped people, supported peace, promoted freedom and democracy. Since then, I’ve learned that military forces everywhere—like violence of all kinds, from abuse to crime to terrorism—usually harm many more people than they help. I’ve also learned that peace, freedom and democracy cannot co-exist with war, because wherever war goes, anything resembling peace, freedom and democracy quickly disappear.


Even the best-trained soldiers—those convinced that military actions are all about duty, honor and country, taking care of one another, following orders, and serving with excellence, integrity and honor in order to further the protection and interests of loved ones and the best nation on earth—in the midst of war, wonder whether their actions are truly helping or hurting people, whether they are on the “giving” or on the “taking” “side.” Every soldier prays that he will someday look back and believe his life and work have served the best interests of humanity—and heaven forbid that they have served on the side of darkness, pain, grief, and cruelty. In the midst of actions far from their homes, all soldiers wonder at times whether their devotion to military ideals and country may not conceal larger, deeper, sadder contradictions about the nature and missions of militarism and war.


When soldiers from any nation come home from their wars, of course they have trouble rectifying all they've participated in, with their peacetime ethical, spiritual and religious beliefs about what it means to be humane, caring, good—all the many understandings parents and teachers carefully taught them about what makes relationships work, and what make life worth living. Many returning war veterans basically go insane for years. Others are unstable or crazy for the rest of their lives.


Everyone insists that training and fighting animals—cocks, dogs, bulls—is an outrage. We wouldn't, they say, we couldn’t, we shouldn’t do this to a dog! So why do we keep doing it to people?


Every soldier I have known, at one time entered the military with selfless ideals and the best intentions. Sadly, military training and war often work subtly against soldiers’ best interests, leaving them confused about what power and leadership really mean, as well as poorly-prepared for the peaceful, productive civilian relationships they spend years dreaming of forging, at war’s end.


Unfortunately, the many sad, lingering side-effects of military training and war include a heightened tendency to polarize even small conflicts into black-and-white situations requiring a quick, habitual adversarial or violent response to conflict—habits which later work insidiously against both the soldiers and their loved ones. Quickness to violence—while perhaps an asset in effective soldiering—is a terrible emotional burden in civilian life. Recent public-safety statistics indicate that too many soldiers attempting to re-enter civilian life—having spent their impressionable youth on high alert, in kill-or-be-killed situations—have become habituated to violent, lawless behavior, and continue to pay huge, never-ending psychic prices for their previous military involvements after their return to “civilization.”


The number and types of military resources America should maintain may be a matter of reasonable debate, but what is not arguable is our need to develop more thoughtful and deliberate processes for deciding when and why to send our soldiers into war.


The great writers and filmmakers who have told their stories of past wars have consistently described war as “insane.” Insanity is also the only word that most reasonably describes any future war, since humanity has the knowledge and the means now—if only we develop the will—to resolve conflicts peacefully and prevent the holocausts which the law of unintended consequences, along with our ghastly weaponry, inevitably spiral us into.


Ethical soldiers like my father relive the remembered insanity of war for the rest of their lives, alternating between waves of the deepest humane compassion, pride and camaraderie, to long periods of dark, impenetrable, self-protective anger, fear and cynicism.


The cruelly gruesome extremes of war sometimes contaminate and twist even the highest traditional military values into thuggery. Professionalism can be turned, at times, into barbarism. Selflessness can be turned into greed. Idealism can become cynicism. Courage can become savagery. Strength can become dominance. Love of country can turn to jingoism and chauvinism. Obedience, leadership and respect for authority can be warped by exigency into a numbed conscience and momentary group-think. Loyalty can become a destructive “us/them” mentality. Integrity can become a morally confusing paralysis, while duty can be pushed into rote obedience.


However admirably motivated, however morally unambiguous in the midst of a firefight, violent military actions still have the look and feel of chaotic lawlessness. No matter how patriotic or mentally-prepared soldiers may be, the act of killing complete strangers goes queasily against soldiers’ moral teachings about how to treat other people.


The ideal of freedom itself—the dream comprising healthy, productive human lives spent in peaceful pursuit of individual dreams—can feel, during war, quite unrelated to the specifics of what soldiers are often asked to do, because serving the freedom of one group often entails dominating and killing another, something which feels less noble in practice than what most soldiers hope for, particularly when their personal boots-on-the-ground experience has already offered clear evidence that many—perhaps most—of war’s victims are as innocent as the soldiers who kill them. Soldiers don’t sign up to defend moral ambiguities. And yet the first victim of war is truth, followed closely by moral clarity, and, too often, by despair.


However high-minded the justifications given during a soldier’s training, the actual waging of war—the killing, the maiming, the brutalizing—feels more “against” than “for” humans. Unless “the enemy” has successfully been completely dehumanized in the minds of soldiers by war propaganda, military fighting too often seems rather more against than for human value and worth, human liberty; love, individuality, uniqueness; against the highest religious and moral traditions, against human ideals, values, beliefs, against the teachings of history’s great moral teachers, against humanity itself.


Soldiers schooled in war fortify their emotions against moral confusion by coldly dehumanizing and demonizing their enemies, but such temporary moral adjustments don’t serve nearly as well at war’s end, when all the former “non-humans”—the Vietnamese, Germans, Irish, British, Russians, the terrorists, whomever—experience a miraculous rebirth, having been rediscovered somehow to be human beings after all. Soldiers who wisely shut down their feelings against tragically ambiguous memories unfortunately also become emotionally unavailable to their children, parents, and spouses. This happened in my family.


Soldiers who have followed orders to loose destruction and death upon “combatants” and “noncombatants” alike in someone else’s country, often become cynical later even about their own country, about the human capacity for goodness, and the worth of people in general.


“Human” values which specifically exclude certain portions of humanity—Muslims, for instance, or Christians, or certain races or ethnicities —ultimately prove uncomfortingly weak and useless. Nations claiming a constitutional and traditional embrace of “human ideals” and “human rights”—who then insist upon them only for their own citizens and at the expense of citizens of other countries—rapidly lose not only their allies, but also the loyalty and pride of their own citizens; while patriotism which rests shakily upon chauvinism and exceptionalism breaks down quickly into partisan bickering, and too-easily collapsing into division, bigotry, political hatred and violence, and even civil war.


Wars’ costs go far beyond blood and treasure.


All the war books and movies I’ve “enjoyed” shared similar conclusions about their experiences of war. Over and over, each artist expressed the point of view that their war had been insane, cruel, hard, sad, misguided and stupid, and created more problems than were resolved. The grisly killings aspects of war were consistently experienced as pointless, chaotic, numbing, unreasonable, inhumane, confusing, wrong—and sometimes thrilling, in that the pointy end of the sword went into the other guy, and not them. Soldiers throughout history have been urged by their leaders to keep such stories to themselves, or share them only with other soldiers who were there, so as to avoid bringing harm or shame to a unit, or turning the next generation against war itself. 


In nearly every war book and movie, bleak, terrified, mutilated children emphasize the meaninglessness and human tragedy of war, while fear for oneself and one’s friends drives soldiers to acts of cruelty and immorality unimaginable during peacetime.


War never turns out to be at all what anyone expects when they join up, and not much like what they train for either. When at war, every soldier longed for home, and when finally back home, they missed having friends they could talk to, buddies who understood them and their experiences.


All these artists told how their necessary training in hate and fear had carved a black chasms into their psyche, changing them (and their families) forever in ways inexpressible to anyone who hadn’t shared such experience—so mixed are war’s memories with guilt, pride, and loyalty.

Should the U.S. Fear, Antagonize, Denigrate, Irritate or Embrace China?

This anonymous post about anti-China perceptions in the West is viral on the internet. I found it fascinating and thought-provoking. I think you will too…. 

What Do You Really Want From Us?

When we were the sick man of Asia,

We were called the yellow peril.

When we are billed as the next superpower, we are called “the threat.”

When we closed our doors, you launched the Opium War to open our markets.

When we embraced free trade, you blamed us for stealing your jobs.

When we were falling apart, you marched in your troops and demanded your fair share.

When we tried to put the broken pieces back together again, Free Tibet, you screamed. It was an invasion!

When we tried communism, you hated us for being communist.

When we embraced capitalism, you hated us for being capitalist.

When we had a billion people, you said we were destroying the planet.

When we tried limiting our numbers, you said we abused human rights.

When we were poor, you thought we were dogs.

When we lend you cash, you blame us for your national debts.

When we build our industries, you call us polluters.

When we sell you goods, you blame us for global warming.

When we buy oil, you call it exploitation and genocide.

When you go to war for oil, you call it liberation.

When we were lost in chaos, you demanded the rule of law.

When we uphold law and order against violence, you call it a violation of human rights.

When we were silent, you said you wanted us to have free speech.

When we are silent no more, you say we are brainwashed xenophobes.

Why do you hate us so much? we asked.

No, you answered, we don't hate you.

We don't hate you either,

But do you understand us?

Of course we do, you said,

We have AFP, CNN and BBC….

What do you really want from us?

Think hard first, then answer…

Because you only get so many chances.

Enough is enough, enough hypocrisy for this one world.

We want one world, one dream, and peace on earth.

This big blue earth is big enough for all of us.


Please send your comments to Thank you! 🙂


July 2010's Spiritual Sharings

8/2/10 – We’re culturally programmed to react destructively, angrily, guiltily, defensively and vengefully, but we can instead go within and find the gentle, peaceful, loving, forgiving opposites to such conditioning which miraculously transform each moment.


8/1/10 – Our shared cultural judgments damn us all to a collective sense of wrongness, inadequacy, sinfulness and unworthiness, while recognition of our shared spiritual perfection, creativity, will, w/hol(i)eness and love offers all a saving release from fear.


7/31/10 – Cultural myths, like all words and symbols, are always relative. They can be rich, suggestive, poetic, powerful, helpful, revealing and inspiring, as well as confusingly and distractingly circuitous, contradictory, incoherent, destructive—and persistent.


7/30/10 – Words can usefully point to and hint at truth, but they can also obfuscate and complicate truth. Words are always relative, whereas truth is ineffable—inexpressible and incommunicable in words—as well as absolute, experiential, simple and self-evident.


7/29/10 – Words are mere human symbols, variously-defined in relation to one another, subject to arbitrary interpretation, misinterpretation, re-interpretation and twisting. Everything written and spoken is relative, whereas truth is always ineffable and absolute.


7/28/10 – Without a shared theology or belief system, we can still all joyfully join in accepting our beautiful, amazing selves, each other, and the world as-is, sensing our oneness with a timeless, powerful, loving source, and attending to our inner guide.


7/27/10 – We can buy the cultural illusion that we are deprived, cheated sufferers, cruelly and unfairly punished for unavoidable failures; or we can recognize that we are God’s one whole perfect creation, forever sharing the love and abundance of the universe.


7/26/10 – We can beneficially dedicate each day to asking our guiding spirit for loving, strengthening, helpful spiritual perspectives regarding the people, situations, questions and challenges we will encounter, pondering the answers we receive, and applying them.


7/25/10 – We can see humankind as our one self, recognize love’s shared abundance everywhere, and fulfill our only need—to extend acceptance, forgiveness and appreciation as required to gently heal all errors arising from fear of love’s insufficiency.


7/24/10 – When we ask for spiritual help in seeing any situation, issue or person differently, our limited, defensive, angry, skewed viewpoints are powerfully replaced with a helpful, peaceful, smart, thoughtful, intriguing insight which changes everything.


7/23/10 – Within us is a guiding light, a spark of divinity, that-of-God, a calm, soundless voice, a shining conscience, a comforter, sage and seer that strengthens, inspires and loves us, answers our questions, and understands all situations far better than we can.


7/22/10 – We can draw all we encounter into our circle of acceptance, appreciation, love and forgiveness for everything, past and present. As we gently welcome all who stand outside the circle, we will find ourselves drawn safely and peacefully inside it, with them.


7/21/10 – We can close our culturally-blinded, critical, defensive eyes, choose patient acceptance of our own and others’ gaps in understanding, and trust only in God’s quiet, loving judgment of our holiness (wholeness), and in the unity of our shared forgiveness.


7/20/10 – The single essential, motivating lesson we are challenged to teach, exemplify (and thus learn) is how wonderful we all are as-is—wholly lovable in our fallible human uniqueness, forever blameless, sufficient, worthy, indispensible, precious and holy.


7/19/10 – How we see others, treat others, think of others, is how we will see, treat and think of ourselves. We can remember that we are all lovable, wonderful, fallible, forgivable and very human, and that we all have forever to live, learn and love.


7/18/10 – Communication can be honest, effective and true when we ask for spiritual help—in dropping our barriers, staying in the moment, letting go of fear, getting our ego out of the way, and allowing God to express, affirm and celebrate our holy connection.


7/17/10 – God can free us of our cruel cultural illusions—of conditional love, of our own guilt, helplessness and isolation, and of a too-brief interval between birth and death spent fighting over a few unsatisfying earthly rewards and pitilessly-limited slots into heaven.


7/16/10 – What if we live forever in an abundant universe and a timeless present—perfect, undivided, loving, loved, interdependent, innocent, one with God, each other and all creation—and eternally blessed with access to God’s guidance, strength and power?


7/15/10 – We are exactly as we were forever intended to be, uniquely indispensible to God and his creation, timelessly innocent, and capable of expressing one shared perfect love and will. Yet we dream a cultural nightmare of fear, difference, guilt and chaos.


7/14/10 – We can focus our faith, commitment, time, energies and talents on recognizing, creating and fulfilling at each present moment the truth that “what-is” is good; or we can limit and postpone awareness of our own power to creatively fulfill that beautiful reality.


7/13/10 – The justice of God comprises eternal innocence in a timeless present; the gift of an amazing and abundant universe; total access to God’s love, strength, guidance, and spirit; and an eternity in which to enjoy and equally contribute to loving interdependence.


7/12/10 – When we let go of the recent and ancient past—all mistakes and regrets, both ours’ and others’, remembering only good intentions, efforts and gifts—we once again feel light, open, positive, and free to love and give again in each shining new moment.


7/11/10 – We can ask for help in letting go of our cultural focus on harmful illusions, analyses and projections of a competitive, guilty, fearful reality, and instead see everyone and everything through loving, eternal eyes—beautifully, perfectly, spiritually “as-is.”


7/10/10 – We can’t feel and express both negative and positive emotions simultaneously, but we can ask for help in releasing those fearful feelings, so as to allow room for the miraculous healing power of accepting feelings to flow through us in the present moment.


7/9/10 – Anger is a sign of guilt pangs so bad that we attempt to foist them on others by focusing on their mistakes and shortcomings, all in a foolish attempt to redirect our imagined deserved punishments and retributions for an implacable past that is … gone.


7/8/10 – When we confidently and humbly offer our unique and invaluable lives and gifts to the completion of God and his creation, assured that our contributions are as important and indispensible as everyone else’s, God responds by offering us everything, forever.


7/7/10 – We gain what we give. We can offer God’s beloved children strength, light, hope, support, healing and peace as we walk hand-in-hand along our path with them and with God, and receive, multiplied and overflowing, all the gifts that we have extended.


7/6/10 – If we want a peaceful day, we can let go of fear, and share instead God’s eternal acceptance, appreciation and unconditional love with every each of his beloved children, treating all as infinitely worthy of our deepest respect and our most loving thoughts.


7/5/10 – To see only love in ourselves, everyone else, and everything, we can let go of our defenses against it—our fearful cultural lessons, strict personal experiential rules, and every barricade, wall and fortification separating us from offering and receiving it.


7/4/10 – Moment-to-moment, we choose between love and fear. Choosing love always makes sense, because love always works in the eternal now.Choosing fear (guilt, anger, injustice, separation, vengeance, sadness, despair…) never makes sense in any context. 


7/3/10 – We cannot “fix” ourselves or anyone else, but we can choose to see everyone through loving, appreciative, forgiving eyes. When we choose to express peace, we will understand the power, vision, value, joy and clarity (for everyone) in loving choices.


7/2/10 – The body was never meant to last. Only universal mind remains forever in eternal communication with the love that is its self. Love is who we were created to be, who we are and will always be, one perfect love with God and his whole creation.


7/1/10 – When we’re afraid for others, we’re relating to them as to mere limited mortals, tragic figures bound within a brief life and a cruel death. Yet we can choose instead to joyfully communicate as peaceful eternal spirits boundlessly expressing the love of God.


6/30/10 – An instant of willingness to share God’s truth, inspiration, guidance, love, peace, light, forgiveness and joy clears away all nonsense about the past and all its guilty, angry, fearful, judgmental, divided, painful, stupid, useless “knowledge” and “lessons.”

Even More Spiritual Sharings

I am polishing my fifteen-chapter memoirs about my life as a military brat…. Looking for an agent…. 🙂 Meanwhile….

Every day that I can, I meditate/pray/ (or whatever word you might care to call it) as early as I can. Usually I have personal questions or issues that seem pressing that day, so I attempt to articulate them, along with any fears I might be repressing—both before and during my meditation. Then I do some reading from a variety of inspiring sources. Then I summarize my “sense” of what I felt or learned from that day’s meditations, questions and reading, in a brief “Spiritual Sharing.” The whole process usually averages about an hour, although sometimes it takes just a few minutes.


I don’t profess any knowledge at all other than my personal experience and insights—certainly no universal religious beliefs. I do try to follow the teachings and example of Jesus, and thus consider myself a Christian. But beyond Jesus’ teachings, I am a mystical agnostic, in the sense of not-knowing anything except in a scientific or personally-mystical or spiritual sense. I do have a very personally-designed faith in certain practices which works for me. I make no claims that I know what is true for everyone or that I am “right” in any of my spiritual conclusions. I am a strong advocate of interfaith understanding, dialogue, respect and support, believe that we can all profitably share our truths with one another, and am also an admirer of the humanitarian work and spirit of all secular seekers.


I see my written daily “Spiritual Sharings” as personal expressions of mystical insights from/into to a spiritual dimension; they come to me during my meditations and I write them down. However, all individual human attempts to express any kinds of truth through language are necessarily limited, personal and fallible.


My daily spiritual practice strengthens my faith and has invaluable applications to my own daily life, and I do trust that sharing my results is sometimes useful to some others. But of course, please be assured that I come and go as humbly and fallibly as others do, and as I have always done, continually forgetting or not applying higher truths I have learned and intuitively understand.


I hope you will feel free to substitute (for the term, “God,” in the following meditations) any personal word that best describes or names the Source of your own experience of spiritual power, insight and understanding—whether that source be “God,” guiding spirit, intuition, the unknowable,  Nature, conscience, a higher power, Hashem, inner-knowing, Christ, Science, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, natural understanding, YHWH or Yahweh, Shiva, the Over-Soul, the Goddess, the divine, the Name, the Universe, Krishna, friend, G-d, light, Allah, Lord, Jehovah, Abba, the Ineffable, the One, Adonai, Creator, the name of your preferred deity, the ground of your being, I-Am-That-I-Am, or any other word(s) or name(s) that work(s) for you.


I find spiritual truth to be ultimately ineffable and uniquely personal. Our various expressions and explanations of universal spiritual truth/s seem limited because we are mentally and linguistically limited, and ultimately—human. Like so many others, I feel inspired to compose and share my personal and unique understandings, knowing that spiritual truth cannot be ultimately, finally, universally expressed, understood, known or agreed upon.


In this sense, all of our searches for understanding about and communion with “God,” through the multitude of faiths, belief systems, spiritual practices and secular searches for truth, human interdependence, conscience and service are interchangeably valuable, adding to a our higher shared human cultural understanding of the spiritual dimension of life.


 The many different personal, linguistic, cultural, religious, experiential and explanatory names we assign to our various but uniquely individual religious, spiritual, humanist and philosophical experiences and understandings cannot change the nature and essence of the source of that spiritual power. Regardless of the conflicting beliefs, perspectives and practices of a world of diverse worshippers, seekers and non-believers, whatever, whoever and however our higher Source may be will never change. In this sense, we all share the same God.


The central message of all the world’s great religions in their highest forms is faith, hope, and love (in all their highest understandings and expressions) whether in human culture or in our highest experiences of a spiritual dimension. In an eternal and spiritual sense, all human cultures and every human life has infinite and even perhaps eternal value, even when those cultures and those humans seem temporally to be struggling with incredible burdens, or conversely, are enjoying disproportionate and inequitable benefits, enlightenment, privileges and support. From an eternal or temporal perspective, however, loving, accepting, forgiving and appreciating one another works best.


I embrace the interfaith movement, which supports the search for authentic worship, community, spirituality, faith and service through familiar traditions, while encouraging better understanding, respect and support for the faiths of others.


It’s possible that I may someday attempt to publish this year’s worth of meditations. Thank you for your help, and for feedback too.



Daily Spiritual Sharing:



5/24/10 – When we’re feeling fearful or awkward about how to react to a situation or person, we can turn the moment over to the guidance, perspective and insights of our higher power—and then relax, knowing the best healing response for all will come to us.


5/23/10 – We can bow to the world’s cultural dream of fear, sin, judgment, suffering, guilt, depression and death, or we can awaken now to the beauty, peace, love and joy of beloved and loving spirits, eternally celebrating God’s one perfect, abundant creation.


5/22/10 – When I’m feeling negative about any situation, person or issue, and ask to see things differently, the helpful insight I receive encompasses all interests, and reveals my eternal oneness, and loving communication now, with all that is—man, nature, and God.


5/21/10 – God’s forgiveness, and our own, release us from our dreams of retribution and penance for our unjust pasts, and free us to focus now, with God, on acceptance, appreciation and love for all things, the only purposes which assure peace and happiness.


5/20, 2010 – When we remind ourselves that we don’t have to do anything, we will also remember that some of the things we think we have to do are often things we really want to do—which is a happier place to come from.


5/19, 2010 – When we feel weak, beleaguered, hopeless, despairing, angry, guilty, resentful and defiant, we can surrender all to faith, let go, and trust God’s order, purpose, strength, peace, love, innocence and oneness to miraculously transform chaos into peace.


5/18/10 – We can struggle to protect, affirm and aggrandize our illusions of separate, guilty, competing bodies alone in a threatening world; or we can know only one beloved eternal spiritual creation sharing one holy purpose and one peaceful loving home in God.


5/17/10 – When we judge the world and try to fix it, we will see only chaos and error. When we relax, judge not, and see, think and be only love, we will find in ourselves and in all the inner peace and love that gives the world the only meaning it will ever have.


5/16/10 – We can focus on fearful and unsolvable mortal problems, shortcomings and mistakes in a futile attempt to correct and change ourselves and others, or we can let our guiding spirit help us focus on only what is good, true and eternal in ourselves and others.


5/15/10 – “Being” is oneness, wholeness, and the shared loving purpose of a diverse and holy self. This simple truth of one love, one creation and one eternal time of now can be hidden by false, frightening, complex cultural concepts and assumptions, but never lost.


5/14/10 – God’s perfect strength, guidance, and good, holy, beautiful will and eternal love for each of us is expressed and assured—with no conflicts of interest and no divisions—as we choose to love, forgive, accept and appreciate one another now.


5/13/10 – When we see life as a zero-sum game of competing interests, we see nothing but deprivation, scarcity and competition. When we realize that spiritual abundance is equal, universal and eternal, we see only common challenges and cooperative solutions.


5/12/10 – Peace, certainty, sanity and sense in a world of apparent cruelty, chaos and meaninglessness lie in recognizing and practicing only eternal, unified, holy, loving values, attitudes, actions and purposes—which (despite their various names) are all one.


5/11/10 – The opposite of analysis is acceptance. We can’t “figure out” or “make sense” of evil, hate or chaos, because these are meaningless concepts. The beginning of wisdom and understanding comes from a focus upon only that which is good, loving and eternal.


5/10/10 – Our will and God’s will are unchangingly and forever one and the same. We are creations of love itself, eternally open channels through which his love flows. We are co-creators, co-extenders and co-receivers of God’s perfect and endless cycle of love.


5/9/10 – We are always sufficient to each moment’s need, because all of God’s meaning, strength and power lie behind each and every one of even our smallest loving thoughts, gentle touches, healing gestures, and words of acceptance, appreciation and forgiveness.


5/8/10 – We are not separate, unlovable, inadequate, competing, doomed bodies, nor are we—as our human culture tells us—broken pieces of creation. We are one interdependent spiritual self, forever individually, uniquely and creatively expressing the love of God.


5/7/10 – When we are feeling weak and challenged, we can offer up our heartfelt willingness to see each person and situation now as God does; humbly turn over to him each fear, shame and sorrow; and confidently await his miraculous, healing vision.


5/6/10 – I am not guilty, nor is anyone else. We are here and now only to love. As we focus upon this innocent present-purpose, we free ourselves and one another, moment-to-moment, from our sad, angry illusions of an inadequate, unloving, unfair, shared past.


5/5/10 – What and how and whom we choose to love today has nothing at all to do with making up for or changing shared false illusions of a sad, guilty past, which is, after all, gone. Love is what we are now and forever, the only “time” there is to love and be loved.


5/4/10 – We can’t prepare ourselves in advance to know how best to handle each new situation, but we can be ready and willing to turn over each challenging moment trustingly to God, and then to quietly, peacefully and confidently await his sure answers.


5/3/10 – All love, all wholeness, all healing, all relationship, heaven itself, is within—where we share one knowing of our eternal oneness with God, humankind and all of creation.


5/2/10 – We are thoughts in the mind of God, innocent and beloved and one with another and God, as we were created. The illusion which our bodies represent is the imagined gap between us and each other, between us and the universe, between us and God.


5/1/10 – We can see everything differently, lovingly, peacefully, helpfully—from a spiritual, eternal perspective—if, when we are afraid, we ask God for his vision and insight, and then wait in trust, knowing we will receive it.


4/30/10 – We are all unique, innocent, indispensable expressions of one beloved creation, all equal heirs to eternal justice, spiritual abundance and unconditional love, all learning love, forgiveness, acceptance and appreciation for one another, ourselves and God.


4/29/10 – When we add the suffering of guilt and worry to pain, see ourselves and others as unfairly treated, think life brief and unjust and God very-conditionally loving, we’ll feel alienated, guilty and angry, having (mis)judged God’s one eternal, perfect creation.


4/28/10 – Our “self” is an eternal whole, one with God and his beloved creation, forever extending,  communicating and expressing love, oneness and connection personally and irreplaceably, through unique, temporary bodies, personalities, experiences and talents.


4/27/10 – We can make no decisions based on small ideas of weakness, and give no power to imagined individual limitations, but remember instead that we are open, guided, beloved, strengthened media through whom God uniquely expresses his love.


4/26/10 – In the midst of our daily human dramas, we forget our nature as eternal beings in a spiritual dimension with no past or future, no place or time, but rather always and forever everywhere in an eternal now, sharing all creation, all understanding, all love.


4/25/10 – When we determinedly let go of all judgment, anger, blame, attack and retribution toward someone else, all our own defensiveness about our own illusions of our own guilt will fall away simultaneously and miraculously, leaving behind only love.


4/24/10 – When we show up at any moment as guilt-ridden and inadequate, unforgivable and unlovable, we tell the world that they, too, are worthless and bad, deserving of condemnation and death, and hopelessly divided from man and from God.


4/23/10 – Love isn’t difficult, but removing our many barriers to it requires real commitment and effort. Everything that blocks love—all our guilt, attack, fear, anger, envy and judgment—can be brought to God to be healed, released and transformed.


4/22/10 – When we let go of our cultural dream of judgment, guilt and sin, when we realize that separation of God and his beloved creation was never possible, then we will know we never left his garden of oneness, forgiveness, love, acceptance and appreciation.


4/21/10 – The best change we can make is to let go of guilt. Jesus’ whole life was about teaching us that we are forgiven, beloved and free, now and eternally—to live in peace, innocence and love. Would we refuse to hear his message? Let him teach and die in vain?


4/20/10 – Certainty, purpose and present-focus come from seeing ourselves and all others as lovable, as-is. When we accept others’ choices, thoughts and actions mercifully and gently, we receive in return the gifts of peace, acceptance and freedom from judgment.


4/19/10 – Love cannot co-exist with guilt, fear, judgment and attack. Let these go, and recognize instead, in yourself and in all others, the accepting, free, joyous, loved and loving eternal spirit ready to be born again at each new moment, now and always.


4/18/10 – Relationships are about unlimited opportunities to love and be loved, to serve and heal, and not about fear, guilt and disappointment. When we forgive, accept and appreciate ourselves and others as perfect, innocent, eternal spirits, we share one mind.


4/17/10 – Everyone, without exception, makes mistakes, big and small. We can drag our past miseries into our darkened, miserable presents and bitter futures, or we can let go of guilt—and discover and share with others, lives of innocence, lightheartedness and joy.


4/16/10 – Shall we cling to an old, tired cultural vision of an evil, fallen, unlovable, unforgivable humankind caught in a world of fear, judgment, guilt, sin, condemnation and judgment? Or embrace a joyous new vision of forgiveness and unconditional love?


4/15/10 – The feelings of guilt, fear, condemnation, aloneness and inadequacy written clearly upon our faces announce to everyone else that they too are unforgivable, doomed, irredeemable—and as hopeless as we. Is this the mirror we want to hold up to others?


4/14/10 – If we are God’s eternally beloved creation, then there is no death, time has no direction, and the past has no meaning. We are always and forever with God in the present, now, which is the only time there is, and where all healing, love and joy occur.


4/13/10 – Loving relationships are not about fear, guilt, comparisons or sacrifices. They enhance forgiveness, acceptance, love and appreciation for all, support recognition of the changeless innocence and perfection of all, and thus infinitely and sufficiently bless all.


4/12/10 – Why would we waste our lives defending and making up for yesterdays that are gone? God’s peace lies in recognizing and appreciating, now, that we are all innocent, unique, indispensable facets of one eternally loved, loving and lovable spiritual creation.


4/11/10 – What kind of God would create an impossible world, and then ask his children to briefly compete for a limited number of exalted or miserable eternal slots? Why would we spend our lives feeling—and thus making others feel—guilty and inadequate?


4/10/10 – Truth is total, and can be understood only when we are peacefully aware of our loved, lovable and loving oneness with God, nature, and all humankind. Condemnation, conflict and guilt are meaningless, senseless and irrational, and cannot be understood.


4/9/10 – Truth, knowledge and understanding do not lie in extremes, separation, polarity, division or opposition, nor in anger, self-righteousness or conflict. They can only be recognized in unity, harmony, acceptance, forgiveness, oneness, reconciliation and peace.


4/8/10 – When we see ourselves and others merely as flesh-and-blood human mortals, separated from each other and doomed to die, we lose sight of our mutual eternal reality as spirit—forever loved and loving, forever innocent, forever reborn in an eternal present.


4/7/10 – Who are we? We are the eternal love that created us. We are the love that expresses creatively through our unique experiences, learning and talents. We are the love which together forgives, comforts, enlightens, empowers—and moves mountains.


4/6/10 – Love created us by a loving thought, and we continue creation through our own loving thoughts. Life itself is a cycle of creation of love through a multitude of unique forms and expressions. Nothing else is real, nothing else matters, nothing else lasts.


4/5/10 – Shall we spend our lives guiltily groveling, defending ourselves, and rebelling against feeling judged? Or shall we joyously recognize, accept, and celebrate each moment of a life that is not about judging or being judged, but about eternal innocence?


4/4/10 – Together we are God’s one strong, loving, confident, eternal, diverse creation, an irresistibly loving, lovable force, no “part” of which ever needs defending. Defending our illusions of separate, uncertain, inadequate, imagined “selves” only weakens us.


4/3/10 – We are powerful and loving beyond our imaginations, but we can’t recognize or fulfill our own unique and infinite potential until we respect, support and appreciate all others’ potential—as equally, eternally and uniquely amazing, infinite and wonderful.


4/2/10 – We can focus on goodness—seek it, appreciate it, offer it—because it’s pointless to try to understand or fix goodness’ senseless opposites—all errors, sins, evil, mistakes and wrongs. Instead, we can forgive, accept, love, (ourselves too), and let the rest go.


4/1/10 – We are eternal spirits, living life now as one innocent, valuable, beloved, diverse creation, sharing the same interests, and longing for the oneness of loving and being loved. Such awareness offers surrender, peace, forgiveness, acceptance and appreciation.


3/31/10 – Acceptance that we are forever unique, innocent and diverse, as we were created by an unconditionally and eternally loving God to be, helps us let go of the guilt and judgment we project onto others and ourselves, that causes most of the world’s pain.


3/30/10 – When we remember to respond to everyone, every time, with acceptance, forgiveness and appreciation—they like it! J


3/29/10 – Did God create us to drag along feeling guilty, weak and inadequate, or to recognize our capacity to be his loving, joyous, glorious children? If we ask, he will affirm all our ambitions to be our best selves in each moment.


3/28/10 – When we doubt and fear others, we can rely upon God’s inspiration, perspective and strength to help us live out our faith in the inextinguishable spark of divinity and love which is that-of-God eternally present in everyone’s essential nature.


3/27/10 – God created us with the goal of sharing his love and joy with us. We can share in his purpose and achieve his goal by sharing his love and joy with everyone else. The love and joy which then returns to him completes an infinitely loving, joyful cycle.


3/26/10 – We don’t need to learn love, which we all recognize, feel, and intuitively understand. But we do need to get rid of all our wrong-minded cultural ideas which cover, hide and bury our loving natures beneath their burden of guilt, fear and judgment.


3/25/10 – Instead of using anger in a futile attempt to push onto others our own present guilt feelings about the past, we can surrender all guilt entirely to an infinitely patient, understanding, forgiving God, and share his healing, motivating love, grace and peace.


3/24/10 – Each time we take a moment to request, receive and allow God’s unexpected, surprising, miraculous perspectives and inspiration, we will see, accept, appreciate, encourage and lift ourselves and others in incalculable, unforeseeable ways.


3/23/10 – When we finally realize that we don’t know anything, we may be more willing to learn everything from one who does understand, and who teaches by gently offering healing insight, inspiration and perspective to each question we humbly surrender to him.

Metaphorical Mystical Spring

Wallowing in winter’s woes is so addictive. Sometimes it seems life will never change, things will never get better, we won’t ever improve. March lions look back at us ominously as they depart, tails lashing, mouths dripping with blood. As we grope for ways to ease past losses, our bleary eyes may see only the faded evidence of passing winter, only bare black branches crossing dirty snow, too-recent reminders that there is a time for dying, and the Lord indeed taketh away.


But babbling and burbling, surging and burgeoning, importunate idiot spring insists we wake up now to springtime’s morning, that we set about now to recycle new selves from old. Kicking us out of hibernation, spring slaps us silly, shakes off our inertia and bad habits, wakes up our slushy sap, pulls us up out of past muck by our own muddy bootstraps, and stirs our clods to go outside and just do it.


“Triumph Tulips” really do triumph over Old Man Winter, while old irritating Mister Smiley-Sun lingers longer, warming us to new energy, new meanings and purpose. Frozen sloughs of mental and emotional despond thaw in spring, clarifying into watery resolution. Spring has the audacity to demand we dive back into the cold waters of life that cleanse and replenish, and splash around.


Spring offers us a mustard-seed faith that can’t quite remember what it knows or why it knows it, that isn’t even sure it does know, but acts instinctively as if it did. Spring is that swelling, blooming seed rising, blossoming into I-can-do-it, I can learn it, achieve it, move past it, live life again.


Spring forces us to see, if only from the corners of sleepy eyes, the first fine frills of coreopsis feathering up through bare sticks; baby buds of lilacs, magnolias, forsythia, pussy willows, and dogwood; the fat impertinent baby-grapes of hyacinths, the raspberry popsicles of promised peonies poking us to wake up too. Spring’s heavy-lifting builds up our faith, stone by stone, strengthening our belief in new hope, new opportunities, and new forgiveness.


Spring flatly refuses to allow anyone to miss twitterpation’s anticipation of the first robins, bunnies, crocuses, daffodils, and witch hazel. A whisper…then a hum…then a chorus of celebration, and a great hallelujah spring-shout–Look at me! Look at me!


Spring is so profligate we can’t help finally remembering that the Lord also giveth abundantly and eternally.


We know again in spring that our loved ones will come home safely, God will bless America, we will find manna to feed the hungry. For there is a time for living too, even in war-torn Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine/Israel, where Christians celebrate resurrection's promise while Muslim's spring holiday of Noruz affirms once again that neither earthquakes nor explosions nor tsunamis nor terrorism nor war nor hate nor fear can ever separate any of God’s eternal children from their bountiful Creator’s love.


Spring tells us to watch and wait, and have faith, for joy has come again, though winter has been long and it’s been dark in the long night of the garden, dark waiting beside the tomb. Watch for, wait for the faint first signs of the promised rebirth, for the return of the light, the resurrection of earth’s yearly lyrical miracle.


Watch and wait, and have faith.

Biological Arms Races, Biocontainment Labs, Hazards and Assessments

No one wants peace more than a soldier who’s been to war. Military men were my first heroes, my first saints. My darling Dad earned a Silver Star, two Purple Hearts, and a chest-full of campaign ribbons and medals. My childhood “hometowns” were Army posts scattered around the U.S., and Japan and Germany.  I went to twelve different schools before college. A civilian now, I’ve listened nostalgically for twenty years to the bugled sounds of Taps floating in my bedroom window near Ft. Detrick.


My husband and good friends working at Ft. Detrick convinced me long ago that the technicians and scientists there have the best intentions, the highest skills, admirable goals, and very conscientious safety precautions.


Unfortunately, they’ve not been able to convince me that the planned Level 3 and 4 labs will be safe in Frederick. The record shows that research lab workers, even those with the highest security clearances and the best available training, are still fallible human beings who can and do become victims of blackmail, fall in love unwisely, get into desperate financial situations, hide growing prescription and other drug problems, and develop volatile feelings about co-workers. Lab workers sometimes become blind to their own religious and political biases and bigotry, and are thus susceptible to involvement in illicit covert operations, conspiracies and cover-ups.


Sometimes they get in a hurry and make professionally embarrassing mistakes and bad decisions. Sometimes they hide evidence, fudge records and fake procedures in order to save their jobs and livelihoods, and then rationalize the risks they’re taking—escalating and exponentially complicating situations already perilous.


Also sadly, no one yet has been able to explain to me why it wouldn’t be easy, temptingly easy, to kamikaze an airplane flown from the Frederick Airport into a targeted Ft. Detrick building, or lob a well-placed rocket over the Ft. Detrick fence. Either of these unpreventable actions would very legitimately throw chaos and panic into the post, city and metropolitan area, creating unforeseen, complicated, dangerous situations.


Scientists in these labs will be genetically-engineering (from diseases with no cures), completely new, highly lethal and contagious life forms, life, life so new that no one yet understands how it works. What if a newly-mutated strain somehow finds a way to attach itself to a lab worker in some unpredictable way, some way that defeats the protections put on it, so that the lab workers carry it outside unknowingly? I plead for humility in the face of nature’s chaotic, awesome genetic power.


Furthermore, if we build the facility, we’ll scare other countries into creating their own labs, creating something like an arms race with ourselves, and increasing the threat. I can’t think why Detrick’s scientists, or the Post Commander, would welcome such dangerous projects, which only complicate, compromise and jeopardize all the other crucially important and valuable research currently being done at USAMRIID and elsewhere on post.


I know we can’t avoid all risks in today’s angry and violent world, but we can avoid adding recklessly to their sum. We can choose not to consolidate, in a metropolitan area, an unpredictable mix of risky components with an infinite potential for dangerous permutations.


I was almost raped as a young mother. A very caring policeman later sternly warned me, “Don’t be so stupid as to leave your window-shade up! You’re attracting every pervert in the county. Eventually, they’ll all make a beeline to your window!”


These labs leave the window-shades in Frederick up. Their very existence in Frederick asks, perhaps begs, for trouble, and that trouble will make its dangerous beeline straight to our area.


Before we expose huge populations to catastrophic risks with BSL 3 & 4 labs, we need to ask why. If someone does attack the U.S. with biologicals, what is the likelihood that we’ll have the right vaccine, in enough quantities, available when it is needed? Wouldn’t we have to vaccinate people before the threat reaches them? Perhaps an antidote, not a vaccine, will be needed. And how much vaccine, and when, would be considered a good solution? And who would be vaccinated? Only the government? The military? The medical community?  Who might our solution actually save?


And finally, has anyone examined the probability that these risky efforts can even be successful? We’re considering exposing huge populations to catastrophic risks. For what? If someone does attack the U.S. with biologicals, what is the likelihood that we’ll have the right vaccine, in enough quantities, available when it’s needed?


None of my concerns are even mentioned in the current USAMRIID hazard assessment, much less addressed.


What is needed is a mature, high-quality thought process developing an informed equation comparing the risks and costs of the potential biowarfare threat itself with the risks and costs of attempting to address the threat. At what point are they equal?


Merely by building such facilities, aren’t we unreasonably augmenting the threat? Aren’t we creating/driving a biological arms race with ourselves, since other threatened countries will feel it necessary to build their own labs, requiring us to expand ours again in an expensive, pointless, dangerous, ineffective, wasteful and infinite cycle?


Here is what a credible, predictive and useful BSL 3 & 4 hazard assessment might look like:


1. Estimate the cost of the planned response to perceived Biological Warfare (BW) threats

   –  List the possible negative events which inspired the proposed solution.

   –  Estimate the probability of each negative event occurring.

   –  Estimate the impact of each negative event, if it occurred.

   –  Estimate the risk (the probability of occurrence times impact) of each negative event.

   –  Estimate the expected cost associated with these possible negative events (some sort of group probability—a statistician would be required.)

   –  Estimate the actual costs of responding to perceived BW threats (labs, people, security, maintenance, upgrades, social, political, other costs…)

   –  Add actual and expected costs.


2. Estimate the benefits of the suggested solution (which is essentially a list of the costs of the negative events that would happen to the U.S. as a result of the perceived BW activities of other countries, assuming that the U.S. does nothing to ward off such possibilities.)


3. List the additional possible negative events that could happen to the U.S. as a result of other countries’ feeling threatened by our new labs and then building similar BW efforts, including the costs of expanding the U.S. response to these rising threats.


4. Using the list produced in step #3, proceed with the steps described in #1 above to determine the benefits of the planned solution.


5. After completing steps #3 and #4 above, we would have an informed decision-makers’ estimate of the costs and benefits of the planned response to the perceived BW threats.


6.  Evaluate the assumption that the planned solution to the perceived BW threats would actually be effective, (i.e., what is the likelihood of the US having an appropriate and effective vaccine or antidote ready when it was actually needed during a BW event? Etc.)


7. As a final step, do a sensitivity analysis.  Determine how much the result of the cost/benefit analysis above would change as a result of changes in the assumptions used to create it.


8. At what point does the risk of the threat itself equal the risk of trying to address the threat?


Essentially, we need to develop an equation, a model, which will allow decision-makers to make a practical and informed comparison weighing and comparing the risks and costs of the BW threat itself to the risks and costs of addressing the threat. A mature, high-quality thought process comparing the risks with the solution would allow for decision-makers’ discussions, and even some disagreement about the assumptions and decisions, but at least all involved would be assured that all issues were addressed in a systematic way.


Sometimes the “costs” in the above equation would be expressed in terms of dollars, sometimes in terms of human life, sometimes in terms of political costs, i.e., international opinion, good faith, trust, health, environmental costs, social costs, risks of increased anger, terrorism, war, etc. A complete list of costs and risks would of course also include the cost of the additional threats which will inevitably emerge as a result of the U.S. building such a facility to address the perceived threats. The list of expected monetary costs should thus include the costs of building the facilities, securing them, running them, maintaining them, and upgrading them again and again as response-threats spiral. Do we really want to start this death-spiral?





A Very Good Save-the-World Software Development Idea. Please Help Yourself! :-)

Will some brilliant programmer please step up and design a google-type software program that can linguistically analyze and determine a speaker/writer’s cooperative tone and intent?


Your new program could identify and distinguish among those writers/speakers whose communications promote a sense of division, partisanship, negativity, polarization, blame, attack, incivility, rudeness, destructiveness, unfriendly competition, bickering and hate—and those promoting a sense of positivity, creativity, life-affirmation, support, harmony, acceptance, forgiveness, productivity, civility, courtesy, equality of opportunity, caring, cooperation and unity.


Your software could have endless useful and profitable applications. For immediate profitability, please consider using your product for security purposes, to helpfully ward off unfriendly attacks and attackers (of whatever kind) upon individuals and enterprises (of whatever kind.)


Imagine leaders young and old in every field vying for their communications to be screened and certified via your software. Why not simultaneously award a “Truth-bearer” (or some other such logo) “gold seal of approval” identifying individuals and organizations as positive communicators, healers, light-bearers?


Your prestigious and desirable software “accreditation” could motivate many people to investigate and understand the important distinctions between peaceful and contentious communication purposes, and to recognize and encourage humanity-unifying goals as non-threatening and potentially beneficial to all earthlings, while discouraging communications with adversarial, hostile ends. Your software would also surely stoke national dialogue, while heightening awareness about the many distinct (although often confusingly-disguised) differences between helpful and harmful human communications. Your software would take care not to exclude any gentle, friendly, cooperative practitioner of any ideology, religion, political party, nation, organization, affiliation, etc.


One important goal of your software would be to educate. Hopefully, everyone would eventually become enlightened enough to merit universal inclusivity (by acting as good, positive communicators) according to your accrediting software, which might also be developed Wikipedically, or perhaps Amazon-style—i.e., open-sourced, by inviting motivated reviewers and voters opportunities not only to build your site, but also to offer feedback opportunities and provide needed talent to shape and debug upgrades and develop next-generation software.


Recipients of your approving nods (such as Nobel prize winners and mild-mannered third-graders) could proudly display and announce their cherished new affiliation and certification on their websites, on Facebook, business cards, in TV commercials and advertising, on coffee cups, tee-shirts, shopping bags….


Additionally, your software could assist web surfers to more-judiciously select helpfully-screened websites, products and opinions as the very ones they will most benefit from investigating. Perhaps your software could also eventually include a function which would recognize and refute inappropriate co-opters of your symbol of acceptance and stamp of approval—an iterative process that would call out abusers while encouraging more awareness and discussion.


Your software will stimulate lively dialogue; increase the impact and number of creative, thought-provoking, and controversial-but-civil exchanges; reduce (by virtue of indifference and neglect) the quantity and influence of divisive communications arising anywhere in the world; universally improve facility in verbal and mental processing of complexities, innuendo and nuances; and inspire us all to pull together cooperatively to resolve our common personal, local and global problems.


While you're programming, please give extra points for humor?


And if you're not a programmer, but merely a earthlinged, godlinged promosapient like me, please pass this idea on to any similarly-inclined programming/software folk or foundations, or to whomever might be interested!


Thank you…. 🙂


Nancy Pace




















































































Justice and Peace Are One Path

Peace and justice nourish one another, sharing their hope for non-violence and their concern for the interests of others. Wherever exploitation and oppression are ignored, peace and justice are illusive; wherever respect and support for human life become priorities, peace and justice are reborn.


Rule-of-law and justice are not always the same. Hopeless citizens who despair of working out their life-and-death issues within unjust legal, economic and political frameworks sometimes turn to crime, terrorism, and war. What goes around comes around. Those who work for equal opportunity and peace lift up their own lives with the lives of others, growing in understanding and acceptance of human difference, and increasing the sum of peace and justice.


The Golden Rule, the historical foundation for all moral and legal systems, and the basis for the “liberty and justice for all” to which we pledge allegiance, works so well because treating others as you wish to be treated becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Peace and justice are among the highest ideals and values enshrined in our proud founding documents, which extend equal protection for the peaceful, equitable goals of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” even to “the least of these”—children, the elderly, sick, needy and handicapped, and all who struggle to rise from historical discrimination.


Angry media xenophobes and demagogues try to scare us into believing that the world is divided into a tiny deserving few of “us” vs. a vast faceless, threatening, undeserving “them,” urging us to abandon the goal of peace and justice for all, and to put power and wealth in the hands of a few self-interested fear-mongers who guilefully “guarantee” safety through militarism. Offering the opposite message are the great leaders of our past and present, urging us to love and help one another, to give and forgive, to risk peace instead of war, and to work together for respectful, supportive conditions valuing the sanctity of human life everywhere. Truly, we cannot avoid all injustice, but we can avoid adding to its sum.


Justice implies neutrality and fairness, but no judges are completely unbiased. We all see the world uniquely, based on our different backgrounds. In the face of the same legal arguments, natural, unavoidable bias is evident in the many disagreements among even our rigorously-selected highest justices.


Our current justices’ life experiences are for the most part grounded in privilege and wealth. A more balanced Supreme Court would include justices whose lives reflect struggles against prejudice, poverty or disadvantage, since, in common law legal systems like our own, justices at times “make the law” by overturning precedents, regulations and legislation, with immense implications for future generations.


Clearly we need to appoint judges with sterling records of excellence and impartiality. President Obama hopes also to nominate Supreme Court justices with a sense of what real-world folks go through, who know what it is to be a teenage mom or to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old, to have the system not work for you, to be vulnerable in the political process—an outsider, a minority, someone without a lot of clout.


In the five percent of hard cases where the legal language is not perfectly clear, and where legal procedures alone can’t lead to a rule of decision, President Obama believes that the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in a judge’s heart. May we find the peace and justice we seek there, and together with our good president, continue to nurture peace and justice in our own hearts, in our families, communities, businesses, schools, courts, churches and government, and in all our relationships with others throughout the world.



Please send questions and comments to Thank you!

My Local Newspaper Slammed Terrorism, But Did Not Condemn War

In reference to your February 18th editorial, “Terrifying Reminder,” war harms millions more innocents than terrorism does, so can we save some of our righteous indignation for war, too? Grieving victims of all forms of violence, including war, always ask the same sad questions without answers: “What was my son’s fault? What did he do? What kind of belief system do these people have?”


To all war’s victims on all sides—dead soldiers and their broken-hearted families, the maimed and their caretakers, all whose love, energy, money and talents are wasted on destruction—war is as senseless and cruel as terrorism. Mayhem that destroys and terrifies cannot be justified by any political or religious ends, and is something that all people everywhere should be deeply suspicious of and resistant to. We cannot prevent all injustices, but we can avoid adding to their sum.


Please, instead of terrorizing us into putting our faith in violence, tell us about the many around the globe working selflessly to uphold our highest values through difficult and courageous interfaith, humanitarian and diplomatic efforts.


Global cooperation isn’t simple, obvious or guaranteed, but it is the most thoughtful and safest political course, and the only one with any chance of succeeding.


(To the many later letters that arrived online reminding me of how naive and stupid I was to write the above letter, I responded online with the following:)


I am not yet a pacifist, but I have observed that, too often, politicians who see conflicts primarily in terms of military solutions are elected with the money and support of those who profit from war. I hope to persuade voters to elect/support leaders who understand and consider the tragic costs of war for all involved, leaders who are less likely to abuse great power, and who have a record of seeking peaceful win-win compromises, accepting different points of view, and maintaining positive relations. My letter was intended to emphasize that we must consider war just as bad, in its effects on human beings, as terrorism (which is true), and because of the numbers involved, even worse…and so, equally to be avoided.


We have forgotten what it is like to have war in our own land. Sadly, during this century, many U.S. leaders have used war/our military forces to further perceived national interests, offering flag-waving rationales, and have not used war as a last resort, for defense only.


I love my country, so I work hard to promote peaceful viewpoints, not wanting us to lose our global reputation, acquire more deadly enemies, spend ourselves into disastrous economic situations, or blight the lives of millions here and elsewhere on unneccessary wars that achieve little.


Read Obama's courageous pre-Iraq-war speech against the war (or mine, published in the weeks after 9/11 in the Frederick News Post, listing similar arguments, if less eloquently) and you will see that many protesters and leaders DID know, even if you didn't, exactly why it was not a good idea to go to war….


There were better solutions, but not ones as profitable and attractive to those making the decisions (like Cheney). Some well-intentioned leaders, like George W. Bush, were convinced by bad intelligence combined with simplism (simplisticism? I'm trying to make up a new word that is the opposite of complexity. Simplixity?) that they had no choice, but many of us never believed that particular “intelligence” to begin with, for innumerable good reasons, and we wanted more questions asked. Unfortunately, our fellow-citizens elected and listened to hair-trigger, militaristic and misguided politicians.


All I'm saying is–let's not do that anymore! Let's elect thoughtful, informed leaders…. And let's not do anything to any other country that we, were we a less-powerful country, would not want done to us; even if we think such approaches are in “our interest,” they are immoral. Nobody likes having their country invaded and occupied; nobody likes outsiders telling them how to live. That's why we have our military forces, and only for that reason–to defend our country.


In all conflicts, we need to be careful of using double standards–one standard for what's OK for the U.S. and a different one for “the rest” of the world.

Dialogue and Discernment

President Obama’s recent disclosure of secret memos has stirred up national debate on torture, just as his previous openness to honest dialogue inspired widespread discussion—and enlightenment—on such prickly subjects as racism, patriotism, hope, secrecy, enemies, extremism, power, culture, diplomacy, and faith.


Obama’s courageous commitment to transparent government, and the inevitable media discussions that ensue, will only deepen our national appreciation of the intricacies and nuances of crucial, complicated subjects too often seen in simplistic, black-and-white terms.


For instance, thanks to our current civic dialogue on torture, we now realize that the decision to torture, like the decision to go to war, only seems “simple” when we see “others” as “not-us,” “different,” and in terms of “us/them;” the decision to torture is infinitely more complicated when we view all people as valuable, “us,” “ours,” one community. We’ve also learned that torture undermines founding American principles of respect and support for human life, is often counterproductive, ineffective, unreliable, and misleading, endangers our own imprisoned soldiers, weakens our alliances, and creates endless new enemies.


Future Obama revelations and their associated public conversations may again leave us chastened, but newfound humility is a small price to pay for a priceless understanding of complexity, values, and peace.



I sent this letter-to-the-editor to the Frederick News-Post a few weeks back but it was not printed…. 🙂