From a distance I see a man isolated on a bench beneath a tree, no one approaches him, or even resides near his proximity. At visual impression he is of great stature, and with his attention directed to literature in his hand, while engaged in a phone call, it leaves question as to his demeanor, or willingness, to even interface with those around him; sort of a conflict to the tone of our location, the interactive grounds of The Huntington Library, Museum and Gardens.
My wife also notices him, “Photograph him,” she directs me. I’ll admit, his presence intimidates me. But to not at least introduce myself would make me a hypocrite to my own 365 mission of “Chin up and eyes open to the world.”
I have no idea of what to expect as I wander to the shade in which my unknown friend has found privacy, and as he begins to stand up I reach out with a hello and invite to 365.
“I’m Richard” I share as I speak of 365. With a listening ear, followed with a smile, he replies, “Nice to meet you Richard, I’m Richard.”
My intimidation dissolves instantly and I find myself engaged in conversation with a very kind and polite individual. A man who originally I viewed as possibly unapproachable turns out to be a very compassionate and peace seeking human. Yet another lesson in looking past our conceptions in regards to the judgments we place on those around us. And today I am a partial offender in letting my fear distort my perspective of humanity.
I call Richard peace seeking. “I don’t believe in war and we have to stop it now,” he advises.
Richard’s beliefs are strong and he credits finding them to an experience he had at eighteen, “I read an article by Frank Church just before the Vietnam War broke out. That article changed my life and from then on I became a conscientious objector.”
It’s interesting how a man that I was very much intimidated by, is the exact opposite of my earlier perceptions. Richard wears a concern for life, liberty and the environment in his every word.
Per the planet, “We are in some deep Kimchi if we don’t do something fast!”
I get quite the education as Richard brings me up to speed on what is happening the to Earth’s atmosphere, and conditions that are leading to the acceleration of global warming. It has to do with the levels of CO2 in the air, and the easiest way to bring you up to speed is to give you a link to an organization he supports, 350.org.
Here is the synopsis of the problem (as quoted at 350.org):
“350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.
Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 390ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.”
Richard says, “We are in some deep Kimchi!
Everyday we get closer to the end. We need to see more planning for change, and we all have to opportunity to speak out,” he expands.
“I am a pacifist,” Richard calmly reveals, yet in stating it he directs no incrimination toward those serving at the fronts or enlisted in service. He even talks of the wars we face in everyday life and of civil rights.
What he does point his finger at are the political and big business endorsers of world conflict. And once again to support his reasoning, Richard provides us with a couple of interesting links:
Fellowship of the reconciliation (FOR)
FOR has been at the fronts of the fight for peace and freedom for over 100 years. They are a well-established organization with a history of conflict resolve.
The FOR Mission Statement
“FOR seeks to replace violence, war, racism and economic injustice with nonviolence, peace and justice. We are an interfaith organization committed to active nonviolence as a transforming way of life and as a means of radical change. We educate, train, build coalitions, and engage in nonviolent and compassionate actions locally, nationally, and globally.”
The FOR Vision Statement
“FOR envisions a world of justice, peace, and freedom. It is a revolutionary vision of a beloved community where differences are respected, conflicts are addressed nonviolently, oppressive structures are dismantled, and where people live in harmony with the earth, nurtured by diverse spiritual traditions that foster compassion, solidarity, and reconciliation.”
War Resisters League
“The War Resisters League has been resisting war ate home and war abroad since 1923. Today, as one of the leading radical voices in the antiwar movement, we challenge military recruitment and war profiteering, organize nonviolent direct actions, and offer on-the-ground tools to end the current war and all wars. The War Resisters League affirms that all war is a crime against humanity. We are determined not to support any kind of war, internationally or civil, and to strive nonviolently for the removal of the causes of war, including racism, sexism and all forms of human exploitation.”
In the end… it is up to us to decide which side of the fence we sit on in regards to warfare. In considering it’s purpose, I cannot ignore the blessing we have in America, and history tells of just wars, compassionately fought for freedom from oppression.
But on the other hand… we must question, “How many wars are wars for ultimate power?” The Hitler’s, Mussolini’s and Bin Laden’s, or the big business’ that so greedily profit at the expense of life, liberty and family?”
As per the planet, we all have the power to influence change. Even the smallest of acts can make the greatest of impact. That is… if we all do them.
Richard, we thank you for pointing our eyes at resolve.
And for the brave men and women who so willing risk life and limb in the fight for freedom. Freedom we all deserve. My you find yourself in just battles and thank you for your service or welcome home.