A Letter to Congress

I wrote a letter to my representatives a few days ago. I don’t do so often. It honestly feels a little futile. Does anyone really listen? I considered just sending a one line letter, “Please support the Humanitarian Assistance Facilitation Act (H.R 3526).” I know Mitch McConnell receives way too many letters to read himself. I pictured some staff person quickly scanning hundreds of letters and making small tick marks on some chart of issues, “For” or “Against.” Maybe, if there is some vote coming up, Mitch will ask his staff, “What are people saying about this one?” One line might be sufficient and would probably be a relief to some staff person who did not want to wade through paragraphs of detail and passion.

Balancing Hard and Soft Power (Part 2)

(Read Part 1)

Seeking peace happens in-between the bombing campaigns, when things are out of the spotlight. Individuals see a need and address it. “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness,” according to James 3:18.

Simple right? God ordained? Right? But there is a problem. In many cases it is illegal. Due to our fear of terrorism, U.S. law says that “giving material assistance” to terrorists is a punishable offense. No one wants to see terrorists funded, but these laws are written too broadly. “Giving material assistance” can include giving a seminar on peaceful conflict resolution, giving a ride to someone to talk about peace, or sharing a cup of coffee.

Balancing Hard and Soft Power (Part 1)

The war drums are beating again. “ISIS is just one airline ticket away from attacking the United States,” a senator said on the morning news. The President was to announce another round of policy changes in a speech that night. “We hope the President, in his speech tonight, does not tie our hands and get into what the US will and will not do.”

It seems the “go-to” tool is the military. If things begin to boil out of control, it must be time to bomb the pot. In between bombings, we ignore the pot as it simmers on the stove. Some say it is too expensive to invest in development programs abroad. We even have laws that prevent us from engaging. You have probably heard, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” At some point, to resolve issues, somebody has got to talk.