In 1995 I was invited to help the San Antonio peaceCENTER by designing their first web site. I never left. The all-volunteer and interfaith peaceCENTER is a significant community catalyst for peace. Guided by Compassion and Justice, we work through Contemplative Practices, Experiential Education, and Nonviolent Actions. .
Peace, War and Justice According to Mark Twain
Although Mark Twain died more than 100 years ago, his writings about peace and justice are refreshingly contemporary, often humorous, and provide a starting point for a lively discussion about current affairs. The presentation can fit into a half hour; 45 minutes will create more time for discussion and and hour allows time to show a 10-minute video clip of Twain’s “War Prayer.”
The People, Yes!
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was known as “the people’s poet.” His powerful, accessible poems about economic inequality and the ravages of war are needed now more than ever. In this presentation, Susan will tell you a bit about Sandburg and introduce to to some of his powerful poems. 45 minutes will leave time for discussion.
Taking Down Monuments
What happens when a monument no longer reflects the values of a society? Or (more likely) when a monument is still cherished by some, but reviled by others? What do we, as a community, do then? In a two hour long workshop, we will spend the first hour exploring how other countries and cities have dealt with their obsolete and controversial monuments (the theory) and the second hour discussing how San Antonio is addressing the Confederate monuments, symbols and names that remain as part of the civic landscape (the action.) If you have less time, this can be condensed.
Land Where Our Fathers Died
How can we best visit a place where violence, injustice or suffering has occurred? Using the Alamo as an example, we will explore the geography of violence and seek ways to interpret the landscape without glorifying the bloodshed. We use films about the Alamo – starting with the 1915 “Martyrs of the Alamo” – to gather insight into ways that places and events are interpreted over time. This can be a full-day workshop that includes an in-depth discussion of the concept of redemptive violence and visits to the Alamo and Mission San Jose, or can be condensed into an hour-long presentation. Suitable for high school and above.
Is there a relationship between media consumption and violence in our homes, schools, communities and nations? Susan Ives will explore with you all sorts of media — from films to the nightly news to first-person shooter games and pass on helpful tips on how to lessen the impact of that fateful link. This workshop can be condensed to a half hour for parent groups or can be presented as an all-day workshop.
Class of Nonviolence
For almost 20 years the peaceCENTER has been facilitating discussion groups using “The Class of Nonviolence,” developed by Colman McCarthy of the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, DC. It’s available for free online so that you can read and discuss it yourself, but Susan and others from the peaceCENTER are be available for advice and inspiration and (if the stars are aligned) to kick-off your 8 sessions by leading the first class.
I’ve been making formal speeches since I was 15 and lined up in front of Mr. Brann’s door on the first day of classes at Neshaminy High School demanding to join the debate team (my second stop, of course, was to see Mrs. McDonald to sign onto the newspaper staff.) I continued “speechifying” via debate and Model United Nations in college, and started writing speeches for others as a copy writer in a Philadelphia advertising/ PR firm. I had a stint as the commanding general’s speechwriter when I was assigned to V Corps in Germany during the Iraq War. Most of the speeches I have given in my activist career are off-the-cuff, or improvised from notes scribbled on a file card. But some are more formal. Here are six of them that still seem to have some relevance.
Sermon: Who is Your Samaritan?
In January, 2004, a month after I returned from being part of a peace delegation to Israel/Palestine, I was invited to give the sermon at University Presbyterian Church in San Antonio. -- Susan Ives Luke 10 25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he...
Sermon: Gandhi & the Seven Deadly Social Sins
In January, 2005 I was invited to give the sermon at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Kerrville, Texas. -- Susan Ives When I accepted your invitation to speak, I selected as my topic Gandhi’s 7 Deadly Social Sins. Don’t worry – we’re going to get there. Not just...
Speech: Franz Jägerstätter, Martyr of Conscience
In October, 2007 I was asked by Sr. Martha Ann Kirk to address a gathering of religion classes at the University of the Incarnate Word on the contemporary significance of Franz Jägerstätter, who was to be beatified by Pope Benedict the next day. Franz Jägerstätter was...
Speech: The End of the World as we Know It
On October 30, 2011 I was invited to speak at the St. Mary's University President's Peace Commission program. The topic for the three-day conference was "The End of the World as we Know It," and Dr. Larry Hufford, the other panelist, and I were assigned the topic of...
Speech: Bullying & Human Rights
In October 2011 I was invited to speak at "Let's Get Loud," an anti-bullying rally for several hundred middle and high school students ad their parents, held at HemisFair Park. How many of you are human? Raise your hands! Because we are human, we have rights. Every...
Speech: Dorothy Day, Peacemaker
In October, 2015 Our Lady of the Lake University had a wonderful day-long forum about the activist, journalist and founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, Dorothy Day, jointly hosted by the Worden School of Social Work and the university’s new MFA/social justice...