Fold Cranes | November 14, 2021 by Dr. Dorsey Blake
The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.
I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my instrument.
The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly set;
Only there is the agony of wishing in my heart. . . – Tagore
There were six of us gathered in the name of peace which I think is what Jesus meant by the scripture in Matthew: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” His name was wonderful counselor, Prince of Peace. We were certainly under no illusion that our gathering together to ring Fellowship Church’s bell reminding us and others of the deep meaning of Armistice Day (Veterans Day) would end war. It was a simple coming together to remember the vision put forward – a vision that was at the genesis of Fellowship Church’s establishment. We were there representing members of “the fellowship” who could not be present. The spirit of “the fellowship” was in the midst of the gathering. We were remembering a vision, stringing our instruments for the time to greet the Beloved, this moment in the global sojourn that yearns for global understanding and peace. For the words and time have arrived to sing again of a new earth for all that dwell therein. Truly, without a vision the people perish. This does not necessarily mean they perish physically, that their hearts cease to beat. It means that their essence dies, that which make them human is forfeited, the spirit, vital force, dies. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand. Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.”
The corollary, without the people the vision perishes, is also important for us to re-member, to re-inscribe into our total being; for, the time is ripe.
The ringing of bells 11 times at 11:00 on the 11th day of 11th month of the year reawakens awareness of an alternative way for us as a people and global population to be together. It responds to the agony of wishing in my heart, wishing for a world without the madness of war and its allies. I am sickened by the continued parricide generation after generation, ashamed of the perpetual choosing of death rather than life, of conformity rather than radical imagination and newness. I use the word parricide, the killing of a close relative, because that is what the peoples of the world are, close relatives—sisters and brothers not merely in theory but in fact.
Albert Einstein stated: A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe’ — a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
We are all children of the same birthing and sustaining cosmos. It is important for us to believe this even while billions of dollars are spent annually to create enemies, even within the same country.
Yeh, yeh, I know that simple acts of peace, justice, compassion do not and cannot bring about the Beloved Community in and of themselves. Nonetheless, we have been told that the Kin-dom of God is within—within the range of being manifested. That’s good news for it means we can choose to bring it in-hand.
Why is this possible? It is possible because moral integrity is built into the universe, into our journey. It appears as conscience informing our consciousness. We can do the right thing!
Responding to a comment from a man at a women’s rights convention that women could not have the same rights as men, Sojourner Truth responded: If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they are asking to do it, the men better let them.
The first step in moving forward is the recognition of the need to do so. Too often we are made comfortable in uncomfortable, life-denying situations. The world in which we live is a world at odds with the religions and ethical systems of the world.
There is a widespread feeling of despair and feeling of futility not only about the present times but also about the future. There are many reasons for this attitude; indeed, the reasons are not far to seek. The cumulative anxiety resulting from two world wars with the vast eruption of hate and misery has left its mark in the soul of the nations of the earth. It is terrible enough when wars are fought by hired mercenaries, but when they become the immediate and personal involvement of young men and women, old men and women, boys and girls, then there is left no one who does not bear the deep bruises and shock of its consequence. The standing peacetime army is more and more taken for granted as the common experience of the modern nation. . .. no one anywhere is safe, . . . there is no protection for man against what man can do to man and all that he holds dear.
At such times as these it is good to remember that we are under the necessity to use all of the devices of our democratic process to make our domestic and foreign policies enlightened and morally responsive to a good social conscience. We must remember that at the level of our daily round we must put our own courage, gentleness and kindly devotion at the disposal of simple community in our homes, in our work, and in our play. The good deed continues to be good, the kind word continues to be kind, the cup of cold water given to the thirsty continues to be refreshing and reassuring – the need for love is as urgent and desperate as it ever was. Faith in life, faith in one’s self, faith in one another, faith in God these are the necessities for our peace. (Howard Thurman)
No, the many simple acts we undertake to express our determination to birth a world free of war cannot end war. They can set forth intention, that seed waiting for tilling to come.
October 16, Pope Francis revealed a crucial linking of the personal and the systemic change necessary for peace to abide.
Personal change is necessary, but it is also indispensable to adjust our socio-economic models so that they have a human face, because many models have lost it. And thinking about these situations, I make a pest of myself with my questions. And I go on asking. And I ask everyone in the name of God.
I ask all the great pharmaceutical laboratories to release the patents. Make a gesture of humanity and allow every country, every people, every human being, to have access to the vaccines. There are countries where only three or four per cent of the inhabitants have been vaccinated.
In the name of God, I ask financial groups and international credit institutions to allow poor countries to assure “the basic needs of their people” and to cancel those debts that so often are contracted against the interests of those same peoples.
In the name of God, I ask the great extractive industries – mining, oil, forestry, real estate, agribusiness – to stop destroying forests, wetlands and mountains, to stop polluting our rivers and seas, to stop poisoning food and people.
In the name of God, I ask the great food corporations to stop imposing monopolistic systems of production and distribution that inflate prices and end up withholding bread from the hungry.
In the name of God, I ask arms manufacturers and dealers to completely stop their activity, because it foments violence and war, it contributes to those awful geopolitical games which cost millions of lives displaced and millions dead.
In the name of God, I ask the technology giants to stop exploiting human weakness, people’s vulnerability, for the sake of profits without caring about the spread of hate speech, grooming, fake news, conspiracy theories, and political manipulation.
In the name of God, I ask the telecommunications giants to ease access to educational material and connectivity for teachers via the internet so that poor children can be educated even under quarantine.
In the name of God, I ask the media to stop the logic of post-truth, disinformation, defamation, slander and the unhealthy attraction to dirt and scandal, and to contribute to human fraternity and empathy with those who are most deeply damaged.
In the name of God, I call on powerful countries to stop aggression, blockades, and unilateral sanctions against any country anywhere on earth. No to neo-colonialism. Conflicts must be resolved in multilateral fora such as the United Nations. We have already seen how unilateral interventions, invasions and occupations end up, even if they are justified by noble motives and fine words.
This system, with its relentless logic of profit, is escaping all human control. It is time to slow the locomotive down, an out-of-control locomotive hurtling towards the abyss. There is still time.
Pope Francis also challenged governments and politicians of all parties to represent their people and to work for the common good. He admonished them: Stop listening exclusively to the economic elites, who so often spout superficial ideologies that ignore humanity’s real dilemmas and instead serve the people who demand land, work, housing and good living.
The ringing of the church’s bell was a simple reminder that more than 100 years ago there was a movement declaring and claiming peace to replace war as a norm in our society. And peace cannot exist without justice and compassion for all creation.
Let us hear the words of Charlie Chaplin.
It's said that if you
fold one-thousand paper cranes
your wish will come true.
For peace I would gladly spend
the rest of my days folding.
© Rafael Jesús González 2016