Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation
Working for peace, social
justice and principled nonviolence since 1976
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The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation’s TV program airs on Monday 1:30 pm, Wednesday 5 pm, Thursday 9 pm and will air twelve times through the month. You and other people everywhere can watch it on TV or through our website, www.olympiafor.org, soon after it has debuted on TCTV.
June 2014 “Igniting a Grassroots Compassion Movement”
by Glen Anderson, producer and host of this TV series
For more than 27 years the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation has produced one-hour TV programs on issues related to peace, social justice, economics, the environment, and nonviolence. The Olympia FOR’s program airs on Thurston Community Television (TCTV), channel 22 for Thurston County’s cable TV subscribers. Each program airs every Monday at 1:30 p.m. and every Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. and every Thursday at 9:00 p.m. for a full month. This creates THREE OPPORTUNITIES EVERY WEEK to watch each program.
You can also watch the program described below (and about 100 of our previous interview programs and special programs at the Olympia FOR’s website, www.olympiafor.org, after they have debuted on TCTV. Simply click the TV programs link, scroll down, and click the program you want to watch. Many of our website’s monthly TV program listings also include a .pdf document describing the program.
July 2014 “A Vietnam Veteran Now Works for Peace”
The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation’s July 2014 TV program features a warm and frank conversation with Larry Kerschner, whom I have known and respected for many years. Larry Kerschner is a Vietnam veteran who started working for peace and social justice a few years after returning – and has been accomplishing more and more ever since.
Drawing upon his religious roots and his experiences in the army, Larry has developed himself into a wise, compassionate, and courageous peace activist who “connects the dots” between spiritual grounding and how to live actively and nonviolently in a world that is far different from what we want. Larry expresses his experiences, his values, and his analysis not only through peace activism in our local region, but also through traveling to other countries and through writing poetry.
Larry recently retired from a career as a health care professional in Lewis County. He grew up in Seattle, was drafted and sent to Vietnam, where he served in the US army’s infantry. He shares a powerful experience that happened soon after arriving in Vietnam. He wrote a poem about that, titled “Answering a Question.” It appears on page 5 of his 2013 book of poetry, Grave Lines, which people can buy from Larry at email@example.com
During our TV interview, Larry tells about the few years after returning from Vietnam and some steps that later connected him with the peace movement, including the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and Veterans for Peace (VfP). The end of this article offers ways to contact these and other organizations.
More than a decade before George W. Bush launched his 2003 war against Iraq, his father, President George H.W. Bush, had launched his own war against Iraq in 1990. Between these two wars – in 2000 – Larry traveled to Iraq with other peace activists in order to protest the brutal economic sanctions that were killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis by denying them medicine and resources for treating water and sewage.
In 2002 and early 2003 George W. Bush was pushing for another war against Iraq. A nationally respected poet from Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula – Sam Hamill – used poetry as a way to oppose the war. Larry tells this inspiring story, and he reads a poem he wrote about this, called “Eyes Wide Open” from page 7 of Larry’s Grave Lines book.
Larry tells how he got connected with Veterans for Peace and helped organize local chapters for VfP.
In 2006 he went to South Korea with other members of Veterans for Peace. The Korean War is actually still underway, without a peace treaty, but only a ceasefire that has gone on for 60 years. China had pulled its troops out in 1956, but the US military still occupies South Korea and had begun dominating Korea way back in the 1800s. Even now, the US repeatedly evicts farmers from their lands in order to expand US military bases in South Korea. You can hear Larry tell the fascinating story of US military domination of Korea by watching the Olympia FOR’s November 2007 TV program through this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3zNdXBjEQs&feature=youtu.be
In 2009 he traveled to Afghanistan to meet with the Afghan Peace Volunteers and to help local folks there make low-tech biosand water filters to remove contaminants and provide safe drinking water. Dirty water has been killing more Afghan children than the war, but the biosand water filters can prevent these unnecessary deaths.
For many years Larry has protested against nuclear weapons at the Trident nuclear submarine base at Bangor in Kitsap County, and he has been arrested there for nonviolent civil resistance. He read a poem that he had written about Trident. It appears on pages 44-45 of Grave Lines.
In 2011 Larry returned to Vietnam (this time voluntarily). He explains how he helped to heal some of his pain from his war experience.
In the fall of 2013 he went to India and Nepal with Bernie Meyer. It was Bernie’s 13th trip to India, portraying Mohandas Gandhi – the Mahatma – in an authentic way. Larry and Bernie spent more than a month there. Bernie – in character as Gandhi – was the featured speaker on a great many occasions, and Larry had intended only to accompany Bernie, but Larry discovered that people wanted to hear from him too, so he ended up talking with people in heartfelt ways about his experiences and his values. During more than four decades Larry has transitioned significantly from a soldier in Vietnam toward his longstanding and current commitments to peace and nonviolence. People in India were interested in hearing from Larry as well as from Bernie.
Larry has traveled not only throughout the world, but also traveled internally as a human being – a very long way from the person he was when the US Army sent him to Vietnam. Whether consciously or unconsciously, people act based on their values, their ethics, and how they see the world. Larry dug deeper and shared some steps and insights from his own spiritual development from when he was young to where he is now. This warm and fascinating TV interview allows viewers to hear experiences and insights from Larry’s profound journeys, including some lessons that inspire him and the rest of us to continue working boldly for peace.
Near the interview’s end, we urged the American people and the US government to learn some of these lessons. A very important lesson is the lesson that militarism does not solve problems. That has been called “the Myth of Redemptive Violence.”
We discuss that, and also the myth that the US Empire is good for the world, and the myth that the US Empire will persist over many more years. Larry suggests better goals instead of empire and militarism. He also urges the American people to move ahead toward better goals. For example, we should practice compassion instead of domination.
This TV program is a fascinating interview with one person who:
· started out in a fairly ordinary way as a young person,
· paid attention to his experiences,
· reached out and learned a lot,
· stretched his spiritual grounding, and
· took a variety of risks to act boldly for peace.
Larry Kerschner is not the only person who can do this. Every human being has potential to continue experiencing, learning, and sticking our necks out to act for peace and other worthy goals.
Some people do this by interacting with people in other nations around the world. Other people do it in their own local communities. Nobody can do everything, but each of us can do something. Most of us can do a lot more than we have. The work is really satisfying.
We recommend these organizations:
· Veterans for Peace, www.veteransforpeace.org
· Olympia’s VfP Chapter 109 (the Rachel Corrie Chapter), (360) 867-1487, www.vfp109rcc.org
· Fellowship of Reconciliation (national level), (845) 358-4601, www.forusa.org
· Western Washington FOR. (206) 789-5565, www.wwfor.org
· Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, www.gzcenter.org
· Olympia FOR, (360) 491-9093, www.olympiafor.org
“Igniting a Grassroots Compassion Movement” http://youtu.be/Aw6zs8Sq-gA
by Glen Anderson, producer and host of this TV series
The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation’s June 2014 TV program explores the potential of applying compassion to a wide range of social problems.
Our four guests (listed near the end of this article) are active in Compassionate Seattle, which began in 2008, when the Dalai Lama visited Seattle and promoted the Seeds of Compassion, which Archbishop Desmond Tutu also supported. Another boost came in late 2009 when Karen Armstrong won a TED award for her Charter of Compassion movement based on the Golden Rule.
After the Dalai Lama’s visit, many people in Seattle spent several days started how to use compassion as the basis for working on issues. They also started developing Seattle as a compassionate city and the City of Seattle to adopt its Compassionate City Proclamation of 2010. Seattle was the first city in the world to do this.
The organizers kept pushing ahead and created a network of people in Seattle and throughout the Puget Sound region to form relationships, build trust, inspire hope and catalyze action to reduce pain and suffering in our communities. They want to create “tipping point” changes for positive and sustainable improvements in our region’s quality of life.
On Friday March 14, 2014, Compassionate Seattle held an event attended by310 persons in the daytime and 700 for Karen Armstrong’s evening keynote. This event was inspired by her point that “Compassionate cities are uncomfortable cities” that profoundly listen to the people who are hurting and won’t rest until they have devised compassionate solutions to social problems.
The March 14 event featured 6 different sectors (“constellations”) that attracted about 60 people each: homeless/housing, at-risk youth, compassionate education, health & wellness, economic justice, and alternative economy/environment. Participants from several cities throughout Western Washington are following through throughout our Western Washington region and are planning their next big event for October 2014.
The campaign for Compassionate Cities spread around the world, so the Compassionate Action Network International emerged to advocate for the Charter. Now about 222 cities have proclaimed or are considering proclaiming their decisions too. Some officials at the United Nations say that city-level action of this kind is very important.
The Olympia FOR’s June 2014 TV program featured four guests who work actively with Compassionate Seattle:
The Dalai Lama said, “Compassion is the radicalism of this age.” Yes, it would indeed be radical to build a new system based on compassion. Let’s do it!
Buckminster Fuller said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” OK. Let’s use compassion to build a new model that can make the existing unjust and unworkable systems obsolete.
Building new systems based on compassion would require finding ways to include the people who have been excluded. This requires good listening and compassionate hearts. The results will be much more practical and workable than the dysfunctional systems we have now.
We have exciting challenges. Let’s face them with compassion and creativity!
Near the end of the TV program we offer the following resources:
www.wsipp.wa.gov has research by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy.
This program will air on TCTV channel 22 for cable subscribers in Thurston County:
-- Every MONDAY at 1:30 pm
-- Every WEDNESDAY at 5:00 pm
-- Every THURSDAY at 9:00 pm
Sometimes we produce special programs. These air on TCTV at various dates and times.
The movies can be enlarged for viewing by clicking Control + (Windows) or Command + (Mac)
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