Memories and Musings
from MPT Co-founder
FR. PETER DOUGHERTY
on the occasion of his
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO REACH THE
89 YEAR MILE MARKER?
Like many people, I never expected to live this long. I am grateful for life, and am still growing, healing – growing up! It’s a blessing.
I continue to be a part of Meta Peace Team, my spiritual community, with what energy I have – teaching peace and justice; helping organize domestic and international violence-reduction peace teams; helping generate the finances needed to continue.
Also, helping people to be on the journey of healing their hurts, fears, PTSD, prejudices, and negativity that hold us back, so we become love, forgiveness, courage in action to confront the violence of systems harming human beings and mother earth.
I’m still here. I guess I'm not done yet!
WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT SINGLE EVENT THAT HAPPENED TO YOU, AFFECTING YOUR LIFE?
I would say, there were two important events that changed everything.
First, in my late 20s, I went into counseling to deal with the trauma of my childhood. I went weekly, for over four years. One day I remember thinking “Hey, maybe I’m normal !!!”. I no longer needed the counseling to be on my own.
Next, I took on the priest assignment of campus minister at Eastern Michigan University. I was plunged into a whole new world. Students were demonstrating against the Vietnam War, and against the arms race and nuclear weapons. I had to learn fast! A handful of us studied weekly together, looking at the violence of many systems – war, racism, rich vs. poor, environmental destruction. Along with all that, I was introduced to the Catholic peace movement, learning both the history and the power of nonviolence to change oneself, and the methods to overcome and transform the violence of the systems we live in.
Those two experiences then set me on my way to dedicating my life to working for justice and peace. And here I am.
AS YOU LOOK AT THE WORLD TODAY,
WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE?
One thing: I experience that I am still growing, and increasingly experience the beautiful, wonderful connectedness with all eight billion of us humans, and with Mother Earth.
I experience that the Divine is Love. For those who do not believe in an absolute reality, think of how goodness is real. It is in humans, in the animal kingdom, in the beauty and design of the universe. A friend says his Ultimate is human values – those things that we experience in people that is lived reality. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin says that “love is the most formidable of all cosmic energies.” This is my rock foundation.
More humans are growing, in the midst of the breakdown/collapse of corporate, profit-driven capitalism. Developmental psychologists have done great studies of stages of growth and development. They report that when 10% of the population reaches a higher level of awareness, it profoundly affects all of society for the better. This is part of my hope.
There is hope as we see more and more people and groups around the world resisting and confronting the violence of our systems, with demonstrations, nonviolent civil disobedience, building stronger community ties in neighborhoods, in person, and through social media. We see this with evolving political systems, labor unions, Native American movements, the young organizing and marching, with challenging issues, all over the globe. It is vitally important that we hold on to this hope.
I ask that you join me.
With Much Peace, Love, and Appreciation,
Postscript: Friends - Although I deeply appreciate the thought, please do not send birthday cards or gifts. Instead, if you feel moved to, I ask that you make a donation to Meta Peace Team to keep our dream - of a just world grounded in the sacred interconnectedness of all life - alive and strong.