There are two certainties in lifedeath and taxes. George Bush is taking care of the second certainty (except for the rich). DeathI wish there was a way out of that. It doesnt seem fair: we gain all this knowledge and understanding about the world we live in, and when we finally reach an age when we can put our experiences to work, we end up worm food. If people survive 60, 70 or 80 years, they might have some ideas so the rest of the world can live as long, if not longer. But the Grim Reaper has his say. I think one of our challenges is to prolong life in the hopes of making a better world. Yes, I sound like someone whos having a birthdayand youre right. But Im not going to let it get me down. Im going to celebrate, and I invite you to join me, Monday, Sept. 29, when Ill have a benefit Ethiopian vegan meal starting at 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford (they have kindly lent me their fellowship hall). Prepaid reservations are a must. Twenty bucks, and drop it off at my office, 623 Seventh St., or call me at 964-7111. All profits (excuse that word) will go toward my favorite peace and justice organization as well as Rockford Urban Ministries and No Bones To Pick restaurant project. After the dinner, the regular Coffee Talk program will begin (free) at 7:30 p.m. For the free Coffee Talk, Im hosting a good friend whos moved from Rockford and gone on to new heights. Professor David Loy has come all the way from Japan to talk about Dividing Good From Evil: Buddhist Reflections on the New Holy Wars. David is a professor in the Faculty of International Studies at Bunkyo University, Chigasaki, Japan. His work is in comparative philosophy and religion, particularly comparing Buddhism with modern Western thought. He has written several books on philosophical studies. David is a local boy who made goodreal good! David is the author of Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy (Yale University Press, 1988), Lack and Transcendence: The Problem of Death and Life in Psychotherapy, Existentialism and Buddhism (1996), A Buddhist History of the West: Studies in Lack (2002), and The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory (2003). He has practiced Zen Buddhism for many years, and is qualified as a Zen teacher. I hope he can teach me some patience about life and (ugh!) death. I think its better to go out kicking and screaming and trying to make the world a better place than to go quietly into that dark night, leaving behind no light or hope, peace or justice. Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.