The Seriously Cool Campaign

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are on the precipice of a very destructive presidential campaign and unless we recognize this and make a commitment to change this path of destruction to a new path of political engagement, the fall over the cliff will reverberate for the next 7 generations (as our decisions always do). And I'm not just talking about Obama's statement about same-sex marriage. I don't wish to talk about that aspect of where we are going or why because it's only one issues of a plethora of issues that continue to divide us--that we refuse to cross the aisles of our discontent to see something through another's eyes. 

Over the years, I have had the honor and pleasure of meeting and getting to know people of other faiths. You know what? In the 18 years that I have been doing interfaith, engagement has created some of the most powerful moments of time, changing me forever. I recognize commonalities through this engagement and I'm a better person for it. Actually, I've become a better Christian by getting to know others whose belief seems so different from my own. When we engage, we don't necessarily talk about our faiths or our religions. Instead we share who we are through our beliefs. We don't debate our religions either. Instead we educate one another about the joys of our faiths and its challenges, too. We engage and we talk and change takes place. We build bridges rather than tearing them down.

So, you know what I think would be cool? I'm happy to announce that I do. I'm happy to announce that I want to take a different path this campaign season. I dare you to join me.

"Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence."
H. L. Mencken

As always, I use my own life and hold myself to harsh standards in order to reflect on our choices, challenges, and next steps. While I admit that I am voting for Obama, I am willing to have the conversations needed to talk about what is best for our country. Then I am willing to be open to change my mind. I also admit that I don't think my mind can be changed given our choice now between two candidates, but I do believe that I can change my mind about some of this President's choices and direction and urge him to stand for or against something that maybe I never thought about or that I thought one way and now need to look at another. AND--I promise to give it my utmost reflection and to listen with both heart and mind, mostly heart over my grey matter. 

In this post, I have a picture of peace cranes I created and hung on a string. We're making 1000 PLUS cranes to display on four very important occasions: August 6th--An annual event commemorating the Life of Sadako Sasaki who lost her life because of the releasing of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima; September 21st--The International Day of Peace, a United Nation's sanctioned annual event with the temerity to have one day with no violence; October 7th--The Gandhi Library's annual event called One Thousand Lights of Peace, honoring Gandhi's life; and October 14th--The Children's Sabbath, an annual event to bring attention to the role we take in protecting children's rights put on by the Children's Defense Fund!

WHEW! We've taken on a lot, but it will be well worth it.

All of these events are about children, protecting children. All of these events make children the important aspect of any and every decision that we make. If we ask ourselves how we affect children with loving accuracy, we'll make different decisions as it relates to social issues. I remember when I participated in the first Children's Sabbath in the mid-1990s. I had met Marian Wright Edelman and immediately warmed to the ideas she proposed. After that first Sabbath with Muslim, Christian and Jewish children at a synagogue in Houston, I was hooked. Two years later, one of the pastors of the church who had participated said that we were confusing our Christian children with this event and he pulled out. It was several years later before I participated again. It was because of my Muslim friend that my reintegration took place. How time brings about a change.

Sometimes we have to reflect on the decisions we've made and look at it with heart and mind. And, when our hearts are in this decision-making thinking, we realize where our thinking might be wrong and what we must do to counteract what we really do to our children. Children have a way of seeing things differently. It brings to mind two Biblical quotes I've been taught as it relates to children.

"... little child shall lead them."
Isaiah 11:6

In this Chapter of Isaiah, the prophet talks about a time in the future when God "will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with this ears, but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of this earth." Sounds like Isaiah saw this as a sign of true change because he shares in this chapter that the wolf and the lamb will lie together, and if a child reaches his or her hand into a nest of vipers, no harm will come to him or her. He was talking about a time of peace and that God ordains it. Protecting children in the ways that we think best will include those we've labeled deviant or unacceptable; those people that we tend to exclude. Whether you're talking about gays and lesbians or people of color, or people who are poor and needy--our way of life will change so that children can be safe in the midst of all that we would shake our fists (or guns) at.

"Let the children come to me and hinder them not."
Matthew 9:6

Children should not be discounted. Their love tends to be more revealing about who they love than any of our intellectual meanderings as we debate who has the right, who is sinful, who we should be afraid of. This is not to discount the fact that children must be protected, but look again when a child is drawn to a person. When I was in South Korea I was at a rest stop when I noticed a family, parents with their child, swinging her between them. Just as the little girl's feet hit the ground, she looked up at me and smiled. Then she took off running, surprising her parents who immediately took off after her. Knowing the danger presented, I took off, too, to try and thwart the danger that presented itself. And this child ran right into my arms.

The relief of the parents was palpable. They didn't stop and think, "Oh, a black person is holding my child." Rather they immediately gave their thanks to me for offering safety to their child. We recognized each other as people who were concerned about a child--not just their child--but a child. Period. What was telling was that when the mother reached for her child, the child clung to me. It wasn't long. She wanted to touch my face and gave me a smile that to this day warms my heart. She kissed me. I kissed her back and told her how beautiful and wonderful she was. Only then did she go to her Mom. She waved at me until she and her parents disappeared into the parking lot. Her mother glanced back a couple of times, too. What they were thinking, I'm not sure, but what I felt is that this moment in history changed their thinking about the person so obviously different from themselves. Neither or us spoke the other's language, but we both spoke children.

So, to those who think that they are protecting children by reinforcing stereotypes or misconceptions--look to the heart of the matter. That's what I'm calling the cool campaign and while part of it has to do with what I see in President Obama, I'm calling us to rise to cool status, too.

Peace! Truly. Now that's cool

If you interested in creating peace cranes to join in the displays at this events, please contact me at office@thinkpeaceinternational today. 


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