Sunday, February 8, 2009


From Jerry's Justice Journal

Sunday, February 8, 2009


For 32 years, United Methodist minister Richard Deats worked for the organization with which I will be travelling to Iran next week, the Fellowship of Reconciliation. FOR is an interfaith and international peace movement begun by pacifists in 1914. I am proud to have been a member of FOR since the 1960’s.

Recently Deats wrote a short article in FOR’s monthly magazine about a phone conversation with folk singer, Pete Seeger. In that conversation, Seeger lifted up the hope that he has at this moment for the human family. Here is some of what Deats wrote:

I recently phoned Pete Seeger at his home in Beacon, New York. He immediately recognized me, but said, “At 89 my mind is going and if you walked in the door you might have to identify yourself. Things are totally hectic now since that movie came out about my life. [The Power of Song was released in 2007, chronicling Seeger's life and influence on American folk music.] The phone doesn't stop ringing. But I stay active in peace and environmental things especially around Beacon.

“On August 3 there will be a morning swim in the Hudson, ending with corn on the cob late morning. On the 10th is an afternoon Corn Festival all afternoon and nearby - about a mile - on the eastern end of Beacon is a Peace Festival for children, with children's drawings, poetry, etc. I'll be singing around 2 at the Corn Festival, near the railroad station.

“You know, Richard, I am far more hopeful than I was 60 years ago when I really thought that there'd be a nuclear holocaust. I think we humans may have enough sense to learn how to cooperate rather than fight. The agricultural revolution lasted 1000 years, the industrial revolution a few hundred, but the information revolution we are in has only been with us a few decades. Life is changing very fast and it can be a great blessing if we let it.

“We are in the midst of the biggest movement in the history of the world, the movement of little people and little things. People are taking their destiny in their own hands and making things better. There are 800 community gardens in New York City. There are green guerillas cleaning up New York. There are all kinds of initiatives by the people, determined to save the planet. My parents were Unitarian churchgoers. I never was. But in recent years, especially, I've discovered people of all kinds of religious belief working together for peace and justice.

And in the midst of the conversation he broke into song twice!

Deats ended his article, “For Pete's sake, let's join him in this movement of hope.” I couldn’t agree more!

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