Empowering civic activism toward a culture of peace.
Here is a stirring message about the growing malignancy in the soul of our country, a disease that was brought to our attention (once again) by the recent horrific killings in Tucson. The message is followed by a Peace Pledge that I hope all who read this note will seriously consider adopting as their personal response to this most recent tragedy. We are not helpless. We do not have to stand by in horror, wringing our hands. We can commit to taking the action recommended in the pledge, and if enough of us do that, our mass pressure can force angry political figures to stop using violence-inciting language, and force the media to stop giving them a pass when they do.
Newsletter message from Rev. Michael Moran,
January 14, 2011
Spiritual Life Center, Sacramento, CA
My dear friends,
HONORABLE, FAIR, JUST, SINCERE, HONEST, PRINCIPLED, TRUSTWORTHY, CIVIL, DIGNIFIED. Are these words you would use to describe the current Congress of the United States, or politicians in general? I wouldn't. I know there are some elected officials in all parties who personify those attributes, but the truth is over 83 percent of the American public rate our current Congress as ineffective, inadequate, and untrustworthy. What has gone wrong? This is not a politically motivated question; it is a spiritual one that goes to the state of the soul of our nation. Who have we allowed ourselves to become as a people?
Slogans, words, signs, and political ads which even remotely encourage violence against political opponents are just dangerously wrong. Last week 19 citizens were gunned down in Tucson, Arizona. Thirteen were wounded, among them U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, six other innocent people were killed, including one of her aides, a Federal judge, and a nine-year-old girl. Our nation is shocked and outraged and everyone seems to be pointing the finger of blame at someone else. No one knows for sure if the gunman was directly, or even indirectly, motivated by the nasty political hate speech that is so prevalent now, but we know that it has to be adding to a negatively supercharged and dangerous atmosphere in our country. This has to stop.
Over the years I have expressed my distress at the rapid decline of civility in our national discourse. I find the escalating "hate speech" being used by our elected leaders on both sides of the aisle, and by the ratings-hungry media personalities who thrive on toxic discourse, reprehensible. Words have great power to inspire us as individuals and as a nation, to greatness, or reduce us to pettiness. I know from personal experience that well-chosen loving and empowering words can reach deep into a person's soul and bring them back from the depths of despair and change the whole course of one's life. When spoken by our elected leaders in whom we place our trust, they can change the world. Read or listen to the words of Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela and you hear greatness being asked of everyone. They spoke to our Higher Natures. Today, our national trust has been violated by those we elected who seem to have no fidelity with truth, and we allowed it to happen.
Toxic words directed toward a person, a race, a culture, a religion, or a nation, are purposefully intended to "push buttons" and elicit a corresponding emotional response. Sadly this has become a "black" art form and some unscrupulous officials and commentators have become masterful at it. We also share responsibility for this because each time we tune in to a so-called news program, such as the ones offered on FOX NEWS and MSNBC, we are supporting this kind of unbalanced, "snarky," and dangerous discourse. Each time one of our elected officials spews a hate speech from our hallowed halls of power, or on the campaign trail, and we don't express immediate outrage and demand an end to it, we are culpable as well.
For me this is more than just a strong opinion, it is a spiritual issue that impacts the very soul of our nation. While I was in ministerial school, the Book of James really spoke to me as I was preparing to teach spiritual truths, as I understood them. James was writing to the new leaders of the movement and he was very clear about how vital words are when used by those who accept and assume positions of authority. In James 3:2-6 he writes "We all make many mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every way. We can make a large horse turn by putting a small bit in its mouth. And a tiny rudder can make a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even when the winds are fierce. A tiny spark can set a vast forest ablaze. And the tongue is a flame of fire. So also, my brothers and sisters, the tongue is a small thing, but enormous damage it can do...it can ruin your entire life."
I believe we have a spiritual responsibility to get our nation back on track and demand an end to this hateful, toxic speech being used so freely and destructively by those who are supposed to have our nation's best interests at heart. Even if the gunman in Arizona was not influenced in the least by a political hate speech, by allowing it to continue we are creating an atmosphere that will burn us all in the end. Irrational people respond accordingly to irrational hate speeches. We must put a stop to this or our national spirit will wither and die.
Since we can't control others, let's all pledge to watch our own tongues and control the flow of energy we send forth with our words. I encourage us to stop supporting media outlets that continue to incite and divide us. Let's call, write, or somehow contact our local, state and national lawmakers, and inform them that we will not tolerate this dangerous and shameful behavior anymore.
Join with me and your spiritual family to make a Peace Pledge beginning today. I will close my well-intentioned diatribe with this passage from Proverbs 18:21, "Death and life are in the power of your tongue, and you can give life or you can give death." Let's agree to give LIFE!
I, _______________________________________________, pledge to be a peacemaker in every way and not participate in or tolerate hateful, divisive speech or activities that threaten or demean the goodwill and peace of our nation and its citizens.
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
I begin with myself and endeavor to refrain from speaking destructive words of violence, or hatred toward any person, group, religion, or race for any reason. When I disagree I will do so respectfully and never attack another’s character.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter. In the end we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
If I hear or observe a public official, media personality, or entertainment/news organization that promotes and airs views and programs which incite violence, bigotry, or divisiveness, I will withdraw my support and directly notify them of my displeasure.