I’d like to invite you to a different kind of social change activism.
Like many of us who read articles from Tikkun, I am delighted at the many victories which have already be won by the Black Lives Matter movement. Yet the more those demonstrations moved beyond demands for reform of the police into an understanding of the need for structural change of all the ways our economic, political, and cultural systems contribute to racism, the more many have come to understand that we need a long-term strategy to make those changes.
The first step is to build a consciousness-raising movement that invites people to be part of challenging the selfishness, materialism, and me-firstism of capitalist society. And to challenge the notion that we live in a meritocracy (i.e., the fantasy that people who have more money or power somehow deserve it and the rest of us have no one to blame but ourselves for having less than what we need).
So no matter who wins the elections in 2020 (and yes, it really does matter who wins, and we encourage you to get involved in getting out the vote and encouraging people to actively support the candidates who most reflect your values), we have to understand the need for a longer-term struggle to promote different values that could underlie a caring society.
Cat Zavis, executive director of the NSP, has been leading a training on how to do this, and some of those who have gone through the training are now joining with us to invite you to take a step toward building the consciousness raising and actions that will still be needed no matter what the outcome in November. On Monday, July 13th, we held a call in which we introduced four different projects that are taking steps in this direction. You can watch the call here, or listen to it here. If after doing so, you feel inspired to join one of the working groups, you can do so by reading below and clicking on the embedded links to register for one or more of the group zoom meetings.
In these times full of change and enormous potential for progress, this is the perfect moment to launch our monthly working groups. We are so excited by the excitement of the many people who joined us on the call.
Love and Justice Circle/NSP Chapter
Revolutionary Love Book Group
Outreach Efforts – Sharing Unifying Principles with Other Organizations
Prophetic Empathy Practice Group
These four national working groups will be led by members from the NSP Leadership Team (click here to read their bios) and provide a space for NSP members to gather to brainstorm, strategize, learn, and co-create. These groups also offer guidance and support, and serve as a model of how to organize a local group in the focus area of the working group. For example, if you participate in the Revolutionary Love Book Group, you would both be participating in a national book group reading Rabbi Lerner’s book Revolutionary Love and as you gain confidence, be encouraged to start your own book group. You will have guidance and support from the national working group. This is true for all of the groups. You are welcome to participate in more than one group! Each group will meet once a month.
Participating in a national working group of the NSP is a unique opportunity for you to connect with like-minded people, be a spiritual activist, and help shape history.
Love and Justice Circle/NSP Chapter – visioning and action
This national group will both be a love and justice circle itself and will support participants in the group to start a local love and justice circle or NSP chapter. The group will explore how to deconstruct various institutions and sectors of community and economic life to re-imagine how they would function if based on love, generosity, empathy, justice and celebration and awe of the universe. The group will develop ways to apply the ideas of the NSP to different focus areas – prison reform, BLM, schools, etc., and create ways to bring the NBL, ESRA, and GMP into different entities, organizations, etc.
Eligar Sadeh, Susan Partnow, and Brian Tucker are leading this group. The first meeting of this group will be Wednesday, July 15th 4:00-6:00pm PT/7:00-9:00pm ET. Beginning on August 26th, this group will meet on the 4th Wednesday of the month at 4:00-6:00pm/7:00-9:00pm ET. Sign up here to join us.
Revolutionary Love Book Group – deepened learning
In this national book group, you will not only be a passive recipient of the book but will also try to implement some of the ideas with the support of the group. We will read Rabbi Lerner’s book Revolutionary Love using a study guide with questions and action steps for each chapter of the book that help readers to integrate the concepts and ideas in the book as well as to take what they’ve learned and bring it into action. As you gain confidence, you will be encouraged to start your own book group. You will be given both the questions for each chapter, a guide for how to facilitate a book group, and support from this national book group along the way. (Buy the book at www.tikkun.org/revlove).
Fred Clare and Roberth Koth are leading this group. The first meeting of this group will be on Monday, July 20th at 4:30-6:30pm PT/7:30-9:30pm ET. They will continue to meet on the 3rd Monday of each month at the same time. Sign-up here to join us.
Outreach Efforts – Bringing Unifying Principles to Organizations – organizing to create a unified whole
Like the other groups, this group will both be a learning group that discusses how to encourage organizations, faith and spiritual communities, and social change groups/organizations to adopt the NSP Unifying Principles, and an action group that supports and encourages participants to approach local organizations and communities. The group will develop strategies around how to seek endorsements,, how to approach groups, how to ask groups, etc.
Interfaith Communities: How do I move both my local community church, congregation, etc. as well as the entire national religious group (e.g., UCC, Unity Church, Reform Movement, etc) to sign onto and adopt these unifying principles and
Social Change or Environmental Organizations: How might we get local chapters of social change and environmental organizations as well as the national organizations to adopt these unifying principles?
Our outreach efforts will be an important step to join positive forces together in a unified whole and thus create a bigger impact.
Vanessa Fox, Marion Assenmacher, Kevin McCullough, Fred Clare, and Robert Koth are leading this group. The first meeting of this group is on Thursday, July 16th at 5:00-6:30pm PT/8:00-9:30pm ET. Beginning on August 19th, this group will meet regularly on 3rd Wednesday of the month 4:00pm PT/7:00pm ET. Sign up here to join us. The registration page will indicate that the first call is on August 19th and will not list the July call. That is because the July call is from 5-6:30pm PT and the rest of the calls, beginning on August 19th, begin at 4:00pm. Please note that there is a Thursday, July 16th call at 5:00pm PT. Once you register here, you will receive the link to join the call and can use that same link to join the call on July 16th. If you have any questions, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prophetic Empathy Group – skill building and practice
We will develop skills and practice how to use prophetic empathy in a variety of settings from sharing the New Bottom Line to raising concerns about the way the Left can shame or put people down to discussing the negative impacts of capitalism to challenging racism. We will work on interpersonal skills and shifting the discourse to the worldview of love when engaging in conversations with people, either individually or in groups.
Participants from the other groups are welcomed to drop-in to these calls to practice how to implement the strategies they are developing.
Susan Partnow and Cat Zavis are leading this group. Our first two meetings are Monday, July 27th and August 24th from 4:30-6:30pm PT/7:30-9:30pm ET. Beginning on September 9th, we will meet on the 2nd Wednesdays of the month 4:30-6:30pm PT/7:30-9:30pm ET. Sign-up here to join us.
We look forward to working together with you to make the world more loving and compassionate!
You can join the groups at anytime. To do so, just click on the registration link above in that group. If you have any problems, please email cat at email@example.com and she will put you in contact with one of the group leaders.
We (Rabbi Lerner, Cat, and others from Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives) participated in an interfaith action in San Diego today with over 400 faith leaders and activists representing an extremely diverse range of spiritual traditions – Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Native Americans, and secular humanists.
The day began at the offices of the American Friends Services Committee, the organizers of the march and action. We met new and old friends alike, picked up supplies for the day, and took photos with our communities and friends before boarding buses to Border Field State Park.
The action began at the park with prayer led by a Native American and then a press conference with a few speakers. The demands of the group are:
— respect for the human right to migrate and seek asylum
— an end to the militarization of border communities (which was on vivid display today)
— an end to immigrant detention and deportation and the defunding of ICE and Border Patrol
During the press conference, we were happy to hear Imam Zakid Shakir speak about the need to deal with the influx of refugees (in our country and around the world) by addressing the root problems of poverty, violence, and oppressive regimes, in those countries, many of them created by the US and other western countries – the very reason why we have been advocating for the Global Marshall Plan. We were also inspired to hear many speakers throughout the day speak to the need to respond with generosity and care – aligning with our vision of a caring society based on a New Bottom Line.
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We walked about a mile from the parking lot of Border Field State Park to the beach. The procession was over 400 people long. The energy was uplifting even while you could feel the power of what we were doing.
As we walked along the path to the beach, avoiding slippery mud and water, I felt a deep connection with the refugees who walk miles and miles through this terrain in the hopes of reaching a safe haven. May these waters become goddess-infused waters bringing us all to our liberation together. The reflections in the water are powerful reminders to ask ourselves when we look in the mirror, what is the image we see looking back at us? When we look at someone else, the ‘other’, are we able to see in their eyes, the reflection of the divine looking back at us? If not, what makes us harden our hearts to their humanity?
At the beach, those who were risking arrest participated in a prayer service and ointment of oil and the rest followed behind in support.
We walked another half mile along the beach to the border wall where faith activists sat, kneeled, and prayed together facing Border Patrol who were fully armed and wearing military gear to show solidarity with our sisters, brothers, and others who are seeking refugee here in the US like so many of our ancestors and family members did before us. We were standing close enough to the border to see people on the other side of the wall, blocked by barbed wire and the Border Patrol.
At one point an officer announced, “they are throwing stones from the other side; we’re just letting you know for your safety.” We looked up, no stones. I looked over to the other side of the border, no stones. Only birds with the freedom to fly over all boundaries, the same boundaries and borders that corporations cross with impunity. Corporations that trash our environment, exploit local workers, steal indigenous lands, and silence and sometimes participate in killing activists in those communities. The same boundaries and borders that our government crosses and invades daily to impose a capitalist and military order that will serve the interests of the ruling elite, here and abroad, giving rise to the refugee crisis we are “protecting” ourselves from.
As I stood near the activists with nothing but my phone to take photos and a backpack with a few provisions witnessing the activists sit in front of the officers towering over them with batons and weapons ready to fire pepper spray, tear gas canisters, and live bullets, I couldn’t help but notice our vulnerability. A vulnerability I could feel when sudden movements happened and we ended up in the water, or quickly moved back to avoid being pushed down as the officers pushed against the line. This vulnerability is nothing compared to the vulnerability the refugees experience everyday making a choice whether to stay in a dangerous situation or leave without knowing what lies ahead. This momentary shared vulnerability allows us to tap into our shared humanity and to realize that we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and to be safe.
Looking in the eyes of some of the officers, I could see their humanity, imagine this is the job our country offers them with good wages and benefits and see how they too are caught in this military industrial complex, wishing for a way out. And then, when one of the officers shouted “move back,” I could see and feel the energy shift – perhaps in me, perhaps in them, likely both. Suddenly they’d lift their arms and put them across their chests, weapons and all, and begin pushing against the line of nonviolent protestors, forcing some back, arresting others – all in a very haphazard fashion. I wondered in that moment if their hearts hardened. Did their humanity leave their bodies and their robotic training take over. Were any of our peaceful protests, songs and prays able to break through their armor and touch their hearts? Or are their hearts so hardened and obstructed with their heavy weapons, masks, and gear. What does that do to them? To us? How do we stay in our hearts and open to the humanity of all of us?
This action, which ended with a closing prayer circle, was grounded in prayer and represented the best of spiritual activism – singing spiritual songs and prayers. It was deeply meaningful and moving to be there as a witness.
Help support our work so we can continue to participate in actions such as these and share our vision––click here.