February 2007. The signs are ominous. Saber rattling from the Bush Administration about a "firm response" if Iran does not stop its nuclear program. A mention in President George Bush's State of the Union address that terrorist groups in Iraq are taking direction from "the regime in Iran." A New York Times article that U.S. intelligence services say the most deadly bomb being used against American troops in Iraq is made in Iran. Bush talking on TV about the need to "seek out and destroy" support networks for the radical Shia groups in Iraq. Administration sources building a case that other alternatives for Iran (diplomacy, sanctions) are not working. Talk that "all options" must remain on the table. Reports that Bush has asked the U.S. Strategic Command to draw up plans to bomb Iran. U.S. aircraft carriers, loaded with Patriot missiles, in place in the Persian Gulf. Supplies, equipment, and personnel being moved to new U.S. bases along the Black Sea, within striking distance of Iran. An order to double the strategic oil reserves.

The projections on what could happen with an attack on Iran are, to put it mildly, absolutely terrifying: the use of nuclear weapons by several nations; the death of thousands, if not millions, from radiation poisoning in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and elsewhere; massive retaliation against American troops in Iraq and civilians in Israel; outrage against America in the global community; the collapse of the world economy; and an increase in terrorism.

Administration claims that they are not going to attack Iran are reminiscent of all the talk during the buildup to the Iraq invasion that the U.S. would simply "shock and awe" the Iraqis into surrender. And all of that begs the question: Why do nations continue to insist that military action is the way to secure peace? A surge of troops into Baghdad will not secure the country and bring peace to the land. An air attack on Iran will not deter violent forces in that country or elsewhere. What we need is a peace surge, all the people of the world working together to create the attitudes and actions that will bring lasting peace.

This is the first new "Spiritual Literacy in Wartime" feature we've done in a long time. But in our view, we are living in the scariest moment since the Cuban missile crisis when the world was carried to the brink of nuclear war in a confrontation between the United States and Russia. The difference is that there is still time for citizens and their representatives to stop this descent into violence and destructiveness. So this week we are asking you to read, practice, and act to create a peace surge. We'll explore the other part of this process, creating inner peace to enable you to keep up your activism, in the weeks ahead.


READINGS

Deepak Chopra on Seven Practices for Peace
Bestselling author Deepak Chopra lays out a seven-day program for peacemakers: being for peace, thinking for peace, feeling for peace, speaking for peace, acting for peace, creating for peace, and sharing for peace.

Peace Is the Way: A Collection of Inspirational Quotations for Peacemakers
A. J. Muste, the Christian pacifist who died on this day (February 11) in 1967, declared "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." He and many others are quoted in this collection, originally assembled on the day before the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan.


PRACTICES

Visit Iran Today
Use this slideshow to practice your connection with the people and places of Iran. Here are pictures of Iranians and people from elsewhere doing parallel things. It is set to the song "Peace Train" by Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens). This is what could be destroyed by a bombing campaign.

Peace Prompts from John Dear
In Living Peace: A Spirituality of Contemplation and Action, peace and nonviolence activist John Dear calls us to become peacemakers "within our own broken hearts and broken families, in our bloody city streets and corrupt government offices, in the war zones and refugee camps." We've picked out twelve passages from this book that can be used as "peace prompts."

Bang Your Pots and Pans
In her last column before her death from breast cancer, progressive Molly Ivins urged Americans to take to the streets to protest the war in Iraq: "We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. . . . We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!' " Eric Herter in another article published on CommonDreams.org wants us to take the protest further and use our pots and pans to raise awareness of the planned attack on Iran. Here are some other things to do:

• Sign the After Downing Street Coalition's Don't Attack Iran Petition.
• Read about the Iran War Powers Resolutions at Just Foreign Policy and send a message to your Congressional representatives
• Tell your Senators and Representatives to oppose any attack on Iran and not to fund it.

Prayers and Meditations for Wartime
"To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world," wrote theologian Karl Barth. Start here for six groups of prayers, gathered from all traditions, that acknowledge our brokenness, ask for mercy and forgiveness, evoke our compassion and hope, and more. Use a different one every day to raise a mighty chorus of prayer.