Climate, Communities, and Resilience: A Post-Election Interfaith Press Conference @COP22

syrian-childIn the wake of U.S. election results, Americans attending COP22 started getting a lot of questions from their global colleagues: What do we think of the president-elect? What positions will he take? Who will he appoint to be in his Cabinet? But mostly—since we were at a conference focused on international cooperation on dealing with our shared planetary climate crisis—the question was: “What does the election mean for U.S. action on climate change?”  Continue reading

Stop with the Blame Game Already: Stop Finger Pointing, Start Fixing

finger-pointingIn the aftermath of the brutal attacks in Paris last week, not to mention the horrific slaughter in Nigeria, we’re hearing the same sound bytes from the same sources. Conservatives questioning where Muslim condemnation of violent, extreme Islam can be found. The answer is here, here, here and lots of other places. Moderate Muslims in anguish, using the hashtag #NotInMyName to distance themselves from and denounce the terror. Jews, afraid. Again.

On my Facebook wall, every time I post something that promotes peaceful understanding or bridge-building between Jews and Muslims, some members of my community rush to remind me that it is the Muslim world today that produces the worst oppression of women, the most violent terrorist attacks, and the most abject hatred of Jews.

I don’t know. Maybe they’re right. The news coming from some Muslim corners of the globe right now is bleak, to say the least.

When it comes to ranking social ills, though, I get a little tripped up. How exactly should we compare Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers with the fact that US demand for cheap produce results in child labor and squalor for some of the people who grow our food?

Is there a simple chart that can help me rank global oppression and systemic evil?  Continue reading

Love Sustains: How My Everyday Practices Make My Everyday Activism Possible

“We do this because the world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning.” —Sandra Cisneros

heartWe do this — the work of tikkun olam

Because the world we live in is a house on fire: Racism. Hunger. Economic Justice. Climate. Education. Domestic Violence. Poverty. More.

And the people we love are: Oppressed. Attacked. Desperately poor. Sick. Afraid. Hungry. Vulnerable. Suffering.

Burning. The people we love and the world we live in are burning.

Sometimes, this is how it feels — like the world is on fire — and in the face of systemic racism, climate change, or the widening gap between rich and poor, it’s difficult to see what difference my individual actions could possibly make. Continue reading

Why We Still Need Religious Women’s Groups

suffrageOnce upon a time—not too long ago—I thought religious women’s groups were destined to be a relic of the past, and that was okay by me. Women of previous generations needed women’s groups; in them, they organized for women’s rights, public schools, health services, and so much more. For those pioneering women, coming together in congregations for mutual support, encouragement, and communication was vital and essential. Religious women’s groups were activist training grounds, places of refuge, and centers of power.  Continue reading

Religious Wisdom the World Needs Now

forestThis was my first visit to the Zen Center. One of the Buddhist priests had invited me to encourage his students to engage in interfaith environmental work. I was a little nervous, but something about this group—their open spirit, perhaps, and honest questions—quickly put me at ease and helped me speak from the heart. At some point, I found myself saying, “The Buddhist tradition has beautiful teachings about how all life is interconnected, and the world desperately needs this wisdom! Please share it.”  Continue reading