Left Justified: ‘Don’t talk peace while I’m loading’

Left Justified: ‘Don’t talk peace while I’m loading’

By Stanley Campbell

“Don’t talk to me about peace while I’m loading my guns!” I think that’s what our president is telling the American people. In fact, that’s what he’s telling the whole world.

But we must talk peace; otherwise, we’ll be going to war with a whole host of damnable dictators, mad messiahs, and angry anarchists.

We common folk have to learn how to organize to get our point across, and, this weekend there will be a Regional Peace Conference of eight (count them, eight) local nascent peace groups. They will talk about the nuts and bolts of fund-raising, getting your point across in the media, marketing your cause, and organizing a demonstration. The workshops are free, the lunch costs five bucks.

The workshops are hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4848 Turner St., Rockford. Saturday, March 15, starting at 9:30 a.m.—Nonviolent Civil Disobedience, or Legislative Lobbying, or Peaceable Parenting; 10:30 a.m.—Organizing a Demonstration, or Using the Media, or Peaceable Parenting; 11:30 a.m.—Fund-raising, or Organizing Schools, or Peaceable Parenting. Afternoon workshops include: 1:30—Marketing Your Issue. At 3 p.m., we will put our learning into practice and hold a real, live peace march and demonstration to State and Alpine.

Presenters are: John Beske, the co-founder and creative director of SUSTAIN, a multimedia communications firm that provides advertising, design and public relations exclusively for environmental advocacy; Noel Williams, from WTVO Channel 17 News; Nike B. Whitcomb, CFRE, CEO of Nike B. Whitcomb Associates, Inc., who has 33 years experience as a professional fund-raiser; me, Stanley Campbell, director of Rockford Urban Ministries; and Robert Nixon, co-chair and lobbyist for the Illinois Humane Political Action Committee (HPAC), active in the animal rights movement for 25 years.

Peace from the pulpits

Meanwhile, mainline Christian denominations are having a sissy fit trying to figure out how to talk about war from the pulpit. I don’t envy the pastors’ job one bit. Most of the time, it’s counseling their flock, comforting them when family members pass away, rejoicing with baptisms and weddings, and generally reminding them to give to the poor as well as support the big buildings and parking lots many own.

Four of the best pastors in the city will be hashing out how they talk about war, Jesus’ pacifism and the pulpit. The program starts Thursday, March 13, 7 p.m., at Second Congregational Church, 318 N. Church St. It’s in the fellowship hail, which is the handicapped-accessible entrance on the northeast side of the building. Panelists include the Rev. J. Michael Solberg from 2nd Congregational, Joe Marek from Our Savior’s Lutheran, the great and good Steve Bland from Pilgrim Baptist, and her holiness (and newness) the Rev. Norma Lee Barnhardt from the massive Court Street United Methodist Church.

Peace and justice is difficult to talk about, especially when the government leaders seem to be facing in the opposite direction. Our country is so big, wealthy and laid back that even in these times of terrorism attacks and war with Iraq, the vast majority of Americans are more concerned about finding a parking spot. Of course, in these economically difficult times, a lot of people are hunting for gainful employment, and many are worried about where the next meal is coming from. And pity those who get sick.

So whether or not our country bombs some poor little nation on the other side of the world is of little concern for many citizens. If the pastor of a major congregation begins to pontificate about war, they’ll soon hear about it from the pews. The ministers who speak about Christ’s love of the poor, and His hatred of war, could find a welcome ear, but most likely a brickbat.

Let’s hope that the message of peace can at least be spoken and heard.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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