Emily Greene Balch a Woman for Peace

Time and place do matter. Where and when you were born, who you know and associate can make all the difference in how your life plays out, and in how your actions and work are regarded and remembered. Sometimes even monumental greatness is overshadowed by another person’s fame.

For example, Jane Addams comes as close to achieving household recognition as is probable for any social worker. And rightly so. She is a grand mother of the settlement house movement in the United States. Her Chicago based Hull House was the home to dozens of nationally recognized reform minded women. She helped to found the Women’s International League for Peace and freedom, and she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

And then there is Emily Greene Balch. “Who?” you ask.  To which I reply, “my point exactly!” Emily Greene Balch, born on January 8, 1867 in Boston, MA; died January 9, 1961, 94 years old. And what a 94 years they were.

Emily Greene Balch won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 when she was 79 years old. It is interesting to me that even discussions of her as one of very few women Nobel Laureates often begin by noting that she was a colleague of Jane Addams.  But, Emily Greene Balch stands as her own woman who warrants recognition for her contributions and accomplishments.

Emily Greene Balch graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1890, a member of the college’s first graduating class. She was awarded Bryn Mawr’s first Fellowship and used that to study Paris’s economy which led to the publication of her first book, Assistance of the Poor in France. She was 26 when the book was published.  She then returned to the United States, took a job as a social worker with the Boston Children’s Aid Society, and founded the Dennison House Settlement. After further studying economics, in 1897 she became a professor at Wellesley Women’s College where she taught for 21 years until 1918.  Of course while she was teaching she remained internationally active, working to improve economic and social living conditions, and actively advocating for peace throughout the world.

So, she ‘left’ Wellesley in 1918. Why would she leave an academic position when she was only 51? Clearly that was too young to retire. Depending on how you read the story, the long and short of it is that she was ‘let go’ by the college for her outspoken peace work.  Emily had taken a leave from Wellesley to study the living condition of Slavic people.  As the conflict of World War I spread throughout Europe in 1914, she became more vocal and active in her work for peace, working with Jane Addams and Alice Hamilton.  Emily asked Wellesley to extend her leave so that she could continue her work for peace, and Wellesley not only declined to extend her leave but choose to terminate her contract instead.

Undaunted – well, daunted but undeterred, she took an editorial job with the Nation and continued to write books analyzing economic and social conditions and advocating for peace.  She was active with the International Congress of Women and helped to cofound the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She remained active within the women’s peace movement throughout her life.

Her Nobel Prize acceptance speech is titled: Toward Human Unity or Beyond Nationalism. If you are of a mind, you can read it at http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1946/balch-lecture.html.

It is worth the read.  Here are the last few paragraphs:

I have spoken against fear as a basis for peace. What we ought to fear, especially we Americans, is not that someone may drop atomic bombs on us but that we may allow a world situation to develop in which ordinarily reasonable and humane men, acting as our representatives, may use such weapons in our name. We ought to be resolved beforehand that no provocation, no temptation shall induce us to resort to the last dreadful alternative of war.

May no young man ever again be faced with the choice between violating his conscience by cooperating in competitive mass slaughter or separating himself from those who, endeavoring to serve liberty, democracy, humanity, can find no better way than to conscript young men to kill.

As the world community develops in peace, it will open up great untapped reservoirs in human nature. Like a spring released from pressure would be the response of a generation of young men and women growing up in an atmosphere of friendliness and security, in a world demanding their service, offering them comradeship, calling to all adventurous and forward reaching natures.

We are not asked to subscribe to any utopia or to believe in a perfect world just around the comer. We are asked to be patient with necessarily slow and groping advance on the road forward, and to be ready for each step ahead as it becomes practicable. We are asked to equip ourselves with courage, hope, readiness for hard work, and to cherish large and generous ideals.

 

Shortly before she died, Nobel Peace Laureate Emily Greene Balch wrote a poem she addressed to the “Dear People of China.” The last stanza read as follows:

Let us be patient with one another,

And even patient with ourselves.

We have a long, long way to go.

So let us hasten along the road,

The road of human tenderness and generosity.

Groping, we may find one another’s hands in the dark.

 

Let us all hasten along the road of human tenderness and generosity, groping to find one another’s hands in the dark!  Not a bad way to spend a life, I think!

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On Seeking Serenity

So, who wouldn’t want a little more peace and serenity in their life, right? And of course the moment I hear the word serenity, I think the serenity prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous. You know, the one that goes: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

But of course Bill W. and Bob S. the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous were not the authors of the prayer. The original Serenity Prayer is attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, and the full length version is a bit longer than the commonly quoted four verses. The full version says:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

But, oh, the joys of the internet!! If you do a diligent search of the internet, you can uncover a differentially distributed Serenity Prayer by Myers-Briggs Type! Which of course is funny only if you have a bit of background understanding of the Myers-Briggs Types. So, here is a little on Myers-Briggs Types, followed by the Myers-Briggs Serenity Prayers.  (oh be persistent, read the background, the differentiated Serenity Prayers are funny enough to be worth it).

Excerpted with permission from the MBTI® Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®

Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world?

Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning?

Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances?

Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options?

So, your Myers-Briggs Type is your combination preferences from those four groups. This is a very quick and very, very dirty way of coming at it, but have a look at the four groups, and the questions, and pick out your four preferences. Then have a read below 😉

And here are the Myers-Briggs Type based Serenity Prayers:

 

ISTJ – God, help me to begin relaxing about little details tomorrow at 11:41:32 am

ISFJ – Lord, help me to be more laid back, and help me to do it exactly right

INFJ – Lord, help me not be a perfectionist (Did I spell that right?)

INTJ – Lord, keep me open to others’ ideas, wrong though they may be

ISTP – God, help me to consider people’s feelings, even if most of them are hypersensitive

ISFP – Lord, help me to stand up for my rights (if You don’t mind my asking)

INFP – Lord, help me to finish everything I sta. . .

INTP – Lord, help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.

ESTP – God, help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they’re usually not my fault

ESFP – God, help me to take things more seriously especially parties and dancing

ENFP – God, help me keep my mind on one thing – Look, a bird – at a time.

ENTP – God, help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I’ll settle for a few minutes

ESTJ – God, help me to try not to run everything, but if You need some help, just ask.

ESFJ – Lord, give me patience and I mean right now

ENFJ – God, help me to do only what I can and trust You for the rest. Do You mind putting that in writing?

ENTJ – God, help me to slow downandnotrushthroughwhatIdoAmen.

As Niebuhr says, Forgiveness is the final form of love. Let it be.

 

 

The People of Peace and the Four Creations

Often enough I find myself pondering questions that seem to have no answers. Questions like, “why are we here?” “what is the meaning (the point) of life?” “where did we all come from?” When I find myself wondering about where we all came from I often meander over to creation stories. I grew up with the Christian version of the Genesis creation story. As I got a bit older the version of Eve and the snake and the apple left a bitter taste in my mouth, so I looked to other cultures and wisdom traditions. This story comes from the Hopi people of northern Arizona. “Hopi” means “People of Peace”. The stories here were recorded in the 1950s by Oswald White Bear Fredericks and his wife Naomi from the storytelling of older Hopi at the village of Oraibi, which tree-ring dating indicates has been inhabited by the Hopi since at least 1150 AD. They recount The Four Creations:

At the first was endless space. Only the Creator, Taiowa was in the earliest days. Those days had no time, no shape, and no life; there was only the mind of the Creator. And then it came to be that the infinite creator created the finite in Sotuknang, whom the Creator made as agent to establish nine universes. Sotuknang gathered together matter from the endless space to make the nine solid worlds; he gathered the waters from the endless space and placed them on these worlds to make land and sea; then he gather together air to make winds and breezes on these worlds. The fourth act of creation with which the Creator charged Sotuknang was the creation of life. Sotuknang went to the world that was to first host life and there he created Spider Woman, and he gave her the power to create life. First Spider Woman took some earth and mixed it with saliva to make two beings. Over them she sang the Creation Song, and they came to life. She instructed one of them, Poqanghoya, to go across the earth and solidify it. She instructed the other, Palongawhoya, to send out sound to resonate through the earth, so that the earth vibrated with the energy of the Creator. Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya were dispatched to the poles of the earth to keep it rotating.

Then Spider Woman made all the plants, the flowers, the bushes, and the trees. She made the birds and animals using earth and singing the Creation Song. When all this was done, she made human beings, using yellow, red, white, and black earth mixed with her saliva. Singing the Creation Song, she made four men, and then in her own form she made four women. At first they had a soft spot in their foreheads, and although it solidified, it left a space through which they could hear the voice of Sotuknang and their Creator. Because these people could not speak, Spider Woman called on Sotuknang, who gave them four languages. His only instructions were for them to respect their Creator and to live in harmony with him.

These people spread across the earth and multiplied. Even though they spoke four languages, in those days they could understand each other’s thoughts, and for many years they and the animals lived together as one. Eventually, however, they began to divide, both the people from the animals and the people from each other, as they focused on their differences rather than their similarities. As division and suspicion became more widespread, only a few people from each of the four groups still remembered their Creator. Sotuknang appeared before these few and told them that he and the Creator would have to destroy this world, and that these few who remembered the Creator must travel across the land, following a cloud and a star, to find refuge. These people began their treks from the places where they lived, and when they finally converged Sotuknang appeared again. He opened a huge ant mound and told these people to go down in it to live with the ants while he destroyed the world with fire, and he told them to learn from the ants while they were there. The people went down and lived with the ants, who had storerooms of food that they had gathered in the summer, as well as chambers in which the people could live. This went on for quite a while, because after Sotuknang cleansed the world with fire it took a long time for the world to cool off. As the ants’ food ran low, the people refused the food, but the ants kept feeding them and only tightened their own belts, which is why ants have such tiny waists today.

After this Sotuknang finished making the second world, which was not quite as beautiful as the first. Again he admonished the people to remember their Creator as they and the ants that had hosted them spread across the earth. The people multiplied rapidly and soon covered the entire earth. They did not live with the animals, however, because the animals in this second world were wild and unfriendly. Instead the people lived in villages and built roads between these, so that trade sprang up. They stored goods and traded those for goods from elsewhere, and soon they were trading for things they did not need. As their desire to have more and more grew, they began to forget their Creator, and soon wars over resources and trade were breaking out between villages. Again Sotuknang appeared before the few people who still remembered the Creator, and again he sent them to live with the ants while he destroyed this corrupt world. This time he ordered Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya to abandon their posts at the poles, and soon the world spun out of control and rolled over. Mountains slid and fell, and lakes and rivers splashed across the land as the earth tumbled, and finally the earth froze over into nothing but ice.

After many years, Sotuknang sent Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya back to the poles to resume the normal rotation of the earth, and soon the ice melted and life returned. Sotuknang called the people up from their refuge, and he introduced them to the third world that he had made. Again he admonished the people to remember their Creator as they spread across the land. As they did so, they multiplied quickly, even more quickly than before, and soon they were living in large cities and developing into separate nations. With so many people and so many nations, soon there was war, and some of the nations made huge shields on which they could fly, and from these flying shields they attacked other cities. When Sotuknang saw all this war and destruction, he resolved to destroy this world quickly before it corrupted the few people who still remembered the Creator. He called on Spider Woman to gather those few and, along the shore, she placed each person with a little food in the hollow stem of a reed. When she had done this, Sotuknang let loose a flood that destroyed the warring cities and the world on which they lived.

Once the rocking of the waves ceased, Spider Woman unsealed the reeds so the people could see. They floated on the water for many days, looking for land, until finally they drifted to an island. On the island they built little reed boats and set sail again to the east. After drifting many days, they came to a larger island, and after many more days to an even larger island. They hoped that this would be the fourth world that Sótuknang had made for them, but Spider Woman assured them that they still had a long and hard journey ahead. They walked across this island and built rafts on the far side, and set sail to the east again. They came to a fourth and still larger island, but again they had to cross it on foot and then build more rafts to continue east. From this island, Spider Woman sent them on alone, and after many days they encountered a vast land. Its shores were so high that they could not find a place to land, and only by opening the doors in their heads did they know where to go to land.

When they finally got ashore, Sotuknang was there waiting for them. As they watched to the west, he made the islands that they had used like stepping stones disappear into the sea. He welcomed them to the fourth world, but he warned them that it was not as beautiful as the previous ones, and that life here would be harder, with heat and cold, and tall mountains and deep valleys. He sent them on their way to migrate across the wild new land in search of the homes for their respective clans. The clans were to migrate across the land to learn its ways, although some grew weak and stopped in the warm climates or rich lands along the way. The Hopi trekked and far and wide, and went through the cold and icy country to the north before finally settling in the arid lands between the Colorado River and Rio Grande River. They chose that place so that the hardship of their life would always remind them of their dependence on, and link to, their Creator.

Perhaps we would do well to remember that there are multiple ways of knowing and being. Our current world has come to prize above all the empirical ways of knowing, trusting only what can be seen, touch, tasted, counted valuing the material as the only plane of reality. In doing this we have lost touch with and devalued the knowing of the world’s wisdom traditions. We have lost touch with the paths with heart. Perhaps we would do well to re-member the stories, the traditions, the best of the wisdom practices of our elders, of all elders.

Perhaps we also would do well to remember our interdependence, our links to all of creation, and the need for peace in our hearts, in our lives and in our world.

peace to us all.

Sadako Sasaki, little boy, and one thousand cranes

War is not healthy for children and other living beings. For the people who lived in and around Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan in the late summer of 1945 that was poignantly true. Sadako Sasaki was one of the people who lived near Hiroshima. She was born on January 7, 1943 in Misasa Bridge in Hiroshima, Japan. On August 6, 1945, Sadako was just about two and a half years old, she was playing at home on that day when the United States of America dropped an atomic bomb euphemistically called ‘little boy’ on Hiroshima. Sadako’s home was about one mile from Ground Zero. That day she and her family lived.

About nine years later when she was eleven, in November 1954, Sadako notice some swelling on her neck and behind her ears. A few months later in January 1955, one of her friends pointed out some purple spots on Sadako’s legs. Her parents took her to see a doctor who diagnosed her with leukemia. Sadako’s mother called her daughter’s illness an atomic bomb disease, everyone in the area knew that leukemia was caused by the effects of radiation from the bombing of Hiroshima. On February 21, 1955, just a month after Sadako turned 12 she had to be hospitalized. Sadako and her parents were told that she had one year at the most left of her life.

Sadako was a bright and happy child. She easily made friends and was well liked among the other students in her school. So of course when she was in the hospital her friends would come to visit with her. One of her friends reminded her of the Japanese legend which promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted their dearest wish by a crane. (In Japan cranes, tortoises and dragons are revered as mystical and holy creatures.) The legend has it that cranes live for 1,000 years, and that is why 1,000 origami cranes must be folded within one year in order to receive the wish, or in some versions to receive eternal good luck.

Once she was reminded of the legend of the crane, Sadako began to fold origami cranes with hope and determination. Her wish was to live. She folded paper cranes with focus and diligence, with patience and resolve. Between late February 1955 and late October 1955, in just 8 short months, Sadako folded 644 origami cranes. As October wore on Sadako became too weak to fold cranes anymore. On October 25, 1955 Sadako died. Sadako died, but not her dreams. Her family and friends carried Sadako’s dream forward. They finished folding the 1000 cranes and buried them with her. That was something. But it was not enough.

Sadako’s family and friends wanted her dream, and the dreams of all the children who died from the effects of the atomic bombs dropped by the United States, to live on. The children, families, and teachers from Sadako’s school worked together to raise the funds to build a memorial to Sadako and to all of the other children who suffered and died from atomic bomb radiation poisoning. In 1958 a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled as part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial within the Hiroshima Peace Park. At the foot of the statue is a plaque that reads: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on Earth.” The city of Hiroshima maintains a web page for the Peace Park at http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/index_e2.html. You should check it out!

War is not healthy for children and other living things. So proclaimed the poster fashioned by the group “Another Mother for Peace (AMP) a grass-roots anti-war advocacy group founded in 1967 in opposition to the U.S. war in Vietnam. That poster carried me through high school, it so resonated with me that I replicated it with indelible felt markers on my bedroom wall. Nearly fifty years later, you would think we would have gotten the veracity of that assertion! War really is not healthy for children and other living things. The life of Sadako Sasaki stands as a witness to just how not healthy war is for children. Let us work for peace with every breath. We can begin by folding paper cranes, 1000 paper cranes, until they nest in our hearts. With each breath, may our intentions take wing and fly, let us work for peace.

There are some directions for how to fold a crane at WikiHow: http://www.wikihow.com/Fold-a-Paper-Crane . . .

 

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The War Prayer by Mark Twain

 

Mark Twain surely was one of America’s great authors. He may be best known for his books “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry  Finn.” Both are fine books, not without their flaws or controversy, but quite fine. However, my favorite piece of his writing is the War Prayer. It too is not without its flaws or controversy. All the more reason then to give it a read. …

So, here it is, please have a read – all the way to the end if you would, please? Then, do let me know what you think? it is after all a think piece…

 The War Prayer   by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory with stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.

It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came — next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams — visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!

Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation:

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest,
Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory —

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, “Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord and God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside — which the startled minister did — and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

“I come from the Throne — bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import — that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of — except he pause and think. “God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two — one uttered, and the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this — keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon your neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain on your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse on some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

“You have heard your servant’s prayer — the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it — that part which the pastor — and also you in your hearts — fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard the words ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory — must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

“Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth into battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it —

For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause.) “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits.”

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.