The Common Good


Sojomail - April 20, 2000

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+++++++++++++++++++++++++ 20-April-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *Julie Polter on the Washington, D.C. protests

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *The momentum builds

S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e s
    *The Dalai Lama's instructions for life

T h e  L a u g h i n g  S a l m o n  D i g e s t
    *Do you have a bad case of Zerrissenheit?

B o o m e r a n g
    *SojoMail readers hit reply

O n  the  W i r e
    *Ethics on the Net

B u i l d i n g   a   N e t w o r k
    *Outtakes from the IMF/World Bank Protests

W e b  S c e n e
    *The Odyssey World Trek


Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k

"I'm glad that maybe for a few days not as many young 
black men were stopped for being black. But an entire 
metropolitan area's police force becoming bouncers for 
the IMF isn't the solution to racial profiling I was 
looking for."

                     -- Julie Polter (see story below)


H e a r t s  &  M i n d s

The Momentum Builds
By Jim Wallis

Last week's Sojomail left you in the middle
of our Faith Works tour, in Boston, where we pick
it up now. A forum at Harvard's Kennedy School
of Government on "The Faith Factor in Politics"
drew a capacity crowd of students and faculty who
discussed how this election campaign is debating
the role of faith-based organizations (FBOs)
in solving some of our most entrenched social
problems. Such a discussion at Harvard would
have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

Next came Chicago, an exciting stop; the forum drew
a large and enthusiastic audience. Fifteen faith-
based sponsoring ministries and projects demonstrated
the breadth of Call to Renewal across the political
spectrum. Each group gave moving two-minute testimonies
and ended with the same litany, "So join us in
the Campaign to Overcome Poverty!" That call to sign
Call to Renewal's "Covenant to Overcome Poverty" and
join the 10-year "Campaign" to implement it is being
repeated at each town meeting. We hope to collect
1,000,000 signatures by the fall election campaign.
(You can sign the Covenant at
My spirit soared as we clapped with a gospel choir
entirely composed of men who were former addicts and
alcoholics and now sing of liberation.

In Grand Rapids, the forum brought together churches,
civic groups, mayors, city council members, and state
legislatures to discuss overcoming poverty in western
Michigan, demonstrating the potential of new partnerships.
A quick trip back to D.C. to speak to Members of
Congress about "values" showed me again that this
movement will not begin in Washington, D.C.!

In Los Angeles, Fuller Seminary hosted a terrific
forum with lots of energy. The media coverage is
getting much better as the book ("Faith Works")
has time to get into people's hands. Most days
are filled with radio talk shows, and the wide
breadth of the audiences we're getting shows the
great potential. For example, in LA I did the
local NPR morning talk show, two interviews
with the Pacifica station (on the left side of the
political spectrum), a great conversation on the
biggest conservative Christian radio outlet here,
then a wonderful discussion with a syndicated
black radio program, and finally a good interview
with the mainstream local CBS affiliate. These
diverse radio audiences have little overlap and
indicate how far this message can reach. A bright
young reporter for the LA Times who followed us
around has decided she wants to do a series of
articles about the growing "movement" being led
by faith-based groups.

In San Diego, I had the opportunity to speak to
a lunch meeting of the San Diego City Club and the
Catfish Club (which is the black "City Club").
The Rockridge United Methodist Church, a vibrant
congregation doing great things in an inner-city
Oakland neighborhood, hosted a forum for us there.
We've also enjoyed evening "book parties" at the
homes of good friends in California. My 19-month-old
son, Luke, especially likes these parties. Marty
Coleman and Arianna Huffington both hosted events
in LA, and my old friend and editor Roy Carlisle
did the same in the Bay Area. Perhaps the liveliest
gathering was the one hosted by my friend Michael
Lerner of Tikkun magazine at his Berkeley home.
I never knew Michael was such a song leader! And
the Jewish-Christian dialogue we had that night
was a real high point.

So now it's home to D.C. for Holy Week and Easter
and to see the aftermath of the IMF protests.
Stay tuned.


You can order your copy of Jim Wallis' new book Faith
Works from the Sojourners Resource Center at 1-800-714-7474,
or go to:


S P I R I T U A L  P R A C T I C E S

Instructions for Life
The Dalai Lama

1. Take into account that great love and great
    achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three R's: Respect for self, Respect
    for others, and Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is
    sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them
6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great
7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take
    immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go
    of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best
11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get
    older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a
    second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation
    for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with
    the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which
    your love for each other exceeds your need for each
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in
    order to get it.
19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.




T h e   L a u g h i n g   S a l m o n   D i g e s t

Bad Case of Zerrissenheit?

Once, while under the care of a highly trained
professional, I was given the advice to live
more "ecologically."

"What's this?" said I to myself. I recycle. I
separate the paper from the glass and cans. I
even composted kitchen scraps with worms, until
the awful winter of '96 and the episode we
fondly recall as "the massacre." Live ecologically?
I'm paying how much for this?

I soon learned that she meant "ecologically" in the
way a mathematician or physicist means "elegant" --
perfectly proportioned, balanced, in a way that
conserves spiritual energy, so as to be more gracious
with it. Ecology is about not reinventing the wheel
every five minutes. It's a pretty word made up of
oikos (house) and logia (logic) or the study of
the internal logic/beauty of your house. What's
the "meaningful system" in which I live?

I now look for the little elegant themes in life
and attempt to track them. When I'm writing poetry
reviews or get asked to give a speech on economic
justice, I start my talk with a Pablo Neruda poem
about hunger.

Living ecologically is the natural antidote to what
the Germans call "Zerrissenheit" or torn-to-pieces-hood.

                              --The Laughing Salmon



B o o m e r a n g
SojoMail readers hit reply

Caleb McDaniel, from College Station, Texas wrote:

I thought SojoNet readers might be interested
in visiting a few shopping sites I found recently -- and When members of
Greatergood and iGive shop from the links at
their Web sites, a percentage of their purchases
are donated to charities of their choice.
has hundreds of charitable causes to choose from
and also allows members to write in organizations
that are not listed. I recently registered "Call
to Renewal" as a cause on Both online
malls have every major e-commerce site you can
think of.

Five or six percent of individual online
purchases may not be much, but if enough people
will take the time to do their shopping through
one of these gateways, the dollars will add up.
You don't have to be heartless to be a consumer.
These sites are (finally) putting a good face
on the runaway information economy.


Want to make your voice heard? Send Boomerang
e-mails to the editor: ""


B U I L D I N G   A   N E T W O R K

This is what democracy looks like

by Kari Verhulst

Saturday night we heard that they'd rounded up 600
demonstrators without warning, including in their
sweep a Washington Post photographer who had won
a Pulitzer for her coverage of the Kosovo
conflict, and Leon Galindo, a World Bank consultant,
whose account of the next 23 hours is a must-read
Word was that by just going down near the blockades
you would risk arrest. I was not spiritually,
emotionally, or practically prepared to be arrested.

So I prayed with some friends, and decided to go
down. I got up at 4:30 am, soaked rags in vinegar,
and walked downtown. My housemate Tracy and her
friends were risking arrest. I didn't join the
blockade. In fact I didn't do much more than sit
there, occasionally join in the chants, and yell
"nonviolent" when things got harried. The group
held the blockade successfully for several hours,
though we'd long heard that the meetings were
happening. For 6 hours -- with periodic escalation
of police tension -- we blocked entrance to the
few delegates who straggled in, the press,
and the caterers. (I was relieved to hear that
the caterers supported the demonstration, since
I feared we were imposing a form of economic
sanction against them.) Around noon, the Black
Bloc anarchists arrived in our triangle of road.
The tension escalated immediately. A police car
was trashed. Lines were formed to back-up the
barricaders when the police stormed.

Thirty people holding the line were sitting on
the ground, the line of police behind, the agitated
crowd pressing in front. The police had their helmets
down and gas masks on. Someone from our group tried
to tell the newcomers that we didn't really need
their help -- that we'd been holding the line
peacefully for hours -- but was told that the police
would storm them when everyone left. At this point
the media had their cameras turned on the protesters,
many of whom were yelling "f*** the corporate media."

Around 2 p.m. the decision was made to join the parade
of the other blockaders who were releasing themselves
and marching down to the Ellipse, where the big rally
was happening. We passed George Washington University
frat boys who yelled "hippies go home" and "get a
job" at us, providing me the scapegoat I needed
to visit my frustrations upon. So I berated them
for not knowing the difference between anarchists
and hippies, and yelled "I live here -- you go
home, frat boy." We were, by now, thirsty and
sunburned, so we went home.

Things are quieting down and I'm still sorting.
I'm still ambivalent about the value of shutting
the meetings down; still bothered (to tears) at people
yelling "killer" at delegates and calling cops pigs.

But I was, exactly, where I needed to be. It was
so perfectly Palm Sunday....

To read Kari Jo Verhulst's full report, go to:


Who's pulling the puppet strings?

by Julie Polter

I first got outraged at efforts by authorities
to undercut this past weekend's protests against
the World Bank and IMF when I misunderstood a
radio news broadcast last Thursday. Police had
arrested seven people and seized their "sleeping
dragons." I thought they meant puppets. All good
Left-wing demonstrations have some puppets. I
LOVE the puppets. Since when is possession of a
puppet (concealed or otherwise) a crime?

I griped all day at work about it -- "Can you
believe it? They took their PUPPETS!" But my
mistake -- sleeping dragons are devices made of
PVC pipe and other stuff from your local hardware
store meant to help a group of people link themselves
together to form a very solid human-hardware
barricade. Oops. Of course, last time I checked,
PVC pipe doesn't have to be registered either.
Just like handguns. But I digress.

Police cars, marked and unmarked, proliferated
in my neighborhood as the weekend approached,
and I got more cranky. The protestors' "convergence
center," an old warehouse where they met, cooked
free meals for their masses, and made other
preparations, was just a few blocks from both
my home and office. A house of organizers had
been living across the street from me for months.
(I knew they were activists because they had
giant papier-mache puppet heads -- hooray,
puppets! -- on their front porch when they first
moved in.) Anyway, the police were all over the
place, tracking organizers to their homes,
breaking up any gathering that grew larger than
20 people in the park across from our office,
and generally being sort of J. Edgar
Hoover-gung ho about the whole surveillance thing.

For a fuller report from Julie Polter, go to:


O n  t he  W i r e:
In case you missed SojoNet in the nation's media....

"Talking About Ethics in a Society Dominated by
The Interent," by David Plotnikoff, San Jose
Mercury News, April 16, 2000

As is so often the case these days, our talk eventually
turns to the outrageous casino atmosphere surrounding
Internet stocks. For someone who is firmly entrenched
in the start-up culture, [David] Batstone has a
surprisingly harsh assessment of those who are racing
to take young companies public. When the market is
indiscriminately throwing money at new ideas, is it
necessarily wrong to create a company that will
probably have the lifespan of a moth?

"On the one hand, I'm a trained ethicist within the
moral tradition of Catholicism, but on the other hand
I'm an entrepreneur, so I really feel like I live the
tension," Batstone says. "I look at the integrity of
both your intention and how you present yourself. What
I feel is unethical ... is providing the illusion that
you're doing something you really don't plan to do."

See the full story at:


W e b  S c e n e
The Odyssey World Trek

Follow the journeys of a group of socially conscious young people 
as they travel around the globe. They're in Iran right now, and 
have already visited Mexico, South America, and Africa. Very well 
researched. Great for teachers and parents to trek virtually
with their children.

Check it out:


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