Moving Toward Simplicity

Rev. Todd Glacy

Sunday Message by Rev. Todd Glacy (Audio)

Message from Rev. Pat Bessey: A high five to Matt Purinton and Rev. Todd Glacy for their great messages on Sunday.

Above is the audio file of Todd’s talk, Moving Toward Simplicity.

“By simplifying our external lives we can simplify our internal lives, and when we simplify our internal lives we can experience more freedom, peace and relaxation.” ~ Todd Glacy

I am grateful to you both as I am at a Peace Literacy training with Paul K. Chappell in Santa Barbara, CA. Here with me is Rev. LeRoy; my admin assistant; Steph Plourde; Kim Cowperthwaite and Janice Murphy.

Paul K ChappellMany of you attended a workshop with Paul in March of 2016. His work is dedicated to teaching peace literacy. He was recently interviewed by The Moon Magazine, and I am sharing part of that article:

The MOON: You’ve been championing the cause of peace for 10 years now – even while still a soldier in Iraq. Are you discouraged? Do you feel as if we’re going backwards?

Chappell: No, I’m not discouraged. When you understand the causes of human suffering, nothing that happens is surprising. If I knew a man who ate unhealthy food and smoked, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had heart disease. Nor would I be discouraged, because we know the steps he could take to improve his health and prevent a heart attack.

People have unspoken needs for purpose, meaning, belonging, and self-worth, which are not filled in healthy ways by consumerism and, as a result, are creating a vacuum that can be filled by fanaticism and extremism. Human beings also crave explanations. When things “are going wrong” with the country, for example, people want to know: Why is the economy bad? Why is there terrorism? What’s the explanation for all these mass shootings? This need for explanations is so powerful that if we don’t have an accurate explanation, we’ll invent inaccurate ones. For example, medieval Europeans, craving an explanation for the plague but not knowing what viruses and bacteria were, said that plague was caused by God or the planets.

Taken together, the explanations we believe create our worldview. Having a worldview is as important as having food and water. That’s why, if you threaten someone’s worldview, they’ll often react as if you’re threatening them physically. When Galileo said that the Earth revolves around the sun, rather than the other way around, the Catholic Church threatened to torture him if he did not recant. He threatened their worldview. When you talk politics or religion with someone who disagrees with you, they might become aggressive. Usually this aggression falls into the realm of “posturing,” but sometimes the aggression can become physical-or even lethal-as when people go to war over differing religious or political beliefs. And just as the fight-or-flight response causes many animals to create distance between themselves and a threat, many people will simply walk away from you, unfriend you on Facebook, or create distance in some other way when you endanger their worldview.

The MOON: Yet it seems that we’re exposed to more types of people, cultures, and worldviews than ever before in human history. Isn’t the world growing closer and more interconnected?

Chappell: Yes, but seeing the world becoming more interconnected has made a lot of people feel more insignificant, or even worthless. When humans lived in small communities they knew they had a place; they belonged; and belonging to that place gave them a sense of worthiness. As the world has become more interconnected globally, we’ve also had breakdowns in community, with the result that more people feel disconnected, alienated, and powerless.

The MOON: Wow. That’s quite a transformation, Paul. And now you’re a champion for peace literacy. Let’s talk about what that entails. It’s a really tall order, isn’t it? Just the first aspect of peace literacy, “recognizing our shared humanity,” seems like a stretch goal.

Chappell: Peace literacy is a tall order, but so is learning math, or reading and writing. Our education system devotes the time needed to teach these subjects; if we decide peace literacy is important, we can devote the time and resources to teaching it, as well.

In fact, waging peace requires even more training than waging war because it addresses the root causes of the problem, while waging war only deals with the symptoms. Fortunately, people seem to find this information very compelling. It empowers them. They can better understand and deal with human behavior-their own and others’.

People want easy answers, but peace literacy is complex. There’s no “six-minute abs” class for peace literacy. But if you want to play a sport really well, or be really good on the guitar, or violin, you’re going to have to devote time and effort to it. Proficiency at anything takes time and commitment. There’s no shortcut.

The MOON: That’s why it seems like a tall order. We’re not teaching those skills in school, for the most part. Maybe in kindergarten, where we’re taught to share, take turns, and keep our hands to ourselves, but we don’t explore the subject in much complexity. So how do people begin? With themselves?

Chappell: To teach our shared humanity I focus on what all humans have in common, regardless of race, religion, nationality, education, or gender. For example, we all need trust. There’s not a human being on the planet who doesn’t want to be around people they can trust. Hitler; Osama bin Laden; members of the mafia; members of the peace movement; members of ISIS-everyone in the world wants to be around people they can trust. The breakdown of trust, which is something we’re seeing right now among Americans, is extremely damaging to a society. People have even lost trust in our institutions-like government, science, and the media. It’s impossible to have a healthy democracy without a shared basis in trust. Another trait we have in common is that no one likes being betrayed. These are two of many factors that unite all humans and transcend surface differences.

Next week we will return to the series The Shady Ladies of the Bible, and we will be talking about Delila.

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey


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