Abandonment of the Use of Force

December 17, 2016

atlantic_charterOn August 14, 1941, Churchill and Roosevelt met in Newfoundland and issued The Atlantic Charter,a broad statement of U.S. and British war aims.  War aims? The U.S. was not yet officially at war: the U.S. would not formally enter the war until December, 1941, after the Pearl Harbor Attack.  Nevertheless, Churchill and Roosevelt wanted to rally the world around a set of principles.

Point 8 (the final point) of the Atlantic Charter is a striking statement envisioning a world without war.

8. They believe all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea, or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armament.

Who is “They”?  Churchill and Roosevelt certainly, but they meant the Charter to speak more broadly for their respective nations.  The Charter articulates “certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.”

“Abandonment of the use of force” and lightening “the crushing burden of armaments.”  How far we are from such sentiments today, 75 years later.

I found reference to the Atlantic Charter in an excellent post of Ted Grimsrud on his Peace Theology blog entitled Christian pacifism and the “Good War”.  Worth reading.

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What to Make of Trump’s Election

November 9, 2016

A friend writes this morning  “just wondering what your Quaker Friends are saying after this election?  I write her back:

trump-headlineWell I’m wondering, too, what Quakers make of it and wondering even more what I make of it. “Shocked” seems to be the word of the day, and that certainly includes me.
Two thoughts come first to my mind.  One is that anytime we are surprised by the doings of others we live among (and it’s all those votes that have me reeling, not DJT’s election) — anytime that happens, then that’s on us.  We weren’t paying attention the way we should have been.  We’ve got to pay attention better, listen and look better, open our heads and hearts a little wider.
The other thought has to do with something I said to Robbie yesterday and now am saying to myself.  He was hoping for a leadership position in his scout troop he didn’t get and so is disappointed.  I told him leadership isn’t so much about the position you hold, it’s about what you do, how you carry yourself.  In seeing it that way, I told him, “leadership is taking initiative generously, constructively and persistently.”  Anyone can exercise leadership on that understanding and at any time.  So this morning I’m thinking we better all step up to leadership, taking initiative generously, constructively and persistently.
What initiative(s)?  That’s what I’m thinking about.
Love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Streams

October 29, 2016

Of revenue, that is.  Streaming is overtaking other music formats, according to the Recording Industry of America.

music-revenue-streams-2016

Source: BloombergView

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Seymour Chwast for Peace

October 21, 2016

nogohr-w800

A poster by Seymour Chwast for the  Hague “Appeal for Peace” conference, 1999.

Courtesy Pushpin Gallery.

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Cormorant Fisherman by the Li River II

September 23, 2016

cormorant-fisherman-ii

Cormorant Fisherman by the Li River II by Shan Huang

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All the Water on Planet Earth

September 12, 2016

all-water-on-planet-earth

Explanation: How much of planet Earth is made of water? Very little, actually. Although oceans of water cover about 70 percent of Earth’s surface, these oceans are shallow compared to the Earth’s radius. The featured illustration shows what would happen if all of the water on or near the surface of the Earth were bunched up into a ball. The radius of this ball would be only about 700 kilometers, less than half the radius of the Earth’s Moon, but slightly larger than Saturn’s moon Rhea which, like many moons in our outer Solar System, is mostly water ice. How even this much water came to be on the Earth and whether any significant amount is trapped far beneath Earth‘s surface remain topics of research.

Astonishing, from NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Suppose, now, we asked for–imagined–a picture of all the living water on planet earth.

 

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Submitting to Those Claiming to Speak for God…

September 8, 2016

Among my regular reading is the blog Marginal Revolution that Tyler Cowen (Professor of Economics at George Mason University) writes with Alex Tabarrok.  Cowen often sees things differently than I do, but in a serious, interesting and truthful way.  He also reads voraciously and points me to things I would never otherwise have read.  This morning he quotes Mark Lilla’s new book The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction:

Michel Houellebecq is not angry.  He does not have a program, and he is not shaking his fist at the nation’s traitors…He appears genuinely to believe that France has, regrettably and irretrievably, lost its sense of self, but not because of feminism or immigration or the European Union or globalization.  Those are just symptoms of a crisis that was set off two centuries ago when Europeans made a wager on history: that the more they extended human freedom, the happier they would be.  For him, that wager has been lost.  And so the continent is adrift and susceptible to a much older temptation, to submit to those claiming to speak for God.  Who remains as remote and as silent as ever.

Michel Houellebecq is not a writer in whom I take any pleasure at all and so avoid, but Lilla’s insight is on target.  Yes, we (all of us) have made a wager that more freedom will make us happier, and this is quite a disputable proposition.  And yes, one of the dangers of having gone down this road is that many people feel lost, purposeless, adrift, and thus “submit to those claiming to speak for God.”  They grasp at false certainty.

Where I depart from this is in the claim that God “remains as remote and silent as ever.”  I believe God will speak to us (and regularly does) if we will still ourselves and listen.  But we are surrounded by many, many false prophets.

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