Dear friends from the Money, Society and the Spirit Gathering

Letter from Richard, February 2011


Dear friends from the Money, Society and the Spirit gathering at the Minneapolis library on Sunday, January 28, 2011,


As you may recall, one of our fellow attendees, Mark Heffernan, produced a copy a friend gave him of an old treatise I had written and had passed out soon after the start of the Iraq War in 2003, titled “Middle East War & the Rest of the American Revolution.”  I have over the years since made a series of ongoing revisions and upgrades to that work of which, I know, many of you have received copies, whether paper or electronic.  Mark had commented that it had “infected” him.  I can imagine that consciously he did not mean anything negative in the use of that word, but inwardly I experienced a pang that tugged on my conscience.


I would also bring your attention a letter of apology I had written and sent to many of you days before our Sunday meeting for having “conveyed ‘truths’ that were not true, and thereby misled you in ways that are not in harmony with your truest edification,” elaborating further that the nature of my error “lies in my succumbing to the power of abstraction in thinking, divorced from real human beings.”


I find that these two items come together in way that prompts me to submit a further communication on the evolution of my work with money, society and the spirit.  At its inception the “Middle East (now Iraq) War” open letter was inspired, in part, by a growing discomfort I was feeling with respect to my self-assumed identity as a “peace-&-justice” political partisan.  It was not that I was not losing my aversion to the horror that is the result of war, or the conviction that it was not a productive way to resolve human matters, but I was beginning to understand that blame and recrimination directed towards persons on the “other side” was not a productive path.  I also came to realize more and more that those who sincerely held views that were outwardly contrary to mine shared inwardly that same conviction.  This includes, for example, even such supposed “warmongers” as George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and others.  This is not to indicate necessarily agreement (or disagreement) with the wisdom of their policies on specific points, but I do not second guess their virtue as human beings performing their respective roles on behalf of our nation.  To me this is fundamental to opening the possibility of an open and mutually respectful dialogue that could truly be transformative.


Returning to my “Middle East (Iraq) War” open letter, its revisions have, over the years, not fully kept up with the development of my own inner thoughts on the matter, but I have continued to distribute the document from time to time as a practical concession to what was available.  In this way, a widening gap has progressively opened between the best I could give people, and what I gave them.  About three years ago, I added an introductory section to the paper that describes my dilemma.


I would add that I found the conversation at the library on Sunday to be very encouraging.  There was demonstrated on the part of all present, in my view, an openness to pursuing a lively, respectful and productive conversation with people of the most diverse perspectives.


Thank you all.




Rich Kotlarz