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Dear friends,                                                 More Verdugo H.S. Conversations
 “I’m a Catholic. We believe we should be tolerant of all religions.” remarked one girl.
One student upon entering the room said, “I can’t wait for your talk. A friend told me about it.”
Here are Mary Ann and Donald Berry, friends who hosted and gave me rides to the school. Here is their yard which they converted to desert plants to save water because of the drought. Half the water in Pasadena is used for lawns. The orange flowers came into bloom while I was there. They grew some of the sweetest tangerines and oranges I ever ate on their two trees. They live very ecological and eat mostly organic.  
Another girl posed the question “But why is there so much violence and evil in the world?” I replied with, “Well something that has been helpful to me recently is to understand that God gives us free will. We can choose to come back with anger when someone does something aggravating to us.  As you know, in personal conflict hostility doesn’t lead to peace.  Caring and kindness often results in peace and reconciliation. I think it is the same in international differences.”
 “But what can we do” asks another? I answer back, “We have to create a peaceful society. When conflicts happen it is good to think about it before you respond. Pray about it if you pray. Tell your friends about this talk. Sent emails to your representatives, tell them to stop using your taxes for 1.2 million dollar a minute for military. You represent 1000’s of people to them. My flyer tells you how to email them.”
Another probed, “Do you think emailing or praying is worth it. Do our representatives ever read our emails? Do our prayers just go into the air? What do you think?” I responded, “I’ve struggled with these same questions. It’s hard to be hopeful.  A story that might be helpful is that in the 1950’s, peace churches sent little bags of wheat the size of a lemon to President Eisenhower asking him to send food instead of arms to Europe. He later said that this really influenced him on what he did.”
“Do you really think dropping humanitarian aid like food and medicine would ever work to lead to dialogue with Isis?” questioned several students.  I answered back, “I don’t know for sure if it would work. But I sense it is a good possibility--it might. Seems it would be worth a try. Has what we have been doing since 2001 worked-- what is it 13 years now? Has if not just gotten worse?” Often the students would just shake their heads to say you’re right.
I added, “We have to think outside the box, to break the cycle of acting like kids: if you hit me then I’ll hit you back.  Just like when Isis bombed Paris, Obama and Holland responded “ok we’re at war; we’re going to bomb Isis even more.” Immediate military manufacturing stocks shot up. Everyone wanted to invest in the “Military Industrial Congressional Complex”. Investor, in many ways, like war, I imagine.
Thanks again for your prayers and donations.
May this day for you be filled with shalom,
Jim

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