Posts Tagged ‘Iraq War’

News, Visionaries | No Comments | May 20th, 2010

Here’s a video I filmed of a courageous young man, who took a stand last year, publicly refusing orders to deploy in the face of his First Sergeant. Just released publicly on the VisionForce initiative, Watch his story!

News, Visionaries | No Comments | March 12th, 2010

While driving with Thad Crouch today, he told that a man I’d met last summer at the National Assembly to Honor Freedom of Conscience had passed away two days ago. His name was Gene Stoltzfus, the Founding Director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, and he’s someone I aim to be like.

I had been looking forward to getting to know Gene better, because his life as a visionary peacemaker is nothing short of incredible and deeply inspiring. As I stand with Thad Crouch and the upcoming iStand for Soldiers of Conscience this June (still not publicly announced), I was hoping to learn from the rich, deep, hard experience this man has had.

Thad has known Gene about 15 years, and told me how this man had been a Conscientious Objector to the Vietnam War, and that he had chosen to perform his alternate service in a curious location: Vietnam. Even though he was a pacifist and refused to fight, he went to the war zone to do his service.

Later in his life, Gene, a Mennonite, was present in a church gathering, where another man asked this bold “What if” question: What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war?

It was then that Gene took a stand and co-founded Christian Peacemaker Teams based on the visionary idea that “disciplined and trained teams of people could be put together into highly charged, critical situations and they could make a difference.” Talk about standing boldly in this world!

Since its beginnings, CPT members have been engaged in such situations in Chiapas, Mexico; Haiti; and other locations in North America and around the world. Current CPT locations include Colombia, the West Bank and Iraq.

Gene was at the heart of those who planted and nurtured the vision for teams of peacemakers partnering with local communities in conflict zones to build justice and lasting peace which has grown into CPT.

To get a sense of who Gene was, listen to this audio.

He speaks about using a “language of invitation,” verses speaking in shoulds, etc., or what I would call Visionary language vs. Positionary language.

What a beautiful man. I only wish I’d gotten to know him in person. I am coming to know by knowing those whose lives he has touched and the legacy that is Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Gene, thank you for your years of humble service on behalf of all of us, that we may one day live in a world that stands united for peace, with reverence for human live and dignity. Thank you for standing in the face of incredible fear, pressure, doubt and who knows what else as you personally headed into conflict zones, and met with real people dealing with the kinds of fears, anger and violence that many of us never really touch. Thank you for standing for the ones, who are not being heard. Thank you for being a man who leads from the front, who is willing to walk his talk, and honor his conscience. Thank you for being an example of what is possible for all of us, and standing even in the face of being supported by only a small percent of people in the world and in your own religious community.

I can barely begin to imagine the rejection you’ve faced. The fear you’ve faced. The anger of people, who aren’t really angry with you, but you’re the one standing in front of them. The frustration and disappointment you’ve faced when hope seems lost, or results or promises go unmet. I aim to stand as you stand, and I pray I may stand as courageously and with as much commitment. I promise to carry forth the torch of peace in our world, standing as you’ve stood.

Gene Stoltzfus, I honor you. May you rest in peace.

News, Visionaries | 1 Comment | September 22nd, 2009

For time immemorial, we’ve honored those who are willing to go to war, risk their lives and kill others to fight for their country, for their life and liberty.

At the same time, history honors great soldiers of conscience, who risked their lives to stand for something peacefully: Gandhi, Galileo, King, Jesus, the unknown protestor in Tienanmen Square, Iranian protestor Neda, the list goes on…

Yet every day, soldiers who dare to defy orders from their superiors, when it conflicts with their conscience, are shamed, imprisoned, dishonored and even killed for disobeying orders.

This Saturday, I’m taking a stand to honor soldiers who dare to follow the orders of their conscience first, especially those who are standing for peace, and I invite you to join me and spread the word.

I’ll be speaking at the National Assembly to Honor Freedom of Conscience in Austin, Texas, about an hour outside of Fort Hood in Killeen, TX, the largest US military base in the world. For more information, click here.

Consider this…

Visionary entrepreneurs and enterprising visionary individuals (like YOU) are the change we’ve been looking for. Government can no more force us to have high moral character than they can force us to be creative. What powers our future, a world that works, is YOU.

Texas Billionaire, T. Boone Pickens, has a vision and a plan to have Americans lose their dependence on foreign oil. It’s simple. And none of it involves forcing anyone to do anything. Here he is showing his plan.

I just returned from the theatre, after having watched Lions For Lambs… forget what the film critics say, as this was not meant to entertain the masses. It’s a clarion call to all those, and especially the young, who feel inside that they can be more, do more at this time of mounting global crises. It’s a call to all those who’ve learned, or are being conditioned, to compromise. It’s a call to all who would have their voice be heard. It’s a call to those who would live the fullest expression of human life with mind, body and spirit. It’s a call to all those, and especially Americans, who would dare to own the title “visionary,” in a day and age when the most “enlightened” of us are so afraid of looking egotistic or narcissistic. Do we dare to be the change now?

The film left me questioning my choice to be so “practical” for the last five years, building VisionForce as a business. Funny, my business advisers would say I’ve been anything but practical, and that I’ve been far too idealistic. It seems that either path might have been much more effective than the middle road. Had I gone for profit, and built the business to be much more financially successful, we might have the muscle to reach many more people now. Had I been in revolutionary action mode at the expense of the finances, we might have already reached so many more people.

So, what, I wonder, does it look like for me to STAND FORWARD and be the change at the next level? And what does it look like for you?

News, Visionaries | No Comments | July 11th, 2007

I just read this article about a visionary Iraqi woman who has taken a stand for women in her country and the world over. Very inspiring. She sees change happening by starting a youth movement. Change… is gonna come.

News, Visionaries | No Comments | April 23rd, 2007

Moderates in the Middle East are standing for peace with the OneVoice Movement. Watch the video.

Rather than OV just uniting moderates to stand together, I imagine they are also reaching out to individuals in extremist movements. The VisionForce work is especially applicable in situations that call for strategies beyond compromise, and this is one such situation.

So deeply are we inspired by the OneVoice movement, that VisionForce has committed to make 12 VisionForce Boot Camp Scholarships available to active OneVoice participants from Israel and Palestine over the course of the next year.

The VisionForce trainings are perfect for individuals and groups looking for the expanded levels of courage, compassion and vision needed to create a world that works for everyone. VisionForce’s simple, powerful diagrams and processes provide access to the levels of vision that make deep communication, collaboration and creation possible.