The Common Good

Pray and act for peace and justice

Sojomail - January 15, 2003


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+++++++++++++++++++++ 15-January-2003 ++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++ Pray and Act for Peace and Justice +++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Martin Luther King Jr. on faith-based initiatives

 H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
     *Pray and act for peace and justice

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Why did the chicken cross the road?
 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *What would you do with $364 billion?

 P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
     *Who lives and who dies?

 T e c h   E t h i x
     *My vegetarian car 
 P. O. V.
     *Open letter to the world: We're sorry but not silent
 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *This train don't carry no weapons

 W e b s c e n e
     *MLK online
     *Go green 
     *Get disinformed

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Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k

"I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours."

- Martin Luther King Jr.


H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
Pray and act for peace and justice

by Jim Wallis

On this day in 1929, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born. As we commemorate his birthday, let us remember his words and his work for peace and justice. The following excerpts are from the last Sunday sermon he preached, which was at the Washington National Cathedral on March 31, 1968. They will be read in our Prayer Service for Peace and Justice at the Cathedral on Monday, January 20.

On Peace

One other challenge that we face is simply that we must find an alternative to war and bloodshed. Anyone who feels, and there are still a lot of people who feel that way, that war can solve the social problems facing mankind is sleeping through a revolution. President Kennedy said on one occasion, "Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind." The world must hear this. I pray God that America will hear this before it is too late. ... It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence, and the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation. ... This is why I felt the need of raising my voice against that war and working wherever I can to arouse the conscience of our nation. ...

On Eradicating Poverty and Racism

We are challenged to eradicate the last vestiges of racial injustice from our nation. ... It is an unhappy truth that...spoken and unspoken, acknowledged and denied, subtle and sometimes not so subtle - the disease of racism permeates and poisons a whole body politic. And I can see nothing more urgent than for Americans to work passionately and unrelentingly to get rid of the disease of racism. ...

We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, poverty spreads its nagging, prehensile tentacles into hamlets and villages all over our world. They are ill-housed, they are ill-nourished, they are shabbily clad. I have seen it in Latin America; I have seen it in Africa; I have seen this poverty in Asia. ... Not only do we see poverty abroad, I would remind you that in our own nation there are about forty million people who are poverty-stricken. ... I have seen them in the ghettos of the North; I have seen them in the rural areas of the South; I have seen them in Appalachia. ... There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.

For the World

We are challenged to develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone, no nation can live alone, and anyone who feels that he can live alone is sleeping through a revolution. The world in which we live is geographically one. The challenge that we face today is to make it one in terms of brotherhood. ... Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet... we have not had the ethical commitment to make it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers. Or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. ... That is the way God's universe is made; this is the way it is structured.

Please join us at the Washington National Cathedral for a Prayer Service for Peace and Justice on Monday, Jan. 20, from 2:30-4 p.m., followed by a procession and vigil to the White House. For more information, see:


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Why did the chicken cross the road?

To die. In the rain. Alone.

It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

It was a historical inevitability.

I have just released eChicken 2003, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an inextricable part of eChicken.

I did not cross the road with THAT chicken.

We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either with us or it is against us. There is no middle ground here.

The chicken's habitat on the original side of the road had been polluted by unchecked industrialist greed. The chicken did not reach the unspoiled habitat on the other side of the road because it was crushed by the wheels of a gas-guzzling SUV.

I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
What would you do with $364 billion?

The president's "growth plan" proposal would require the U.S. treasury to forego $364 billion of collected revenue over 10 years - just for the dividend tax elimination provision. For the price tag of $36.4 billion per year (for each of the next 10 years), the federal government could do the following:

*Fund a new NIH, with enough left over for two new Centers for Disease Control.

*Provide 43 million children with school lunches for an entire year.

*Provide all recommended vaccinations to 88 million children.

*Fund adequate nursing staff for 728 150-bed hospitals.

*Provide enough funds to run almost every emergency room in America.

*Treat 3.64 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS.

*Provide health care for 9.1 million retirees not yet eligible for Medicare.

*Make our streets safer by putting another 100,000 community police officers on our streets and in our neighborhoods.

(Source: Office of Senator Edward Kennedy)

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P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
Who lives and who dies?

Last weekend, Illinois Governor George Ryan emptied his state's death row. Here is an excerpt from his speech at Northwestern University's College of Law:

"Yes, it is right that I am here with you, where, in a manner of speaking, my journey from staunch supporter of capital punishment to reformer all began. But I must tell you since the beginning of our journey my thoughts and feelings about the death penalty have changed many, many times. I realize that over the course of my reviews I had said that I would not do blanket commutation. I have also said it was an option that was there and I would consider all options.

During my time in public office I have always reserved my right to change my mind if I believed it to be in the best public interest, whether it be about taxes, abortions,or the death penalty. But I must confess that the debate with myself has been the toughest concerning the death penalty. I suppose the reason the death penalty has been the toughest is because it is so final - the only public policy that determines who lives and who dies. In addition it is the only issue that attracts most of the legal minds across the country. I have received more advice on this issue than any other policy issue I have dealt with in my 35 years of public service. I have kept an open mind on both sides of the issues of commutation for life or death.

I have read, listened to and discussed the issue with the families of the victims as well as the families of the condemned. I know that any decision I make will not be accepted by one side or the other. I know that my decision will be just that - my decision - based on all the facts I could gather over the past three years. I may never be comfortable with my final decision, but I will know in my heart that I did my very best to do the right thing."

Read the full text of Governor Ryan's speech at:


T e c h   E t h i x
My vegetarian car 

by Claudia Eyzaguirre

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, I've wanted nothing to do with the oil industry. I want to disengage myself from the oil barons fueling a war machine that wages terror on the world. I used to lie awake at night, wondering what one person could do about the situation.

Then I discovered biodiesel.

For a thousand bucks, I kissed the oil industry goodbye and began driving a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit that runs entirely on waste vegetable oil.

Biodiesel is my most quixotic dream come true. It's a fuel made from vegetable oil, preferably used, mixed with methanol (wood alcohol) and a touch of lye. Heat, stir, and voilà: vegetable fuel that runs in any diesel engine, with no conversion or expensive overhaul necessary.

Read more at:


Do you know what you'll get everyone on your holiday list 
this year? How about a gift that will be remembered for 
years to come? Give a gift animal in honor of friends and 
loved ones from Heifer International, and bring hope and 
opportunity to a family in need.


P. O. V.
Open letter to the world: 
We're sorry but not silent

by Brit Holmberg and Ty Holmberg

To the Honorable _____,

This is a letter from members of the silent majority of the United States thanking you for your support of nonviolent measures as a means of diplomacy in dealing with Saddam Hussein and Iraq. We laud your efforts to handle this situation with the vision for a more peaceful global community.

It is also a letter of apology for the bellicose and short- sighted posture of our nation's current administration. We are not the warmongers our current leadership makes us out to be! In fact, much evidence points to the contrary:

*In a daring and symbolic move, at least 24 city councils around the country have passed ordinances decrying unilateral war with Iraq.

*Countless spiritual leaders from major religious groups in the U.S. have released statements opposing the war.

*Large organizations like Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and several labor unions have released statements condemning a pre-emptive strike by the U.S.

*More than 100,000 anti-war protesters turned out in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 26, 2002, to voice their support for peace. Some 80,000 more gathered for the same purpose in San Francisco that day.

*In addition, hundreds of smaller demonstrations have occurred around the country in which many participants have been arrested.

*Newspaper editorials, magazine covers, and radio programs continue to dedicate space to providing critical analysis of a possible war as well as endorsing a peaceful, diplomatic resolution.

And this is just a sampling.

Just as we have used your countries' peaceful acts of resistance as inspiration for our struggle for peace, consider the above examples of courage as reason to hold onto hope for a diplomatic, multilateral resolution to this conflict. We urge you to keep questioning the need for war, to continually stand up for the welfare of all people, to adamantly support environmentally friendly policies and alternative energy technologies, and to never compromise innocent human life for selfish profit. Thank you for your bold leadership.

In solidarity,
Brit Homberg
Ty Holmberg

*Brit's hope is that people with contacts with the leadership of foreign governments, or with the ability to translate this message into other languages, will help distribute this letter to as many leaders around the world as possible, as an act of good will and solidarity with all nations.


New online discussions on today's controversial topics:

Patriotism is Not Enough
Christian conscience in a time of war.

Not in My Name 
Is it anti-Semitic to criticize Israel?


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Anti-war train drivers refuse to move U.K. arms freight

by Kevin Maguire
The Guardian 

Railway managers cancelled Ministry of Defence service after crewmen, described as "conscientious objectors" by a supporter, said they opposed Tony Blair's threat to attack Iraq.

The anti-war revolt is the first such industrial action by workers for decades, but is not entirely new. Dockers went on strike rather than load British-made arms on to ships destined for Chile after the assassination of leftwing leader Salvador Allende in 1973.

In 1920 stevedores on London's East India Docks refused to move guns on to the Jolly George, a ship chartered to take weapons to anti-Bolsheviks after the Russian revolution.

Trade unions supporting workers who refuse to handle weapons could risk legal action and possible fines for contempt of court.

Lindsey German, convener of the Stop the War Coalition, said: "We fully support the action that has been taken to impede an unjust and aggressive war. We hope that other people around the country will be able to do likewise."

Read more at:,3604,870967,00.html


W e b s c e n e
This week's best of the web

*MLK online
This week's quote of the week was found at this Web site, "your one-stop source" for MLK speeches, quotes, photos, and even sound files and video clips.

*Go green
Co-op America's Green Pages Online boasts the largest directory of qualified green businesses available online. Search for more than 25,000 products and services from 2,000 green companies.

*Get disinformed
Disinformation was designed to be the search service of choice for individuals looking for information on current affairs, politics, and the "hidden information" that seldom seems to slip through the cracks of the corporate-owned media conglomerates.


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